NOOB questions on adding on wood heat (boiler)

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New Member
Nov 25, 2007
NY State Southern Tier
Hi, I'm trying to get up to speed enough to buy an indoor wood furnace but I don't seem to be getting anywhere in the self-education process yet. I guess I'm getting bogged down in the terminology, for starters.

We have a new natural gas furnace, forced air throughout the house. For various reasons (oil prices, economic instability) I want to add wood heat in the basement and blow into existing ductwork. Ideally I want this to work even if we have a prolonged power outage.

Our house is a small ranch with 1250 "official" square feet and almost that much again in the basement. I guess my big questions right now is,

What's the terminology for what I'm looking for? Is it a wood boiler if it comes with ducting and a blower? A "furnace"? A woodstove with a blower? Is this consistent or does it depend on the seller/manufacturer?

If we get one of these, what happens if the power goes out and the blower doesn't function? Would it harm the ductwork if we used it anyway?

Is it possible to get a wood "furnace" that's a little aesthetically appealing and not just a sheet metal box style? Not necessary, but still, I'd kind of like it to be SLIGHTLY attractive ...

Oh, and ... any specific mfrs I should be looking at for this kind of use?

I realize these questions are probably making your eyes roll, but I appreciate any feedback here, and hopefully I can ask more intelligent ones down the road. Thanks!
Welcome to the Boiler Room and, Elin. Those are perfectly good questions.

You probably want a wood burning furnace, aka, a hot air furnace. There are a few brands with glass doors and fairly attractive styling, at least as far as furnaces are concerned. There are one or two that would be nice additions to any basement family or rec room.

The good news for you is that furnaces are a lot cheaper than boilers. And hooking them up to the existing ductwork is also relatively easy. You will need a Class A chimney in good condition. That can either be an existing masonry or stainless steel chimney, or a new one that you put in for the furnace. The chimney serving your furnace has to be devoted exclusively to its use.

You can run a furnace in a power outage, but it takes some skill and care. Some brands are probably better than others. You can also hook your blower up to a battery and an inverter, or a small generator, for the best performance during power outages.

I know there are other members who have furnaces and who will hopefully give you some more information and ideas. But you came to the right place.
I just seen here recently there is a Mini Caddy that is EPA Rated. Plus its a nice looking furnace. I know the other one would be too big, for its rated at 3000 square feet. This would probably do. Furnaces can be operated under power outages, but you really have to damper down. Some have emergency louvers in the ductwork plenum that when the power goes out, they open so its used more as a stove. As long as you keep the required clearances, which is 6" for the first 6 feet then 1" after you would be okay. Also they shouldn't be used with flexible ductwork, if you have it. There are alot of options, but these units from psg are nice, due to them being EPA Certified and having the viewing glass. Usstove also has a new model the 1950 thats EPA certified. Nice unit, but at 140,000 btus could be overkill for your home. Here is a link to the mini caddy.
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