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Wood burner pro and con


saveasteading
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I was about to reply on another thread, and realised I was hijacking it, so here is a  new thread.

 

We are putting 2 log burners into our highland conversion, and I consider myself eco considerate (got a badge for it).

I'd be interested to hear if you disagree with any or all of these.

 

FOR

1. It is very rural so it is not going to annoy or harm anyone nearby.

2. For the first 2 years there will be demolition timber, which would otherwise go where?  A big bonfire probably.

3. They will provide quick heat whenever UFH is going to struggle, and allow us to keep the background heat down. A surprise change in the weather is readily dealt with.

4. Lots of surplus wood in the commercial forests around. Not the best and will require work, but otherwise it will probably be piled and burnt at some stage.

5. Aesthetically it is very attractive

6. We have an area of woods....rather lovely primitive, soggy woodland, but some can be harvested. I also favour planting some timber for pollarding.

7. The burners we are intending (Spanish) are 82% efficient. This is realistic as we have one already and it burns 30 big logs to every tiny ashpan. It has air inlets at the back to burn the fumes and you can see this working. This compares with.....what? isn't electricity 25% efficient by the time  it reaches us?

8. In a well-insulated house it won't be a very big burner, or used much.

9. Other local houses have them too, and it doesn't seem to be causing any issues.

10.The flues create air flow and ventilation by stack effect, even when 'closed'.

11. There are are umpteen mills around, all with waste to get rid of. They seem to sell it even though the price doesn't seem that great to me. Otherwise it goes where?

12. If selling, they would be expected by most people.

13. We don't have to use the fires.

 

AGAINST

1. Burning is burning, and makes fumes.

2. The air is so incredibly pure around, and there is lichen on the trees that depends on clean air.

3, Perhaps the smoke will hang around and be a nuisance.

4. The flues create air flow and heat loss when not in use.

5. Capital cost.

6. Holes in the roof.

 

 

12 against 6   isn't the issue as the weightings could be different.

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I would agree with all that.  The only thing I would add is get a stove with ducted air intake, both primary and secondary, making it a room sealed stove, so when it is not in use, it is not leaking lots of heat out of the house.

 

And position it carefully, so the heat from it can circulate to all of the house, not just one room with nowhere else to go, otherwise you might just overheat that one room.

 

High pressure in winter can lead to stagnant air, so best not to light it then.

 

Most people here have a stove, but the population density is so low it does not stop the lichen growing, nor does it clog my mvhr filters which remain astoundingly clean every time i service it.

 

Another plus point for your list is a totally non automated non electric source of heat that will keep you warm in the event of a prolonged power cut after a winter storm.  We used ours for 3 days on one occasion until power was restored (no mains = oil boiler in that house did not work)

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2 minutes ago, ProDave said:

get a stove with ducted air intake

I was intending to install a duct to an adjacent position, and with a grille on it.  Then we have control and, an additional air vent if wanted (stack effectively), and without the capital. 

 

4 minutes ago, ProDave said:

High pressure in winter can lead to stagnant air,

 

Yes, downward smoke is not nice. I have always (no, learnt how to) overcome this with a lot of effort, just as with the first fire with a cold, damp brick chimney. A small hot fire to start with (paper and kindling, and then it is ok.

 

Once you have mastered an Inglenook, a stove is a doddle......or is Inverness weather different?

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when I lived in Oxfordshire, still days in winter were more common.  In my 1930;s house this had an unwanted effect.  The house had an open fireplace that I continued to use for a year or 2 before I modernised things a bit.  It had no provision for an air intake, and the actual structure was quite air tight, it was just the doors and windows that leaked.  So on a still day, with the fire roaring, it turned out the easiest path to draw air into the living room was in fact down the chimney into the (poorly boarded up) bedroom fireplace, down the stairs and under the living room door, filling that bedroom with smoke in the process.  I soon learned to crack a window open when lighting the fire.

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I'm heating my house exclusively with wood (Mostly spruce and alder) for three or four hours in the evening. Today was a dull overcast cold day and no solar gains, but before lighting the stove the house was 18c, the last stick went on about 10.30pm yesterday evening. 

 

All the wood is from the surrounding land and so far my heating bills since moving in July 2020 come to a couple of quid.

 

The trouble with the forum is some members easily forget that people circumstances differ considerably, a member in the Highlands surrounded by home grown wood is different to a self builder in Kent.

 

If you have the wood, willing to to do a bit of work and happy to pay the upfront stove installation cost, go for it.

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I would go for it (I did). But one thing missing from your list of cons is that it does create tiny amounts of pollution in your home, which are not good for human health. There is very convincing scientific research on this that you can Google. So just don’t use it too often. A couple of times a week should be fine.

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What do you think of cowls. Keeping birds out, keeping the rain out, preventing downdraught, and the rotating ones sucking air up?

