We have been taking a serious look at our heating options at Shangri La. We've finally come to a determination, but I'm going to take the long way around so that you can slowly warm up to the idea. Cool? ;)
Option 1: We have a wood stove in the living room, and it serves well to heat that entire floor. However, it does not heat the basement. Not a big deal right now, with the basement being nothing more than a cinder block surrounded hole beneath the house where we do laundry. But, we have plans to significantly modify the use of this space.
Option 2: We have an LP fired boiler and baseboard heat throughout the upstairs and the basement. This would seem like a viable option, but there are several reasons that it is decidedly not. They are: The insanely expensive cost of LP, the boiler's age and questionable maintenance history, and our profound fear of being consumed by a flaming fireball of doom and destruction. Shocking, I know, but we're not overly enthused about this option.
So, we've ruled out the existing boiler as an option for what we believe to be very good reasons. The existing wood stove is newer and works very well, and it will be part of a backup heating solution during power outages. However, we do not consider it to be our long term, full time solution. Should we need even more fuel for the get-rid-of-the-old-boiler-now fire, the existing boiler is in the basement...that we're going to be finishing. Waiting until we add a bunch of walls to decide to remove the boiler just doesn't make a good deal of sense.
This all leads us to...
Option 3: EXPLORING OTHER OPTIONS!
Now that we've decided that our long term, primary heat source is not currently within our home, we embarked upon a heated path discovery. Our search had us looking at options that included a geo-thermal heat pump, a new LP fired boiler, and an outdoor wood fired boiler.
Ultimately, and maybe a bit surprisingly we decided on an outdoor wood fired boiler with LP backup. We ended up here for several reasons. First, with access to 35 acres of mostly wooded property we have a readily available fuel supply. It's a fuel supply that will be FAR less expensive than LP or electric. Second, the purchase and installation of a wood boiler will cost far less than a replacement LP boiler or forced air solution. With the ready supply of fuel we should be looking at a return on investment of roughly three years. Compare that to our second favorite option of a geo-thermal heat pump. The cost for going geo-thermal would be at least twice that of the wood fired boiler, and the return on investment pretty much matches the life expectancy at 15 years.
The final clincher is that we have a Central Boiler dealer less than thirty minutes from the house. After stopping by and talking with the owner we would definitely feel good about doing business with them. "Them" being Double L Tack, Inc. in Tower, MI. They are a full line Central Boiler dealer.
We're looking at the Classic CL 5036.
Classic CL 5036 Wood Fired Boiler
But wait...there's more!
This will also give us heating options we wouldn't otherwise have with other solutions. We can route lines for heating other structures. I could heat the barns, or even Shelly's future greenhouse, all from this one boiler. We're purchasing a boiler larger than what we need for the house's requirements just for that reason.
Another big plus is that it can be tied into our existing hot water heater. Can you say FREE HOT WATER?!
If we're not already sold, how about one more BIG PLUS? The installation is relatively simple, especially when compared to a geo-thermal installation. We'll be handling the installation ourselves and saving some serious green.
Oh...one more thing. If you're like me you're thinking, "Is it really going to be that butt-ugly brown color?" No, it will not. They offer various color options!