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Propane back up for an outdoor wood boiler

Hamish Member Posts: 1
I’m brand new here so if I ask stupid questions or ones that have been answered many times before. I apologize a head of time .
I installed a wood boiler system a few years ago which works great and I have a life supply of ‘’free’’ firewood.

My issue now is that I can’t be away from home for more than 24hrs before I need to fill it again.

So I’m thinking of installing a propane tank and a propane water heater to be a backup system for the times I need to be elsewhere.
My current system uses the hot water which feeds through an air handler to heat my house and a heat exchanger to preheat the cold water feeding the electric water heater .

So I’m interested to hear if anyone has done a similar modification or any advice on how to go about this or any tips tricks or any info anyone has .
I’m no plumbing expert but I have been a millwright for many years .

Well thanks for taking your time .


  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,086
    edited July 2023
    Hi @Hamish, there are lots of ways to get where you need to be. the first thing is to know what you have right now. Is the wood boiler one of the outdoor boilers with insulated pipes going underground thru the foundation wall or is your wood boiler inside the home connected to a chimney? nevermind I just saw the title! Duh!

    Have you an old existing boiler that was decommissioned in favor of the wood burner? What condition is it in if you still have it?

    Trying to go cheep with an appliance that is designed for Domestic Hot Water (DHW) and making it a space heating appliance rarely works out well. An open system DHW heating appliance (135°F) usually does not get high enough temperatures for space heating (180°+) in many cases. There are many people that come to this forum trying to find out why the water heater is not heating the house properly. That is because it is not designed to do that.

    So lets find out what you have and we can help you make a good decision on what you need to get where you want to be. If you don't have the model number and brand name then a photo of your wood burner and how the pipes are connected would help.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,926
    What heated the home before the wood boiler? You've got the ductwork, why not simply replace the air handler with a furnace and keep it simple? A tankless water heater is an awful choice for a heating appliance and would create a bunch of unnecessary complexity for a subpar system that would end up costing more than a furnace anyway.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,256
    Do you have AC? If not 
    With @GroundUp suggestion you could install an LP furnace with and AC coil

    Call it heating, cooling with wood backup🥴
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream