Wood boiler vs. old stove?

TANG0! Posted By TANG0!, Sep 20, 2017 at 1:10 PM

  1. TANG0!

    TANG0!
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    May 20, 2015
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    I recently purchased a house that has a wood-fired boiler installed in the basement. The house was built in 1979 and it is 1,600 square feet but that doesn't include the basement. The wood boiler is a Thermo-Control model 500. The house also has a very nice 2 years old fireplace insert up in the living room. After reading this forum for a while, it seems like the Thermo-Control boiler is not a very impressive unit, according to some forum members. It is also not currently connected to the baseboard system, which is heated by a nice modern oil furnace, but I imagine it would be possible to connect it using a switch to select oil or wood boiler.

    We also own a Fisher Mama Bear that we have in the basement of the house we're currently moving out from. I love that Fisher Mama; it's super reliable, takes in 2 foot logs and you can cook on it very easily (I've made a few stews using a cast iron dutch oven, the stove is great for that). I am thinking about removing the Thermo Control boiler and putting the Fisher Mama in its place instead. Does that make sense? Is that a good course of action? We do have the EPA certified fireplace insert upstairs anyway, and this stove would be just a backup in case we lose power, or for extra heating from the Basement.

    The Thermo Control boiler was never used by the previous owners of the house. The house is in pretty good shape and seems well insulated. Any word of advice and previous experience on the matter will be greatly appreciated! I tried posting this in the Fisher subforum some time ago, but nobody answered so I'm trying again here.
     
  2. maple1

    maple1
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    Not likely a yes/no answer to this one. A whole lot of factors, some or most of them personal preference - what makes sense to one might not to the next.

    If you can hook up the stove while the boiler stays put, for this winter, then you could try it with the stove & insert & see how things go. Also hard to say without spending a winter with things & see first hand how good/not good things work.
     
  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot
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    You want to put an old wood stove in the basement. The heat will have a hard time getting up the stairs. With the Themo Control, it's not insulated, so it kicks off radiant heat to the basement as well as piping it around the house. Wouldn't the Thermo Control have the edge? How much use is on the TC?

    You could probably heat most of your house with the insert most of the time. Then use the oil unit to take the edge off or heat up a remote bedroom when needed. That's probably what the last owner did.

    If you could use a stove downstairs in conjunction with a finished basement, would that be a plus? You could go there wen the power went out. If you weren't going to use the Thermo Control, might as well put the stove in there just in case, and you're attached to the stove.

    I like the idea that you have the infrastructure to plop in a new/advanced wood boiler (without the not cheap storage tank, lol) at some point.
     
  4. TANG0!

    TANG0!
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    May 20, 2015
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    Thank you for your insights! The point of the stove in the basement would not be to heat up the upstairs really, but more to have heat down there when I go work out (I have my home gym there, a power rack and treadmill), or if we use the basement for working or something, if we put a play space for the kids and most importantly to cook and heat up water if the power goes out (impossible to do that with the insert, but a fisher mamma does great). We do not have a storage tank down there.
     
  5. maple1

    maple1
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    It is very hard to beat a whole-house central heating unit for overall comfort. But you don't know yet how uncomfortable you would be if you didn't do the boiler - you may be 'OK' without it. You say the boiler isn't hooked up and was never used - so you have to factor in how easy or not it would be for you to do that.

    No one right answer here.
     
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot
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    Sounds like a plan, but maybe more suited to Hot Yoga, hah, hah.
     
  7. Hydronics

    Hydronics
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    Dec 3, 2008
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    I would pressure test first, then hook up the boiler, if you have a flue anywhere near the oil boiler you'll need a circulator, aquastat and piping. The boiler can carry the heat upstairs, the wood stove is likely to make it too hot downstairs (especially to work out near). You can't beat the simplicity of a wood stove though.
     
  8. Fred61

    Fred61
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    That's true. Started using a wood stove in 1960 forward to the late 80s when I installed my first boiler.(gasser). All kinds of hardware hanging on the boiler while the old wood stoves had nothing but a damper. However with the boiler I don't head for work in the morning and turn around at the first cross street and go back to see if I closed the damper. I don't worry about coming home and making the last turn on to my street and seeing a pile of ashes and a bathtub where my house once stood because of a chimney fire.
     
  9. rwh442

    rwh442
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    Do you have the Thermo Control 500 stove with hot water coil in/out or do you have the Thermo Control 2000 boiler (mine actually says 500/2000 boiler)? If you have the boiler, which is what I have, that thing will provide more than enough heat for your house. As someone stated earlier the radiant heat itself off the boiler will heat your house well.

    Do a search for some of my older posts if you want to know more about that boiler. To give you an idea I have it in a detached 3 car roll up door garage (insulated) that itself is 1600 sq ft and the radiant heat from that boiler keeps that garage at a minimum of 55 degrees during the winter - most of the times in the 60's. I pipe the water underground and heat my 2100 sq ft house with it as well. I used 6 1/2 cords last year but it was a mild winter here.
     
  10. blades

    blades
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    Old boilers- so this one hasn't been used for awhile. that can be a recipe for severe corrosion internally. As was said pressure test first. Even when passing that it could still be a boondoggle , heat expansion/ contraction can bring on problems that do not show in a pressure test..
     

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