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Old 07-18-2008, 05:52 PM
 
79 posts, read 410,909 times
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I know, I know... It depends... But here the deal to narrow it down:

The house is going to be roughly 2500 square feet with 10-12 foot ceilings.

I want to heat it primarily with wood and only use my furnace for backup purposes.

QUESTION 1
Assuming a few iron stoves and proper air circulation, how many cords would I need per year in the Kalispell area?

QUESTION 2
I am considering getting a wood burning furnace (like this: http://www.nextlevelsolutionz.com/im...h-light-sm.JPG) to heat my house and hot water. Would the wood consumption be same?

Anyone ever use these outside furnaces?
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 16,012,968 times
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Do I have some fun reading for you?!!

How To Heat Your Home With Wood | eHow.com

Scroll down to "HOW MUCH WOOD" which has a neat calculation:
NASD: Home Heating with Wood (http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d001201-d001300/d001235/d001235.html - broken link)

Some good advice about buying cords of wood:
How many cords to buy - Fireplaces Forum - GardenWeb

When I lived in Whitefish it "felt" a bit colder than the same-temperature nights did when I lived in Kalispell, for whatever that useless piece of information is worth.
Oh, and are you planning to heat small children or cats? They usually need more heat than adults usually do.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:40 PM
 
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Those are great links! Thanks so much.

I think with 4-5 cords I'd be fine from what I read.

Anyone have any experience with the outdoor wood burners?
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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Great questions about firewood. I'll share what I know about firewood.

First of all, there is no "warmer" heat than that produced by a wood stove. It will heat you inside and out and there are no nicer Christmas's spent than the ones by the wood fire. Those two things are a nice advantage to firewood.

On the otherhand, there is no source of heat that is more work than firewood. An old adage reads "the man who cuts his own firewood heats himself twice." In reality, you probably have five or six heats out of it, because you have to fell the trees, skid the trees to the house, buck the trees into 18" long blocks, stack the blocks, split the blocks, and finally take the firewood into your house. It's a heck of a lot of work.

5-6 cords equals about 15 - 18 nicely stacked piles (very roughly) of firewood. One cord is roughly equal to a pile of firewood 4 feet tall by one log length deep (18") by 24 feet wide. Five cords of wood is a roughly a 120 foot long pile of wood by 4 feet tall (a lot!).

Firewood makes a mess bringing into the house, and you'll need to vacuum or sweep to clean up. That's the advantage of the outdoor furnance is you can keep the mess outside, and yes, I know of some people who have these. Wood stoves heat unevenly, you'll be too hot in some rooms and too cold in others. Also, you'll wake up to a cold house every morning because it's rare for the fire to stay going all night long. Starting the fire first thing in the morning is a traditional chore around Montana where people heat with wood.

If you're looking at the firewood supply, notice how much dead/downed trees you have on your property compared to living trees. The dead/downed trees often are dry enough to use right away while the green trees will have to be seasoned for a full year before using them.

If you're building a new house - and I assume you are - you may want to look into using Geothermal Heat as your primary heat and wood heat as your backup and "fun" heat. Geothermal is a very reliable and inexpensive way of heating your house, and with the incentives they have, costs little to install. It's the most efficient form of heating in our country.

Let me know if you have any questions about firewood.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
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Last winter, I run my fireplace. Just a typical old rock fireplace but it has a fan that will circulate air. 1600 sq ft home. Set my thermostate at 60 degrees and built a nice fire in the fireplace every night. So if the fire went out, I didn't freeze to death. haha


I used 8 cords of wood.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:41 PM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 12,591,005 times
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I would recommend a pellet fired hydronic system if they are even available ? It wouldn't be all that hard to engineer one if they aren't readily available, with hot water circulating to radiators or under floor coils. I have a hydronic system with radiators but it's fired by a natural gas water heater, (not a boiler) and I am expecting natural gas prices to go up a bit this winter just as every one else does. I heated with wood and cooked with wood on an old wood cook stove for many years. I don't know how old you are but chopping wood is really hard on the old bod ! I would do a lot of research before committing to one system or another. If you have easy or cheap access to good easy chopping wood then go for it !
I worked at a planing mill once and I took the cut offs home and even had enough to sell bundles to local stores for fireplace wood. The stock like you see outside of stores in wrapped or tied bundles. It was all oak, mahogany, teak, walnut and a few exotics. I back packed it down the goat trail or rickety staircase down to Salmon Beach in Tacoma Wa. (Google that along with the keyword "landslides") Quite a place ! Everyone heated with wood there back then, and there wasn't a sewer or city water back then also. Those were the days when you could buy a house down there for $6,000. !

