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  1. #1
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    Default Combustion heater

    I'm building a new house where I would like to have a combustion heater as the main source of heating.
    The house is around 214 m2, if you deduct walls and partitions you get 197m2 net. Ceiling height is 2,7.
    I had never lived with a combustion heater before (it's not common overseas), and I have a few questions.
    1. If I have a net of 197 m2 as a house space, what kind of heater should I choose (around 250 m2, 220 m2, 200 m2 or even less) to feel comfortably warm at around 22-23 Celsius in the main room where the heater will be (112 m2 net space)? Maybe I should worry about not being to hot, but I doubt it.
    2. Do I need a fan or should I choose the one without it?
    3. How big should the burning chamber for the wood be? If I will buy timber, what size is better to have?
    4. Does anyone use the heater as like an oven or to boil water, the one that gives this ability is the Big Bakers oven by Nectre.
    5. Is it important (quality wise) to buy a local made one like Nectre, or a Chinese made Saxon is also a fairly good choice?
    6. What is best a build in one or a free standing one?

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    1. Try designing the house to not need supplementary heating...and focus on the main room, not every room.
    2. Ceiling fans are more useful than heater mounted fans
    3. Not too big...not too small
    4. Yes...the little Nectre (the littlest one) we have nukes water in a few minutes
    5. Yes. No. Maybe.
    6. Whichever one fits...and looks good doing it. Personally, exposed surface area works best for me.
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    2. Heat transfer system (fan and ducts to other rooms) with the intake located above the heater is a good alternative to a fan in the heater itself. Will distribute the heat around the house much better so creating an even temperature.

    3. Needs to accommodate whatever size wood you can easily (cheaply) buy locally. Around here that's 14" (for whatever reason firewood is still commonly measured in inches at least around here) but may vary with different locations. Anything smaller costs a lot more $ per tonne - far fewer suppliers offering other sizes (so less competition) plus more work cutting it into smaller pieces = higher price.

    4. Quite a few of these heaters can also heat water, it doesn't necessarily need to also have an oven to do that just a "wet back". That said, depending on what other options you have for heating water (electric, gas, solar, heat pump) it may or may not be economic to use the combustion heater. Two reasons for that - firstly it's fairly costly to setup for heating water and secondly even though it's reasonably cheap to run, solar (which also costs $$$ to set up) costs even less since the sun is free. So it's worth looking at your hot water options and then deciding which to go for.

    5. Saxon used to be Australian made (factory was in a small town in Tasmania) but in due course was bought out by BBQ's Galore and now manufactured somewhere else (the old factory is a depot for an unrelated rural supplies business these days). I'm not sure what the quality is like these days but my 21 year old Saxon is still going strong (that was when they were still made in Tassie however). Thickness of the steel has an influence on lifespan - 8mm steel lasts considerably longer than 6mm although how important that is will depend on how much you actually use the heater. An issue if you're using it constantly for 6 months each year and plan to live in the house for many years but won't matter in practice if it's used far less since it won't wear out in practice.

    6. Whatever best suits the house design. That said, fan is a definite benefit with the in-built type to better distribute the heat but less important if free standing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentButDeadly View Post
    1. Try designing the house to not need supplementary heating...and focus on the main room, not every room.
    2. Ceiling fans are more useful than heater mounted fans
    3. Not too big...not too small
    4. Yes...the little Nectre (the littlest one) we have nukes water in a few minutes
    5. Yes. No. Maybe.
    6. Whichever one fits...and looks good doing it. Personally, exposed surface area works best for me.

    You have a Nectre Bakers oven (small one), do you use it for cooking (roast or pie)?
    Nectre says in the brochure that it's good to use for 75-120 m2, can you confirm that you are comfortable with it for your house size?
    I'm afraid that I may choose the wrong heater for my size.

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    Default Combustion heater

    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    You have a Nectre Bakers oven (small one), do you use it for cooking (roast or pie)?
    Nectre says in the brochure that it's good to use for 75-120 m2, can you confirm that you are comfortable with it for your house size?
    I'm afraid that I may choose the wrong heater for my size.
    Nope. Baker's oven is a waste...well it would be for us. And it's not great value. We use the basic freestanding unit which heats our 140 sqm no worries.
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentButDeadly View Post
    Nope. Baker's oven is a waste...well it would be for us. And it's not great value. We use the basic freestanding unit which heats our 140 sqm no worries.
    How old is your unit?
    Was it designed to heat that much or your house is smaller for this heater?
    Are your ceilings 2,7?
    How long does it burn on one load and after the fire is gone how long does it stay warm and still give heat? (out of your experience)
    Thank you for your help.

