Heating Capacity
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    3

    Heating Capacity

    I'm looking to purchase a woodburning insert but I can't figure out what heating capacity to aim for. We have a 3-story house, about 800 sq ft per level, and the fireplace is on the lowest (and coldest) level. I've heard that we should pick an insert with a heating capacity of no more than 1,200 sq ft because otherwise the lowest level of the house will get too hot (or the insert just won't be as efficient as it could be). Is that the case?

    Ideally, I'd love to have some of the heat rise up to the middle level. Is that realistic? Will an insert with a higher heating capacity be better able to warm the middle level, or does that just depend on how well air moves in our house?

    TIA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    How open is it between floors? If its a more modern hours with a fairly open staircase you might get a good amount of heat going up but on an old house with closed in narrow stairs its not going to happen that well. Its pretty unrealistic to heat 3 stories from a basement, even to heat two stories from a basement.

    How well insulated is your basement and other floors? How old is the house?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    3

    Heating capacity

    The lowest level is pretty poorly insulated. The fireplace is on an outside wall that stays pretty cold. Even on the floor above, that's the coldest wall of the house. It was built in the '70s.

    There are heat registers in the ceiling on either side of the fireplace. The stairway is about 30 feet from the fireplace. Only the bottom 3 or so stairs are open to the room.

    I don't have any hope of heating the top floor. I'd just love to get some residual heat on the second floor, but I also want to be able to enjoy being in the room with the fire.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    Well with poor insulation you can throw the estimated sqft ratings on the units out the window. I would get the biggest insert you can fit into your opening.

    Is the entire 800 sqft basement open or are there separate rooms?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    3

    Heating Capacity

    OK, that's helpful. There's one large room, a bathroom, and a small utility room that I don't care about heating.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Stevens Pass, WA
    Posts
    4
    Get the biggest one you can safely install. Where does the chimney run? is it through the middle of the house, or off the side? If it runs through the middle, the chimney will heat up over time and help a little. The biggest thing you can do to help is allow the air to flow through the house as best as possible. remember heat rises. I heat a two story house with about the same square footage as your place. Mine was also built in the 70's and the insulation sucks. I heat the house, my hot water, and cook with it too.

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