Archive for December, 2010

Just Say NO To Outdoor Woodburners!

woodburnerOutdoor wood burners were considered to be a great way to heat your home about 10 years ago. The “mess” and smoke was outside the home, and these wood burners not only could heat your home, they could also heat your water since they sent heat to your home in the form of hot water. But after talking to a friend who recently decided to scrap her 7-year old leaky and non-working unit, I must recommend that you stay clear of these units. Here is why:

  • These units produce a LOT of smoke. And if you live anywhere close to neighbors, they will hate you for having this unit. See This Report.
  • The cost is anywhere from $4000 to $10,000 for complete installation. This is not just a woodburner, it is a hot water system that needs to be integrated into your homes hot water and heat system. Think of how well you could better insulate your home with all that money!
  • The expected lifetime of these units is as little as 6 or 7 years, although many units offer a 10-year limited warranty and some even offer an additional 25 year warranty (for extra cost). My friend was not so fortunate as her model did not offer much of a warranty and her steel water jacket corroded and leaked, along with water lines leaking and freezing. If you pay $6000 and only get 8 years of use, that amounts to $750 per year! Add to that the cost of wood and you may end up paying out $1000 per year to run this unit!
  • These units require a LOT of wood! About 5 full cords (15 face cords) were required each year for my friend’s stove. A whole bunch of people from her church and our church would cut and split the wood for her. Otherwise, it would have cost her even more to have the wood cut and split.
  • These stoves require electricity to run the blower to keep the fire going. Otherwise the fire dies out. Also water pumps require electricity. This makes the outdoor wood burner useless as a heat source in case of power outages.
  • In short, don’t buy one! Your much better option is to spend your money to better insulate your home – for tips on this, see If you really want to use wood heat for the aesthetics or as a backup heat source, consider supplementing your current heat with a free standing decorative wood fireplace – these require smaller amounts (1 full cord or less) of dry split wood that produce less smoke, cost far less to purchase, and can keep your home from freezing up in the event of an extended power outage. See for a summary of wood heat choices. Make sure to check your local codes first to see if wood burning appliances are allowed. If a wood burner is not allowed, a decorative gas fireplace might be a nice choice.