 

I have had enough of sparrows finding their way in to chimneys through the tiniest gap, or onto the tiniest ledge. Then the young not getting out and falling into the stove:  dead ones to dispose of and live ones to assist outside.

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6 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

one thing missing from your list of cons is that it does create tiny amounts of pollution in your home

 

Adsibob, that is a very good point and I had simultaneously picked it up from jack on the ongoing string elsewhere        particulates in your house than if you didn't have a fire.

 

You are right , and I will add it to the list later. I got smoke back into the room tonight from a wood burner..not immediately when lighting it but when opening the door to add wood for the first time.

 

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I'm all for them. I've planned one for ours, we are rural, so will be ASHP but in the event power was to be lost (now admittedly I've only jad a power cut once in my life thats lasted 2 days when a farmer took out pole) it will provide backup. 

 

But I have 2 acres of woods that I manage myself so free wood,.sustainably managed and we are not near anyone and my neighbours  400m.away have one. 

 

Plus...I like the smell of it outside. I know thats silly.as thats particulate going into my lungs...but shit I used to smoke 20 fags a day. 

 

I'd advocate a stove witha direct air feed also to retain air tightness 

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For me my heart said yes but head said no. I was dead set on a bloody boiler cooker too.

 

I couldn't make any financial payback with it. (37 years Vs A2A @ less than 3 in theory) That was with free wood too. Passive class house mind you. 

 

Really poor for airtightness. 

 

If your house burns down here, apparently you'll need to prove you had a chimney sweep before your insurance pays out.  

 

Interior pollution. It's immediate and apparent unless you're super diligent. I want to minimise my chances of lung trouble.

 

Chopping timber is dangerous. 

 

It's a labour to clean and fuel the thing daily. 

 

It does give a sense of purpose to the day when older or idle. Much like milking cows or walking the dog. 

 

It's nice to be able to blast a room up to  sauna like temperatures with little guilt of a high electricity bill. 

 

All my hard work with thermal bridging and airtightness would be thrown out the window by having a 5kw stove capable of heating the house to Sahara like temperatures with no effort regardless.

 

Fire is natures TV. 

 

Theres a smugness and security about having 10 years timber in the shed. 

 

Preparing timber can be therapeutic. 

 

I don't miss having ash dust over every surface In the living room like our previous house. 

 

Chimneys are a weak spot in the roof. 

 

Good stoves and flues cost a packet. 

 

In well insulated houses they can become an ornament. 

 

Fire is a visceral caveman pleasure that had defined us a humans for millennia. 

 

Fire might burn the house down and kill your family. 

 

Fire is good for disposing of things you never want to see the light of day again. 

 

I'm rambling now..........

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As people here know I have a wood stove (room sealed), we did install a rain cowl but it didn’t have a mesh to stop birds getting in, a crow built a nest and completely blocked the flue, after they left i removed the nest and I put some stainless wire round it to stop it happening again.

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On 25/11/2021 at 18:15, saveasteading said:

I was intending to install a duct to an adjacent position, and with a grille on it.  Then we have control and, an additional air vent if wanted (stack effectively), and without the capital. 

 

 

Yes, downward smoke is not nice. I have always (no, learnt how to) overcome this with a lot of effort, just as with the first fire with a cold, damp brick chimney. A small hot fire to start with (paper and kindling, and then it is ok.

 

Once you have mastered an Inglenook, a stove is a doddle......or is Inverness weather different?

I'm slowly doing up an old 1960's house with a solum space. Have a wood burner with a duct running from the solum space up to hearth level with a grill just under (50mm) the inlet to the stove so the cold air shoots up straight into the the stove intake. Suits me for now. Once I I get round to upgrading that part of the house I may change it to a direct air intake.. but like the trickle ventilation it provides.

 

@saveasteading "Yes, downward smoke is not nice. I have always (no, learnt how to) overcome this with a lot of effort, just as with the first fire with a cold, damp brick chimney. A small hot fire to start with (paper and kindling, and then it is ok."

 

Have a look at an OH cowl.. so simple as no matter how the wind blows it draws.. you can make you own experimental version too! They work on the Venturi effect.. you'll be captivated!

 

"or is Inverness weather different?"

 

Oh yes.. but that is the joy.. great part of the world.

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2 hours ago, Gus Potter said:

Have a look at an OH cowl.. so simple as no matter how the wind blows it draws.. you can make you own experimental version too! They work on the Venturi effect.. you'll be captivated!

 

 

Interesting, just googled it and found this. Very clever. How do I know if I will have a draw/downdraft issue? We are getting stove installed soon and haven't tried the chimney at our house yet. Would rather know now whilst scaffold is still up to enable an OH cowl to be easily installed if necessary. But don't want to spend the money on one just in case.

