When warm season slowly switch to colder season, you know it is time to check on outdoor wood furnace. Make sure it works properly or you will have no hot water for autumn and winter. Not all people have this heating system. Many modern houses use latest technology. Customers need to own quite big space to have outdoor heating system.
In addition to big space, you also need to understand well the outdoor wood boiler cost. It covers installation, maintenance and price of the unit itself. Customers have to decide whether their budget is enough. They must also answer their own question about which value to prioritize. Would they choose lower price but high quality contractor, or vice versa?
Probably best way to get outdoor wood boilers recommendation is from the other customers’ review. Many of them share that they are happy with the products. There is a strong reason why people want to have it so bad; its low annual cost.
However, some other people complain about its efficiency. Boiling time is either too long or produce warm water only. Unfortunately, these problems are not easily fixed by calling contractors. Which one is true? Give some time to check some facts about this matter.
How an Outdoor Wood Boiler Works
First of all, you need to put this boiler on its place. You cannot have it inside the house. Minimum safe distance to put outdoor wood is 500 meters from home. An outdoor wood boiler looks like a chamber. Inside of it, there is a part to burn wood and another part called water jacket. As you could guess, water jacket is filled with cold water. As some woods are burnt, water will be heated.
Then how hot water is transported to rooms? Do you have to collect them and bring bucket of water by yourself? Thankfully, there are pipes installed underground to transport hot water. For 24 hours, you will get endless supply of hot water. Maximum heat inside outdoor boiler is 180 degree Farenheit. Once water reaches this maximum heat, blower fan inside boiler will stop and damper fall closed.
It keeps heated coal on its recent temperature. When water temperature slowly reaches 160 degree, then blower will be turned on again. Main fuel for outdoor boiler is wood. It is not just any other wood, but hardwood. For boiler machine to work the whole day, normally you only feed them once. If big family comes and use hot water repeatedly, you might feed it more often.
Dual Fuel Systems with Gas Heat
Relying on one heating source has its own disadvantages. Could you imagine what will happen if this only source cannot be turned on? Will you risk spending rest of the day without hot water? Since this problem is pretty serious, a lot of houses choose dual fuel system for heating. Just like its name, you will have two equally strong machines to provide hot water.
No matter how durable and versatile a product is, you might still see its breakdown. There is certain condition that will stop heating machine to work. Best way to run literal 24hours heating system is taking turn. Having dual fuel system means that you could switch them. One might run until outdoor temperature reaches certain point.
Then, another one will take over.
For outdoor heating system, the most compatible partner is gas heat. People who choose to take gas heater usually have access to hard wood. Instead of stocking a lot of wood, customers could boosts heater efficiency by combining gas and outdoor system.
During bad winter, it is easier to access gas. Later when temperature rises, ignite burner near water chamber. If you switch these steps, you might not be able to ignite fire in the middle of freezing temperature.
3 Types of Alternatives to Wood
Are you looking for alternative items to replace wood? It might be not available or you simply want to save more woods in stock before winter comes. There are several options that work just as good as hardwood.
Wood Pellet Furnaces
It is not real wood. Any normal hardwood usually still has 20% water left. When this wood is burnt in the burner, it cannot reach its highest efficiency. You will see different story with wood pellet. Composed from sawdust and binder, wood pellet has little to none moisture in it. With this said, you could get most efficient heating with wood pellet.
Using wood pellet has another additional benefit. It gives no odd smell after burning. Therefore, it is perfect choice for those who live not too far from their neighbor.
Wood is not available in every area. Several regions have tons of crops but minimum trees. In short, outdoor heater in these areas cannot rely on woods for long period. To replace wood, people could take corn instead. Don’t forget to dry them under the sun. Dried corn produces heat just like wood.
Sadly, there are several problems you need to know. First, dried corns are not easily burned. Thus, they are not good fire starters. You still need a handful of hardwood or wood pellet to ignite burner. Second, corn contains sugar, which later leaves different type of ash. It is called “clinkers”. Clean burner regularly or you will have a chamber full of clinkers in no time.
Last option to replace wood is coal. This is a popular alternative for those houses that need immense heat. One sack or coal will produce twice heat temperature than a sack of hardwood. However, only some burners could burn coal. Most products are made to burn hardwood or wood pellet.
Wood Boiler Options and Features
Wood boiler needs good specification to work. Here are your options and possible features to expect:
In total, there are three sizes of outdoor heater you need to know. One is firebox capacity. The biggest is 24 cubic and the smallest is 10 cubic. Remember that bigger firebox will emit higher temperature. For HVAC products, you might be familiar with BTU term. In outdoor heater, you will see MBU instead.
This is just another form of BTU. One MBU is equal to 1000 BTU. Therefore, 160.000 BTU will be written as 160 MBU instead. For average residence, available options are 150 MBU up to 240 MBU. There is also 400 MBU if you need it.
Last size is related to flame. Sometimes you need hot water to be prepared immediately. Another time, you think the water is too hot and want to lower the heat. Flame within burner can be controlled using dampers. It limits or opens access for oxygen flow.
How strong hot water flow in your house? If it runs slowly, then probably water tank capacity in heater machine is not big enough. The option for water tank ranges from 100 to 325 gallons. Size of water tank will raise MBU level. In this case, bigger gallon will provide hotter water and stronger flow.
Domestic Hot Water
There is a way to get more hot water without overworking the outdoor heater. You need to install several additional pipes and plate exchanger, though. It works like this; water heater is placed close to water heater from boilers. While hot water is transported through pipes, plate exchanger will help to catch heat from transportation pipes to water heater.
This way, hot water from heater and boiler will not be mixed. Many houses use this trick to get the most out of their outdoor heater. Usually, hot water from heater is used for isolated indoor purposes such as pool, sauna or hot tub.
Outdoor Wood Boiler Prices
Calculating cost for wood boiler is a little bit different from the other HVAC material. Many other products require professional installation to secure warranty and get maximum functionality. With outdoor boiler, you might handle installation by yourself, which will save you some money. Never pick this option unless you are expert or have experiences before.
To start the project, you need to buy one unit. It is rare for store or dealers to offer a complete package with supplies and installation costs as well. Therefore, you should not supplies costs to install the whole unit. Last, ask contractors to calculate labor costs. This is where you wish you could install by yourself and don’t have to pay for labors.
For an outdoor heater which has up to 100 MBU, one unit is sold from $3300 to $4400. You will have wide variety of products option from different brands. Add up supplies cost. It is around $300 to $550. If you choose to hire professional contractor, be prepared to pay around $6000 to $8950 in total.
One outdoor boiler unit of 100 to 150 MBU will be around $4250 to $5400. Note that higher BTU will raise its price as well. To buy pipes and other stuffs, it is roughly $350 to $620. If you take higher BTU, price is not going to be cheap. For labor cost, you will pay $2600 to $4000. Roughly, you will spend around $7000 to $10000.
Many costumers pick 150 to 200 MBU for their daily use. As expected, the price is a little bit higher than previous model. It starts from $5000 to $6000 per unit. Pipe and other supplies will cost around $400 to $650. Paying several persons to work on installation will cost $2500 to $4000. Total payment you must give is $8000 to $11000.
Pros and Cons of Wood Boilers
Before you decide to choose one, know your entire pros and cons first. Such as:
1. Low Cost Fuel
Comparing outdoor heater that use gas or electricity as fuel, you will see how cheap hardwood is. Gas and electricity require pipe or line installation to start the heater machine. Wood, on the other hand, could be found during leisure walk in nearby forests. In addition, wood residues from manufacturer are available, too.
2. Less Claimed Space
Customers are easily intimidated by huge size. Don’t worry, this unit won’t be installed inside the house. It securely stands on backyard and work to provide hot water. On the other hand, you will have more rooms to play with children or loved ones.
3. Even Distribution
Back then, people have similar heating system for their house; wood stove. It is placed in one room only. When hot water flows through piping system, it is cooled down. Thus, customers will have warm water only. If you install outdoor heater, this problem will never happen. The entire system supports each other for even heat distribution.
4. Double Benefits
Do you know that water boiler could make domestic hot water? This process will give you two hot water pockets. One is from outdoor water boiler and another is from heated transportation pipe. You only need to add several pipes and plate exchanger. Set water heater for indoor pool and water boiler for housing purposes.
5. High Compatibility
If you ask around HVAC store, marketing staff will tell you several brands that cannot be paired with any other units. This is perfect time to point out a product’s compatibility. Pairing electric and gas is so common. Luckily, outdoor boiler has no problems with pairing. Its system is so flexible.
6. Low Mess
Indoor stove heating system was the most efficient at some time in the past. One less appealing factor is its mess. There will be lots of dust on the floor in the morning. Thanks to outdoor boiler, such mess will not be found anywhere unless you use corn.
1. High Costs
Keep in mind that costs to have outdoor boilers in your house is not cheap. First, you buy a unit, and then stock some supplies from dealers. Next, you will take some money to pay labor for installation. In total, you need to pay for three different items. To solve this problem, many dealers offer financing program.
2. Additional Work
This extra work might start as soon as the boiler has been installed. You need to feed burner with hardwood. It repeats every ten hours. If you fail to keep fires burning, then outdoor boilers could shut down its operation. Additional oils and gasses should be prepared and stocked as well. Otherwise, we will be wasting time as well.
Cost of Heating with Wood
Ideal number of wood for outdoor boiler is five cords at the maximum. Again, this is just rough calculation. It is possible that your house has low to none heating requirement. In this case, you might only need one cord.
Check again your intensity of using hot water. Is it only regular daily need? How many people are using this heating system? What about your house size? If you have large houses, you might want to install at least two outdoor heaters. This way, you have covered hot water flow for all rooms.
Every detail about calculating outdoor wood boiler seems too much. Each process asks for certain price. It is also difficult for you to take over installation process as if HVAC is just a game. To get best product, then you have to follow contractor’s suggestion. You could also add your own opinion while having discussion.
People say that maximum efficiency will help customers to save money. Is this real? After listing wood boiler with the other heating products, water boiler will save up to 50%. Why is it so? Hardwood is not as expensive as gas or electricity. Don’t forget about annual maintenance cost.
Top 3 Outdoor Wood Boiler Brands
Anytime you need to purchase HVAC products, always aim to get top value. One product should have affordable price but compact or even advanced features. Only then, they could be popular and beat the other competitors. It is also important to look for EPA and residential heating.
Parent company of this model is pretty active. They have been around since 1984. There are three different models you could choose. Don’t forget to compare their prices and features before buying one.
1. Classic Edge Wood Furnaces
First of all, this models offer BTU within 170.000 to 240.000 capacities. Customers who buy this product are usually small family of three or four. Their peak time of hot water usage is in the morning and afternoon. Its fire boxes range from 10 and 24 cubic.
Remember, big fire box emits hotter temperature to water chamber. Last thing about classic edge; its water tank has 150 to 330 gallon.
2. E-Classic Wood Furnaces
This is another option for budget customers. It includes two boilers, each has 200 gallon of water. This small but strong option could deliver 200.000 BTU. Not a bad offer, right? Note that each boiler has different water tank capacity.
3. Maxim Pellet and Corn Furniture
As mentioned in the title, this outdoor item feed on pellet and corn. It comes with one model only; 90 gallon.
Only this product has steel case. So far, Heat Master has no competitors. Don’t forget to ask for steel cover after purchasing.
1. GS Series Wood Furnaces
One product consists of three units. Each has 120.000 to 360.000 BTU capacities. For water storage, it offers 90 to 260 gallon of water. Install this unit outdoor for maximum performance.
2. G Series Wood Furnaces
This unit has no different from GS model. The only difference between these two customers is its features. G Series is the more upgraded version of GS. Moreover, customers could also install this unit indoor.
3. MF Eseries
You may say that MF series are general lucky charm for Heat Master. It could operate by using coal or wood. Smallest gallon available is 60 gallons.
Crown Royal Stoves
If you need indoor wood boiler, outdoor boiler or biomass in large scale, Crown Royal Stoves got your back. In addition to elegant and charming chamber, you will get top heating performance as well.
1. Pristine Gasification Series Wood Furnace
Customers might choose one out of three models from this line. One product pairs 190 water gallon tank capacities and 125.000 BTU. Most powerful product has 290 water gallon and 390.000 BTU.
2. Shaker Grate Coal Furnace
Choosing this product means buying a product. There is no other option. Enjoy 380 gallon that will provide 365.000 BTU.
Tips for Buying an Outdoor Wood Boiler
Finally, it is time to purchase your own outdoor boiler. What are some points you have to inspect before paying the whole bills?
Furnace Door Insulation
A door in wood boiler is the heart and brain of human. Good door insulation should be at least 4 inches. It will be better if you get six inches for furnace door. Many manufacturers install only two inches insulation. As the result, you need more hardwood just to reach certain temperature.
Legs Or Skirting
If you pay attention to outdoor heating, there are some products with legs. This is not new invention, but recently people are comparing them. In terms of functionality, legged outdoor boiler wins. Putting it outside, you only need four concrete blocks. With skirted boiler, you need a full concrete area.
Top Stainless Steel
Usually there are two material options; mild steel or stainless steel. Among these two options, stainless steel is better. However, stainless steel has different grade. If you aim to have long lasting product, make sure to check whether its steel is mixed with corrosion resistant.
Water Jacket Location
This is important to prevent corrosion. If possible, pick a model with good circulation underneath. Water jacket should be placed on sides, top and underneath burner.