Is Buying an Outdoor Wood Burner for a House Worth It?

by HomeSteadHow

We've been using our outdoor wood burner for four years and we’re going to discuss whether or not it was worth the investment or not. If you are considering an outdoor wood burner, you’ll want to read about the pros and cons.

We use this burner to heat our entire house, our Airbnb rental unit, all of our water, and it runs the heater in our garage workshop. This thing does a lot of work and it goes through a ton of wood.

Central Boiler Classic

1. Expense

The biggest con is the expense. This unit is a Central Boiler Classic and they can start at as much as $6,000 plus the cost to install it. 

How to use an outdoor wood burner

2. Amount of wood

We go through an incredible amount of wood. For the entire heating season, we’ll go through about 10 cords of wood.  

Additional equipment needed for a wood burner

3. Additional equipment

You’ll need more equipment to process all the firewood. We purchased a high-end chainsaw, an Argo all-terrain vehicle, a trailer, a log splitter, then storage places such as wood sheds–we have two we built. There are a lot of extra things beyond the wood burner you need to consider.

Sourcing firewood

Cutting down trees for firewood

4. Cutting trees down

If you’re rookies like we were four years ago when we started, we barely cut down one or two trees before we moved to our homestead. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to cutting down trees and you need a mentor to show you how to do it safely and properly.

I can’t tell you how many times we got our bar stuck in the tree because we were cutting it wrong. Or, we cut rotted wood on the ground. Now we know not to cut downed trees that are flat on the ground.

We live on 20 acres and near a big forest of pine, maple, and oak trees. Our wood is a mix of everything. We have plenty of wood on our property to cut for it.

Chainsaw for cutting down trees

Cutting and stacking wood

5. Labor intensive

Owning this is a ton of work. We have to cut and stack wood and feed the unit. We load it two times a day. It takes a lot of man-hours to manage the burner. 

Splitting wood

6. Splitting wood hack

We did learn, though, that we don’t have to split all the wood. If you split it, the wood dries quicker, but what we do now is we split half and left the other half as full rounds. The burner gets so hot it starts with split wood, get the fire and coals going, and then you can put huge round logs in there that will burn through.

Seasoning wood

7. Seasoning wood

It takes a long time to dry and season wood for the burner. We have 10 cords of wood for one burning season, but we should have another 10 cords on standby drying out. That’s 20 full cords of wood. But we haven’t stockpiled 20 cords of wood yet.

Using a outdoor wood-burning stove to heat a house

8. Our house is toasty warm

There are pros. If we had propane, I’d constantly be checking the thermostat and worrying about refilling it. The heat is pretty high and we don’t have to worry about the cost of propane or filling tanks. The cost of cutting more wood is not as significant as the cost of propane.

Heating water with an outdoor wood burner

9. Heats the water

We go through a lot of hot water. We have an electric water heater and when we use the wood burner during the burning season, the electricity is turned off and it’s fully wood-fired powered and it’s unlimited hot water.

Outdoor wood burner vs indoor wood-burning stove

10. Heats better than indoor wood stove

Our wood unit heats our ranch better than if we had an indoor wood stove doing the work. This ranch would be difficult to heat with just one wood stove. We have a wood stove in the central part of our house, but it doesn’t heat the back bedrooms well.

But it all depends on your house. If we had a regular two-story house, we may not opt for an outdoor wood burner but instead, have a big indoor wood stove. We do love the ambiance and heat of a wood-burning stove indoors. 

Family collecting firewood

11. Great exercise and family time

Yes, it’s a lot of work, and I could use all the time to read or volunteer, but the truth is I’d just sit around. It's a great way to exercise and our family does all this together. 

There’s not a lot to do in the middle of winter outdoors here, anyhow, so why not make it a family activity to keep busy in the winter? It's also rewarding to cut down a renewable tree and heat a house with it. 

Living off the grid

12. Not relying on the grid

If we couldn’t get a propane delivery, we’d be stuck with a cold house. I can indefinitely heat our house if there’s a natural disaster or the cost of propane skyrockets. It’s more self-reliant.

Is an outdoor wood burner for a house worth it?

13. It’s expandable

We have two pumps. One heats the house and the other one heats the rental unit and garage. It’s heating four different units. There’s room for another pump if we need to heat something else, like a pool or hot tub, for example.

Is an outdoor wood burner for a house worth it?

After four years of having an outdoor wood burner, in my situation, I would say, it’s worth it. I would still get the stove if I had to do it all over again.

Do you think it’s worth it? Do you have an outdoor wood-burning unit that you are happy you have? Let us know about your experiences with owning an outdoor wood burner for your house.

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