The picture above is our neat little High Efficiency Wood Stove that heats the entire house. I pack it at night and always have a decent set of embers in the morning. Being high efficiency is burns less wood and burns it so well that there is very litle ash and very little risk of chimney problems.
One of my biggest mistakes was installing a conventional wood boiler that just could not cope with the load of our house and the granny flat. Being a simple box plus a water jacket, the high load meant that not only was the water never hot enough but nor was the fire and we had a lot of chimney issues. Plus I had to get up for the 4am “feed”.
My cousin has the same wood furnace – but his house is well below 2,000 square feet and it works just fine for him – except it does use a lot more wood. So I am not saying that Wood Furnaces are no good. I am saying that you need to do your homework better than I did to ensure you get a good match between demand and capacity. Also with a less efficient unit – a more secure and more local supply of wood would help too.
Here are the details of my new stove. Such stoves are now widely available and there are many makers. The greater challenge is in installing them well and in the wood supply and management. More on both later.