If you have owned a home for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of wood burning stoves and other wood burning technology designed to heat your house. An outdoor wood boiler is one of those old technology ideas, but with a new, modern face. The technology involved in these newer models has elevated their status to something far more than just a mere tribute to a simpler time in the past. No longer is it merely a smoke-producing source of heat that burns through tons and tons of wood products each year to produce the bare minimum of heat for your home. Today’s outdoor wood boiler design is a new age version of the wonderfully reliable old age technology.
How Outdoor Wood Boilers Work
An outdoor wood boiler operates on a simple principle. By burning wood, the boiler heats water that is used to conduct heat through piping into your home. The burner itself is a firebox that is contained within a water jacket and a steel enclosure. The container for the boiler provides an extra layer of safety to ensure that any potential fire hazard caused by the boiler is mitigated as much as possible. The pipes through which the heat is conducted into the home are insulated to ensure that very little loss of heat occurs. This makes these units very efficient in the area of home heating, and can – in some models – enable them to be efficient at levels that are almost comparable to the best furnaces you can buy.
The best part about an outdoor wood boiler – at least from a safety perspective – is that the water used in the process is not pressurized as it would be in an indoor system. The danger in any pressurized environment is that the pressure will fail to find a reasonable release point, leading to an explosion or other breakdown of the system. Because the outdoor boiler uses a water source that is not concealed from the outer atmosphere, it contains no pressure that can cause that type of accident. That makes it safer than any indoor unit.
In addition, other safety concerns that you might have with indoor boilers are also muted with an outdoor wood boiler. Most of these units – because they rely upon piping to get the heat into the home – can be located some distance from the home. This minimizes or negates any impact their presence would have on your home insurance. In addition, the wood and other materials are also stored outside of the home, allowing for a cleaner wood burning process. With less mess in the home, and a greater safety record than indoor burners, outdoor boilers just make sense to many homeowners.
Of course, the average outdoor wood boiler is still far from a perfect mechanism for delivering heat to your home. While they are nowhere near as smoky or inefficient as they used to be, there is no denying that these boilers still use far more wood than their indoor brethren – and produce far more smoke as well. In addition, the water’s exposure to the environment – while a great overall safety feature – does open the entire system up to the possibility of corrosion and decay.
In general, an outdoor wood boiler can be a welcome addition to your home heating needs, and a much safer option than most indoor wood burning units. Like every technology, it has its drawbacks – but most of these can be managed if you are willing to take the time and properly research the right way to use your unit. Don’t expect perfection, however, and be prepared for the negatives associated with this technology as well.