Pellet stove in a Bi-Level

arauch Posted By arauch, Aug 29, 2018 at 2:26 PM

  1. arauch

    arauch
    New Member 2.
    NULL
    

    Aug 29, 2018
    3
    0
    Loc:
    Casper, WY
    Hello, new to the forum and the pellet stove world. Figured I would ask you all about my current situation and if it will work:

    My house is a bi level, with a 600 square foot basement and an 1100 square foot main level. the basement and garage are on the same level, and the main floor covers both of them. the bedrooms are above the garage, the kitchen/living room/dining room are all above the basement. the basement itself is fully drywalled and insulated, but no insulation in the ceiling (only the main floor beams).

    My main issue with heating is that it's all electric, and the heat is actually in the ceiling on the main floor: Coils in the attic that radiate down. Blissfully inefficient. During winter it shoves my electric bill to $300 a month, which is insane. there are no ducts or vents anywhere in the house, so I figured a pellet stove would be my smartest option. there used to be a fireplace in the basement that was torn down and capped off, leaving a nice area that would house a pellet stove and vent straight up through the capped off spot.

    the stove would be in the basement, almost directly pointed to the opening to the stairs across the room. I have a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs to circulate air. Will the stove be able to sufficiently heat the bedrooms in this setup? I would really prefer to keep the electric heat almost completely off this winter.

    as far as venting goes, I should be able to rout the exhaust straight up and out, with no major issues. the air intake is a problem though. where the stove sits is concrete all the way up until the ceiling, so routing the fresh air inlet would be difficult. is there a downside from letting the air inlet take from the basement, or does it have to run outside?

    The pellet stove I was able to get was a magnum 3500P. It was used but works perfectly, and I couldn't beat the price

    Any insight would be very appreciated, Thank you!
     
  2. articcatbill

    articcatbill
    Member 2.
    NULL
    

    Sep 4, 2016
    67
    24
    Loc:
    central pa
    I have a P68 Harman in our basement. We use it to heat the entire house, our house is a split level though, our basement is about 600 sq. feet.

    As far as the install this is what I have:

    We did a basement install to replace our wood stove, have had it two years we have been happy with it. It is in the unfinished part of our basement. Our house is a split level, so we have 4 levels, from the garage you go into the family room, above that are bedrooms. Down a 1/2 flight of steps to the lowest level (unfinished), above it are the kitchen, living room, dining room. We installed our pellet stove (Harman P68) in the lowest level to replace a wood stove that was already there. The unfinished basement is about 600 square feet, since it is a split level each of the 4 levels are about 600 square feet, totaling about 2400 square feet, we are heating it with the P68. So it is a smaller unfinished space than say if you had a ranch style home, that helps.

    When I first started using it I was a bit disappointed in the heat circulation. The family room was great, but the kitchen, living room and dining room areas were cool. There were 2 4x12 vents in the floor in the dining room, with the wood stove under there the heat was so intense it drove the heat up those vents on it's own, not so with the pellet stove.

    I bought 2 of these Tjerland RB12 fans(https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FNL0SS/?tag=hearthamazon-20) register booster fans for the 4x12 registers. Wow what a difference, it certainly balanced everything out and now I am very happy with the set-up. The upstairs and family room are now consistent. The bedroom area is cool, but I like it that way.

    I do realize I am burning pellets to heat an unfinished area (600 sq ft), we have the washer dryer down there, but there are some nice advantages of having it down there:
    • Our floors upstairs are nice and warm, with much of the heat rising from the floors the rooms feel very cozy.
    • I can store 4 tons of pellets down there. It takes my wife and I around 1/2 hour to carry a ton down there, then we are done with them other than dumping them in the stove. They are out of the way, the basement stays nice and dry.
    • I don't have to fret about cleaning the stove and the dust. While I am getting better at not spreading dust, since it is an unfinished space, not really that big an issue.
    • I makes a nice warm space to go read if you want to shake off the winter chill.
    So as some people mentioned there are basement installs that work. I think for us the split level helps, the booster fans made a huge difference, and well the P68 can really crank out the heat when I need to warm-up the house. Our basement while unfinished and uninsulated, isn't that bad, it is a well sealed, not drafty, block wall basement. Decisions like this depend on the set-up and what you want out of the stove. We wanted nice warm floors, and to heat the entire house. So far I am now very happy with our set-up

    We have electric baseboard heat, and rarely use it, on occasion for a quick heat up if the house has cooled down. 1/2 hour with the electric baseboard on can really heat up the house quickly with the pellet stove.

    We did not install an OAK (Outdoor Air Kit) and have been fine without it. You will definitely hear different opinions on this topic! You can try without it and see what you think, you can always add one later. It will create negative pressure in your house.

    As always with any solid fuel appliance be sure to install CO detectors at all levels of your home.

    I do think that you will need to think about how to move your heat upstairs to balance everything. I found it easier to work on that once the stove was installed and running and I could see how it was doing on it's own.
     
