What is the Real Cost of an Outdoor Wood Boiler?

Are you looking to purchase an outdoor wood boiler, but don’t know which one to buy? There are a number of things to be considered in addition to the initial cost of the appliance. These involve installation costs and “operating costs” in terms of dollars spent and time spent.

Whatever your reason for heating with wood, the system must be convenient, easy to use, efficient and safe. And it should automatically maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

However, consider these factors:

  • How will you feel loading the outdoor wood boiler in the middle of February during a rain, sleet or snow storm? Are you comfortable? Safe? Or would you be much happier out of the weather?
  • What about emissions? Do your family and neighbors really appreciate the wood smoke and all that it contains – aromatic hydrocarbons, very fine particles (polycyclic organic matter), carbon monoxide, creosote mist, etc. – most of which are known to cause cancer. And all of which are unburned fuel. Are they safe?
  • What about wood consumption? Simple logic suggests that if you burn less wood, you generate fewer pollutants, decrease your wood handling labor, cut your wood fuel expenses, etc. An efficient appliance reduces all of this.

For instance, suppose an inefficient outdoor wood furnace consumes 11 cords of wood per year, whereas an efficient wood boiler would consume only 5 cords of wood per year while providing the same comfort level.

What are the real savings of a high-efficiency indoor model?

  • 6 fewer cords of wood at $150 per cord = $900 savings per year.
  • 6 fewer cords of wood to — cut, split, stack, and load into a firebox. In addition, there is ash removal and disposal.
  • 6 fewer cords consumed to create wood smoke emissions. (Note: A more efficient wood boiler also reduces emissions by approximately 90% by burning the unburned fuel that normally goes up the chimney as smoke.)
  • Additional parts (e.g. insulated stove pipe and underground pex) and the time to install these parts.

Assuming a 3 to 5 year simple payback (through lower heating bills), one could afford to spend $3,000 to $5,000 more for a good wood heating system and devote your “6 cords of money and personal time” to: your  family, fishing, hunting, boating, traveling, reading a good book, volunteering, etc. And at the same time increase the convenience of operating the unit and help protect the health of your family and neighbors by reducing wood smoke.

So, is that less expensive outdoor wood boiler really a lower cost unit?

This post is from our friends at GARN, home of the GARN WHS.


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