- Chapter 1 Rural Heating 101
- Chapter 2 Which Furnace is Right for Me?
- Chapter 3 Sizing Your Furnace
- Chapter 4 The HeatMasterSS Advantage
If you’re looking to save money on heating and researching outdoor furnaces, you’ve come to the right place. This page contains everything you need to know from how outdoor furnaces work to determining your ideal size for your square footage.
Don’t spend another year paying high heating bills, see what outdoor furnaces can do for your family!
Find your solution by comparing the cost and efficiency of the leading heating systems below.
See the differences in savings between Outdoor Wood Furnaces, Natural Gas, Propane, Heat Pumps, and many more.
Read on to see a rundown of the pros and cons of each.
The latest outdoor wood gasification furnaces can achieve much higher efficiency numbers compared to more conventional wood furnaces, up to 90%. Because the furnace is often outside, they eliminate any issues with fire hazards and wood mess in the home. And one furnace can pump heated water to multiple buildings using a variety of applications including in-floor heat. However, wood gasification furnaces do require well-seasoned wood.
If you have wood readily available to you, wood heat can be a fantastic, economical option. However, you should be ready to put in the sweat equity and have access to the tools to cut and season your wood.
Home heating oil furnaces can be hooked up to a forced-air duct system, or in a boiler to heat up the water in a hydronic heating system and tied into applications like in-floor radiant heat. In the winter of 2020-2021, approximately 5.3 million households in the U.S used home heating oil as their primary heat source.
Anyone who is looking for a lower upfront investment and relatively little maintenance and sweat equity should consider home heating oil, just be prepared to pay more per winter as fuel costs continue to rise.
With natural gas, you have the option of a gas fireplace without the fuss of preparing the wood. However, fireplaces are not as efficient as a furnace. Natural gas furnaces can be hooked up to a forced-air duct system, or in a boiler to heat up the water in a hydronic heating system and tied into in-floor radiant heat.
If you have access to a natural gas line in your area, you may want to consider getting hooked up depending on the price in your province or state. Natural gas has a medium upfront investment and relatively little maintenance and sweat equity, though rising fuel costs are an important factor to consider.
Propane is often set up as natural gas, and also has the option of a gas fireplace without the fuss of preparing wood.
If you’re looking for a heating solution that requires little labour and maintenance, propane is a great choice. If you rent your tank and have your inspections and deliveries scheduled in advance, you can relax and let others take care of things. However, it does mean less control over your budget.
Electricity is a common and self-explanatory heating solution. However, depending on the application, electricity can be a very expensive option, especially if you’re heating a building with less than stellar insulation
If you’re looking for a heating solution that requires little maintenance or upfront investment, electricity is a great option. However, just keep an eye on electricity rates and be prepared for higher electricity bills during the coldest winter months.
Like a fireplace, an indoor wood stove can create a very inviting atmosphere. Though they do create a fire hazard concern, and the regular ash and wood mess inside the house.
If you have wood readily available to you, an indoor stove can be a fantastic, economical option. However, you should be prepared for ash and wood mess in your home and the smell of smoke. But for those who want control over their heating bill and appreciate the cozy feeling of warming up by the fire.
Heat pumps are a newer trend in heating. Interestingly, they don’t actually create heat but extract the existing heat outside and pump it into your home or building to raise the indoor temperature.
If you live in a milder climate and can stomach the higher upfront cost, a heat pump can be an excellent heating solution. Though if your winters get frigid where you live, you might want to consider a heat pump as a spring and summer appliance.
Geothermal moves heat from one place (the ground) to another (your home). A loop of pipes essentially takes the heat from underground where it stays constant at around 50F year-round and pipes it into your home with a compressor. However, like a heat pump, you may still need a secondary heating system in colder climates.
If you live in a warmer climate, geothermal systems can be an optimal solution. Like heat pumps, however, they still make great supplemental heating options if you can stomach the upfront costs. Then you can watch your heating bill drop dramatically as the system pays for itself over the course of multiple winters.
Your preference for a hands-off solution vs. one that requires a bit of elbow grease can determine your ongoing costs both to your wallet and your personal time, and how dependent you want to be on fuel companies. In the end, you have to find the heating solution that best meets your needs.
