Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wood Stove Insert: Ordered

It would have been nice to have been able to put "Wood Stove Insert: Check" as the title for this post, but it would have been inaccurate. We are now, however, the proud owners of a wood stove insert that we ordered today, but which will be officially ordered by the salesman on Monday. We, however, have done our part of the ordering: we saved up the money and chose the one we felt that we could best afford and still be able to feed the thing, (we already checked out the prices for cords of wood) and we paid for it in full. Currently, we have a gas stove insert. A free-standing stove would have been nice, but impossible without a lot more expense.

As necessary as we felt that this purchase was, it was still a difficult decision to make because of the expense involved. Then, when I looked at the brochure that the wood stove salesman left behind, I started wondering if the wood stove that we were considering really had any cooking surface at all, because in the picture, the top of the stove looked curved. The salesman had assured us that there was a five-inch lip on the model that we were considering, but I wanted to see it and be sure. We loaded up the children and took off to the store. He showed me on a different model of stove how the top really is, and it turns out that the stove has a flat ledge that didn't show up (at least I couldn't see it) that would work nicely to heat things up in a small pan in an emergency. It would be nice to have more room on the lip of the stove to cook, but we will just have to make sure that we have multiple pans that will fit on the surface, so that we can make the most of the heat if necessary.

We could have ordered a more expensive model that puts out more heat, and is a little more efficient, but there would have been little advantage to it because of the way that our house is configured. Fortunately, the gentleman we were dealing with had originally come out to our house, and pointed out that both models would basically heat the same amount of area. So, while we plan to start using the stove as soon as necessary once we get it, in an emergency, when it would be our only source of heat, we would probably limit ourselves to that space and do all right. It's a large space, but definitely not the entire house. It could, if necessary, be blocked off with blankets in the doorways to keep the heat confined more efficiently. This is all new to me, so we'll have to see how it works out. Of course, you always hope that you won't find yourself in an emergency in the first place...

So we soon will be the owners of an alternative energy source. This is good, because winter was particularly brutal in our area last year, and hopefully this will also decrease our energy costs in the long run if we have a repeat of that kind of weather. We saw an ad in the paper about aspen firewood, and we saw a lot where they were selling firewood today, at the same price/cord as in the paper, although I don't know what kind of wood that it was. If anyone has any advice/ knowledge about the best kind of firewood, feel free to share--it would be appreciated. One of the best things about the wood stove insert? We now have more options. You gotta love choices... :)


Anonymous said...

I don't know where you live but Here in Wisconsin Oak and Ash are probably the woods of choice simply becuase of the abundance and BTU's per ton of wood. They burn well when they are properly dried for about 2 to 3 years. That is a major key to successful wood heating. You need seasoned wood.

Be sure that you clean your chimney on regualr basis, chimney fires are scary and very dangerous. During a "normal" winter( not last Winter) I clean mine about once a month, last year it went 3 months, and I was very concerned.

Heating soley with wood is a great way to save money on Dino Fuels but It is a major undertaking...

Carl In Wisconsin

Stephanie in AR said...

Check out for more info about the different woods. Like the intro says the best wood is the one you can afford but skipping pines if possible.

The Scavenger said...

Glad to hear you got a stove on the way. I know you guys are looking forward to getting it installed. As far as wood goes, I like Hickory the best, it burns hot and long. Oak is my second choice and the one I probably have the most of, just more plentiful here. Poplar is a wood that burns very hot and very fast, it's good to have some to help get your fire started back if it gets low. As long as you get wood that is dry and try to keep it dry you'll be fine. Just remember, it takes more wood than you think. Just my thoughts.


riverwalker said...

I'm still shopping around for something that would work for me. Winters usually aren't that bad around my area but the summers can be really brutal if you're not used to them.

Around here we use mainly oak and mesquite - both hardwoods with no resin for firewood.


Marie said...

