Most efficient way to heat my home?

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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Cherokee Solar » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:58 am

Hi simoga13,

Wood heaters are a very good choice for heating. It may interest you to check out my blog this week as I've been talking about repairing the wood heater here. It is only 4 years old and some of the steel inside the unit was not up to scratch. http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/

I've been wondering recently whether a cast iron unit would be longer lasting than a unit made from sheet/plate steel. It will also be interesting to see how the wood heater lasts here now that I've repaired the combustion chamber. Dunno. Stuff for you to think about.

If anyone here has any thoughts on wood heaters and their longevity, it would be valuable for everyone to hear about your experiences?

Cheers

Chris
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Smurf1976 » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:46 pm

My wood heater is now 20 years old and still going strong. It's made from 8mm thick steel, which lasts a lot longer than the more common 6mm thickness.

It's a Saxon from the days when they were made in Tasmania. The name still exists (bought by BBQ's Galore) but the manufacturing is no longer in Tas. I've no idea whether or not the current ones are as good as the old models were.
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Cherokee Solar » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:50 pm

Hi Smurf,

Many thanks for letting me know about your experience. Mmm, did you know that the walls on the combustion chamber were 2mm sheet in the wood heater here? I was absolutely filthy, when I found out as you can see in the photos just how damaged they are after only four years of use. :oops: A risk for the inexperienced. ;)

On the other hand, someone who comments on the blog gave me a good idea today: Make your own wood heater. I'm going to have a good hard think about that option. The best ideas are always other peoples. A sheet of 8mm plate is pretty heavy but not a deal breaker and no harder to cut than the 5mm stuff.

Thanks again, I always appreciate real world experience. :D

Fortunately, I haven't had to use the wood heater this week as it has been quite warm due to the tail end of tropical cyclone Olwyn which has turned into a low pressure system here. This summer has been very green here and sort of normal. I hope that you are nowhere near the NE of Tassie which has been quite warm and dry this year?
Off grid solar + hot water. Heavily insulated + owner built flamezone house BAL-FZ. 300 mixed fruit trees + herbs + flowers + vegetables. Bees + heritage chickens. High up in the mountains north of Melbourne. http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:34 pm

I welded up my own wood heater when I lived in town in the 1980s, from 6mm plate steel. I still have it, although its not been used for many years. It's a bit agricultural looking, apparently a bit too agricultural for my wife to allow in the house as it is, but I guess I'm more of a function over form kinda guy ;) I'm told it can't come inside until I put a glass window in the door, which probably wouldn't be too hard to do.
I used it for 3 or 4 winters and there wasn't any noticeable deterioration. It has a box of 3mm plate around it so that I could put a fan in front of it and blow air in at the bottom, which exited out the front top, and it heated the whole house very quickly when stoked up.
At full blast it had a resonance at the air intake, sounding a bit like a quiet steam train, enough to make loose windows rattle slightly :)
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Cherokee Solar » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:11 am

Hi Gordon,

Many thanks for your experiences. It does seem like the way to go and yes I'd have the exact same problem here. ;) May have to put some serious thought into the aesthetics of the final product. :lol: I salute your lady! :lol:

Actually, I should add an addendum to the previous comment / post: the steel plate that originally lined the combustion chamber may have indeed been 6mm at one stage in the past - it appears that the steel may have delaminated over the years which are now why it is paper thin and broken. It never occurred to me that steel delaminates, but there you go.

Over the past week or so I've heard from a couple of people who have the same wood heater (including a guy I know up your way Gordon) and opinions are split fairly evenly on their longevity.

The general conclusion that I'm starting to take away from both the discussions and the repair job is that it is possible to run that particular heater at very high temperatures because it has a very large combustion chamber. However, this is not necessarily a good idea from a longevity point of view. In future, I'll keep the actual combustion at a height no greater than the height of the fire bricks. Lesson learned.

It is also worthwhile mentioning that when I first moved into the house here - which I was slowly building - the external walls had not been completed or even sealed so it is possible that I initially ran the heater far hotter than I should have.

Just out of interest too: Are all plate steels of a similar quality? I've always assumed that they are, but it would be nice to not make the same mistake going forward.

Cheers. Chris
Off grid solar + hot water. Heavily insulated + owner built flamezone house BAL-FZ. 300 mixed fruit trees + herbs + flowers + vegetables. Bees + heritage chickens. High up in the mountains north of Melbourne. http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby solarit » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:34 pm

If you planning to stay in your home for a longer period,the first thing you do is change all windows to double glazed ones. Second: 100mm thick foam insulation,rendered on the outside,just like in Europe .(it works very well in -20C so it should work in AU conditions too.+ In summer keeps you cool) Then you would not need much heating to supplement the sun you catching via the windows.(Floor insulation is a must too)
This way you are immune to a degree to future price increases ,whatever energy you choose to heat with.
I know it is expensive to go this way,but you not burning your money,you investing it. You want to keep the brick work inside the insulation envelope,so it is not fluctuating with the outside temperature together.
Keeps the heat longer,so you do not worry about 1-2 cold day.If you insulate on the inside (stud wall),you loose the thermal mass advantage.In our house,without heating, the temperature never dropped below 15C.(Outside -2-3 C.)
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby simoga13 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:15 pm

Thanks solarit.

Double glazing would be nice but we have many, many windows and are on a tight budget (and, honestly, we really aren't sure if we are going to be here long term). I've made sure they all have double layered, insulated curtains with pelmets which has helped a lot. And, as for the cladding of the outside, we can't even go there as we are a heritage listed building and can't cover, paint or render the brickwork.

My research has been interesting and, at present, I'm very much leaning towards an efficient wood heater with some heat transfer ducting to distribute the heat throughout the house. Because we have the tall ceilings I think this may work well. A bit more research to do just yet..... :)
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:14 pm

I have a freestanding wood heater with a heat transfer system.

The intake duct is installed directly above the heater so gets properly hot air going into it. With the fan running, the whole house is heated to an even temperature and it also avoids the "hot head" problem commonly seen with wood heating.

For convenience, I included an in-line electric heater (3.5kW) in the main duct as an alternative means of warming the bedrooms where the ducts lead to. It's not a cheap means of heating, being just an electric element, but very convenient if you just want to warm it up for a shorter period.
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:30 pm

Cherokee Solar wrote:Just out of interest too: Are all plate steels of a similar quality? I've always assumed that they are, but it would be nice to not make the same mistake going forward.


My general experience with steel is that apart from the different grades and alloys as such, there is "proper" steel and there is some "second rate"stuff around.

If buying steel, I suggest either buying direct from One Steel or Bluescope or from someone who is selling steel sourced from them. These two companies both make steel in Australia and generally have no quality problems. Anything not sourced from them will be either recycled scrap or imported - probably OK but I've seen a few problems here and there over the years.

I also prefer to buy local where possible as a matter of principle. Less CO2 from shipping things around the world and it helps keep Aussies in a job.
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Re: Most efficient way to heat my home?

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:35 pm

Cherokee Solar wrote: This summer has been very green here and sort of normal. I hope that you are nowhere near the NE of Tassie which has been quite warm and dry this year?

I'm in SE Tas, near Hobart.

Weather has been a bit unusual. Spring was ridiculously dry but then it started raining in November and Summer as a whole has been rather wet with very few hot days. Now it's noticeably cooling down already, an it's only mid-March. Here comes winter....
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