Woodstove in Basement or 1st Floor

Malatu Posted By Malatu, Nov 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

  1. unhdsm

    Member 2.

    Oct 21, 2010
    You described my previous set up exactly. I had a 3 cubic foot EPA stove in my half finished basement and it worked great...until I finished the upstairs (3rd) floor. There was NO WAY to get heat up to those bedrooms in the Vermont winter. It was freezing. I put the Shelburne on the first (living area) floor and life is good. Don't do it.
  2. wkpoor

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 30, 2008
    Amanda, OH
    I'll comment here because people of all sorts of situations might read this. Everything posted to this point is spot on. I too this yr intend to have a stove on the 1st floor. However my situation just might be others too. For me to put a stove on the first floor means I will have to lug wood up a flight of stairs which will be harder than going down. My main entry into the house is my walkout basement. And in winter that is where we spend our time. It was only logical for me to put a stove there. Easy to move anything in or out through a set of double french doors level with the driveway. If I wanted to I could drive a skid steer right up to the stove. I have found though that exposed block walls and all that concrete is quite the heat sink. But there is peace of mind with the heater sitting on concrete and surrounded by concrete.
    Upstairs has its own set of challenges with the 18' high ceiling great room.
    I too will vote for 1st floor in your situation. Just wanted to note why some people have good reason to do the basement install.
    northwinds likes this.
  3. begreen

    Mooderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Correct. If the ductwork is uninsulated and running through a cool space the heat loss can outweigh the benefits. A well placed table fan can sometimes achieve much better results.
  4. Seanm

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 16, 2012
    SE BC Canadian Rockies
    I had a stove put in my basement late september this year. We thought about having an insert put in our fireplace in the living room but we figured it would be hard to get the heat downstairs. We live in a split level home where the basement (half below grade) is always cold! My daughter has her bedroom down there as well as a rec room and my wifes office. Its bothered us that our daughter has a cold bedroom and bathroom but not any more! I have an attached garage with a bit of wood in it so for me its 5 steps down to the stove. Right now its -11c out and my rec room thermometer which is 20 feet from the stove is saying 24C and my upstairs is 22.5 plus the furnace hasnt been on for days. Its interesting hearing about how concrete sucks up heat. I guess that makes sense! What about insulating your walls down there? Even if you dont put your stove in the basement you will still benefit. Having it upstairs will make it easier for you on drafting!
  5. swagler85

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Mar 4, 2012
    NE Ohio
    I have my stove in the basement but it's a little different situation. It's a fully finished walk out basement on a raised ranch style house. We spend most of our time in the basement so it works out nice having the stove there. Typically it keeps the upstairs rooms farthest from the stove at 67-72. I did play around with using my forced sir to distribute heat this year. I have a return air vent directly above my stove, it helped keep the basement from getting too hot and pushed some of that air upstairs. Don't know how much of that heat I lost though, I don't think it was much since most if my ductwork is in living areas.
    northwinds likes this.

    Member 2.

    Oct 18, 2009
    Lil' Rhody
    We decided on the first floor install after debating putting it in the basement. 2000 ft2 home. We put the stove on the 1st floor. In our setup, I really do not think the second floor bedrooms would get enough heat from a basement install. Sure, the 1st floor would be warm, but we have small kids on the 2nd floor and I want them warm.

    In addition to heat circulation being good, I really enjoy watching the stove where I spend the most time. Keeping an eye on it operationally speaking and aesthetically. In fact when its real cold we all focus on that steel box its great.
  7. Stump_Branch

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 12, 2010
    I have one in the main living area and one in the basement. Mostly due to the lay out, the stove physically are on the opposite ends of the house. The basement install was the second stove.

    For me it takes longer to heat the basement up and get the heat moving up. Don't get me wrong it most certainly does. However the main living area stove does the bulk of the house and in a quicker manner.

    Heart it's surely one aspect, as begreen stated though might a well enjoy the look of the fire as well. That and i would venture it's safer just due to you being around it vs just checking on it...let the basement stove go to long in between reloads and you will surely be kicking yourself.

    Course you could do both. Might be your best option on getting to 80% less gas usage.
  8. steve19

    New Member 2.

    Oct 29, 2011
    Northwest Territories, Canada
    Based on the size of your house I think installing the stove on the first floor makes the most sense. You will achieve better heat distribution.

    I have an 1100 square foot home and my stove is in the basement. My stove heats the entire house however. There is often a 10 degree difference between floors (basement sits around 80, upstairs is around 70-72). If I had the stove upstairs however, I think I would melt.
  9. TuffGong

    New Member 2.