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    3 years. Yes. Yes. Depends on the timber...and the fire bricks means it's good for a few hours of warmth. Your house dictates the final performance and overall success of the fire you choose....
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

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    5. Saxon used to be Australian made (factory was in a small town in Tasmania) but in due course was bought out by BBQ's Galore and now manufactured somewhere else (the old factory is a depot for an unrelated rural supplies business these days). I'm not sure what the quality is like these days but my 21 year old Saxon is still going strong (that was when they were still made in Tassie however). Thickness of the steel has an influence on lifespan - 8mm steel lasts considerably longer than 6mm although how important that is will depend on how much you actually use the heater. An issue if you're using it constantly for 6 months each year and plan to live in the house for many years but won't matter in practice if it's used far less since it won't wear out in practice.

    Saxon was my first choice, but since it's production is moved to China now I'm in doubt about it. What would you recommend (brand name)?
    Thank you for your help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    I'm building a new house where I would like to have a combustion heater as the main source of heating.
    The house is around 214 m2, if you deduct walls and partitions you get 197m2 net. Ceiling height is 2,7.
    I had never lived with a combustion heater before (it's not common overseas), and I have a few questions.
    1. If I have a net of 197 m2 as a house space, what kind of heater should I choose (around 250 m2, 220 m2, 200 m2 or even less) to feel comfortably warm at around 22-23 Celsius in the main room where the heater will be (112 m2 net space)? Maybe I should worry about not being to hot, but I doubt it.
    2. Do I need a fan or should I choose the one without it?
    3. How big should the burning chamber for the wood be? If I will buy timber, what size is better to have?
    4. Does anyone use the heater as like an oven or to boil water, the one that gives this ability is the Big Bakers oven by Nectre.
    5. Is it important (quality wise) to buy a local made one like Nectre, or a Chinese made Saxon is also a fairly good choice?
    6. What is best a build in one or a free standing one?
    A slow combustion heater will heat your house reasonably well if it is on for a reasonable amount of time. If you all go to work/school in the morning when you come back the house will be cold and will take hours for the heat to reach the other rooms. You need split aircon to give you that instant heat when you enter the house, and the fire because you like it and during the night if you have good quality firewood.
    I Used to have a Masport with fan. Waste of time.
    To build ducts with fans to take heat to the other rooms is fanciful and another big waste of money unless you have someone to stay home 24 hs and feed the fire, not to mention the atrocious look of this set up.
    I have two heaters, One smaller called "Jindabyne" probably made locally. It works well, it is on the small side and heats the room and adjoining rooms well.
    The other one is a Lopi Endeavour. It's mediums size, very well made with a smoke recycling system, it pumps out tons of heat and heats a very large house very well. Fits larger logs and is my prefered heater.
    Lopi makes a larger version of the endeavour and both have cooking surfaces. In Australia the heating aspect is not as crucial as the cooling and therefore we don't have the expertise available in other cooler countries. One feature often absent in locally made heaters is the option of feeding the fire with air extracted from outside the house rather than sucking in the heated air from the room and pushing it out the flue.
    In Adelaide however perhaps you are overthinking this and you should concentrate in building a house with good orientation and insulation. Check the cost of good quality firewood. In Sydney we are talking $380 a ton for quality stuff and 280 for rubbish. In Sydney I use 2 ton a year if no one is home during the day.

    Kent Jindabyne freestanding slow combustion wood heater by Abbey Fireplaces.
    lopi.com.au - Lopi Endeavor Freestanding Wood Heater
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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  10. #10
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    Contact this company, I have used and installed their gear and can recommend the gear.
    They make excellent equipment with longevity and have a wealth of knowledge.
    Their boilers are the only solution but answer part of your enquiry.

    Tubulous Australia: Wood Boilers & Hydronic Central Heating

  11. #11
    4K Club Member Marc's Avatar
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    Wow ... that looks cool ... I mean hot!
    It feels like going hunting rabbits with a 0.5 cal.
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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  12. #12
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    Good price for wood down there Marc, from a sellers perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramps View Post
    Contact this company, I have used and installed their gear and can recommend the gear.
    They make excellent equipment with longevity and have a wealth of knowledge.
    Their boilers are the only solution but answer part of your enquiry.

    Tubulous Australia: Wood Boilers & Hydronic Central Heating
    That was my first idea. But unfortunately my builder doesn't give permission for a third party to do any pipe fixing into walls before the handover, and after handover it's fairly impossible to get all that inside the walls. I might fix some hydronic electrical heating in a few rooms plus my workshop later on, after the first winter.
    I can't get rid of this builder, cause it's a house and land package and my wife wanted that land. Overseas I had hydronic heating in all my properties.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentButDeadly View Post
    3 years. Yes. Yes. Depends on the timber...and the fire bricks means it's good for a few hours of warmth. Your house dictates the final performance and overall success of the fire you choose....
    How much fire wood do you use per winter months?

