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OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnace Reviews/Experience--Please post here...

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by OverRunWithSons, May 20, 2008.

  1. OverRunWithSons

    OverRunWithSons ArboristSite Lurker

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    WE are looking to buy some type of OUTDOOR wood/coal furnace this summer. Oil is just too out of hand, I've had enough. We live in the country, have acres of free wood if we need, coal is available nearby , plus no neighbors to smoke out. I have researched & researched what is available from about 10 different companies, everyone says theirs is the BEST. I searched them all out on the Better Business Bureu to see how many complaints each company has had, some I found can not even be found on there with thier addresses & phone numbers. So far I am considering a HeatMor (409 Stainless) or a Hardy (304 stainless). Each company has written papers on why their Steel is better than the other. Both have good records with the BBB, no complaints in last 36 months anyway. Everyone says something different. Please tell me YOUR experience with YOUR outdoor Boiler, good , bad, which company , warrenty issues, cracking, advice, please be very detailed. Thank you all.
     
  2. abohac

    abohac AboristSite Guru

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    You will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out which one is better. Personally I think you are throwing your money away with stainless. I am on my 8th year with a regular steel Woodmaster and couldn't be happier. My dad has two Woodmasters (house and shop) and has had very good luck. Just take care of what you put in the tank. Also, do a very good job on the underground part. Do not cut corners here. Buy the very best insulated pex (or pex and insulated pipe) you can buy. Let me know if I can help.
     
  3. iCreek

    iCreek AboristSite Guru

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    overRun - Search Hardy and some of the brands within the Search pulldown, I think you will find most the Hardy owners have or know someone with a Hardy for 10+ years, my FIL is going on 20 years with his H2 model. Kind of a Chevy versus Ford, I think Woodmaster, Hardy, Central Boiler, Shaver, all make good stoves, it just might depend on your budget and what dealers are close. It might be good to drive around your rural (or other) neighborhoods and see what's installed. There are at least 8 Hardy stoves within 4 miles of my place, 3 are family :) Two Woodmasters, and a few Central Boilers and other misc within 6 miles of our places. Both the Woodmaster and Central Boiler guys swear by their stoves..... The people with Hardys have not had any major problems, one replaced the grates after 12 years, a blower motor or two, and one pump in 20 years (we don't run our pumps all the time, on demand). One guy had to weld his water box, they moved it and was a little rough with it...

    Like abohac said, the install, insulation, home insulation, etc, are the most important factors. My home is 5 years old, well insulated, etc. and I burn about 40% less than my inlaws with a rancher built in the 70s, same stoves with his sitting about 15 feet from the house, and mine is around 55 feet from my house. His copper lines are not insulated very well, nor his house, mine is PEX pipe buried 3 1/2' - 4' deep, insulated fairely well, and the house very well... Seems to make a big difference. Good Luck and I think your heading in the right direction to beat next years fuel prices.... I finished up in January with my install, and could not be happier.... The cold days I just smile as I head to the wood pile....
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
    anymanusa likes this.
  4. highpower

    highpower ArboristSite Member

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    You will have dozens of opinions on which OWB is the best. I personally have a Hardy H4 that I have had for 3 seasons now and could not be happier. After a lot of reading and asking questions decision was based mainly on friends experiences with the brand but a big plus and probably the deciding factor was the dealer here. Every one within 50 miles that I talked to with a Hardy, this same guy had installed. He had been selling and installing Hardy stoves for close to 20 years then. So my advice is pick a stove with a good track record no matter what brand you decide on, then ask for references. Call and see how happy the dealers previous customers are with their stove choice and their dealer. If you have any questions about my stove let me know.
     
  5. cbrslider

    cbrslider ArboristSite Lurker

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    Have heard good things about both stoves. I know a family that swears by Hardy and their entire neighborhood is covered with Hardy stoves. I just spoke to a Heatmor dealer the other night that has had his running for 10yrs and swears by it. I, myself, have an Empyre and love it. It's stainless and is based on the Central Boiler concept of the baffle in the rear of the firebox and a rear chimeny. I had the opportunity to talk to a very unhappy Aquatherm owner the other day at the chainsaw shop. He is the shop owner and is pulling his hair out over the amount of wood he has been burning. He has burnt 4 triaxle log trucks worth of wood since last fall. He is heating his house, shop, and garage with it. Big areas but not enough to burn that much fuel. His complaint is that the stove has the chimeny just above the fire box and the heat goes right out the stack. Is that the problem, I don't know.

    There are some really nice stoves out there and some real junk. Educate yourself just as you are by asking for opinions. Check out the Empyre stoves, they are stainless, have coal options, and a pretty good warranty. The dealer that I bought mine from has taken good care of me.

    As was already mentioned, one of the most important things to pay attention to is the UNDERGROUND piping. Make sure that you buy the best that you can afford. More money spent here is less money spent on wood and the time and energy plus materials to replace it when you realize that the stuff you put in the ground is junk. I know from experience.

    Good luck, if you have any questions that I may be able to help you with, just shoot me a message.