    Jan 23, 2012
    East Coast of Wisconsin
    1st floor for sure. I have a walkout and put mine in the basement. I never bring my wood inside which keeps the mess to a minimum. The advice that stoves are area heaters are spot on. I know lots of people heat their entire house with wood stoves but I think it is difficult, and "heat" is a relative proposition. Wood stoves make for tremendously warm areas and tremendously cold areas, if your house is choppy that is. It can be tough to move heat imo.
  10. albertj03

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 16, 2009
    Southern Maine
    Another vote for 1st floor. I have a similar setup but my house is a little smaller and I have my stove in the basement. It does a good job heating the 1st floor above it but not much heat gets to the second floor. Having the stove in the basement can be a major pain especially when you are lighting a cold stove. You'll find yourself either sitting in your basement stearing at your stove waiting for it to get going so you can turn down the air and go upstairs, or you'll be running up and down the stairs every 5 minutes to check on the stove.

    If I could I would put my stove on the first floor in a heartbeat. It would make burning wood much more convienment for me and push more heat throughout the house.
  11. schlot

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 21, 2011
    Looks like the consensus is to place it on the first floor, but I like to offer something.

    If you are trying to save on your NG bill, the first thing I would do is to look at making the house better insulated, then move on to a different heat source like wood. Granted putting an insert in will save you money, but I think you can't over look the obvious heat loss you are experiencing right now. That uninsulated basement (especially the exposed band of block) is letting the NG btu's outside instead of heating you. Not sure what you have for attic insulation but that's a huge area that can lose heat too.

    I know it's not as sexy as putting in stove or fireplace, but I'm sure glad I made a big effort in insulating those two same areas before I put my stove in. We saw a big reduction in our NG bills before I even put the stove in.

    Just my 2cents worth
  12. firefighterjake

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jul 22, 2008
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    +1 . . . same advice I got from the folks here . . . and it did make a big difference . . . adding the woodstove a few months later was just the icing on the proverbial cake.
  13. Huntindog1

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 6, 2011
    South Central Indiana
    Ok, here is my two cents worth, If your upstairs rooms are not all that big and open your going to have to get you a small stove or you will be sweating your self with all the heat.

    Like someone said if you put it on the main floor dont get too big of one. Or if thats what you want to do get you one of those Blaze Kings you can turn the stove way down and get like a 30 hour burn time at a real low heat setting as it has a Catalytic Combustor in it to allow those low burn settings.

    If you put a stove down in the basement you can get a bigger one, non-cat type with the secondary burn tubes up in the top, these are usually cheaper than cat stoves. By having the bigger stove you can get longer burn times with the secondary tube type stoves. The bigger stove is going to be hotter for down stairs but like you said you wont be down there.

    When burning those cat stoves at real low settings the front glass usually gets all black so you dont have much too look at. But you dont have to burn it at its lowest setting all the time either.

    The Blaze King Sirrocco at 20 hours burn time would be a good option:


    Or this one at 30 hours burn time:

  14. northwinds

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jul 9, 2006
    south central WI
    House layout, basement type, and usage are critical factors. As noted, not every basement is equal. We've had walk-out basements that were finished with drywall, insulated, and carpeted, along with easy access to wood right outside the sliding glass windows. There have been no upstairs doors to our basements--only open carpeted stairways. If we didn't have a woodstove in the basement, we would never use our lower level. As it is, that's where we spend most our free time. In our present house, it's also where we sleep (master suite). Except on the very coldest of days, the wood stove heats the lower level and the hillside upper level; heat rises. I wouldn't want our main stove on the upper level because it's nearly impossible to get the heat to travel down.

    Since you don't use your basement much, there's no reason to have a wood stove down there.
  15. KaptJaq

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 31, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Like a couple of others, I have an insert on the main floor and a stove in the basement. We do not use the basement that much, it is more of a children's play room. With two stoves neither has to be very big. The insert has a 1.5 cf firebox and is non-cat. It is more than enough to heat the main floor for our normal winter days, highs in the 40s and lows around 30. It does not bake us out of the room when it is going strong. It does get overnight burns of about 8 hours if I am not pushing it too hard.

    We do get cold stretches with highs below freezing. The insert cannot keep up the that level of cold. That is when I light the downstairs stove. Once it heats up the lower level a lot of heat goes up the stairs and radiates through the floors. I also have a powered duct at the far end of the lower level to force some circulation. If it is going to be a short cold spell I burn wood in both stoves. For extended cold spells I burn coal downstairs. Nothing beats tending a stove once or twice a day and coal gives a long even burn.

    My answer is that two small stoves are right in some situations...


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