Carl--thanks for all the great information. We have never used the gas stove insert, so it would be useful to check out the state of the chimney. I knew that wood had to be dried, but I didn't know the time frame for drying it--thanks for your comment!

Stephanie--Thanks for the link! It will be helpful to read up on all the information that I can. I appreciate your input!

Chris--Thanks for sharing the info--it's useful to know what will help best in different situations, especially if the fire starts to go out. I'm actually not sure yet what kind of wood is most plentiful around here, but now I have a better reason to find out... :) We were thinking about a shed, but that is another expense and so we will probably use the garage to start out with to keep it dry, and buy 2-3 cords, and see how that works out. Thanks for your comment!

Riverwalker--It took us awhile to decide, but the winters can be pretty brutal around here, so we definitely wanted it in before it got really cold. Now watch, we'll have a really mild winter... :) That would be ok, though, because we would use less wood. I need to learn more about the resin, etc. so that I can do the best with the stove that I can. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Carl Here Again, I use about 12 to 14 Face cords a year for Heat. I have looked at building or buying a shed to keep the current years wood under close to the house. 14 Face Cords with room to move about in is about 10ftX 24ft. Minimum, that is half of a garage, and It would need to be snow load capable. SOOOOOOOOOO I just put the wood up on skds with T-posts at the ends and cover it with a brown Vinyl Tarp from Fleet Farm. The cost is about $25 a year, as the tarps are destroyed by the time spring comes. Sheds are expensive....

Sorry to be verbose


western mass. man said...

I tried 3 different times to post without getting into a long winded speech. There is just too much info for a single post. I'll try to keep it short and sweet.
Inserts are the most difficult of the wood stoves to maintain. Cleaning the chimney (the most critical part) is tough since you will need to remove it from the fireplace to properly clean it. Depending on where you live, most states require you to install a liner up the chimney. Cleaning it is the worst part.
New stoves, unfortunately, have small fireboxes. They are designed to be burned with the vents fully opened, so overnight burning is difficult without reloading in the middle of the night. It also depends on the manufacturer and the design.
The older stoves were bigger and held a lot of wood, which you would load 5 or 6 large pieces in and shut the vents down so it will slow burn.
Keep in mind a lot of smoke from the chimney isn't good. That's unburned fuel (so to speak) going up the chimney. Smoldering wood causes this. That's creosote. It builds up inside the chimney walls and if not cleaned out often can lead to a chimney fire.
Stick with hardwoods. I see you read the prev. posts, so you should be OK.
The best and cheapest way to get wood is contacting a logger or a saw mill and see if you can get a "log truck load". Usually works out to be around 6-8 cords depending on how well its loaded.
Cheaper even still is to walk in the woods a forage for it. Its free that way.
Wood doesn't need to be seasoned 2-3 years. Usually 6 months to a year is sufficient, depending on when its cut down. Winter time is best to cut and split wood for the next years burning. Cutting trees in the spring and fall is worst because of the sap running increases the moisture content of the wood. Winter is best. Cooler temps to work in, frozen wood splits easier and lower moisture content.
I'll stop there unless you need more info.

MeadowLark said...

Hardwoods don't exist out this way. For the most part at least.

We're stuck with stinky, messy Juniper. :(

Marie said...

Carl--Wow. I really appreciate all of the information you are sharing, and I'm getting the impression from your comment and others that we are going to need more wood than we were planning on, especially if we end up using the stove as our primary heat source in the winter around here. It's also helpful to have an idea of the size of shed that would be needed according to the number of cords stored. Saves a lot of figuring on our part..thanks very much for your comments!

Western Mass. Man-- The safety issue is the one that concerns me the most, and I really appreciate you sharing all of that information. You have provided a lot of things that I hadn't thought of (i.e. whether I can leave it burning all night, how fast creosote builds up, etc.)that I will be sure to ask the installer about, so that I am more knowledgeable before I use the stove. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Meadowlark-- I actually don't know what is most available out here yet, but I'm pretty sure that I now will avoid juniper if possible... :) Thanks for your comment!