Winery Reality Check- Looking to Add 2 wood stoves to Fireplaces

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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,809
Nova Scotia
No doubt the Garn is a good rig with a good rep. But they are also very big. That prevented me from even considering one, no way I could get it into my basement. That's when separate boiler & storage becomes a consideration, much easier to adapt to a space. A pressurized boiler (Garn isn't) might also be easier to adapt to existing system. It would be somewhat of a trade-off though, pressurized = no heat exchangers needed, but expansion tanks would be necessary.

Sounds like poor performing heat pumps are a big part of the current issue, possibly from originally picking the wrong units for the application. Age may also be playing a part but we don't know what they are or how old. Or if the existing system was designed & installed properly to start with - could be lots of ducting heat loss too? There also seems to be a bit of a mish-mash of system work there now? Radiant (hot water) at least partially installed, and heat pumps (forced air)? Maybe the heat pumps were selected and put in primarily for a/c and heating with them was an afterthought?

Air to water heat pumps are also coming more into play, they should (hopefully) be seeing more advances the next year or two. So could also be part of a solution especially with in floor heating. Even with having a very good and efficient wood burning boiler/storage setup here, I am really loving the new mini-splits we put in in November. The older I get and more years go by, making fires & putting wood up (even though I enjoy going to the woods to do it) does become more of a chore every year - and I haven't had to bother making a fire on in over a month. We have two 15k btu/hr units - next power bill will tell a better story (we have a 2 month milling cycle), but so far they have added only around $30-40 each per month to it.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,480
South Puget Sound, WA
One option might be to install a wood boiler one of the garage bays, partitioned off and pipe the hot water over to the main house. That way it could heat the caretaker apt above. And it could be the caretaker's job to keep it stoked.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,302
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
In the garage eh? Sure would be convenient for loading out of a big trailer like ashful uses. The idea of building a little box around the boiler to make it not in the garage seems controversial.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,717
Philadelphia
I like it! Conveyor, right off the trailer. ;-)

Of course, I’d not be putting any wood-fired system in any house where I’d need to rely on tenants caring for it. Just not worth the potential issues, IMO.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,480
South Puget Sound, WA
In the garage eh? Sure would be convenient for loading out of a big trailer like ashful uses. The idea of building a little box around the boiler to make it not in the garage seems controversial.
Not a little box, partition off a complete bay of the 3 car garage for the boiler installation. With the garage door removed it is no longer a garage.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
I would suggest you either learn how do a manual J heat loss calculation or have someone else do it. That will establish the maximum heat loss of the building. Yous are closer to a small commercial system than a residential system. I dont have any experience with the NW but given its a winery area that implies to me that the solution may be a water to water geothermal system as the prime heating source (with potential for cooling if you want to install air handlers). You could still convert the fireplaces to wood stoves but they would be more of a design feature and expect the aesthetics like big glass windows would be more important than actual BTU output. I dont have lot ot experience with ground source geothermal but believe in moderate climates that the COP is up in the 3 to 4 range. If you have standard electric heat ground source geothermal will cut your power bill substantially. If you are planning to run it as a B&B, the standard warning is most small B&B owners are on the run constantly and adding handling and processing wood is extra work that they do not need.

Thank you, very good idea and I have it added to the list to get a professional energy calculation done. Looks like the State has some recommended vendors and the electric company subsidizes the energy "audits" some. I did look into geothermal at one point for a different property, but at that time did not have the big bills to deal with. Very good info thank you for the input. I will report back when I get the audit.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
With your comments about this being more space than you will ever need, and biting off more than you can chew, have you really cemented your long-term goals, here? If you’re considering renting or subletting, then relying on a manual-load wood-fired system seems a poor choice, whether stove or boiler.

There are others here who can give you better guidance on boilers, or even specific stove models, but I can speak to heating large spaces with wood. I’m heating roughly 8000 sq.ft., half of that completely un-insulated, in a 5000 HDD/year environment. I’m using a mix of wood, oil, heat pumps, propane, and resistive heating.

I grew up splitting wood with my father and other older relatives, my childhood home had four fireplaces, and many of my older relatives kept a fire going in their fireplaces all winter. It was a romantic / embiance thing, and I had fond memories of time spent processing wood (as a kid... never fully responsible for 100% production), so I was all gung-ho to get back to it in my 30’s.

Fast-forward almost a decade and 100 cords (yes, I rip thru about 10 cords per year), and it’s wearing on me. It’s no longer fun. I still enjoy getting out and felling a tree, or splitting wood for the occasional hour or three. But our weather has conspired against me the last few years, and now making time to process this volume of wood on the few days with weather suitable to do it, has become a real chore.

