Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

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Jan 18, 2016

Long time lerker, lots of great knowledge around here, let me pick your guys brains here.

Just built a new 30x40 x 10' tall barn that has only bubble wrap insulation (no ceiling, exposed trusses). I live in central Ohio with overall mild winters, lots of 20-40degree days I would say.

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace
A couple barn pics to give heating advice, don't judge I'm not completely moved in.

I currently have a thermocontrol unit. I used in my last barn I got at a garage sale, from a family that heated an I ground swimming pool with the included coil.
Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

The thermocontrol unit heated quickly and burned thoroughly, it made the finest ashes I have ever seen in a wood burner period. My thermocontrol has coils running through it, but I don't currently have a way of making usable heat for my barn from this feature (I would need heat exchanger, pump, fan thermostat etc?)

I was considering selling this thermocontrol unit and switching to a traditional wood furnace for my barn heating needs such as a Brunco, Fire Chief, Yukon, Wood Chuck etc.

Firewood is super easy for me, I am a chainsaw junkie, own a commercial splitter and live on a wooded acreage lot, so efficiency is not my #1 priority. I will be heating my barn 2-3 days per week while working in there and do NOT expect to heat the barn 24/7.

Well what do you guys think, keep the thermocontrol or switch to a wood furnace? What are the pros and cons?



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Awesome barn, love the water hose real setup!

When fully connected to a hydronic system, I think the Thermocontrol units still give off approx. 50% of their heat as radiant just like a traditional stove. If you are not sucking heat out into the water pipes the stove will just radiate more heat. Adding a fan may help throw the heat around quicker.

Those high ceilings are going to kill you. Are you going to add ceiling fans for summer time & to push the heat back down?

You could add a fan coil unit (Modine type), pump and a small surge / buffer tank (old water heater). That would give you radiant heat + the hydronic heat. The only drawback I see there is cost, slightly more complex system & freeze potential if it is sitting unheated for very long.

If you can get a decent price on the Thermocontrol unit and decide to go to a cheap furnace, look into the Englander 28-3500. They are about the lowest cost & simplest furnace on the market. Well made, rugged, and can be belting out heat 30 min after a cold start.

I installed one in my 1800 sqft tri level 3 years ago. I use none, one or two 4" muffin fans blowing through the furnace and dump the heat to my rec room / walk out basement. An 8" muffin fan blows heat from that room to the far end of the house. The Englander can run us out of the house when it is 0 deg outside. Pretty impressive for a $1200 furnace and less than 100 watts to run the fans.
Thanks you for the reply!

I do have a large 60" air circulating ceiling fan I can reverse to help bank some heat back down. It is silver and can be seen in a few pics. No real plans for a ceiling or further insulation, money and time just spread in other directions truthfully, central Ohio typically doesn't get nasty cold and if she does there aren't too many project I can't put off for a few days.

I also thought if I kept my thermocontrol I would put a fan behind her and that would help move some of the heat she produces around. My only fear is that the air intake built into the door might be fed air from the fan and create an over burn scenario? Thought?

I contemplated some of scenarios about adding fluid, a pump, heat exchanger/radiator etc, but that adds a lot of moving parts to a system that may end up getting used infrequently. I am a career firefighter and often times during significant regional cold snaps I get tied up at work and might not be available to run the setup to keep things flowing.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to a furnace such as an Englander vs what I have now?

Thanks again for the suggestions


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I have a Thermo Control 2000 boiler, same as what you have there except with a water jacket around it. It is in an insulated detached 3 car garage about 1600 sq ft size. It is running all the time to heat the house and the garage rarely gets out of the low 60's during the Winter, just from its radiant heat, and it is NOT a stove like yours.

Yours should heat your garage fine if you add OSB ceilings under your rafters and insulate above. If not I think you will be a lot colder with whatever stove or furnace you have.
Putting a box / oscillating fan or something similar next to or behind your Thermocontrol isn't going to have any real effect on it overfiring. As long as you don't force feed combustion air from a blower directly into the air intake you will be fine.

What you have now is a good stove with a dedicated smoke baffle in the back where secondary air is injected. It will burn clean and hot if it is fed dry wood. It will probably heat up your 1200 sqft shop just fine.

Most of the lower cost furnaces that you mentioned (including the Englander) are basic fire boxes with no dedicated secondary burn feature. They will burn a bit dirtier (smoke, creosote) and with a lower overall efficiency, but those are not really concerns for something you are going to be using for occasional shop heat.
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I decided to stick with the Thermo Control 500 unit for at least this winter and see how she does.

I spoke with Thermo Control and was very impressed with their knowledge and the fact that they didn't rush me off the phone, they helped me with a few scenarios and even gave me the history of my unit from the vin tag.

Here are a few pics of her, all cleaned up, new fire brick, fresh gaskets and a new paint job.

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

Thermocontrol vs traditional wood furnace

The Thermo Control units are a neat design and well built, it serves me well in my last barn, maybe I was just overthinking it considering switching to a wood furnace. I will keep this thread Posted with Joe the heating goes this winter.

Thanks for all the replies.


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