Looking to upgrade furnace...

Dan R Posted By Dan R, Aug 5, 2017 at 9:59 AM

  1. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Aug 5, 2017
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    Hello,

    I recently purchased a new house, and am looking to upgrade the current wood furnace.

    The house is around 3,500ft2 main floor and semi finished basement. 8' ceilings in 2/3 of the house, 14' cathedral in 1/3. Lots of windows. Two propane fireplaces in house and one in three season room. Located a couple hours north of the GTA in Toronto.

    Existing wood furnace is a PSG Caddy (8 years old) add on to the existing oil furnace. Previous owner burned 12-14 face cords of well seasoned hardwood, plus some oil. The Caddy (not Max Caddy) is undersized for the house, and burns a full firebox quickly. My biggest issue is the lack of room for ashes, they need to be emptied daily, or twice daily. The furnace room is centrally located in the basement. The basement is well set up for an indoor furnace (so I don't want to switch to OWB).

    I'm looking for suggestions for a replacement, has to fit through a 36" door. Would like large firebox, room for ashes, available in Ontario, decent efficiency etc... Appearance is not important as it will be out of sight.


    Thanks,
    Dan


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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot
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    How about this?
    https://www.lamppakuuma.com/

    Maybe your furnace is indeed sized correctly. If it only burned 4-5 cords of wood plus some oil, that sounds real good. Otherwise, if bigger, maybe it would cycle more, making more smoke and such.
     
  3. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Aug 5, 2017
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    Thanks, I'll check it out.

    "Some oil" may have been a misrepresentation. It was just under 2,000l.

    The Caddy is only rated for 2,500ft2, and the automatic damper always runs wide open, I believe the burns were only 4-5 hours when fully loaded, barely any goals left in the morning to start fire.

    The house is well insulated, but lots of windows and air to heat.
     
  4. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Aug 5, 2017
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    I should clarify, the house is 3,500ft2 per floor, 7,000ft2 total area to be heated
     
  5. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    You have to clean out ash every day?! Dang, I can go a week on my Drolet Tundra (Caddy based furnace)
    What does the ashes look like? All fine grey powder or some black unburnt chunks in it?
    Sounds like your Caddy is undersized but the heat load for a house that size is low...I bet a PSG MaxCaddy would do much better
     
  6. maple1

    maple1
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    7000sq.ft. is a big house and big load. max caddy?
     
  7. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Aug 5, 2017
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    The ashes are fine, very few chunks.

    I'm coming from a Pacific Energy fireplace insert that I only had to empty every week!

    Is there ash storage in the Max Caddy? I'll have to see if I can find one to take a look at.

    Any other suggestions? The Kuuma looks nice too.




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  8. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    Max Caddy has an ash drawer like the Caddy does. I never use mine on my Tundra...just let it build up and then dig it out directly into a metal bucket once per week. They run better with a couple inches of ashes left in the firebox anyways
     
  9. S.Whiplash

    S.Whiplash
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    In reality too big for any residential wood furnace on the market, I'm amazed you were able to keep 7000 sq. ft. up to temp. at all. Do your homework and don't embrace willful ignorance of reality like the previous owner, it comes down to numbers, sizing the heat-load, btu's produced from the equipment and how many btu's worth of wood can be crammed in the firebox at one time, which explains your 4 hour loading cycle and large ash production. Nothing wrong with the Caddy, Max Caddy or Kuuma but they're just not big enough to supply that heat-load and any heating professional is going to tell you that first thing. Residential wood furnaces are typically designed to heat 2,000-4,000 ft. and going beyond that is pushing the envelope.

    If it was my problem, I would look at a larger pellet boiler or furnace with a multi-day hopper or one of the larger Garn units with thermal storage. The proper solution is not going to come cheap, sorry.
     
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  10. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Thanks Whiplash.

    The house is well insulated, and well built.

    I don't want to go to pellets because I have several hundred acres of hardwood and I enjoy cutting and splitting wood.

    I don't like the Caddy setup, and if Max Caddy is similar, don't like that either, want something with large ash capacity. Any suggestions where to look? I don't mind paying for something that is going to work and last.


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  11. 3fordasho

    3fordasho
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    I wish someone would review the new shelter EPA approved furnaces - the SF3100 is rated at 3500-5000 sq ft - and with a 5.7 cuft firebox it might come closer to heating a 7000 sq ft house.
     
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  12. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    Don't get too hung up on heating the whole house 100% on wood every day/night of the winter...its OK if the oil kicks on once in a while.
    Bottom line is, no one makes an indoor wood furnace that will heat that size house 100% by itself. You could go with an outdoor boiler if you don't mind cutting wood full time to keep up with their ravenous appetite...that, and the initial cost is very spendy!
    One thing to give some thought to is what we have done...have two wood burners. Now the way we use them is to burn the smaller stove in the living room fireplace when it not so cold. Once it gets under 32* (F) or so, then I switch to the Drolet Tundra furnace downstairs. Then when the weather gets really cold (under 0*...especially with high winds) then I run both units with normal to light loads rather than running the furnace for everything it can possibly put out. This has worked out really well.
    The stove gives me the "fire TV" once in a while...and the furnace gives me quick and easy operation, just "load and go".
    There are some pretty large wood stoves out there...when combined with the Caddy output, would surely do the job heating your well insulated home.
    I cut wood to 20-22" long for the furnace and then any shorts/uglies that come from that get crated up for the stove. That accounts for about 50% of what I feed the stove.
    I average using 4-5 full cords total between the two units to heat about 2400 Sq. ft. (1200 actively (main floor) and then 1200 ft. (basement) passively from the radiant heat off the furnace (when its running) This is a 1940 built Cape Cod style home with average insulation. Oh, and I have backup oil heat, but it only runs when we are gone for an extended period of time (more than a day)
     
  13. hondaracer2oo4

    hondaracer2oo4
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    You are going to need to going to need a boiler gasser with storage I think. That is a lot of sqft to heat though with only 15 face cord? What are you calling a face cord? That would only be about 100 million btus per season. That's pretty low btus needs even burning 500 gallons of oil too.
     