I go into all of that, because you are approaching a similar scale to my situation, in the face of completing a lot of other projects and maintaining a fairly large place. If it were me, esp. with my assumptions of your climate, I’d be optimizing the heat pump system, and simply installing two wood stoves (or inserts) for supplemental heat and ambiance.

I would not even consider a boiler, which comes with all of the work, but non of the pleasures of burning wood. No way in hell I’m going to fell, skid, haul, buck, split, stack, move, and then load 10 cords per year, to hide it in a black box in the basement. I want a fire in a stove, when I sit down on the couch to watch some TV, after all of that.

If your climate is half as near to optimimum heat pump territory as Highbeam and begreen claim theirs to be, I’d be headed that way for my primary heating, and running a few stoves for fun.

Very good point and I am not 100% sure. It ws a great deal and we have had a lot of luck renting it out during the high season (wine tourism mostly) and this summer we are booked so that we will be able to pay the mortgage and bills for the whole year off renting it for 5 months...it takes some work, but it is a little fun as well and gives me the funds to keep buying materials and finishing things out as I have time. We could very well end up selling it, but it needs to be completed first. It is nice it helps pay for itself a bit. We stay in the camp trailer at the coast and will probably rent a small cabin there which is also nice so win win (we are very near the Oregon coast so not much of a drive.)

I absolutely take your points to heart about the work and how the shine wears off when you have to do it as often and as mcuh as would be needed. I think the common thread from your comment is get my ducks in a row and make sure I am getting the low hanging fruit of optimizing what I have now and going from there. I appreciate the input!
 
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Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
Good points. It's one thing to be enthusiastic about buttering your own bread but when you have to butter the whole loaf it's a much bigger commitment. Be sure to realize that every stick of wood you burn is that much less electricity you must buy. So you can partially heat with wood, just as much as you want to and then let the central heat pickup the slack.

Wood or even pellet boilers are insanely expensive and complicated to set up. There is likely no local expertise since it is not common to heat with water in our area.

Yeah...though buttered bread is delicious ;)

God knows I need to do something with those fireplaces and maybe the supplemental and ambiance is not such a bad way to go if I can get some of the other things optimized.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
If you wind up doing inserts, plan in advance how you will install a damper on both. You will need to rig up a control for the thing that you can operate from the outside of the fireplace.

I think you will wind up pulling the inserts to add a damper otherwise with 30 and 40 foot flues.

Consider extending the hearths and adding freestanding wood stoves in front of both fireplaces. This will get you bigger fireboxes, more heat, and less damper hassles.

If the place is currently heated with electric forced air, consider an add-on wood furnace. That would be significantly less hassle than two stoves.

Good point on the flues. It is pretty windy where we are (towards the top of a ridge of hills) and I guess a good draft is important but when you burn a fire in the fireplaces it gets going like crazy and I get that is bad if the goal is to heat and not sending all the home air up the chimney.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
Ground-source heat pumps / geothermal are the only way to go, where I live. But I figured your maritime climate would make a tougher justification for the install cost, if you have an ASHP in good working order.

You echo what @begreen mentioned and I agree. I am thinking with the two heatpump systems that I need to get looking into them and figure out if we are not running at optimal levels. When it is cold the heat strips seem to work very hard to keep up.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
No one right answer here.

A boiler can do it, sure. Geo maybe also. Both fairly high $$ up front. Boiler (or anything wood) will need regular tending. Which can get to be a pain after a few years. Lots comes down to situational & personal preference in these cases. Not sure what you have in mind budget-wise, but I would expect a boiler/storage system to ballpark at $20k, and Geo maybe $30k. All depending on how easily each would adapt to what you have now.

Also, most of the people around here I have talked to who put Geo in ended up with higher electric bills than they were anticipating. Maybe their anticipation was skewed, not sure, and also not sure on exact numbers, they didn't seem to want to tell me.

Start with a heat loss calc. As mentioned above. Should be first order of business. Not sure how moderate your climate is - but in moderate climates, modern cold-climate mini-split heat pumps can work wonders while using very little electricity. Fairly easy install compare to a boiler or Geo system. Three units might do you, guesstimate $10-12k installed if you can find a good installer around you. You could just keep existing fireplaces for ambiance if needed.

Very good points and we do have the two systems that are there now but I am starting to think they are undersized or we are loosing a lot of heat somewhere. We do have a large solar gain in the main floor with all the windows which is nice, but not sure if it has trouble making it upstairs etc.