We asked customers why they were switching and here’s what they said:
An Outdoor Wood Furnace could be your heating solution if…
If you source your wood locally, you have cost-effective heating fuel. The best part is you maintain your independence from fuel companies and fluctuating prices.
Not to mention a warm home, shop, and garage, as well as unlimited hot showers.
Every building and region is different, but on average, it’s estimated a home in the Northern U.S and Canada needs 100 million BTUs each winter.
So if you’re paying $2.50/gallon for propane, you can expect a total heating bill of $2,881 each winter.
If you have the time and expertise to collect and season your own wood to feed your outdoor furnace, it’s easy to see how those costs could become annual savings.
A boiler can connect to almost any existing home heating system, or power an overhead forced air heating unit or an in-floor heating system. Read more here or watch the animation below to see how a boiler connects to a home’s forced air heating system.
Don’t spend another winter paying high fuel prices.
Tying into a home’s existing forced air system is one of the most common outdoor furnace applications. Water from the outdoor furnace heats the copper coils in the heat exchanger while and the fan pulls the air over the coils before circulating it through your home’s ductwork. You save money with low-cost wood heat, while your existing electric furnace provides peace of mind as a backup heat source.
Radiant in-floor heat is one of the most comfortable and luxurious methods to heat a home. Hot water is simply pumped from an outdoor boiler through tubing installed in the floor. Hydronic radiant heating systems are popular because they evenly distribute heat to homes, garages, barns, and more. They also last longer than electric systems. When used with an outdoor furnace like the HeatMasterss G series, a hydronic radiant floor system can also be an extremely cost-effective way to heat your home.
Tying an outdoor furnace into a home’s domestic water means the added luxury of unlimited hot water all year round. Just another benefit your family is sure to love… you’ll start to wonder how you ever lived without the unlimited hot showers.
Radiant hydronic baseboards are an excellent way to heat your home with an outdoor furnace. The baseboard heaters keep rooms warmer longer because the fluid retains the heat and evenly distributes the it throughout the space. Radiant hydronic baseboard heaters feature low operating costs, don’t require ductwork, are extremely quiet, and don’t create drafts or breezes.
Heating large buildings like shops or barns can get expensive using electricity or propane. And options like heat lamps can pose a fire danger because of the exposed heat source. However, an outdoor furnace is a safe and efficient way to keep animals comfortable during the winter months. Applications include using a water-to-air heat exchanger, in-floor radiant heat, or hydronic baseboard and wall panel heaters. Because radiant heating warms objects directly rather than the air, it’s a great option for buildings with doors that often stay open.
Using the hot water from an outdoor furnace is a great option to heat your pool. A water-to-water heat exchanger will transfer the heat from your furnace lines to your pool water without mixing the two liquids. A common method is the tube and shell heat exchanger. Inside, hot water runs through tubes in one direction, while cool water runs in separate tubes in the opposite direction. The hot fluid indirectly warms up the cool fluid, keeping your pool at the ideal temp.
What’s the big deal about “gasification”? The process of gasification supercharges your efficiency by using extreme heat to unlock and burn the gases inside wood. While gasification is often the best choice, it does require properly seasoned wood. Check out this animation on the left for a closer look at the science of wood gasification furnaces.
While not as efficient, a conventional outdoor wood furnace is more forgiving when it comes to fuel quality. However, improperly seasoned wood still means more heat wasted boiling off moisture in your fuel.
To choose the perfect size of furnace, you’ll need to know how many BTUs your buildings require.
Your local HeatMasterss dealer can provide an in-depth heat-loss calculation, but for a helpful ballpark number use the calculator below:
For a helpful ballpark calculation, first, think about your insulation level
Now, multiply your insulation level by the total sq. ft. you are heating (house, garage, barn, etc.). Remember, for a basement, divide the sq ft. by half and add it to your total. So a 1,200 sq. ft. basement would actually only add 600 sq. ft. to your total.
This is only an estimate. Contact your local dealer for a full heat-loss inspection.
Interested in a full heat-loss calculation by
a certified dealer? Connect with a pro today!