Newbie looking for opinions for coastal climate in PNW

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New Member
Apr 23, 2022
Humboldt County, CA
Hi all,

I'm sure many of you have opined about variations on this theme before, but I want to run my plan to put a wood stove by this forum.

I live in coastal Humboldt County, California about three miles from the ocean. Once or twice a year it gets down to 32 Fahrenheit at night and hovers around 35 probably 15-20 nights a year. Mostly, it's in the mid-40s at night and 60s in the day. Even summertime is a range between 50 and 70. People here wear tank tops and complain about the heat when it's 75. In the winter, it is often raining and foggy. There is a lot of ambient moisture here all year round, although the summer can be dry.

My family and I recently moved into a house which is heated by a propane-powered wall heater in the living room. There is no ductwork and no furnace. Very quickly we realized the wall heater was not cutting it on cold nights. With 2,200 square feet, vaulted ceilings upstairs, and lots of windows and skylights, we are nearly 70,000 BTUs short for our space. We are paying through the nose to be quite chilly at night during the winter. The house is surrounded by very tall redwoods and gets almost no direct sun in the wintertime. Although it's never bitterly cold, it's often cold and dank in the winter. Close doors to the bedrooms and it's easily 50-55 degrees in the bedroom by morning.

There is an alcove on the first floor below a balcony to the second floor which looks perfect for a wood stove-- an internal flue of at least 20' can pass unimpeded there and the heat can go upstairs to the bedrooms.

I am thinking I want a Lopi Evergreen, which is rated for 2,000 square feet, and get the tax credit.

My questions are:
1) Is running that stove hot enough to avoid creosote going to roast us? My thought would be load it at about 5:30 or 6:00 pm when getting home from work, run it hot and try to circulate air throughout the house, and let it burn down through the night. If needed add a few logs in the morning but only burn hot once a day.
2) Is that stove too much for our temperature range no matter what I do?
3) Does anyone have air-management tips for a house without pass-throughs or vents?
4) Does anyone have any tips for seasoning wood in a foggy coastal climate? I have a lean-to that gets zero sun already but might want to put another covered lean-to in our sunny patch.
5) Am I out of my gourd? Should I just get a mini-split? (Yes, I am asking the wood stove forum. No, I do not expect an unbiased answer.)

And, anything else that occurs to anyone to tell this newbie would be great. Apologies for my attempt to end-run the obvious suggestion, which is the search function.
A lot of the heat loss depends on how well the house is insulated and sealed, and also if you have a lot of windows, their quality and condition.

It's not as cold or as damp here as where you are (we are farther from the ocean). The house is 2500 sq ft two story with R11 in the walls. Our EPA stove is rated for 75k btu. I run it if the outside temp is below 50. I always turn the stove down once it's going good. With dry wood it burns clean with little creosote.

Your wood won't dry when the air humidity is high but it will the rest of the time. If you're out of the summer fog belt that will help.

A mini split or two is probably not a bad idea, for the shoulder season where it's too warm for the stove but still cool if nothing else.
You'd have to run some numbers using your propane and electric costs and a guess at the heating efficiency to see if it costs less than propane. Electricity costs are high in a lot of CA so it might be more.
A mini-split would be a good fit for your area. The coast is damp and often foggy during the summer which can slow wood drying. That said, if you put up split doug fir in the early spring (Mar or April) and the shed is very well ventilated and oriented so that the prevailing winds can blow through the stacks, then the wood should be ok to burn by November. The best bet is to get a year ahead. You could also burn a good quality compressed log or brick fuel if you have a dry storage area for a pallet load.

With an Evergreen-sized firebox it will probably need to be fed 3 times a day, or every 8 hrs. A larger firebox will afford a longer time between loadings. If you can assure dry fuel then a catalytic stove like a BK Princess or Ashford 30 would be a good fit. They can run low and slow so that 12 hrs between loadings is not an issue.
Some thoughts from someone who lives 3 miles from the coast too ( just the opposite one). Wood is work heatpump is easy. I try to run my heatpump anytime the temps are above 45. I like the wood stove a lot we have nights that get down to the low 20s record lows are single digits, but most nights are in the 30s. It’s pretty usuall to go bed turning off heatpump after dinner and wake up like a fire 5-6 am. Add few splits 8-10 and let it go out turning the heatpump back on once it warms up over 50. My heat pumps efficiency really drop off below 37 and I get a good boost over rated efficiency above 50. If it’s a cold day we will just keep the stove going all day. Last year I set my crossover temp at 50 degrees anytime it was couldn’t than that I lit the stove. It was a warmer winter this year too so I burned quite a bit less wood. It’s really nice to have both the stove and heatpump.

Nothing really dries much here untill the temps are above 60 unless in full sun. In my humid climate the dew point hovers near the nighttime lows more often than not. Every February for 4 years now I start fighting wet wood. It’s no fun. I’m trying to get ahead but it hasn’t happened yet partly because I don’t have an organized way to stack my firewood. Plan on a nice wood shed that you can stack two winters worth of wood it. Even coved with a tarp my pine seems absorbs moisture December-February. And tarps always leak.

What are the alcove dimensions? It may affect stove choices.

Your not crazy. Cheaper stove cheaper mini split if you are on a budget would be what I would be looking into.

The Blaze Kings are made for your climate, I understand you have the wood issue there but that can be overcome. Low slow burn on a BK will keep the house warm andf dry.
It sounds like you are looking at a tall chimney, this is good, as wood stoves don’t draft as well off short chimneys during warm weather.

The main thing that jumps out at me is that your home was built, inspected, and approved with a wall heater that you say is 70k btu too small. How did this pass inspection as a main source of heat? Are there other deficiencies that should be corrected such as insulation? Are there covers for the windows? Vaulted ceilings and lots of sky lights aren’t the best for wood stoves. The heat tends to rise to the top and then leave through the windows. Have you tried ceiling fans to move heat from the wall heater down off the ceiling?
Yes, I was wondering how the 70k btus was calculated or if it was a typo. Maybe 7,000?