Outdoor furnaces are catching on
Outdoor furnaces are hot, as demonstrated by the number of exterior heaters popping up at homes and businesses across the region.
The stoves, which heat water that in turn heats buildings, have many applications, note dealers Ernie Maither and Rene Auer.
The people at Maxville Farm Machinery were sold on outdoor furnaces, also known as hydronic heaters, before they began selling the products.
During the Ice Storm of 1998, like many others, the business relied on wood as its main heat source during the month-long power outage. When they later learned of exterior furnaces, the owners were “thrilled” to install a unit, recalls Rene Auer, who along with his sister, Irene Bray, assumed ownership of the business from their parents, Gertrude and Herbert Auer.
While the Auers primarily serve the farming community, since they started the Agbert Equipment line, they have also been catering to people who are seeking alternative heat sources.
Outdoor wood-burning furnaces are versatile, points out Rene Auer, relating that a Polar Furnace unit heats a 10,000-square-foot workshop at the Highland Road location.
Customers use them to heat homes, sheds, garages, and swimming pools.
“There are all different kinds of models available today,” observes Mr. Auer. “You can get furnaces that have oil back-up or ones that burn corn.”
Typically, a fully-loaded stove can provide enough warmth for the entire day. “Depending on the size of the furnace, you can get 12 to 24 hours of heat from one burn,” says Ernie Maither.
The industry has evolved since the first basic units hit the market, points out Mr. Maither, the co-owner of Maiview Farm, who has been selling outdoor stoves for 16 years. “There were concerns with emissions from some of the older models, but today the units are much more environmentally friendly,” he says.
Companies such as Central Boiler have continued to improve their lines to meet new stricter environmental standards and to deliver more efficiency and heat output than traditional wood heating.
Cleaner emissions are achieved through the use of gasifiers, which inject preheated air around the base of the fire.
With rising electricity costs, outdoor furnaces are particularly popular in rural Ontario.
PROVEN: Many believe that wood is the only way to heat.
CLEANER: Technology and municipal bylaws have led to cleaner emissions.