Choosing a wood furnace
A wood furnace can be the sole source of heat or used as a supplement. Chuck Gagner is the president of Woodmaster. He says first determine what size furnace you need. Look at the BTU output value of your existing unit and match that. Traditional wood burning furnaces work well for those who have an ample supply of firewood. But Gagner says a flex-fuel unit provides more options.
"That unit can burn cord wood, wood pellets, or wood chips. So if you're purchasing a furnace, and say you get tired of cutting wood, or you want to go on vacation for a period of time, you can easily buy the pellet option, and convert from one fuel to another," says Gagner. "So I think the flexibility in that is very important."
Research how long has a particular wood furnace been on the market, how durable and reliable is it, and what kind of maintenance is involved. You'll find efficiency and cleanliness ratings on the EPA's website. The furnace you choose should be compatible with your current heating system. Also consider where it will be installed.
"They can be installed in an outbuilding, they can be installed in your basement, they can be installed in your attached garage, you've got a wide variety of options," Gagner says. "You can put the furnace in an outbuilding where your wood is stored, and then pipe the heat into the – we call the buffer tank – which is the water storage, and then from that buffer tank is what your home would draw the heat out of when it needs it."
Traditional wood furnaces to heat a small home cost about $5,000. A flex-fuel unit may cost up to $15,000.
Additional points to consider for heating with wood from the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
Radio interview source: Chuck Gagner, President, Woodmaster
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