Installing a Wood Boiler

As we worked on editing the Outdoor Wood Boiler article in the current issue of the magazine, I began to think seriously about installing such a unit on our farm. We live in the midst of 90 acres of mixed hardwoods, and the prospect of meeting all of our heating needs (both heat and domestic hot water) exclusively using our own wood has lots of appeal, both financial and environmental.

As the article discussed, there are outdoor wood boilers out there that are highly efficient and burn far cleaner than the typical models you see belching away in side yards across the region. But I still had a bunch of questions:

  • How big does the boiler need to be?
  • How many models are there to choose from?
  • Does the boiler require heat storage of some sort?
  • Could a wood boiler be paired with solar panels to avoid summer burning?
  • I’m pleased to say that I found the answers to these questions, and many more that I didn’t (yet) know I had, at a very helpful online site:

    The forums are non-commercial. The one that struck me as most useful is called “The Boiler Room.” A bunch of homeowners running a bunch of different wood boilers maintain a dialog on everything from how often to stoke the boiler to how best to dry firewood to how to plumb the system for maximum efficiency.

    If our recent article has piqued your interest and inspired you to consider installing a boiler of your own, I’d recommend you swing by the “boiler room” for more details. One caveat: set aside a chunk of time. Even if you’re not a geek, it’s an interesting site.


    1. Harry → in boston, MA
      Jul 19, 2008

      I’m looking for tips how to install a wood boiler (EKO 40) into my existing oil boiler heating system with 4 heating zones and using the oil boiler as an back up which will automatically jump on if the wood boiler fire goes out.  I was hoping to use my existing thermostat and pump system form the oil boiler.

    2. R. Leyshion, Jr. → in Nokesville, VA.
      Nov 18, 2008

      Stay Away from Shaver Outdoor Boilers

      These morons have been jerking me around on my order since July 2008, after paying a $1,500 deposit. The boiler was supposed to be delivered in September 2008, here we are approaching December 2008 and no boiler. Their customer service is non-existent. Ben is available to take your order & deposit, but try to get someone on the phone or by e-mail after that. Mission impossible!

      I canceled my order with Shaver and went with a Natures Comfort 250. Natures Comfort distribution network to dealers is great, response time at the factory or the dealer was immediate. You can talk to a real person! Shaver Wood boilers - never ever again!!!!!!

    3. L Peters → in Alaska
      Nov 18, 2010

      We bought an Econoburn last year to suppliment our existing fuel oil heating system. The dealer then presented us with an estimate of $8,000 to install the unit 8’ from the oil boiler. We’ve been trying for a year to figure out how to tie this unit into the other.  Apparently the installation requirements are top secret and the manufacturer does not wish to assist homeowners. The only other dealer within 100 miles has declined to help us. It there someone who can help us understand what the requriements are?  We’re willing to pay for help - just not $8,000!!

    4. Scott → in New Hampshire
      Nov 24, 2010

      I am on my third year with an Eko 25 gasifier. One of my concerns was getting it installed at a reasonable price.  I am running it with no thermal storage for now.  After having it piped in, it does not appear all that difficult.  You could set up that econoburn the same way any plumber worth his salt can easily tie it into your oil furnace. Had mine done for 2G, 1 for parts and 1 for labor.

    5. Jake Taylor → in Manhattan
      May 26, 2015

      This article helped me sort out my problems. I was looking for tips on how to install a wood boiler into my existing oil boiler heating system with 4 heating zones and using the oil boiler as an back up which will automatically jump on if the wood boiler fire goes out.

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