  14. maple1

    maple1
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    Just re-read. This is a recent purchase? Like, this year? So you haven't gone through a heating season with it?

    Maybe some things you mentioned, aren't really issues? Because some of them aren't quite adding up - maybe you were given some misleading info? 12-14 'face cords' of wood is not really that much wood for a house that big. And if the fire really burns out that quick & ashes needed cleaning that much - that sounds more like going through 12-14 real cords of wood - which is a lot. The firebox specs at 3.6 cu.ft. That would mean 14 'face cord' would last 165 days only burning just one load a day - so something seems off.

    IMO on-board ash storage isn't a big deal. I take a couple small scoops a day out of my boiler before I light a fire, set it into a metal bucket that is right there, takes 5 seconds- only thing I use the built in ash storage for is to catch anything that happens to get spilled when I do that or when I clean it, I haven't emptied it for a couple years now. Big ash storage just means a bigger uglier messier job when it gets full. Again, JMO.

    Still thinking Max...
     
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  15. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Correct, I haven't yet gone through a heating season, but purchased the house from my parents. Face cord is correct, except wood was cut 18+" long va the standard 16"(?).


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  16. sportbikerider78

    sportbikerider78
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    You lost me at "several hundred of wooded acres". I wouldn't make it to work if I had that much space to play in.
     
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  17. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    I just re-read your posts. This ^ ^ ^ is your problem. There is a VERY large thread all about the Drolet Tundras (sister furnace to the Caddy) that deals with this very problem (among MANY others) With the damper open all the time all your heat is going up the chimney. They don't work worth crap if you can't get the damper to close after the firebox is up to temp. That's why I installed a temp controller to override the T-stat once the firebox is up to temp...this will give you much more heat to the house and much less ash. Click the link at the bottom of my post if you are interested in reading about it. (page 22 is the reveal of my temp controller)
    I was about ready to get rid of mine too...but once I did these mods it was night/day difference. You can experiment with this by turning the wood furnace T-stat to "off" (or just turn the target temp down below the actual temp) once the firebox is up to cruising temp (10-15 minutes) that will let the damper close and you will see a whole new machine...still too small very likely, but much more effective none the less.
    Did your parents get along with the Caddy OK?
    Still gotta agree with maple1 though, I think a properly setup and operated Max Caddy would put a very large dent in your heat load.
     
  18. Dan R

    Dan R
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    Brenn,

    That sounds like great advice. I'll try that this winter before making any changes. You think Max Caddy over Kuuma? They seem to be the only two choices for EPA Add On to heat that size.


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  19. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    Oh, I dunno about that...the Kuuma is a great furnace...I very well may own one before its all said and done. I'm just waiting to see who comes out with what right now, as far as the new clean burn stuff. I hesitated and subsequently lost out on a great deal on a barely used Kuuma last year. A guy bought one and used it for a month and then realized his leaky old farm house was just too much heat load for the Kuuma...he was gonna switch to an outdoor boiler then.
    Even though they are both rated to heat up to 3500 ft...I might give a very slight edge to the Max just because I think you might be able to push it a bit harder more easily than with the Kuuma. Once the VF is set to "high" that's all you are getting from it, period.
    Dunno that there is a "wrong" decision between the two though...
     
  20. JRHAWK9

    JRHAWK9
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    Max Caddy will be capable of providing more heat at max output, at the expense of less efficiency and dirtier burn once the thermostat calls for heat opening up the damper. Max Caddy is capable of burning through an entire load in, what, 4-6 hours. Kuuma CAN NOT burn through an entire load (which is smaller than that of the Max Caddy) in less than 8-9+ hours, period. Kuuma's max heat output is set by the computer and is designed to keep it burning efficiently and clean. Max Caddy's max heat output is determined by whether the house thermostat is calling for heat or not. As long as the thermostat is calling for heat, the Max Caddy's damper will remain open.
     
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  21. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    I know a way of fixing that...;)
     
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    Pretty sure that all of these have limit switches that will close the damper if the furnace gets too hot.
     
  23. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    They do. But if the T-stat continues to call for heat, the damper will still spend a lot of time open...and it'll make a whole pile of hot coals in just a couple hours...and those often don't do a great job of heating the house when its 10* below 0...if you keep "short loading" 2-3 times in a row you will have a whole firebox full...same thing if you try to push the Kuuma real hard too.
     
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot
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    If you size the furnace for maybe not the coldest day in the year, you can use the oil burner to supplement.
     
  25. maple1

    maple1
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    That is exactly what my whole heating seasons were like, in the 17 years with my old oil/wood combo boiler. Extreme coal buildup and low heat output just when you need it the most. Man I was a slave to that thing...
     
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