10-15k is much more in line with the budget and that will require some LONG LONG weeks to pick up overtime, but thats ok if the return is a good one and makes sense.
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
Well, if you have space for a ground mounted 22kw pv array, you have space for horizontal geothermal, which is way cheaper to install than a vertical loop.

The one guy I know who had a heat pump geothermal system told me that it was marvelously cheap to run, but it never got warm enough in the winter.

"Ambiance" fireplaces are an excellent way to double your heating bills, though it sure is nice to sit in front of an open fire. The increased bills could end up worth it if it's bringing in paying customers.

Yeah, the PV is massive but also tucked into one of the few semi flat areas of the property. I might need to revisit the horizontal loop geothermal. I think maybe Ambiance free standing stoves might be the way to go :)
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
Having $700+ power bills while also having a 22kw array seems to me to be waaay high electricity consumption. What exactly do you have for existing heat pumps? They must be very inefficient, with strips running near constant. Or is it a lot colder there than I am thinking?

It is a combination of things, some of which I am hoping I have fixed (getting all the lighting to LED, getting programmable thermostats installed and some weather stripping on some of the doors that did not have it. We did rent it out last summer and fall ...and guests tend to just go crazy with setting things...like hey it is warm in here, lets jack the thermostat to 60 and leave for the day then turn the heat on when we get home because it is cold...not sure that happens, but we did come back to wide open french doors and the AC running on a 90+ degree day...trying to handle a lot of that with programmable thermostat.

Also, on the PV, it was not fully completed by the previous owners, so we got that completed and connected and hopefully this summer that will knock those bills down some!
 

Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
I'd be looking at a Garn for the basement. Shame, as you have the makings for a masonry heater around that fireplace, but it wasn't built with the exhaust chambers to make it an actual masonry heater. Lose the insulation in the basement ceiling, so the heat can transfer upward more easily.
You have the tubing in the floor for radiant, so that would be put to good use with the Garn also. And with the underside of the main floor exposed, it may not take much to add radiant to that floor. That should cover two floors.

You can do a stove or insert on the main floor in the fireplace or in front of it, and that will help with the main & next floor up.
Those ceiling are fkn high! A lot of heat is going to get trapped up there. Maybe you can add transoms to the doorways to allow the heated air to travel horizontally and possibly upward at the stairs. Not sure of your feelings on ceiling fans, but they would certainly help move air around.

As far as the top floor, and especially if you are considering a B&B. You will want zoned heat in those rooms. Each guest is going to want warmer/cooler rooms as to their likings. Will save you a bunch of grief from whiners and complainers who need their room temp just so to their tastes.

Back up electric heat on heat pumps basically negated any savings on the heat pumps when they kick on for long periods, which you are experiencing with the $700+ electric bills.

Even if you put good quality electric fireplaces in the bedrooms, that would prolly be cheaper than the back up electric heating everything necessarily.
A place that big begs for a good boiler (Garn), and zones, zones, zones.

You're lucky to have oak, love the stuff. Cherry is so/so, medium heat and craploads of ash. Great for open fireplaces and scent, but not my favorite for serious heating. Maybe a nice firepit and seating to enjoy the view outside.

Have you looked at the Equinox for the main level? Huge, gorgeous, but will eat some wood. Not a problem since you have shittons.

Keep in mind, you will be tending to many things in a huge house, and especially if a B&B. Keep that in mind when considering how much dicking around you nant to do with loading wood stoves etc.

I still think a Garn would put a huge dent in your heating needs, and give you the most heat from your wood and least amount of work for the most amount of heat per load of wood. Look up holding tanks, as you can prolly make a pretty large one in the basement.
I would not even bother thinking about an outside boiler with that basement space begging to have a nice big boiler installed.

Save me a room, I want to come check it all out!

BTW, Good luck when that place needs painting done, holy shitsky, that's a lot o paint. I am def a fan of natural wood, clear, let the beauty show, and done. But you place is gorgeous. You ahve the makings of an Airbnb getaway. I want a discount!

Great idea on the radiant! I was kicking around if maybe the fact that the basement is 11 feet under grade on two sides, including the back section where the mechanical room is, maybe that could be used with a couple of heat pump water heaters to run some hot water etc. Could also be used to cool the wine cellar area (if I build it...then need to figure out how to get wine...haha...) The floors are some super hard pagota hardwood and would do well with the heat I think and that is such a pleasant heat.

