Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by groovy mike, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I grew up in MN, our house was heated with wood from the time I was 2 until I was 20. This was a "1600sf" house, that's 1600sf in the basement & main level.

    I don't know how much wood we used, but we used quite a bit. We did have a logsplitter on the PTO of the tractor so that made splittin' the wood easier. We also stored the wood in the barn so that kept the snow and rain off of it.

    Man, I HATED haveing to restock the woodpile in the basement.

    I do know we had electric "radiators" installed when the house was built (by my dad) but after the first month's utility bill when using them they were NEVER used again, and I mean NEVER.

    There was a hole cut in the ceiling above the stove that allowed heat to come up to the upper level of the house. I could go out and play in the snow until I was frozen through, then come in and stand on the grate and get nice and toasty warm :)
  2. franks71vw

    franks71vw Monkey+++

    Ok dont shoot me here but the only thing i can use wood for is for bar b que. But how long does it take to Seaon the wood for buring I also take it this term means to dry it out long enough?? Lastly, the average Maple, Oak or hardwood etc how long before you can harvest for fire wood?
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Partial answers:
    -Hardwoods will cure out enough to use in a year or a bit less depending on when harvested. My own preference was to burn during the second year, split late in the first year down, cured in ricks. Some prefer splitting during the winter following felling, simply because the wood is frozen then and cracks easier. I didn't find that important.
    -You can burn wood at any point in growth, and harvest whenever the fancy strikes. From personal experience, I liked 8 to 12 inch logs from a handling standpoint only, two smacks, 4 pieces. It is a matter of how easy to get it to fireplace size and last long enough to limit reloading to reasonable intervals. Big lasts longer, small is easier to handle.

  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    You can harvest anytime the wood is big enough to suit you.....but if you're growing specifically for firewood, I'd say you're looking at 15-20 years old from seedling to firewood on hardwoods.

    But I don't know anyone that grow specifically FOR firewood.

    The best way to get firewood is to have your own wood lot. Places with decent rainfall ( most of the east coast ) you can harvest a cord a year off an acre of medium aged ( 40-50 years old ) trees, forever, taking out dead, downed and trees that will never make good timber. You will actually improve the timber yield should you decide to log later. So if you need 8-10 cords/yr, you need 8-10 ( or maybe a shade more ) acres of trees to supply your heating.

    On seasoning the wood, I agree with ghrit......cut next year's wood this year.
    That's the reason I have those try to keep a year ahead on wood cutting.....actually, I hope to get 2 years ahead, and that way if something happens, I wouldn't HAVE to cut wood one year.
  5. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    That IS sorta what I built inhouse......but yeah, I've considered them. We're looking at growing tomatoes commercially in greenhouses, and if we do, we'll definitely be going that way....but using sawdust as fuel. Mill down the road generates about a tractor trailer load of dust a day that I can buy for 4-5 bucks/ton. I'd use an auger and blower system to feed the green dust in a boiler with LOTS of air, and just let it run 24/7......then run PEX tubing in the ground inside the greenhouses for heat. Been doing some experimentation with growing tomatoes in our small existing greenhouse, and using electric heating cables to keep the soil temps around 75, letting the air temps go down in the mid-50's at night. The tomatoes with heated ground are WAY out growing the non-heated one ( growing in plastic barrel halves ) that tells me direct in ground heating is the way to go. Virtually every other green house around here uses propane hot air to heat going with in ground water in PEX and sawdust I think would give us a BIG economic advantage.
  6. USMC GySgt

    USMC GySgt Monkey++

    Growing up in NJ my parents supplimented their heating oil heat with fireplace heat. Swore I'd never burn wood for heat as a teenager (since my job was to split the wood). Well, I now heat my house soley with wood. I live in SC now and we've had the coldest winter in more than 30 years. Everywhere I go I hear people complaining about the cost of their heating bill (propane, heating oil, electric, ng). I had my ng turned off because my house is old, not well insulated, needs new windows and my gas bill averaged $450 per month from Oct-Mar. I burn 2 wood stove inserts on each end of my 2500 sqft house. One of them I got for free and the other I paid $100 for. It's amazing how people will pay good money for these things and then realize it takes work to keep them going. After several years of not using them, they will, in some cases, give them away if you'll move them. Anyway, I've been running them this winter since Oct and have gone through about 3 cords of wood. I mix seasoned and green wood to extend the burn time. I'll load them up for the night at 11:00 and at 6:00 I just throw more wood on and open them up to raise the temp a little. One thing that does help is if you runn ceiling fans so move the warm air around. Another thing I swear by are steam humidifiers. Keeps the humididy up, and believe it or not, has kept my family free of colds and flu's. You could set a pot of water on top of a wood heater and get basically the same effect.
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