  15. #15
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    Default Combustion heater

    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    How much fire wood do you use per winter months?
    Usually around a tonne... probably a tad less this year. The house is a reasonably well insulated timber framed and floored house on stumps. No thermal mass and the floor is uninsulated*. So not exceptional on heat retention by any means.

    * Yes it's on my list of things to do but since the joists are barely 400mm off the mud, you might understand my lack of urgency...
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    A slow combustion heater will heat your house reasonably well if it is on for a reasonable amount of time. If you all go to work/school in the morning when you come back the house will be cold and will take hours for the heat to reach the other rooms. You need split aircon to give you that instant heat when you enter the house, and the fire because you like it and during the night if you have good quality firewood.
    I will have a split system for some fast heating. Do you keep your heater operating during the night?
    I Used to have a Masport with fan. Waste of time.
    Why? It didn't give enough heat?
    To build ducts with fans to take heat to the other rooms is fanciful and another big waste of money unless you have someone to stay home 24 hs and feed the fire, not to mention the atrocious look of this set up.
    Yeah, I don't feel comfortable about it too, maybe another small heater is better, like you have.
    I have two heaters, One smaller called "Jindabyne" probably made locally. It works well, it is on the small side and heats the room and adjoining rooms well.
    How did you choose which model to buy?
    The other one is a Lopi Endeavour. It's mediums size, very well made with a smoke recycling system, it pumps out tons of heat and heats a very large house very well. Fits larger logs and is my prefered heater.
    Is it a radiant/convection type?
    Lopi makes a larger version of the endeavour and both have cooking surfaces. In Australia the heating aspect is not as crucial as the cooling and therefore we don't have the expertise available in other cooler countries. One feature often absent in locally made heaters is the option of feeding the fire with air extracted from outside the house rather than sucking in the heated air from the room and pushing it out the flue.
    Does your heater have this ability?
    In Adelaide however perhaps you are overthinking this and you should concentrate in building a house with good orientation and insulation. Check the cost of good quality firewood. In Sydney we are talking $380 a ton for quality stuff and 280 for rubbish. In Sydney I use 2 ton a year if no one is home during the day.
    In Adelaide it's cheaper according to Gumtree, red gum is about 250-280m a ton. My builder is giving me a 5R ceiling insulation and 2,5R in walls, that's maximum what I can get from the builder. I was thinking of putting double foil insulation as extra on the ceiling, but because the house is on a wooden frame I'm a bit worried about static electricity which can happen with foil and it might burn the house down.
    Thank you for your help.

    Kent Jindabyne freestanding slow combustion wood heater by Abbey Fireplaces.
    lopi.com.au - Lopi Endeavor Freestanding Wood Heater
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    To build ducts with fans to take heat to the other rooms is fanciful and another big waste of money unless you have someone to stay home 24 hs and feed the fire, not to mention the atrocious look of this set up.
    Disagree there.

    Aesthetics - an intake vent on the ceiling and outlets in the other rooms. Looks no different to any other system using ducts (gas, reverse cycle A/C) and it massively improves performance of the fire for heating the house.

    Warms up quicker than waiting hours for the heat to spread naturally and avoids the problem of having to heat one room to an excessive temperature to warm the rest. Prior to installing the ducts I measured 18 degrees at one end of the house, 32 degrees in the room with the heater. After adding the ducts and fan it's within 3 degrees across the whole house.

    If you all go to work/school in the morning when you come back the house will be cold and will take hours for the heat to reach the other rooms. You need split aircon to give you that instant heat when you enter the house, and the fire because you like it and during the night if you have good quality firewood.
    Agreed although a heat transfer system will improve it. But it does get old rather quickly coming home each day and having to light the fire if you're doing that for 6+ months of the year.

    Get up and leave for work in the dark. Come home and it's dark. Mess about getting wood in from outside, lighting the fire and so on. Not too bad if you're only doing it in mid-Winter but if you're running the fire every night from April to October then it becomes a chore for sure.

    Personally I run electric heating on weekday evenings and use the fire on weekends for that reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    Disagree there.

    Aesthetics - an intake vent on the ceiling and outlets in the other rooms. Looks no different to any other system using ducts (gas, reverse cycle A/C) and it massively improves performance of the fire for heating the house.

    Warms up quicker than waiting hours for the heat to spread naturally and avoids the problem of having to heat one room to an excessive temperature to warm the rest. Prior to installing the ducts I measured 18 degrees at one end of the house, 32 degrees in the room with the heater. After adding the ducts and fan it's within 3 degrees across the whole house.



    Agreed although a heat transfer system will improve it. But it does get old rather quickly coming home each day and having to light the fire if you're doing that for 6+ months of the year.

    Get up and leave for work in the dark. Come home and it's dark. Mess about getting wood in from outside, lighting the fire and so on. Not too bad if you're only doing it in mid-Winter but if you're running the fire every night from April to October then it becomes a chore for sure.