    Ray
     
  6. Butch(OH)

    Butch(OH) Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I know your pain in searching OWBs. About every mfgs info will tell you that the other guys construction or materials are crapola and thier stove will fall apart in two or three days, LOL. I can tell you one fact, any of them that brag on efficiancy are pulling your leg. An OWB will use a lot of wood as compared to any indoor fire short of a fireplace. That being said I love mine which is a Woodmaster. There are companies that come and go and some that change names with the season, I would avoid them if I were you and go with a long established name that is sold and serviced locally. That is how I ended up with my brand. Ashes plus water is death to carbon steel. If you are not of the type to perform a little maintanance at the end of the year then by all means spend the extra bucks for 409-304 stainless. I left that money in my bank account and spend a couple hours cleaning out and covering my stack in the spring. Do spend time and money on your underground installation. You dont want to be thawing the ground with your wood heat. I used Urecon insulated conduit (search the web) and have no detectable heat loss and can replace my pipes without digging up a thing.
     
  7. Ed*L

    Ed*L AboristSite Guru

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    All I can tell you is I'm real happy with our Heatmor. It's been up for 4 years now, pretty much trouble free.
    No personal experience with any other brands.

    Ed
     
  8. OverRunWithSons

    OverRunWithSons ArboristSite Lurker

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    First I want to thank you all for all of these wonderful helpful replies! I have went to numerous message boards with this question, yours is the 1st to have such encouraging replies, a coal message board has been very DOWN about them, a waste of $$, time & wood & too much smoke. They feel I should build a shed and get a Regular Coal furance boiler instead-with pipes underground going to my house. I was considering that. (I am just the wife by the way seeking all of this info to help my husband decide, I am the one doing all the homework really, then he will do the labor) The 1st posted said why waste my money on Stainless, but in my searching for prices, I found the HARDY 304 stainless much cheaper than most brands, a savings well over $4,000 compared to the 409 Stainless Heatmore. SOmeone mentioned a Shavor, their prices weren't bad at all, but I was dismayed by the fact their Phone & address does not even seem to exist on the BBB. (You do not have to be a member for them to have Business information). Here is where we really need help, and your advice.... which so many of you mentioned in your replies.... OUr house is like over 100 years old, insulation is not great, I have alot of windows (which I like) , we plan to put the furnace about 110 ft away from the house going up a grade, a few bends & next to our 3 stall Garage. We want to use the ABSOLUTE BEST INSULATION possible for these pipes--sice we want NO HEAT LOSS here-enough will be in the house! I did see Urecon insulated Conduit mentioned, I plan to look this up yet. But please, for those with drafty houses over 100 feet away, if you spent Extra on the underground insullation, I want to hear from you---and exactly what to buy. And does most of you add more pipe to your chimney, we was thinking we will need to make it higher since it will be next to our garage. This doesn't hurt anything, right? Husband said "better draft"?? How high is too high? Thank you all again. :)
     
  9. LT58DMTP

    LT58DMTP New Member

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    Owb

    Howdy you all, well, (you-ins) all seem helpful, so this 'ole Pa boy displaced to southern Ky has a few questions. I am really wanting to install an OWB. No one here does installs, I don't care about stainless, I'm good at preventative maintenace. I am looking at Shaver & Nature's Comfort, I'd like to check Heatmor, but can't find a web site,
    1. can anyone help with a web address?
    2. my home is fairly well insulated, planning to install 100' from home, however, here's my hitch. I have an upstairs & downstairs forced air heat unit & 2, water heaters, is this too much complication to deal with?
    3. I agree with the Ford vs Chevy comparison, I have no preference, I don't know what I don't know, but I am open for any info or help. Feel free to post back here or email me, LT58DMTP@yahoo.com. THanks.
     
  10. tanker

    tanker ArboristSite Operative

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    I put in Logstor 4 years ago,approx 150',bboiler set at 190deg,get 190deg in the basement.Very well pleased. Scott
     
  11. urhstry

    urhstry ArboristSite Operative

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    Where are you at in PA?
     
  12. Laird

    Laird Nemo me impune lacessit

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    I have a Hawken and so far I am happy with it - but I have only had it for a month. My final decision on what brand came down to the dealer. I talked with several for different manufacturers and made my decision based on the level of support and knowledge he provided. I did the install myself and he bent over backward to get me through it.
     
  13. projectsho89

    projectsho89 ArboristSite Operative

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    LT58, Here are my suggestions as I've recently gone through much of this...

    Assume the following:

    1) That the square footage and BTU ratings by the vendors are works of fiction (or fantasy).

    2) You will probably use far more wood than you estimated.

    3) It will cost more and take longer than expected.

    4) If you buy a Shaver from the factory after all the red flags here, you will be treated like a mushroom and will be pi$$ed... Until you see it, then you will feel like you bought something built by a drunk monkey.

    Your installation isn't particularly complex. You'll probably need to upgrade to a much larger main loop circulator pump then install secondary loops for each of the furnaces. The WH can go on one of those loops, whichever is closest physically to it. Get an OWB with a larger water volume, the extra storage capacity will be highly desirable instead of trying to produce heat on the fly as it is needed.

    Steve


    Isn't it "you'uns"?
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  14. cleanburn

    cleanburn ArboristSite Operative

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    I have a Heatmor and love it. They are also listed on the EPA website where Hardy does not have any stoves that are "cleaner" burning yet...just another thing you might want to consider when shopping :cheers: Oh and you should reasearch the warrenties, Heatmor has a better warrenty than most in my opinion.
     
  15. LT58DMTP

    LT58DMTP New Member

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    you'uns

    Yeah, guess I misspelled that. . .have to forgive me, I have a central PA education. (lewistown/Huntingdon a.o.) Anyway, thanks for the boost about burning more wood than I thought, but, it's still cheaper than th LP I am burning now, & the electric on 2, yeah, 2 50gal water heaters. So if I hear correctly, sounds like Nature's Comfort or Heatmor are the choices in running right now. Anyother suggestions before I sell my kids to the migrant mexicans to pay for this crap?
    Husky 55, Kubota 4030SU & a wife meaner than a bag of wet cats.:greenchainsaw:
     
  16. STEVEGODSEYJR

    STEVEGODSEYJR AboristSite Guru

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    Owb

    I have a Heatmore model 200. I love it. The only thing I don't like is that there aren't any dealers "close" to me. The dealer that I got it from is now currently no longer associated with Heatmore brcause of all his bad install jobs and hundreds of complaints. Dealer service is very important if buying any kind of outdoor boiler. My Heatmore stove is fairly simple with not many parts that would need replacing. I got another pump (since my taco burned up after 2 years) from them local plumbing store. If I ever had to replace the thermoststs, the local heating and cooling place sells them. I did research for about 12 months before deciding on the Heatmore. There are tons of companies that say theirs is better than anyones. Your best bet is see if any local people have the brand you are looking at. Talk to them about how they like them, the pros and cons of each one. Word of mouth seems to be the best info where I live at. Good luck with your future purchase and please keep us informed. Steve:chainsaw:
     
  17. Hawken

    Hawken ArboristSite Lurker

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    I have a Central Boiler 5036 that is 65 ft from my house. I used Thermopex for the under ground line. It cost $11.50/ft from a local plumbing/heating supply.

    My brother-in-law purchased a CB5036 at the same time I did. We both researched and looked at a variety of OWBs. We decided on the CB even though they were more expensive because of the insulation, availability of parts, location of the stack, and the construction of the baffles in the firebox.

    I considered a stainless for awhile but decided against because of the fluctuation of heat would strain the welds more on the stainless.

    The Thermo-pex is a pain to work with when you are trying to get it moved around. It is very rigid. I went with this type versus any other because of the very, very slim chance of it allowing ground water contact with the pex. With Urecon you still have to worry about the connections leaking. With thermo pex there are no joints.

    I know money is an issue these days, but I agree with many from this site. Do not scrimp with the cheaper stuff that you might have to replace in a few years. Buy the good stuff now and be happy years from now.

    I figure that I have about $10,000 tied up in the stove and accessories. I know it will take some time to balance out. It is nice that my bills are down.
     
  18. ktm rider

    ktm rider AboristSite Guru

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    I totally agree with this statement.

    If you live in Pa. and coal is plentiful and cheap, it really is a no brainer to burn coal. It just depends on how much money you want to spend to burn coal and if you want to go outside in the cold to burn it.

    I had an OWB and it absolutely ate wood. Not to mention my wife HATED standing outside in the cold driving snow/wind putting wood in the boiler while I was at work. She finally said she had enough so we sold the OWB and I installed an INDOOR multifuel boiler inside my garage.( I burn 90% bituminous coal) It is way, WAY more efficient and since it is inside the detached garage we no longer freeze to death while tending to the fire.

    I paid close to 7k for my OWB and it didn't have any oil backup. I bought my new AHS multifuel boiler for a bit over 4k and it does have the backup oil burner, It is ASME stamped and built like a tank.

    After owning both an indoor unit and an OWB,There seems to be no contest.


    BTW, you are still gonna have to have pipes underground to your house regardless of what you buy.
     
  19. fourapples

    fourapples ArboristSite Lurker

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    I used MicroFlex pex insulated pipe. Easy as laying field tile but kind of difficult to work into the stove and buildings. I was able to find 2 new leftover pcs or remnants from someone that overpurchased that fit my install to home and shop and purchased for about 60% of new cost. I have a stainless steel unit and another aspect to consider is that I do not drain and refill my stove and loop water every year. It is also treated with anticorrosion just for precaution. I have all oxygen barrier fittings and pex so corrosion risk is kept to min. The means using all brass and copper fittings. Probably alot of overkill here but like they say in earlier posts you do not want to be stingy on the install.
     
  20. e_catron

    e_catron New Member

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    Like a few others here, im just starting my research on owbs and so far i like the woodmaster and central boiler best but i was looking at the Shaver as well, can you refer me to these "red flags"
     

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