Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heating the house

When we were looking for a house, I really wanted to find one with a wood stove.  Wife wasn't too crazy about that idea.  She grew up with one and said they were really messy.  We were blessed to buy a house that had one of these in it:
Picture isn't the greatest.  It's a wood pellet/corn stove.  It runs on electricity to drive an auger that feeds the fire pot, and a blower that, well, blows the heat off the firebox and into the room.  There is a hatch on the top to load the pellets.  It has a damper you can adjust and several feed settings to adjust the rate of feed of pellets into the fire pot.  It also has an automatic stirrer of which you can control the rate of speed.  There are only a few places on the thing that get too hot to touch.  The rest of the stove is very safe.  I buy the pellets from the stove salesman a pallet at a time.  That's 50, 40 pound bags.  I keep them stacked in the garage.  It can also burn corn, which burns hotter, but creates more ash.  And the corn has to be very clean, free of chaff, etc.

Our house is far from airtight.  We have a furnace in the basement to heat the downstairs, and a furnace in the attic to heat upstairs.  They both run on LP gas.  This little number, in the corner of the kitchen, doesn't really heat the whole house, or the whole downstairs, for that matter.  But, except in the coldest temps (20 degrees or so) it really does a nice job of warming a large area and it keeps the furnace from running so often.  When the temps are in the 40's it's almost too much, and I have to shut it off if it gets above 50 because it's just too warm.

It runs through a 40 pound bag of pellets about once a day.  As it runs, it produces ash which falls into an ash pan below the fire pot.  There is no smoke, no smell, no dust, no messy wood, and no smoke from the flue.  It's pretty doggone nice. It has to be cleaned out about once a week or so, which is about a 45 to 60 minute job to do thoroughly.  That part is messy, but I use a shop vac so it isn't too bad. Also, if the power fails, the stove shuts down as there will be no way to feed the pellets or run the blower (unless you have a gas generator). In all, I'm pleased with it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for alternative ways to heat your home.

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