    Personally I run electric heating on weekday evenings and use the fire on weekends for that reason.
    How many vents and outlets do you have in your heat transfer system? And what do you mean by "it gets old quickly"? How much wood do you use per a heating season, which in Hobart is longer than in Adelaide?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    1
    A slow combustion heater will heat your house reasonably well if it is on for a reasonable amount of time. If you all go to work/school in the morning when you come back the house will be cold and will take hours for the heat to reach the other rooms. You need split aircon to give you that instant heat when you enter the house, and the fire because you like it and during the night if you have good quality firewood.
    I will have a split system for some fast heating. Do you keep your heater operating during the night?

    The fire is on all the time from 5-6 when we get home to the next day 99 or 10 when the last one leaves.
    I Used to have a Masport with fan. Waste of time.
    Why? It didn't give enough heat?

    The fan made little difference to the heat output. There are units better designed that have better air circulation where the fan may contribute to the overall output.
    To build ducts with fans to take heat to the other rooms is fanciful and another big waste of money unless you have someone to stay home 24 hs and feed the fire, not to mention the atrocious look of this set up.
    Yeah, I don't feel comfortable about it too, maybe another small heater is better, like you have.

    It has to do with the problem vs the solution. How many days of cold weather do you have there? I have 2 month a year here. Have a split in most rooms and one wood heater. The Lopi is in my holiday house. Way bigger house and way colder region, completely different problem / solution.
    Of course in a colder area like Tasmania, NZ, Canada,Germany or Russia, the solutions are different. That wood fired central system looks fantastic but you will probably get very little change out of 50k and need 2000 a year in firewood. You can run 5 aircon 24 hours a day for 6 month and will be still ahead.


    I have two heaters, One smaller called "Jindabyne" probably made locally. It works well, it is on the small side and heats the room and adjoining rooms well.
    How did you choose which model to buy?
    The Jindabine I bought on ebay from someone who bought it new and couldn't fit it in his decommissioned open fire, so just opportunity and pot luck.

    The other one is a Lopi Endeavour. It's mediums size, very well made with a smoke recycling system, it pumps out tons of heat and heats a very large house very well. Fits larger logs and is my prefered heater.
    Is it a radiant/convection type?

    The Lopi are made in the US and very well designed. Check out their website for difference with other slow combustion
    Lopi makes a larger version of the endeavour and both have cooking surfaces. In Australia the heating aspect is not as crucial as the cooling and therefore we don't have the expertise available in other cooler countries. One feature often absent in locally made heaters is the option of feeding the fire with air extracted from outside the house rather than sucking in the heated air from the room and pushing it out the flue.
    Does your heater have this ability?

    Yes, all Lopi have this option.

    In Adelaide however perhaps you are overthinking this and you should concentrate in building a house with good orientation and insulation. Check the cost of good quality firewood. In Sydney we are talking $380 a ton for quality stuff and 280 for rubbish. In Sydney I use 2 ton a year if no one is home during the day.
    In Adelaide it's cheaper according to Gumtree, red gum is about 250-280m a ton. My builder is giving me a 5R ceiling insulation and 2,5R in walls, that's maximum what I can get from the builder. I was thinking of putting double foil insulation as extra on the ceiling, but because the house is on a wooden frame I'm a bit worried about static electricity which can happen with foil and it might burn the house down

    Yes, we have those ads on Gumtree too. When you go and buy the stuff and burn it you realise that it needs another 3 summers to burn well.
    I always thought in building a solar kiln to dry firewood.

    Kent Jindabyne freestanding slow combustion wood heater by Abbey Fireplaces.
    lopi.com.au - Lopi Endeavor Freestanding Wood Heater
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
    Louis Pasteur



  20. #20
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    Thank you Marc for all your help. That Lopi advantage seems to be very interesting. I'll definitely contact them. How often do you need to clean the flue pipe and can an owner-operator do it himself?

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    Once a year for me and only if I burn good quality wood. I used tu cut and split anything I could find and invariably the flue needed cleaning more often.
    Anyone can sweep the flue if the roof has reasonable access. However walking on a roof undo the flue hat and maneuvre 3 or 6 meters of rod is not for the faint hearted
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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    About 10 years ago I managed to find a big Arrow, (Arrow Wood Heaters :: Product Detail) Victorian made (?) brand new and uninstalled in the classifieds...still going strong. Takes wood up to 500mm ish long = less cutting...Came with a heap of spares and replacements for all the cast iron parts. This year I used my first one...and replaced all the fibreglass rope seals for $30 or so...

