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Outdoor Wood-Burning Furnace: What You Need To Know

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Rurlife.com    18

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The wood burners of the past have been much-improved and refined with better efficiencies for producing heat. There are modern versions of the old potbellied stove that are both stylish and capable of heating a large area. Add-on wood furnaces can be adapted to existing fuel oil and propane furnaces providing an optional or dual form of heating. In more recent years, the popularity of outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs) has increased substantially for people who have access to wood and are looking to replace traditional heating methods.

How do OWBs work?

Wood-burning hydronic heaters – also called outdoor wood-fired boilers or furnaces – are residential or small commercial wood-fired water heaters that are located outdoors away from the space being heated. Typically, a water jacket surrounds the furnace’s firebox heat exchanger and heated water is circulated to the home or other structure through insulated underground pipes. Once the heated water is brought into the building, it can be designed to work with existing heating systems. Water-to-air or water-to-water heat exchangers or direct water circulation conveys the heat generated into forced air furnaces, radiant baseboard or radiant floor heat. OWBs have the ability to heat multiple buildings from one furnace. Garages, workshops, greenhouses, barns and even swimming pools or hot tubs can be heated with OWBs.

Read more about OWB's here.

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Chris    1,310

Getting one of these was an investment, but we've been using it for about 15 years now. In that time we've only had to replace a couple minor parts. (Always in the deadest cold of Winter too. ) Overall, it's cheaper than burning oil or propane. 

Perhaps the biggest drawback is, if you don't have the land or the means to cut your own firewood, you're dependent on someone else. And as we've found over the years, sometimes it's hard to find a reliable supplier of firewood. 

But otherwise, I don't think they produce any more smoke than an average wood stove. In fact, some burn off more of the particulates in the smoke, so the argument can be made that they're actually more environmentally friendly.


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Hal    252

I pointed out , couple years back , that in comparing our OWB to a neighbors indoor wood stoves ( two inside stoves ) our One unit produced less smoke . Broke it down in a discussion like this ... his 2 stoves heating 1 house was less efficient and produced more smoke than our 1 OWB unit heating 2 houses and domestic hot water ! 

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