Last edited by Rickers; 07-18-2008 at 08:57 PM..
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:24 PM
 
Location: SW Montana
352 posts, read 1,049,552 times
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We have a Quadrafire stove as our primary heat with gas-fired boiler/hot water as backup. It rarely if ever turns on in the winter, even at -30 or better. I have the Quad sitting in the basement on a brick pad with a large brick backing and about five feet of single wall pipe going into a masonry chimney. So by the time all that mass gets heated up it makes for a pretty warm house. We have 1100 s.f. in the basement and the same upstairs, all wood cellulose insulation but a bunch of it, especially in the ceiling. Older house, but fairly well stuck together. Unless it gets powerful chilly for several days on end, the place stays pretty warm and we alway leave a couple windows cracked in the basement and one in our bedroom. Took me fifteen years to convince my wife that sleeping in a cool room in the winter was a good thing, finally got it done a few years ago, she likes that 50-55 degree sleep now, and no worries about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Most winters I average about 2 1/2 - 3 cords of wood burning from about mid-October to the first of May or so. I usually keep two years at a time in the shed, that way if anything unforseen happens I am okay. Started traveling quite a ways away for wood - USFS is getting pretty bizarre about how and where you can cut wood in the areas south of the Gallatin Valley. Got stopped a few years back by a greenhorn trying to confiscate my wood because I didn't whack it into short lengths. Finally convinced him that the junk I was taking out was no good for fence or little else but firewood - didn't have time that day to block everything up. So now I have to burn a little gas to get to where I'm going, but the cutting is so good that it more than makes up for my time. Can get two cords cut and blocked in about two-three hours depending on how much help I have and how hard I want to work. Nice having 150' trees to work with right beside the road.
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allforcats View Post
Oh, and are you planning to heat small children or cats? They usually need more heat than adults usually do.
Contrary to what allforcats says above, I don't believe that you need to set the thermostat higher because of having cats in the house. Felines are skilled at living in all sorts of climates and should be able to handle the same temperature range as humans. Same with small kids - you may need to bundle them up more, but they won't require turning up your thermostat to keep them happy.

I mention this because one of the greatest consumption of oil, propane, wood, natural gas, etc (and thereby one of the big sources of pollution) is caused by heating our homes. Please don't consume more fossil fuel and pollute more for the purpose of keeping your cats warm! They'll do just fine in the same environment as you and me.

If a person really is worried, you can setup a small electric blanket or leave a light on in a closet or other enclosed room for them, which would be much less expensive than heating a 2000 square foot house for the sake of a few cats!
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:20 PM
 
Location: LEAVING CD
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My next door neighbor has one of those outside boiler systems and he loves it. He has a 3500 sqft house and a 60x50 shop that he heats with it as well as all his hot water.
I think he went through about 1 1/2 cords of wood last winter. The up side to that unit is if he forgets to load it with wood it'll automatically switch to gas to keep the heat up.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:28 PM
 
1,305 posts, read 2,349,876 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimj View Post
My next door neighbor has one of those outside boiler systems and he loves it. He has a 3500 sqft house and a 60x50 shop that he heats with it as well as all his hot water.
I think he went through about 1 1/2 cords of wood last winter. The up side to that unit is if he forgets to load it with wood it'll automatically switch to gas to keep the heat up.
I think your neighbor forgets to load it pretty often....1.5 cords for a 3500 square foot house plus a 3000 square foot garage plus hot water will use a lot more than 1.5 cords of wood!

I probably burn .1 cords of wood each time I go camping, so he uses about my equivalent of 15 (good sized) worth of wood each winter.
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