    We're in Jarrahdale in WA where it manages to get really cold..this time of year. Once it gets cold ours runs around the clock. Probably feed it a big block of wood 3 maybe 4 times a day. Once when we get up, one just before we leave for work, one when we get home, one when we go to bed. As others have said once the house gets cold these take forever to heat it up again and in doing so you use more wood...so we just run it around the clock. One thing I noticed this year for the first time is the neighbours does not have an ash tray. So she has to pretty much let hers go out in order to clean it. With ours we just pull the tray when it's full and go dump it on the garden...something to consider when purchasing I feel. The flue is an easy thing. The brushes are not expensive. I have one on a long length of grey conduit. Just take the chinamans hat off the top, and with the door of the heater shut and the top baffle removed, I just run the brush up and down a few times...then put the hat back on...At the end of winter I give my whole heater a clean, including the flue.
    And.....your point is.....what exactly?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Once a year for me and only if I burn good quality wood. I used tu cut and split anything I could find and invariably the flue needed cleaning more often.
    Anyone can sweep the flue if the roof has reasonable access. However walking on a roof undo the flue hat and maneuvre 3 or 6 meters of rod is not for the faint hearted
    Thanks for that. I have found a local Lopi dealer here in Adelaide. I'll pay them a visit soon to have a look, they have almost all the line on display. Prices are good, compared to others. I'm looking at 1750 Lopi Republic with the external air ability. If my wife will like it (I hope), I'll have the second thing in my house which is made in USA, the first one is a 20 year old pair of Justin Horseman boots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David.Elliott View Post
    About 10 years ago I managed to find a big Arrow, (Arrow Wood Heaters :: Product Detail) Victorian made (?) brand new and uninstalled in the classifieds...still going strong. Takes wood up to 500mm ish long = less cutting...Came with a heap of spares and replacements for all the cast iron parts. This year I used my first one...and replaced all the fibreglass rope seals for $30 or so...

    We're in Jarrahdale in WA where it manages to get really cold..this time of year. Once it gets cold ours runs around the clock. Probably feed it a big block of wood 3 maybe 4 times a day. Once when we get up, one just before we leave for work, one when we get home, one when we go to bed. As others have said once the house gets cold these take forever to heat it up again and in doing so you use more wood...so we just run it around the clock. One thing I noticed this year for the first time is the neighbours does not have an ash tray. So she has to pretty much let hers go out in order to clean it. With ours we just pull the tray when it's full and go dump it on the garden...something to consider when purchasing I feel. The flue is an easy thing. The brushes are not expensive. I have one on a long length of grey conduit. Just take the chinamans hat off the top, and with the door of the heater shut and the top baffle removed, I just run the brush up and down a few times...then put the hat back on...At the end of winter I give my whole heater a clean, including the flue.
    Wow, yours is big... I probably don't need a large one like that. Thanks for the tip on the ash tray. I'll have a look whether any of Lopi range have an ash tray, it might be handy for future use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    How many vents and outlets do you have in your heat transfer system? And what do you mean by "it gets old quickly"? How much wood do you use per a heating season, which in Hobart is longer than in Adelaide?
    Heater is a freestanding Saxon "Blackwood" heater. It's 21 years old, back when they were made locally about 130km from where I live in Tasmania. The heater itself has no fan.

    The heater worked as such but the problem was that it was always a lot hotter in one part of the house than in other parts. 30+ in the room with the heater, still freezing cold in the bedrooms, bathroom etc.

    I then installed a heat transfer system with an intake above the heater to capture the hottest air. System comprises a 250mm fan and main duct, split after the fan into 3 x 150mm ducts with one run to each bedroom. It works extremely well and achieves a much better distribution of heat than without the duct system and I must say it's one of the better things I've ever added to the house. Brilliant.

    House is empty all day so no point heating it. Coming home in Winter it's always dark and what I found was that at the start of the heating season (April) there was some novelty value in having the fire going. By about June I'd be getting sick of the routine and would be well and truly over it once Summer came around. Get home, it's 10 degrees inside, get wood in from outside, light fire and wait for it to warm up. It just became an irritation especially if I was late home (say 8pm) having to do all that, then cook dinner and so on.

    So I upgraded the electric heating that also came with the house as a solution. Electric duct heater installed in the same ducts as used to distribute heat from the wood fire as well as the existing electric space heater in the living area. Come home, turn a couple of switches on, go about cooking dinner and so on. Easy.

    In my case the electric system is inefficient in terms of power use, its just electric heating as such not reverse cycle, but then electricity for heating is pretty cheap down here (40% discount off the standard rate applies for space heating if permanently installed - it's separately metered to do that) and since I'm only using it during weekday evenings the running cost isn't too bad overall. Part of the issue there was that I already had the electric space heater in the lounge room (came with the house) so the additional cost of putting in more capacity to heat the whole house was pretty cheap (and being a sparky helped there - wholesale pricing). I've certainly considered reverse cycle A/C but it hasn't really stacked up thus far as a replacement given the limited amount of use and cheap electricity here.

