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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Clinton, Illinois

    Default Outdoor wood boilers

    Anyone out there care to share their experience with an outdoor wood boiler? I'd like to hear pros and cons, as I am considering a purchase.

    For me the pros:
    I live in a timber are so I have a fairly reliable fuel source.

    Have a neighbor (smoke).
    I have a separate upstairs and downstairs furnaces, so installation would be bit more than "standard".

    I am also wrestling with the cost benefit of this system (wood) vs just going geo-thermal.

    If you have one or know someone that does, please share the experience. Thanks, Mike.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Loganville, GA


    Been looking myself, so no practical insight here.

    Wood is cheapest, but if you can't raise the stack enough so you don't smoke your neighbor out, maybe look into a pellet burner? They aren't going to be cost effective if you don't have a local supplier for the pellets though.

    I'm liking the geo-thermal idea too. Especially if I get into solar power at some point.

    Good thread, I'll be watching to see what folks have to say about these. Seems like a see a few more of them every time I go up to Mich.
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Lk Stevens, WA


    I use Geo-thermal for heating my house. It's 3200 SF and my electrical cost to heat/cool and all the rest of the electrical appliances costs me $143 a month. I have a pond that is the heat source. It cost me a little more to have the system installed. I had it figured out that I would get my payback in seven years verses using propane. It's been running for 11 years now without any problems.

    I also have a fireplace that I rarely use. Cutting wood and hauling it is pretty labor intensive. It also brings quite a bit of dirt into the house. I just dropped seven 150' Douglas fir last week and I am not looking forward to bucking and splitting it. I must be getting soft in my older age.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Devils Lake, North Dakota


    Early outdoor burners had boiler problems and leakage.
    I have heard that has been resolved.

    My biggest turn off is cost!! They run upward of $5000
    plus installation and whatever plumbing is required.

    I have a wood stove in the basement ($100 used) and
    coupled with off peak electric and an air to air heat
    pump it just didn't make economical sense to fork out
    close to $7000 for an installed outdoor wood boiler.

    Payback would be decades, not years for me.

    By geothermal I assume your talking about a ground
    source heat pump?? That is the route I'll be going in
    a couple of years. I saw a video of a do it yourselfer
    installing his own in the yard with a trencher. It did
    not look overly complicated and did not require digging
    up the whole yard. Lots of deep (10' - 12') trenches
    Closing in on retirement.......

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Lk Stevens, WA


    Yes it is a heat pump system. It has two inch pipe that goes out to the pond. Its a closed loop. The pipe is made into a mat that is sunk to the bottom using rocks, bricks or blocks tied to it. The run to the pond is about 80'. I put the pipes in that trench a little over two feet apart. I wish I had used a little more separation for more insulation. I have seen some company's advertizing that they can put the pipe down a well too.

    Is the Devils lake area still going under water? Last time I flew over the area I was amazed at how many roads were covered over and barns flooded. Scott

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Erie, PA


    Take this with several grains of salt, because I admittedly know very little about geothermal heat systems. But I do know water systems, and I personally would be leary about putting anything down my well. The best of pipes and valves leak, and most heating loops have some sort of rust inhibitor in them. It's not worth the risk of contaminating the well.

    I have considered the outdoor wood burner, but the ones I have seen are very smoky in operation, and the only location I have to out one is upwind. Will be interested in the opinions of others.
    Last edited by Hobie; 11-08-2008 at 08:02 AM.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Hillsboro, Wisconsin, USA


    Smoke - yikes!

    When the unit is "coasting" in early and late heating seasons, the unit will be dampered so much that you (and your neighbor) will be cursing. Typically that will also be the time when the air is damp and still, so look forward to a low-lying blanket of smoke-fog. It will be fine when you are going full blast in the coldest part of winter.

    I have a wood stove in the main part of the house, and to supplement it I am considering a corn/pellet stove for my sun porch. Should be easier to work with, as it is a through the wall installation.

    Have fun!



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