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Yooper In Training
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Did you guys install your wood burners during house construction or after? All outside units? I'm curious what the extra cost was to do this and what the payback is?
I have baseboard hot water heat so it seems like an outdoor burner would be an easy add on. I've never researched cost vs payback to understand if it would be a worthwhile addition. I have plenty of available wood but it's 2 hours from home which makes it a lot more troublesome to prep. It's not like I can go out in the back yard for a few hours each week to cut wood. But being self sufficient sure is appealing.
Mine is a freestanding wood stove inside the great room. It has a blower for circulation. I have forced air heat and AC so I've been leaving the furnace blower on to circulate the warm air throughout the house and basement the past couple years, but I have an extremely open floorplan so I spent 7 years just letting the woodstove do its thing and it did pretty well that way too.

I have a friend about 10 miles away with a nearly identical sized house, same age, same weather, and in a given winter he uses about 5x more propane than I do. At the time I'd spend about $500 on propane and he'd spend $2500. If we'd been on natural gas the delta would be smaller, but still there. And now with high energy prices it'll be even larger.

Your baseboard heat would work great with an outdoor burner, but I assume you're on natural gas where you are so the savings would be lower, especially after $10k or more to get the full setup completed. Probably quite a bit higher than that in today's market. You've got to really want it to justify the cost, time, and labor of heating with wood. An outdoor burner will use a lot more wood too, and you need to go outside in shitty weather to feed it, but you can put pretty much any wood in them. Pine, junk, dry, wet, large rounds, whatever. They have a short outdoor chimney so creosote buildup isn't as much of a worry as the long, tall chimneys attached to your house. Obviously the better the wood the more efficient the burn though.

Gotta put value on your time, labor, fuel, and equipment too if you're trying to quantify the savings. Free wood isn't really free, but it can be dirt cheap. I do it fairly cheap. Old super heavy duty $600 hydraulic wood splitter, $700 worth of old reliable Stihl saws and chains, less than $50 in gas to run the equipment for a season, and a bunch of time. All that stuff was paid for in half a season with the propane savings. Plus I enjoy doing it, it's good exercise, and it's rewarding. I did buy an expensive tractor last year that makes it way easier, but I did it for 8 years without it and it's an investment that I could get almost a full return on at any given time and it gets used for lots of other stuff too including mowing my lawn. If I want to factor the tractor all into the propane savings, at current prices I'd be looking at a 10 year payback for a machine I'll probably own for 30 years and that will save my back big time.
 
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F-U-CANCER!!!
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I have been calculating the option of adding a mini split to my house. I would then use it to heat whenever in the efficient operating temp of a heat pump (~35 degrees?) and to cool my house rather than a window ac unit. My house is avg size and very well insulated.

I use about 40 pounds per day which is about $5.50 this year.
It looks like it would cost me about $3.25 with a mini split right now. My power is currently ~ $0.12 kwh.


Calculations came from my electric bill and here =
Converting pellet stove usage to minisplit operating cost - GreenBuildingAdvisor
If you use 60 lbs/day, that's 60*8800*0.8 = 422 kBTU/day. That's 124 kWh of heat. If the minisplit has a COP of 3, that's 41 kWh


Most of you are smarter than me, would appreciate any thoughts you may have...
 

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Mine is a freestanding wood stove inside the great room. It has a blower for circulation. I have forced air heat and AC so I've been leaving the furnace blower on to circulate the warm air throughout the house and basement the past couple years, but I have an extremely open floorplan so I spent 7 years just letting the woodstove do its thing and it did pretty well that way too.

I have a friend about 10 miles away with a nearly identical sized house, same age, same weather, and in a given winter he uses about 5x more propane than I do. At the time I'd spend about $500 on propane and he'd spend $2500. If we'd been on natural gas the delta would be smaller, but still there. And now with high energy prices it'll be even larger.

Your baseboard heat would work great with an outdoor burner, but I assume you're on natural gas where you are so the savings would be lower, especially after $10k or more to get the full setup completed. Probably quite a bit higher than that in today's market. You've got to really want it to justify the cost, time, and labor of heating with wood. An outdoor burner will use a lot more wood too, and you need to go outside in shitty weather to feed it, but you can put pretty much any wood in them. Pine, junk, dry, wet, large rounds, whatever. They have a short outdoor chimney so creosote buildup isn't as much of a worry as the long, tall chimneys attached to your house. Obviously the better the wood the more efficient the burn though.