Yeah, the ceilings are nuts..the whole place is nuts. Here is a pic of the central stairway...its got crazy high ceilings as well. We had a friend who does photography do pictures for our listing, it really shines now, but WOW was it a lit of work! I do not think celining fans would fit in, but the air returns are in the highest rooms, so in theory, if I have the fan set to cycle on the two systems it should distribute that heat well. 1 system does the 1st floor, the 2nd does the 2nd and 3 rd floor. Air returns are in the top corner of that tall room in the pic and the very top of the stair hall, the two highest points on the 1st and 2nd floors so that is good at least.

The more we think about it, if we could dial down the bills and get it worked out where we could live there 7 months of the year and rent it out (AirBNB etc) during the high season and cover the bills, that seems ideal. I love the house and love working on it, but it does freak me out a little (i.e. did I take on too much) so I appreciate all the comments on balance and being intentional.

I will absolutely keep digging around on the boiler, the costs look to be substantial and I want to see if there is some low hanging fruit to be had with some of the things people have mentioned....

Tell me about it on the paint....I have already done a LOT of it (some was never finished, some was messed up there were some water issues etc)....scaffolding and painting on your back 2 feet from the ceiling SUCKS after about 5 minutes let me tell you! Only way to touch up the coffering..and properly cut in on the panels.

I honestly am somewhat embarrassed of the place with friends and family. It is beautiful but I sort of feel like the guy who pulls up in the Lime Green Lambo..and I am not that guy. Proud of the hard work and beauty though.

I really appreciate all the input. On the Equinox, I had been going back and forth between that and the Progress Hybrid. Both seem to be great stoves. @Hogwildz you like the Equinox better?
 

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Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
The Equinox is merely a larger stove with larger firebox, and should put out some serious heat for a decent amount of time. I'm just thinking about max heat (for a stove) and less reloading times per day. Check the classified section of the forums, many times there are good wood boilers & stoves for sale at very reasonable pricing.
 
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Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
The Equinox is merely a larger stove with larger firebox, and should put out some serious heat for a decent amount of time. I'm just thinking about max heat (for a stove) and less reloading times per day. Check the classified section of the forums, many times there are good wood boilers & stoves for sale at very reasonable pricing.
Awesome! Will do. Yeah it is very pretty!
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,254
Downeast Maine
I've been following this thread out of curiosity and photos. Wow, what a beautiful place you have! I don't have anything meaningful to add that hasn't already been said, but that's an awesome place. You seem to be on the right track for getting the bills down. I'm in a surprise remodel of a place that's borderline too much for my family, but it will be worth it in the long run. We are putting up some big money up front for reduced bills later on. Definitely consider your future self with your heating system, you don't want to work overtime for the rest of your life for this place. Insulation, air sealing, and energy efficient appliances will go a long way. Having a few stoves for ambiance and supplemental heat while relying on the heat pumps for primary heat should really get the bills manageable for the future.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,480
South Puget Sound, WA
The Equinox is a big beautiful rock of a stove, but there are some caveats to check to be sure it would work. It's a big stove that requires a 42"D x 48"W hearth, weighs almost 700#, and requires an 8" liner. Check the current fireplace liner size, make sure there is room for it and check mantel clearances. Also, look at how the current hearth was made and support underneath. I would also think twice about adding a stove here if the intent is to rent the place or have it as a B&B unless you are the only one tending the stove.

What is the 2yr, 5yr or 10 yr plan for this mansion? If the intent is to get it into saleable condition then I would not alter the tv room fireplace and would not put in a wood boiler. Both would require a high capital outlay with little or no gain on the sale. To some wealthy purchasers, they may be considered a liability. Consult with a luxury realtor or two in the area to find out key features that make the property most attractive to high-end buyers and what would be considered a liability.
 
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Forrest3290

New Member
Apr 20, 2019
24
Salem, Oregon
I've been following this thread out of curiosity and photos. Wow, what a beautiful place you have! I don't have anything meaningful to add that hasn't already been said, but that's an awesome place. You seem to be on the right track for getting the bills down. I'm in a surprise remodel of a place that's borderline too much for my family, but it will be worth it in the long run. We are putting up some big money up front for reduced bills later on. Definitely consider your future self with your heating system, you don't want to work overtime for the rest of your life for this place. Insulation, air sealing, and energy efficient appliances will go a long way. Having a few stoves for ambiance and supplemental heat while relying on the heat pumps for primary heat should really get the bills manageable for the future.

@SpaceBus Thank you! Yes, it is sort of a dream house. My dad pushed me to go for it and has been working on it with me which is also been cool to spend time together and do that. I appreciate the advice and I think you are right. Work on reducing the bills and spending money where it does the most good. I am thinking with the bottom floor exposed other than the insulation, might be the right time to put in radiant and take care of some of that heating on the 1st floor and maybe tie together with the heating for the basement. Radiant is such nice even heat.