    I'm only using about 2 tonnes of wood a year these days. That's a "proper" 2 tonnes measured on a weighbridge not just someone's guess as to what fits on a truck. Would have been double that when I was using it every day.

    Both wood and electricity are relatively cheap in Tas compared to Adelaide. Wood costs $100 - $175 per tonne depending on when you buy it, from whom, and how fussy you are about quality. Electricity for heating costs 15.7 cents / kWh (in Adelaide it's about double that).

    Personally I've found that using a nominally more expensive supplier is actually better value since it's good quality wood, dry, always cut to the right length and they load the trucks with a bit more than is ordered (or paid for) and provide the weighbridge ticket as proof. In contrast, the "one man with a ute" suppliers tend to exaggerate how much wood is actually being delivered, it's often poor quality or unseasoned, and they sure don't provide any proof of the quantity. The 3 tonne load I get from a commercial supplier is at least twice the volume of the "3 tonnes" these one man operators tend to deliver. Plus the commercial operator turns up with a tip truck and dumps the wood exactly where I want it so no hassle.

    I'm not sure about timber species, I don't know anything about that really, but the wood I get is offcuts and rejects (small logs not sawn timber - typically it's split, has knots in it or some other reason why it's no good for processing into something else) from the timber industry that would otherwise be considered as waste. It burns fine and I like the idea of putting an otherwise wasted resource to good use rather than cutting more trees just for firewood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
    Heater is a freestanding Saxon "Blackwood" heater. It's 21 years old, back when they were made locally about 130km from where I live in Tasmania. The heater itself has no fan.
    The heater worked as such but the problem was that it was always a lot hotter in one part of the house than in other parts. 30+ in the room with the heater, still freezing cold in the bedrooms, bathroom etc.
    I then installed a heat transfer system with an intake above the heater to capture the hottest air. System comprises a 250mm fan and main duct, split after the fan into 3 x 150mm ducts with one run to each bedroom. It works extremely well and achieves a much better distribution of heat than without the duct system and I must say it's one of the better things I've ever added to the house. Brilliant.
    How far is your heater from the last ventilation grill?
    House is empty all day so no point heating it. Coming home in Winter it's always dark and what I found was that at the start of the heating season (April) there was some novelty value in having the fire going. By about June I'd be getting sick of the routine and would be well and truly over it once Summer came around. Get home, it's 10 degrees inside, get wood in from outside, light fire and wait for it to warm up. It just became an irritation especially if I was late home (say 8pm) having to do all that, then cook dinner and so on.
    So I upgraded the electric heating that also came with the house as a solution. Electric duct heater installed in the same ducts as used to distribute heat from the wood fire as well as the existing electric space heater in the living area. Come home, turn a couple of switches on, go about cooking dinner and so on. Easy.
    I can do it with my split system, though it's costly.
    In my case the electric system is inefficient in terms of power use, its just electric heating as such not reverse cycle, but then electricity for heating is pretty cheap down here (40% discount off the standard rate applies for space heating if permanently installed - it's separately metered to do that) and since I'm only using it during weekday evenings the running cost isn't too bad overall. Part of the issue there was that I already had the electric space heater in the lounge room (came with the house) so the additional cost of putting in more capacity to heat the whole house was pretty cheap (and being a sparky helped there - wholesale pricing). I've certainly considered reverse cycle A/C but it hasn't really stacked up thus far as a replacement given the limited amount of use and cheap electricity here.
    I'm only using about 2 tonnes of wood a year these days. That's a "proper" 2 tonnes measured on a weighbridge not just someone's guess as to what fits on a truck. Would have been double that when I was using it every day.
    How can one get that "proper" measurement, when one has no experience waht wood is needed and where to buy it. A few tips will be handy.
    Both wood and electricity are relatively cheap in Tas compared to Adelaide. Wood costs $100 - $175 per tonne depending on when you buy it, from whom, and how fussy you are about quality. Electricity for heating costs 15.7 cents / kWh (in Adelaide it's about double that).
    Personally I've found that using a nominally more expensive supplier is actually better value since it's good quality wood, dry, always cut to the right length and they load the trucks with a bit more than is ordered (or paid for) and provide the weighbridge ticket as proof. In contrast, the "one man with a ute" suppliers tend to exaggerate how much wood is actually being delivered, it's often poor quality or unseasoned, and they sure don't provide any proof of the quantity. The 3 tonne load I get from a commercial supplier is at least twice the volume of the "3 tonnes" these one man operators tend to deliver. Plus the commercial operator turns up with a tip truck and dumps the wood exactly where I want it so no hassle.
    Nice.
    I'm not sure about timber species, I don't know anything about that really, but the wood I get is offcuts and rejects (small logs not sawn timber - typically it's split, has knots in it or some other reason why it's no good for processing into something else) from the timber industry that would otherwise be considered as waste. It burns fine and I like the idea of putting an otherwise wasted resource to good use rather than cutting more trees just for firewood.
    Thank you very much. This information is very useful. Does your Saxon have an ash tray?