Gotta put value on your time, labor, fuel, and equipment too if you're trying to quantify the savings. Free wood isn't really free, but it can be dirt cheap. I do it fairly cheap. Old super heavy duty $600 hydraulic wood splitter, $700 worth of old reliable Stihl saws and chains, less than $50 in gas to run the equipment for a season, and a bunch of time. All that stuff was paid for in half a season with the propane savings. Plus I enjoy doing it, it's good exercise, and it's rewarding. I did buy an expensive tractor last year that makes it way easier, but I did it for 8 years without it and it's an investment that I could get almost a full return on at any given time and it gets used for lots of other stuff too including mowing my lawn. If I want to factor the tractor all into the propane savings, at current prices I'd be looking at a 10 year payback for a machine I'll probably own for 30 years and that will save my back big time.
The only thing i have to argue against here, is the fact that you have to go outside to fill the boiler in shitty weather... if you don't work inside your home, i.e. go to a shop or office, you're going outside every morning to go to work, and then again every evening when you come home, so filling the boiler for 5 minutes on your way to the car, and again on the way to the house is really not that big of an inconvenience. IMO is a silly justification against getting one. I've found the easiest way to talk folks out of wood heat is to have them come help you cut wood for one single day. Most can't hack 3 hours of it, let alone going all weekend for most of them during the winter(for me at least, and I'm not a very good example due to my size and situation). I like trees, and i like turning them into heat by my own hands. I'm probably just a fucking fruit cake 🤣 😔
 

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I'm not old, honest...
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Great info guys. I'm leaning towards a free standing stove in the house. We have been wanting a fireplace for aesthetics and have been bouncing back and forth between NG or wood. A good wood burner is more expensive and requires a better chimney system. NG is great for turning on and off at your leisure but doesn't offer any supplementary help or if the SHTF. Wife doesn't want the mess in the house but the way our world is going, having a fall back is not a bad idea. At the moment, I could install a wood burner with a NG insert. However, that does me no good if things go to shit and I don't have time to build a large reserve of wood at home.

And I agree, at my young age, I don't want to put the work into what it takes to live off wood. I already have an array of chainsaws and have the means to get the wood home from up north but it will be a lot of work. I am not a doomsdayer but I recognize that our world is going crazy. Living on a lake where water and fish are available, heat and cooking fuel is the only hiccup I have for a true SHTF scenario.
 

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Yooper In Training
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Great info guys. I'm leaning towards a free standing stove in the house. We have been wanting a fireplace for aesthetics and have been bouncing back and forth between NG or wood. A good wood burner is more expensive and requires a better chimney system. NG is great for turning on and off at your leisure but doesn't offer any supplementary help or if the SHTF. Wife doesn't want the mess in the house but the way our world is going, having a fall back is not a bad idea. At the moment, I could install a wood burner with a NG insert. However, that does me no good if things go to shit and I don't have time to build a large reserve of wood at home.

And I agree, at my young age, I don't want to put the work into what it takes to live off wood. I already have an array of chainsaws and have the means to get the wood home from up north but it will be a lot of work. I am not a doomsdayer but I recognize that our world is going crazy. Living on a lake where water and fish are available, heat and cooking fuel is the only hiccup I have for a true SHTF scenario.
I don't disagree with any of that logic. If you have an existing fireplace you can get a proper woodburning insert too that's much more efficient than a normal fireplace.

There have been numerous times we lost power in the winter, once for 3 or 4 days, when friends and family nearby were busy freezing their asses off(those without generators or without theirs tapped into the furnace grid like my in-laws with electric baseboard heat) and we were toasty warm thanks to the wood stove.

Keep in mind you can always just pay $60-80 a face cord to have someone else bring you wood, or probably less if you buy a crapload of it. It'd quickly kill any cost savings of heating with wood, but not a bad way to create a decent sized stash if you're mostly using it for ambiance or a SHTF backup plan. Plus you know guys like Casey who'd probably hook you up with their wood from work.
 
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I'll Direc your TV
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I don't disagree with any of that logic. If you have an existing fireplace you can get a proper woodburning insert too that's much more efficient than a normal fireplace.

There have been numerous times we lost power in the winter, once for 3 or 4 days, when friends and family nearby were busy freezing their asses off(those without generators or without theirs tapped into the furnace grid like my in-laws with electric baseboard heat) and we were toasty warm thanks to the wood stove.

