Propane vs Electric vs Wood heat? Who Wins?

Frogburner

Member
Feb 23, 2017
10
Missouri
This post may get hot, but that's what we want, so here we go.
You all have heard people talk about, wood boilers dont pay off, or why didn't you just get a propane boiler? I get tired of hearing negative about wood burning, we burn it in the winter to heat the house and the hot water. I myself believe it is the only way to go. Being from Southeast Missouri, our winters aren't near as hard as others, but I still believe if you have they supply then why not use it. What's everyone else's opinions on how to keep the house warm in the winter. Going out and loading the stove doesnt bother me after working in the cold all day.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
9,876
Nova Scotia
All comes down to preferences. Sometimes changing ones.

Each year that goes by I find more things I'd rather do than handle wood. Even though I like making firewood.
 

shawntitan

Member
Dec 7, 2007
70
NJ
I’m also in a warmer climate than many people here (Southern NJ) I run a traditional New Yorker boiler, in a shed 75' from the house, tied in to a coil in my existing hot air oil furnace. Put it out there because there wasn't enough headroom in my basement/to keep the mess outside... Debated back and forth on buying a gasification boiler... Probably made the wrong choice, but in 2007 when I was shopping, gasification was totally unheard of here in NJ, and I was afraid to take that kind of shot on technology I knew nothing about... Also, that was during a big rush on wood burning devices related to the rising price of oil, so my options for ANY wood boilers were seriously limited. It seems like gasification boiler/storage set ups really works best for radiant heat, which I don't have, however...Struggled the first years with too much creosote/short burn times... Switched to coal and haven't really looked back ( I was buying my firewood anyhow) I debate still if the investment (10k+) was worth it, based on how much oil I was burning (600-700 gallons a year including my DHW) but it's money already spent, so I just go with it... It DOES feel good knowing my money is going to a coal mine in PA, instead of some oil company... Natural gas isn’t an option where I live, although I tell my wife, when I finally get my set up running 100% to my liking, they’ll finally run it to my house.
 

Medic21

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2017
491
Northern Indiana
Bang for the buck, propane hands down right now. A few years ago electric would have been cheaper around here.

And, I did pay almost $4 a gallon for propane in the recent past, so....

It is impossible to put a true dollar value on wood burning unless you buy all your wood cut, split, seasoned, and stacked for yourself. In that scenario the cost would be more than and petroleum product available. I will probably recoup this cost from the boiler I’m installing when it’s time to replace it.

I will have a lot of fun and spend a lot of days in the woods with my son and, there is no way to place a value on that either.
 

TCaldwell

Minister of Fire
Wood is a lifestyle, some embrace, some say it’s too much work. I’ll burn until I am physically unable, regardless of the economics. I enjoy the time in the boiler barn, it’s relaxing! The wood processing is my gym. The whole process has exposed me challenges that would have been overlooked if I just decided to turn up the thermostat.
 

__dan

Feeling the Heat
Oct 5, 2011
318
I look at it the same way, fuel cost and then equipment type. The Froling into the radiant slabs is working perfectly, great heat and DHW is 3 - 4 cord / year. I have been keeping 4 year ahead on cut split in the yard and I just got two nice easy trees this spring, 4 more cord in three days, half nice oak that fell by itself.

The intangibles about liking and taking pride in my firemaking were unexpected. I did expect that if I had any other system I would be unhappy and bugged about needing something I can live with. The $15k in installed material cost is money well spent and giving great payback every year, est. $1.5k / year fuel plus something for the positive intangibles, peace of mind and pride of having five years of heat in the yard.

The Froling made my system, love that boiler.
 

Dc31

New Member
Jul 31, 2018
3
Massachusetts
I look at it the same way, fuel cost and then equipment type. The Froling into the radiant slabs is working perfectly, great heat and DHW is 3 - 4 cord / year. I have been keeping 4 year ahead on cut split in the yard and I just got two nice easy trees this spring, 4 more cord in three days, half nice oak that fell by itself.

The intangibles about liking and taking pride in my firemaking were unexpected. I did expect that if I had any other system I would be unhappy and bugged about needing something I can live with. The $15k in installed material cost is money well spent and giving great payback every year, est. $1.5k / year fuel plus something for the positive intangibles, peace of mind and pride of having five years of heat in the yard.

The Froling made my system, love that boiler.
I, likewise, have a Froling, installed in 2014 supplying retrofitted radiant heat in a house that my father built in 1940. He had installed a gravity hot air furnace during construction that only lasted 70 years. (Then it was sold for reinstallation in another house.) The other intangible associated with wood heat that is rarely discussed is the improved state of the woodlands resulting from removal of low-grade wood for firewood. In the time since I installed the Froling, I have easily recouped its cost by selling high-grade veneer oak and maple logs and working up the tops and other waste as firewood. On my approximately 50 acres of woodland, I have put a real dent into the low-grade to the point where I need to cut grade logs in order to generate firewood to heat the house. Here I am cleaning up a couple oak logs while making firewood. In 1919, 100 years ago, this tree was a stem 1 in. in diameter.
 

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STIHLY DAN

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
1,429
So NH
Its all in your situation. If money was no object obviously fossil fuels win. For me, money is an object, so is time. At this point in my life its a toss up on what wins.