Heating: Outdoor Woodburner or Geothermal

Lyns06February 14, 2012

I also posted this in the HVAC forum.. wasn't sure which forum would be the best for it!

My husband and I are about to begin building a new home. We live on a 500 family farm, with about 30-50 of those acres being wooded. We have a lot of large equipment at our disposal, so we are building the house ourselves with minimal outsourcing.

We are trying to plan the heating/cooling portion of our home and have narrowed down the heating to an outdoor woodburner or geothermal.

The case for the Woodburner:

- Have enough down trees to never have to cut a tree down for firewood. We already have next year's supply stocked after cleaning pastures!

- Husband has all of the equipment for firewood: chainsaws, log splitter, dump truck & skid loader for hauling, etc.

- Husband LOVES playing with his equipment and cleaning up the woods.


- Costs about $10,000 for the woodburner alone (put this in the cons bc cost is always a con!).

- Woodburner would heat the water, so there would be the dilemma of having to heat the water in the summer months when the entire house is not being heated.

- We are in our late 20s now, but as we age husband's enthusiasm for labor might diminish.. but then again, if he stays anything like his work-a-holic family, then probably not! =)

The case for Geothermal:

- We have the large equipment (backhoes, skid loaders, etc) to dig for geothermal.

- Essentially labor free after initial installation.

- I don't have much more!


- You would have to heat with another source to bring the temperature up from 55 degrees to a comfortable temp.

- Not sure about cost if we do the labor ourselves..

So, there you have it! Can anyone else help to clear up our inhibitions?

Thanks a lot!

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Hmm.. meant to say 500 acre family farm. My husband has enough problems working with two of his family members, there's no way he could work beside 499 more! =)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 2:14PM
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HVAC is better

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Alex House

In your narrowing down process why did you disqualify Masonry Heaters as an option for your home? IF cost is a factor for you and you are able to perform manual labor, then I would think that those would be positives in favor of Masonry Heaters.

Here's how I see it - wood versus geothermal is a trade-off between "free fuel" and no labor where you have to pay more NOW in order to get future no labor heat for your home. Or to put it another way - you save big money by going with wood but you have to continually collect and prepare wood for burning.

Depending on the particulars of your finances, you could use your own labor to build yourself a Masonry Heater and then later, when collecting wood becomes a real chore, invest the money in a geothermal system.

You didn't mention how you were going to distribute the geothermal heat in your home. If you're going to use hydronic heating then you can lay the pex during constuction and leave it dormant until a future hookup is ready.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Are you referring to an outdoor masonry heater or just more or less an indoor fireplace? I guess the term is unfamiliar to me.. I tried googling it and came up with some interesting finds!

Our "big" plan was to use an outdoor woodburner for a few years, then switch over to geothermal at a later time... but outdoor woodburners run about $10,000, which would certainly be nice to have go towards the geothermal that we would ultimately like to go with!

Thanks for the reply, I'm looking forward to learning more about the masonry heater.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:10PM
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