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  3. hockeypuck

    hockeypuck
    Feeling the Heat 2.
    NULL
    

    Sep 6, 2009
    291
    42
    Loc:
    south central NH
    Couple of properly placed box fans on the floor do wonders. Not the prettiest and they could be an issue for the midnight bathroom run, but they work. Put a box fan on the hallway floor pushing the cold air to the stairs. I would not cut holes in your floor..not sure about local fire codes.
     
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  4. StickPick73

    StickPick73
    Member 2.
    NULL
    

    Sep 30, 2015
    20
    11
    Loc:
    Eau Claire, WI
    The winters where I live are pretty frigid here in northwest Wisconsin. We did a basement install of a pellet stove about three years ago to cut down on LP costs. We have a ranch style house with a mostly finished basement. Our stairs are opposite the stove as well. One thing I have found is that more of the pellet stove heat makes it's way upstairs when the temps of both floors are closer to being equal. If the upstairs is too cold, it essentially holds down all the heat in the basement. A $100 infrared box heater and the LP fireplace we have on the main level bring the temp up enough to get more of the balmy pellet heat on to the main level. I also use a small Honeywell fan on the floor aimed at the stove to help with air circulation/convection. In fact I've found using these small fans on the floor of any cold room to be quite helpful - pointing them out of the doorway of the cold room to circulate warm air into the room. Here's the fans I use... Honeywell HT-900 TurboForce Air Circulator Fan Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001R1RXUG/?tag=hearthamazon-20 Hope this helps!
     
  5. Battleman13

    Battleman13
    New Member 2.
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    Sep 4, 2018
    21
    4
    Loc:
    Near Pittsburgh PA
    So what is your electric bill without the cost of using it for heat? For example, mine averages around $150 a month. I feel that is kinda high, but I do have electric hot water and run an air conditioner plus swimming pool pump in the summer.

    So for example, if electric heat cost me an additional $150 to bring my heat cost to $300 total... then you might be disappointed with the pellet stove. Around here, a ton of pellets costs anywhere from $200-$225 on average. If your running it to heat your entire home, you are probably going to burn a bag a day or more. In a months time, you'll likely use more than $150 worth of pellets which makes the change actually cost you more money than using electric.

    If running the electric heat costs you an extra $300 on top of the normal bill... then there might be some savings to be had, but it won't be earth shattering. Your still likely to burn in excess of $150 a month on pellets and in the really cold months probably closer to $200 +


    That and what others have said, you need to find a way to circulate the heat nicely. Otherwise you end up with a roasty toasty basement and an upper level that's chilly.
     
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  6. arauch

    arauch
    New Member 2.
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    Aug 29, 2018
    3
    0
    Loc:
    Casper, WY
    Thanks everyone for all of the replays, I think I'll try installing it without an OAK and wire in a remote thermostat, that way the unit I have will stay on low fire until additional heat is needed. If I need one I can install the outside air kit later.
    I only have a swamp cooler for the summer months, then all the appliances are electric. This summer my electric bill has hit an average of only $50 or so, so I figured a pellet stove might save some money for the winter months. The temperature is already dropping here in wyoming so I'll find out pretty soon!
     
  7. burnermike

    burnermike
    New Member 2.
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    Jun 28, 2018
    33
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    Loc:
    CT, USA
    From your dimensions I think I might have an identical house. We’re also getting a pellet stove to offset electric heat. I’m installing with an oak, putting it in the living room opposite of the bedrooms at the other end. I hear oaks give better efficiency, and it means I can terminate the vent closer to a window. If it can keep the downstairs from freezing it will be a bonus. Ours comes in another week or two.

    Keep us updated.
     
  8. arauch

    arauch
    New Member 2.
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    Aug 29, 2018
    3
    0
    Loc:
    Casper, WY
    Just a quick update, I was able to install my stove last weekend, just in time for the nights to drop below 40 degrees. I haven't installed the thermostat yet, still working on the logistics of where to put it upstairs (might have to rout the wires through the attic), so just manually setting it for now.

    So far, so good:
    I haven't had to use it full time until recently, and have to say I am pleased with the current results. Even though the temperature has only dropped to 35 degrees so far, I am optimistic. I leave my fan on above the stairs to pull heat up from the basement, and right now have a single box fan to push air towards the bedrooms (low tech I know, but it will do for now). The bedrooms are staying at 60+ degrees during the night, with the basement only 10 degrees or so hotter. Pellet use has only been 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag a day, which I'm sure will increase as the temperature drops. all of my electric heat is turned off, with only the stove heating the house.

    Pellets used so far:
    the first bag or two of pellets I used were from my local Menards, Big heat wood pellets. I only bought 5 bags, just to try them out. They must not have stored them very well, first bag I opened was very damp and 50% all sawdust. ended up shoveling them out of my stove after the second time the fire died. Not sure if this is a problem with the store or the pellets themselves, either way not going back to them.
    A local business sells Purcell pellets, so I decided to give them a try. At $4.99 a bag, it's one of the lower prices in town. Clear bags, which showed that there was almost zero dust in them. so far they are working amazingly, low ash and good heat.


    This weekend is supposed to be our first snow of the year, with the highest temperature being 34 degrees, dropping to the teens at night. hopefully i can get my thermostat installed soon, so I can get precise control over the heat. I will keep you all updated on how it goes!
     

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