Main Level Insert vs. Basement Stove

jasert39September 26, 2011

My wife and I live in a rancher style home with our Master Bedroom and Bath Raised to a second level...we have 100% electric heat and know our rates will be steadily rising over the next year due to changes in the electric company's pricing. We are considering two options for supplementing (hopefully drastically reducing) the use of the dependence of the electric for heat. Hoping you folks would maybe give me more insight to which is more wise in the long run and where to focus my research, oh and we live in Southeastern PA if that changes anything.

Choice #1 - we have the ability to put a pellet stove in the basement and use a "secondary" chimney that is available for venting. This would probably eliminate the use of the electric heat in the basement but would enough heat "rise" up into our main living level of the home? This location is about right in the center of the basement.

Choice #2 - we could install a wood/pellet insert in our fireplace that is located on the main level, I would think this option would better heat the main level but would keep the basement cold and dependent on the electric. Also our TV is hung above the fireplace and we would like it to stay there, so if the insert would affect our TV is guess that option is out at this point.

Our bedroom level has always been the warmest room since it is raised and I guess heat does rise up to there, our home was built very well insulated. I would think if the basement pellet stove puts off enough heat to rise up through our floors and up the stairway to heat the main level that it would be a better choice, but thought I would ask here first...sorry for rambling on, thanks in advance.

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Is your main level fireplace a real masonry fireplace or a pre-fab fireplace built into a chase cavity? Is your basement finished or unfinished?

When my wife and I lived in Connecticut, we had electric heat. We saw plenty of similar home with wood burners in the basement and central heat register looking openings cut into the floor through to the basement. That enabled heat to rise through the openings to get heat to the upper levels.

My wife and I preferred to enjoy the ambience of the burning wood and more direct heat so we put our stove on the main floor. If it were me, I'd go with the insert as long as your existing fireplace is really masonry. If it's pre-fab, you can remove the existing fireplace and install a high efficiency fireplace that not only will heat the main level while looking like a fireplace, but you can also run duct work out of the side of the unit down to your basement and blow heat to that level. That what we have at our ranch house now in Illinois.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 7:37PM
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Our previous house had a woodstove in the basement that had been outfitted with a sort of big metal hood over the firebox that funneled the heat into the existing ducting system. No fan; it relied on convection, but I bet a clever person could devise a fan for a set-up like that. Adding to this was the fact that there was no insulation between the basement and the first floor living space...nice warm floors. We used the woodstove exclusively during the winter (central VA) and the house was toasty! It also kept the dirt and bugs from the logs confined to the basement.
In 2009 we built a new house but we wanted to insulate the envelope, so we opted for a woodstove in the living room. A little more dirt to contend with, but as the previous poster pointed out, watching those flames on a cold winter night is better than TV.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 7:54AM
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