Preppers : Osborn 2400 Fireplace Insert


Sustainability off the grid is at the heart of the prepping movement , and there are many technologies that incorporate what I call High Tech Low Tech that can be implemented to enjoy a life style that is not only sustainable but allows you to lower your cost of living.

I created “The Preppers” section here at Apocalypse How to share with you ideas and “Solutions” to the most common survival concerns when it comes to living on planet earth , these will be things I have personally tried or implemented to gain experience for myself in becoming  not only more sustainable , but more self reliant.

With winter approaching one of the most important things you want to have ready in northern climates ( and elsewhere with the strange weather patterns recently) ,  is a way to heat your home , with the price of fuel and electricity constantly on the rise , more and more people are looking for alternative ways to heat their homes , and this is ” my story” .

Last year, deep in the heart of winter my heat pump failed and while it was incredibly annoying ,  it wasn’t exactly catastrophic , the first is because  I live in a fairly temperate climate up on the coast  in the Pacific Northwest , so it doesn’t get that cold , but you definitely want heat to be comfortable … and for the women folk to be happy…” Very Important ”  for survival !

The second reason is that my furnace was still working so I could use what is called the  ” Emergency Heat ” setting , this is normally good for a couple days , but our heat pump was toast , so we ran on emergency mode for over 3 months, not only was the furnace constantly running because it was so inefficient , the electric bill went through the roof  even more so than usual for winter months… and we were still cold.

The problem was the ducting runs underneath the house, so every time the furnace kicked in it had to pump all that cold air up into the house first , and of course the coons, squirrels and god knows what else had rendered a couple of the ducts useless, and I think we were heating a large portion of the crawls space underneath the house as well … not good.

I pictured the squirrels down there sleeping peacefully inside our ducting while we were freezing topside !

So … come Summer we started getting quotes on replacing the heat pump , fixing the ducting , possibly replacing the furnace because of its age and incompatibility with the new heat pumps which no longer use the old type of freon and on and on it went, my head spinning and quotes ranging from $4000 – $5,000 for a new heat pump and  ” Way ”  upwards  for a complete new system with new furnace , and of course duct repair and crawling around underneath the house was not included and would be billed by the hour depending on what they found !

After thinking about that for a while , it just didn’t resonate for a number of reasons, first of which was the expense and wasted investment , I just didn’t have it in me to spend that kind of money and neither did my wallet  , the other was of course related to off grid scenarios like power outages that would render a $10,000 system useless leaving us cold …yet again , and around here with the storms we get it happens fairly often  !

As they say necessity is the mother of invention , well in my case it became the motivator of research , so off I went exploring the alternatives , of course wood stoves are a great solution , so I started looking in that direction ,especially since I live in the Pacific Northwest and we are surrounded by “WOOD” , it makes perfect sense , plus being in a very rural coastal area , there is no concern with contributing to haze, although these hew high tech wood stoves are highly efficient and with good seasoned wood and “proper” use create very little “Pollution ” and would be viable just about anywhere .

However I was a bit frustrated becasue I “really ”  did not want to cut a hole in a perfectly good  new roof  that I had just put in last year,( that is a another story )  and we have a beautiful huge fireplace , and although it is very pretty , it was useless for  heating a home , most of the heat goes up and out the chimney .

Then I came across the Fireplace Insert , being fairly new to wood stoves and fireplaces  , I was not aware of this invention till just recently , and when I asked a few of the locals about it  who had stand alone wood stoves , they gave me the look that said , nope , they don’t work that well , becasue they are still encased in the fireplace masonry they don’t put out the radiant heat that a stand alone does, they are a bit better than a fire in a fireplace …but not much… that was the general consensus.

Well that was disappointing to hear  so I figured I would do some more research , and I’m so glad I did , I started perusing forums and reviews, and it turns our wood insert technology has improved in the last 30 years ,imagine that ,  something my older neighbors were simply not aware of , the fact that they still have rotary phones was my first clue !

So after looking at all the manufactures out there , I settled on the Osborn 2400 Fireplace Insert ,  designed for  convection only , Osborn does however throw in a two speed blower system for free, although they are not needed for maximum efficiency,  I also decided on the model that sticks out a bit as opposed to the flush model , because I figured there would be more radiant heat , more steel is exposed ,  plus I could set a pot of coffee on there or fry some eggs if the power was out , after all it is a wood “stove ” !

The claim was that this model , a fairly big stove , well over 500lbs , could heat a 2700 square foot home , and it puts out 100,000 BTU’s , with a 10 hour burn time , with an efficiency rating close to 80 % !  So I ordered one through Woodland direct with the appropriate 25′ stainless steel flu liner , cap and base, and the trim kit , and black door overlay , the picture above is from their site . Total cost was around $2700 !

So this weekend we finally go it installed , with the use of a plasma gun , a sawzall , and plenty of sweat, we had to cut through the existing heatlilator to make room for the 6″ flu liner , which attached to the top of the stove  , other than that we left the steel heatlilator housing intact, made a perfect home for the insert    .

Then we fired it up with some well cured fast burning alder which is in great abundance around here along with some longer,  hotter burning Douglas fir. We left the doors to the house wide open for the first two hours of operation to allow  the smell of the new stove to vent off, it wasn’t  that bad , but it was a good idea !

It was getting dark when we finally closed the doors to the house, the inside temp was around 6o degrees at that point , so in an effort to heat the place as quickly as possible , I opened the vent in the front so it would get the max air flow for the hottest burn and I turned the blower on high.

With in 2 hours the main part of the house was at 77 degrees ! We were impressed , granted it wasn’t that cold outside , low fifties dipping into the high forties that night , however , when the women folk started to complain that it was ” too hot ” , it was music to my ears … we had success !

I finally turned the blowers completely off and it kept the house a nice 70 degrees through the night , so it is quite easy to make adjustments with air flow and the blowers and adjust to weather conditions outside and maintain a stable temperature . I went around and closed all the old vents ,and turned the energy sucking electric furnace off for the last time !

For roughly $3000 I found a way to heat my entire home with wood, using the existing hole in my roof , the fireplace chimney , I will have lowered my yearly eclectic bill by 50% or more easily in the process , and in the event of power outage , we will still be warm , and there is nothing better than a warm home on cold rainy night in the Pacific Northwest !

These are the types of things we can take action on in becoming more sustainable and more self reliant utilizing old school technology with newer high tech designs , and a totally renewable resource , Scrap Wood , all of my wood pile was procured form trees that were old or dying and had fallen or I took down before they had , otherewise they would eventually just rot and return to the soil !

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