Outdoor Wood Furnace Pros and Cons: Is it Right for You?
Winter comes around every year. Sometimes it is pretty mild while other times the snow, rain and sleet can really blow— which means you are going to need to have some pretty efficient heat to keep your family warm and cozy to weather the storm.
What is an Outdoor Wood Furnace?
An outdoor wood furnace is essentially a central heater that is fuelled with wood. Outdoor wood boilers have been around for years. They are an energy efficient and eco-friendly way to heat your home.
How it works
Gasification – a fancy name for converting wood to energy – is the chemistry that makes an outdoor wood furnace do its magic to heat your home, garage, hot tub, pool, outbuildings, and more. In an outdoor furnace, heat breaks down wood into syngas, a hydrogen and carbon rich gas, that is then burned to heat water. The heated water is sent to heat exchange units in your home to provide heat where you need it.
Pros & Benefits of an Outdoor Wood Boiler
For those who have ready access to a supply of firewood, an outdoor wood furnace is an excellent option.
First, and often most important to people looking for alternatives, is that you are not dependent on the oil, electric, propane, or gas companies. You are in control. Whether you cut your own wood or buy from a local firewood supplier, you will be the one who is providing the warm house and hot water. While endless hot showers might cost you a log or two, in the end, you’re in control.
One of the biggest factors to consider when looking at an outdoor boiler is the type of steel used in manufacturing. HeatMaster builds our outdoor boilers with Titanium enhanced 409 stainless steel that resists corrosion and withstands continuously high temperatures. It also transfers more heat and doesn’t crack or warp. With proper maintenance a quality outdoor boiler can last a lifetime. They’ve been making them for close to 20 years. You may hear arguments about mild steel vs. stainless steel for wood boilers, if stainless steel didn’t last neither would a manufacturer that uses stainless steel.
Modern wood furnaces produce far less emissions while producing longer burns vs. older wood boilers. Automated dampers, forced air supply and downdraft gasification are just some of the advances HeatMaster has made. With new technology an outdoor boiler can burn all types of wood and you only have to feed your furnace once or twice a day. With well seasoned wood and proper burning, wood fuel releases the same amount of carbon as decomposing biomass, which makes it carbon neutral. As a renewable resource, wood is environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient. And it grows almost everywhere.
Less mess in your home
Because an outdoor boiler is, well, outside you don’t have to worry about the leaves, bark, insects and dirt in your home. (Trust us, whoever cleans the house will thank you.) HeatMaster G Series Furnaces are UL listed and CSA approved for installation in a garage, shop, or other outbuilding so you can avoid being in the weather and still keep the mess outside. An added benefit is that any lost heat will be going into the building the boiler is in, so it’s not lost.
Save time, money and labour
Heating your home doesn’t have to be demanding on your wallet or your life. HeatMaster outdoor furnaces can adjust their BTU output during periods of low heat demand so you can enjoy unlimited hot water or add a hot tub. With a large capacity firebox and home monitoring available via Wi-Fi you won’t need to constantly be checking on your furnace.
Cons to Outdoor Wood Furnaces
The first hurdle you have to jump over is having access to wood or fuel. If you don’t have access to wood then an outdoor wood furnace may not be the best choice. Just because you don’t live in a forest doesn’t mean you won’t have a supply of fuel though…tree removal companies, construction firms, pallet manufacturers are all good sources of wood…and you’re keeping that wood out of the landfill.
It still does require some time and labour
If you are looking for a quick fix that has no need for effort then an outdoor furnace isn’t going to be a good fit. It still does require some effort. You will need to load your furnace at least once a day and maybe twice. Wood doesn’t cut itself so you will need to spend time planning, chopping and stacking wood (this is a great family activity and good full body exercise). Some basic maintenance is also needed to keep your wood boiler working at top efficiency.
Requires well seasoned wood
Outdoor furnaces work best with well seasoned wood. But well seasoned wood needs time. Wood with over 25% water content can be burned but will cause creosote buildup that will make it necessary to clean more often and you’ll use more wood vs. using seasoned fuel. To get wood properly seasoned it needs to be given the proper amount of time based on its properties. While some wood can properly season within 6 months, others can take much longer.
The only way to be sure is to test the wood with a moisture meter. (which comes with your furnace) Need tips on how to efficiently and effectively, cut, process and store your wood? Just give us a call at 204-453-7788
Need space to store wood
Proper storage of wood both while it is seasoning and after takes space. For seasoning wood, the stack needs to have air flow around it to keep the wood drying. Sunlight, airflow and time are all you need to season your wood.
Need extra tools
Of course, you can choose to buy your wood from a local and still save money but if you want to do it yourself it will need some investment. Felling trees, splitting, and moving wood requires extra tools like chainsaws and log-splitters. These extra tools can be simple – like an axe and splitting block – or you can get fancy – like a hydraulic log-splitter. Whatever way you choose to do it you will need some experience and muscle to get the wood you need for the winter.
When you buy your wood boiler from Wood Boiler Manitoba you get free use of our commercial SplitFire 4490 log splitter (made in Canada). Splits a 36” long log, splits back and forth to save time, has a log lifter for those big rounds to save your back and can be towed safely at highway speeds. More information at:
The HeatMasterss Advantage
An outdoor furnace is a long term investment in the safety and comfort of you and your family. HeatMaster boilers are designed with the features, advantages and benefits that are right for you, your lifestyle and your independence.
HeatMaster wood boilers offer innovative features that save you time and avoid the hassle. The HeatMaster team is continually finding ways to improve outdoor furnaces so you can live in comfort and freedom. HeatMaster outdoor furnaces come with automatically adjusting controls that help achieve longer burn times, reduce creosote, and give optimal performance in all conditions. They designed the G Series EZ Clean Handle to make it easy to keep the heat exchange tubes clean so you don’t have to think about any extra tools. The cast iron steel shaker grates in the MF Series makes ash removal easy and ensures the supply air is directed right where you need it for an efficient burn. The HeatMaster G Series is approved for installation in a garage or outbuilding so you don’t have to brave the weather.