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    I haven't measured the distance but the heater is right in the middle of the house in the second living area off the kitchen.

    Natural air movement heats that area and the main living room nicely since there's good natural air flow. The rest of the house is accessed via a single passageway with a normal size door and that acts (even when wide open) as a barrier to natural movement of heat so the bedrooms, laundry and bathroom end up freezing.

    The fan sucks in hot air at ceiling level above the heater and blows it out into each of the 3 bedrooms. I haven't measured the distance but it's not that far - length of the ducts to the furthest point would be only a few meters but they're reasonably well insulated so a longer run shouldn't be a problem. With the heater going full blast the air coming out of the ducts is hot as such, would be 40+ degrees, but is cooler when the heater is turned down. End result is that the whole house ends up at about the same temperature with no cold spots and the only hot area being directly in front of the heater itself.

    I don't know about the situation in SA but here in Tas wood sellers fall into 3 categories.

    1. Commercial operators with a business premises, office of some sort, employees and so on.

    2. "one man" operators running actual trucks.

    3. "one man" operators delivering with a ute.

    1 - Should be legit especially if they're using a weighbridge or other reasonable means of measurement. If you're running a business that sells only firewood, or are selling firewood as part of a business that also sells gravel, soil and so on then you don't want to find yourself in trouble for ripping consumers off. Such people tend to have significant $ invested in the business with machinery, premises, staff etc and don't want to find themselves in trouble. That said, they're always the most expensive per tonne of wood - but if you pay for 3 tonnes then that's what you'll get with any error likely to be that they delivered a bit more than you paid for rather than the reverse.

    2. Really depends on the operator. They've got a vehicle that can at least carry a decent amount of wood. How much they actually deliver depends on the individual.

    3. You can't legally fit 3 tonnes on an average ute and many will take no more than half that. There's plenty of such people selling wood beside the road however and in general the price is the lowest based on what they claim to have in terms of quantity. But whilst that 3 tonnes for $300 might seem like a bargain, it's not once you find that the wood is soaking wet and there's really only half that amount anyway. Broadly speaking, there would be exceptions no doubt, it's no secret that such people tend not to be paying tax either and are often officially "unemployed" with no official income. Needless to say, payment for wood is cash only.

    As a very rough rule of thumb, 1 tonne of firewood should measure around 2 cubic metres. Roughly.

    There's also a question about where the wood is coming from. A proper business with a fixed address would expect that that sooner or later someone (government) is going to be checking where they're getting the wood from and won't likely be sneaking into the bush cutting wood where they shouldn't be. They'll either be cutting wood with a permit to do so in a non-conservation area where taking wood is allowed or will be buying offcuts etc from someone larger who's legitimately cutting trees for other purposes.

    Around here it's commonly wood that the timber industry doesn't want because it's uneconomic to transport small logs on the type of trucks they use. Also logs that have cracks and are thus unsuitable for saw milling. So they log the area (legally) and take the good quality large logs then let firewood sellers come in and take what's left. Then plant new trees to reforest the land.

    In contrast, it's no secret that some of the dodgy "one man" operators take wood from places where they shouldn't be taking it - anywhere that's nearby and where they don't expect to be caught doing so. Some will be legit of course but others aren't and it's hard to know who is who in that regard. The wood might be fine as such but it's not right to be just turning up and taking wood from just any random place.

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    [QUOTE=Smurf;1020360]I haven't measured the distance but the heater is right in the middle of the house in the second living area off the kitchen.

    Natural air movement heats that area and the main living room nicely since there's good natural air flow. The rest of the house is accessed via a single passageway with a normal size door and that acts (even when wide open) as a barrier to natural movement of heat so the bedrooms, laundry and bathroom end up freezing.

    The fan sucks in hot air at ceiling level above the heater and blows it out into each of the 3 bedrooms. I haven't measured the distance but it's not that far - length of the ducts to the furthest point would be only a few meters but they're reasonably well insulated so a longer run shouldn't be a problem. With the heater going full blast the air coming out of the ducts is hot as such, would be 40+ degrees, but is cooler when the heater is turned down. End result is that the whole house ends up at about the same temperature with no cold spots and the only hot area being directly in front of the heater itself.

    As I understand you have solved 2 problems at once. You keep the temperature in the room where the heater is lower and temperature in other rooms higher. Good job.
    I have read that hot air is useless if it's transported in a ducted system more than 6 meters.
    How far away from the heater did you put your fan and does your flue pipe get in the way of your ducted hoses?
    Do you blow the hot air with only one fan?
    What is the power output of your fan?
    Did you do it all yourself?