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4 hours ago, Adsibob said:

Interesting, just googled it and found this. Very clever. How do I know if I will have a draw/downdraft issue? We are getting stove installed soon and haven't tried the chimney at our house yet. Would rather know now whilst scaffold is still up to enable an OH cowl to be easily installed if necessary. But don't want to spend the money on one just in case.

Smoke bomb or just a candle (light and blowouts lit smokes) incense sticks work great too, hold it in front of the area where fire will be, if smoke is pulled into and up the chimney then you are ok. If smoke is pushed into the room then you have downdraft

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Some sort of cowl or cover  is essential to keep out birds and rain.

 

We have 3 woodburners in a different place. 

The first is an old inefficient burner from 20 years ago and just ducts up an old-fashioned chimney. On top is a wire insert to keep the crows out. It is the least efficient but perhaps that is the fire and brick chimney.

The second is also up a chimney which has a rainproof masonry capping. Sparrows loved it but are now kept out by expanded metal (chicken wire not small enough!. This works nicely with the occasional backdraught when cold, never when hot. The build-up of resin on the wire is interesting.....if the holes are too small it blocks the fumes...if big enough it coats the wire but leaves enough vent area....so that must be to do with hot resin hitting cold metal. The stove itself is modern and efficient.

The third fire has this rotating thing. It turns with the slightest breeze and whizzes in the wind. I wonder how long until the bearings fail. This is the easiest to light. 

perhaps too much forced ventilation when not wanted though?

 

 

 

8'' / 200mm CHIMNEY SPINNER COWL Stainless Steel Rotating ...

17 hours ago, Gus Potter said:

an OH cowl.. so simple as no matter how the wind blows it draws.

 

Isn't the OH clever but also intensely ugly? I have seen them one-sided perhaps called an OJ ??

 

These stove cowls are very much cheaper outside the UK. ( I mean a third). the twirly one cost me E30 and it appears to be £100 online.

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I did consider wood burning system for heating ,but once you work out how much wood you will need  and the lack of control 

EG once its lit it will use all the wood and probably over heat the house 

 I know a few people who went that way ,using it as a feature ,but over time have decided the effort or cost of buying good seasoned logs is too expensive 

 from my point when i, m 80 I cannot see me wanting or maybe being able  to cut 10ton + of logs  year + a big shed to hold 20t while it matures for 2 years before use 

 you can cut up to 5 cum of wood per 4 months - from your land after that you need a thinning license from FC

sounds a lot but its not much if you using a log burner for a  major heat source 

 so  will not have any wood burners -

 but instead will have what I have now for effect+minor summer evening heating 

 a dimplex optimist flame effect that uses water and lamps to illuminate the mist 

also adds some humidity into the house  as UFH does dry things up compared to a fire

 before anybody says its not the same go see one in real life --it is

+it has a 2kw heater built in if you want to use it

 no comparison in price either 

https://www.dimplex.co.uk/optimyst

see it working

Edited by scottishjohn
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As most of you know I installed a stove but use it rarely but love it when I do. The UFH is no good for a blast of heat if you feel chilly and the stove does that well, raises the room temp 5 degrees in half a hour then looks good as the heat filters into the rest of the house. I use so little wood and already have the next two years worth ready and have some trees to thin this winter ready fir the following years ?.

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3 minutes ago, joe90 said:

As most of you know I installed a stove but use it rarely but love it when I do. The UFH is no good for a blast of heat if you feel chilly and the stove does that well, raises the room temp 5 degrees in half a hour then looks good as the heat filters into the rest of the house. I use so little wood and already have the next two years worth ready and have some trees to thin this winter ready fir the following years ?.

I hear what you are saying - but seems a big expense to get  alittle boost 

we use our optimist  every night in autumn and winter to give that cosy effect of a log fire  at a fraction of the cost of a log burner and all the associated chimney  costs and possible roof penetration problems.

everybody makes their own choices  and nothing wrong with that 

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29 minutes ago, scottishjohn said:

we use our optimist  every night in autumn and winter to give that cosy effect of a log fire  at a fraction of the cost of a log burner and all the associated chimney  costs and possible roof penetration problems.

everybody makes their own choices  and nothing wrong with that 

Not seen one of those before, they look very good and yes wood stoves etc can be expensive so yours is a very good alternative.

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I had a dimplex stove as a stove couldn't be installed where I was before.

 

The noise and dry fan heater were my primary dislikes.

 

The whole thing was light weight and made of plastic and not what I would want in my living room.

 

And for the stove effect it felt odd starring at fake flames. My model was not the one in the link above, therefore this effect would probably would be better.

 

Normal stoves can be useful backup in the event of lengthy power cut.

 

Just throwing this in as this was a pros and cons topic.

 

On the plus points, light weight, cheaper, safer, not as messy.

 

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