Keep in mind you can always just pay $60-80 a face cord to have someone else bring you wood, or probably less if you buy a crapload of it. It'd quickly kill any cost savings of heating with wood, but not a bad way to create a decent sized stash if you're mostly using it for ambiance or a SHTF backup plan. Plus you know guys like Casey who'd probably hook you up with their wood from work.
I have been thinking about getting a woodstove insert instead of a regular fireplace as well. Not a whole lot of thought into it just one of those "hmm, maybe that's not a bad idea" kinda things
 

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Project Antitube
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I bought a Pacific Energy fireplace insert and a titanium alloy chimney liner back in 2010 under Obama's home energy credit. I maxed it out the rest of the way by buying insulation for the attic I still haven't laid down. It's about R1000 above our bedroom by my calculations. I want to say I had $3500 into everything after the tax credit. I want to say the insert and liner was $3200 shipped. I had to go pick it up at a shipping depot in Jackson.

The fireplace insert and crap paid for itself within 3 years because otherwise I heat with oil. Back then fuel oil was just as expensive as it is now. Our oil tank is in the basement. I use 1 gallon of #2 oil per hour through a Beckett AFG into a Utica boiler. I have a second Beckett AFG I can swap onto the boiler for burning waste oil or kitchen oil. I haven't used it in a few years since I work from home now and use way less oil. I also no longer have a source for fryer or waste oil.

I kept getting the fireplace insert blower motors replaced under warranty from Pacific Energy. Last year was the first time I bought some, and they were $200 delivered. I have replaced all the firebrick once, which was probably around $80 at the time. Firebrick has gotten expensive since.

Since we have baseboard heat, we don't have anything to circulate air. The living room hovers around 75, the bedrooms hover around the upper 60s. If you want it colder just close the door.

Last year was the first year I intentionally bought firewood processing equipment for the purpose of firewood. I spent $1800 on two new chainsaws and another $1000 on a hydraulic splitter. I could say the chainsaws paid for themselves because that was less than it would have cost me to have the tree people cut down the trees but it was a sunk cost regardless. It will take another 3 years to pay off that $2800 with cost avoidance depending on how long fuel oil stays high. It is $4.65 right now.

It takes me about 1 hour of processing time per 1 day of wood. I consider from the time I start the process until it is stacked/covered... then time time from getting it from the wood racks to the house for burning. Normally this processing time I consider "free" time because it's in the winter when I don't want to do anything else. Basically works out to lawnmowing time in the summer (spend about 50 hours on the tractor in the summer). This year I have a little over 50 hours into 45 face cords I cut, but that is a lot of bullshit work I've had to do regarding cleanup due to all the trees having leaves on them. There is now 12 hours on my splitter.

Tree tops take forever to deal with. First you limb it out (I keep everything wrist size is bigger, most stuff thumb size or bigger) which takes a while. Then you have to haul off the brush. Large logs take forever to deal with because it's a PITA to split. Deadfall already on the ground goes super fast, I can probably do a week's worth of burning in 2 hours. I literally cut it into the trailer so there is way less handling time.

I clean the chimney once a year, whether it needs it or not. If I burn dry wood it doesn't need it. I get about 1 cup of crap off the chimney each year. If I burn wet wood (more than 15%) I might as well just stay on the roof and clean it each hour so that's when I learned to ensure I only burn the dryest of wood.

I don't consider the cost of bar oil, 2 cycle, or gas. It's pretty much negligible. Chain loops from Oregon aren't free, but I buy them a dozen at a time. I trade my Dad water softener salt for sharpening my chains for me. Probably get 10-12 sharpenings out of a chain. I'll say... negligible.

If I had natural gas to the house already (I'm in DTE footprint but have muni power) I'd probably just burn natural gas most of the time. But I don't have natural gas and it'd cost me a fortune to hook up. I expect natural gas is going to be as expensive as propane soon, and it may never recover to being damn near free energy. I have no interest in converting any of my appliances from electric to gas.
 

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Kitten I'm gonna eat you!
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No to completely derail a conversation but anyone know of a decent place to get wood pellets this year. I'm going to have a pellet stove backup in case propane turns into pro-pain for price. I have the stove, just need to get the pellets and plumb it into the existing SS lined chimney.
 

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Project Antitube
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Menards and Tractor Supply both have them locally for me. You're looking at $300/ton these days. I think the $200/ton days are gone forever.

I think my Dad said he paid $1.12/gal for propane a month or so ago.
 

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Kitten I'm gonna eat you!
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FWIW Rural King has them for $285 a ton but I should have bought yesterday because I found them for $249 a ton. Must have been on sale.
 
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