    Thank you for a great article on how to pick out wood. I would definitely use it for future purchases.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    A slow combustion heater will heat your house reasonably well if it is on for a reasonable amount of time. If you all go to work/school in the morning when you come back the house will be cold and will take hours for the heat to reach the other rooms. You need split aircon to give you that instant heat when you enter the house, and the fire because you like it and during the night if you have good quality firewood.
    I Used to have a Masport with fan. Waste of time.
    To build ducts with fans to take heat to the other rooms is fanciful and another big waste of money unless you have someone to stay home 24 hs and feed the fire, not to mention the atrocious look of this set up.
    I have two heaters, One smaller called "Jindabyne" probably made locally. It works well, it is on the small side and heats the room and adjoining rooms well.
    The other one is a Lopi Endeavour. It's mediums size, very well made with a smoke recycling system, it pumps out tons of heat and heats a very large house very well. Fits larger logs and is my prefered heater.
    Lopi makes a larger version of the endeavour and both have cooking surfaces. In Australia the heating aspect is not as crucial as the cooling and therefore we don't have the expertise available in other cooler countries. One feature often absent in locally made heaters is the option of feeding the fire with air extracted from outside the house rather than sucking in the heated air from the room and pushing it out the flue.
    In Adelaide however perhaps you are overthinking this and you should concentrate in building a house with good orientation and insulation. Check the cost of good quality firewood. In Sydney we are talking $380 a ton for quality stuff and 280 for rubbish. In Sydney I use 2 ton a year if no one is home during the day.

    Kent Jindabyne freestanding slow combustion wood heater by Abbey Fireplaces.
    lopi.com.au - Lopi Endeavor Freestanding Wood Heater
    Have you seen the greenstart feature on the lopi heaters.

    https://vimeo.com/34262040
    Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

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    Nice ... hot air blower. I always wondered why wood heaters don't come with an inbuilt fan like a little hand blower for a forge. Light the paper close the door and start cranking, rather than having the door cracked open or stick your head inside and blow like mad ... haha.
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Nice ... hot air blower. I always wondered why wood heaters don't come with an inbuilt fan like a little hand blower for a forge. Light the paper close the door and start cranking, rather than having the door cracked open or stick your head inside and blow like mad ... haha.
    So if you had a chance to purchase this technology when you were buying your Lopi, would you go for it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    How far away from the heater did you put your fan and does your flue pipe get in the way of your ducted hoses?
    Intake is approximately 1m from the heater flue so not in the way.

    Total length of duct is about 5m for the main 250mm duct to the 3-way split and then about 5m from there to each bedroom. There would be some heat loss no doubt but it's not noticeable - the air comes out very warm if the fire's cranked up.

    Do you blow the hot air with only one fan?
    One fan in the main 250mm duct. It's important to not put the fan too close to the intake since a reasonable length of duct between the intake and fan will act to silence it (otherwise you'll hear the fan running).

    What is the power output of your fan?
    From memory it's 95 Watts or thereabouts.

    Did you do it all yourself?
    Did the whole lot myself. Bought everything in the morning and had it working by the end of the day. That said, I'm an electrician so could legally do the electrical connection myself - anyone else would need to get a sparky to put a socket outlet in the roof space to plug the fan into and a switch located somewhere convenient to turn it on and off with.

    Installing the ducts, intake, outlets and fan is all very straightforward. Main tip is be sure to take the ducts into the roof space before opening the bag - they're compressed in the bag so expand greatly once you open it.

    System I bought was from a local company, Brierley Hose & Handling, and came with instructions that were all straightforward to follow. Everything was included - intake, outlets, ducts, fan, duct tape, instructions all included. Warm Air Transfer Kit - Brierley Hose & Handling No doubt there would be suppliers of similar systems in other states.

    Vents and the fan had a brand name that I can't remember but were made in Australia. Ducts were unbranded - not sure if they're being made by someone local or are from an interstate manufacturer but they've been fine thus far. Inner duct is reflective foil, wrapped in bulk insulation and then with a plastic outer layer.

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    Thank you Smurf, this is great information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barnes View Post
    So if you had a chance to purchase this technology when you were buying your Lopi, would you go for it?
    The green start? Nice but complicated and unnecessary.
    Anything using the marketing ploy "green". "enviro" or "eco" something has little chance with me ...
    A hand cranked fan or a bellow is all that is needed.
    “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    The green start? Nice but complicated and unnecessary.
    Anything using the marketing ploy "green". "enviro" or "eco" something has little chance with me ...
    A hand cranked fan or a bellow is all that is needed.
    That's what I thought. I'm more into other colors as well.
    I used a fan with a coal barbie overseas and it worked really good.

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    All you need are some dead dry Palm leaves and some smashed up timber offcuts to get it started in an instant.
    I don't burn many large logs though so I guess getting them going would be more challenging.

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