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!
Location: Boilers are very safe, but for the highest level of fire safety, it’s a good idea to place your boiler between 30 to 100 feet away from your house. Remember, this distance might differ depending on your location. Make sure to check your local building codes to get specific guidelines for your area.
Concrete pad or foundation: A concrete pad can help to keep your boiler level and make it easier to clean around the boiler. This is not a required step, but it can make maintenance easier and help to extend the life of your boiler.
If you choose not to pour a concrete pad for your boiler avoid soft and uneven ground. Over time, soft ground can cause the boiler to sink or sit uneven which can impact the performance of your boiler.
Connecting the Boiler to Your Home: To connect the boiler to your home heating system, lines will have to be run underground from the boiler to your home. The piping will be distributing hot water up to 204 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is transferred, and the water is then returned to the outdoor furnace to be heated again.
One big advantage our G Series has over other boilers is that they can be installed indoors. Most do this in a garage or wood shed. Refuel your boiler in the dead of winter, sheltered from the elements.
If you’re planning to install indoors, it’s a good idea to let your dealer know so they can help you plan accordingly.
Watch for combustible materials: Prioritize safety by keeping the unit away from any combustible materials.
Clearance: A minimum clearance of 6 inches around all sides of the boiler should be maintained to eliminate any risk of fire hazards.
Make sure to leave a comfortable 24 inches of space from the front door to nearby objects. This way, you’ll have enough room to move around and access the boiler easily whenever necessary.
Rhinoflex piping is installed in the ground distributing hot water up to 204 degrees Fahrenheit from your boiler to your home heating system. The heat is transferred, and the water is then returned to the outdoor furnace to be heated again.
The kind of pipe you use can make a big difference on how efficiently your boiler heats your home. The less insulated your piping is, the more your heat will leak into the ground before it reaches your home heating system, making your system less efficient. Although you can use what ever kind of piping you want, we recommend using Rhinoflex because of it’s quality material and insulation level.
Apart from the pipe (which is sold separately), the rest of the components here are included with your boiler for installation.
The G series boiler comes with a handy recirculation pump already installed. It helps distribute the heat evenly throughout the water in the boiler. You know how sometimes the hot and cold water can separate and cause uneven temperatures? Well, this pump prevents that from happening, so the water temperature stays the same from the top to the bottom of the boiler. When you’re setting up the boiler, you’ll just need to add an additional pump to circulate the water to your heating applications or heat exchangers. That way, everything works smoothly and efficiently.
When it comes to hydronic systems, there are several common fittings you’ll come across. You’ve got ball valves, PEX fittings, and different types of control valves. Then there are tempering valves, mixing valves, bypass valves, isolation flanges, crimp rings and air bleed offs! Those help get rid of any air that might be trapped in the system.
These fittings play a crucial role in keeping everything running smoothly and making sure your hydraulic system works like a charm. It is best to review your system with your dealer, a qualified plumber or HVAC contractor.
HeatMasterss boilers come with a convenient double wall insulated chimney already installed. It’s great because if you ever need to extend the chimney past a roof or a roof line, it’s a breeze! The double-wall insulation helps prevent condensation and creosote buildup. So, no worries about complicated chimney modifications when you’re setting up your HeatMasterss boiler.
Means allowing the wood to dry properly before using it. Freshly cut or green wood contains a high moisture content, which can cause a range of issues if not addressed. When you burn wet or unseasoned wood, it can produce a lot of smoke, is less efficient (releases less heat), and can cause creosote to buildup in your chimney and the firebox, which can be a fire hazard. By properly seasoning wood, you allow the moisture content to decrease over time, making the wood more efficient for burning. It typically takes a year or more to season, depending on the type of wood, climate, and drying conditions.
During the seasoning process, the wood should be stored in a well-ventilated area, protected from rain and moisture, and stacked in a way that allows air circulation around the pieces. This helps the moisture to evaporate more quickly and ensures the wood becomes dry and ready for use.
Properly treated water is critical to prevent corrosion and get the longest possible life from your furnace. You need to submit a water sample to HeatMasterss each year for testing and follow the treatment recommendations to extend the lifespan and maintain the warranty.
Refer to your owner’s manual for specific maintenance requirements for keeping your furnace operating at peak efficiency for years to come.