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What is an Outdoor Wood Furnace?

By Erika Peterson
Updated May 16, 2024
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An outdoor wood furnace is a device that is used to heat a building. The word furnace is derived from a Latin word, fornax, meaning oven. There are many types of furnaces, but they all have the same basic function, to heat an area. Some of the most popular types of furnace are located indoors. An outdoor wood furnace is used instead of an indoor furnace. Outdoor furnaces do not need electricity or gas power to work properly. They operate with the assistance of great design, wood and fire.

While an outdoor furnace does not need electricity or gas power in order to function properly, electricity and gas power can be used in conjunction with the heat that is produced from the burning of the wood in the furnace. Heating systems that used multiple types of power sources usually have more than one function. Besides heating a building, an outdoor wood furnace may also heat water for use.

However, an additional energy source is not needed in order to heat both air and water. Outdoor wood furnaces that have both of these functions are called hydronic wood heating systems. Hydronic wood furnaces heat water to a certain temperature level, piping it to a location in the building.

Outdoor wood furnaces are a great choice for locations where firewood is in an endless supply. They are also popular in cold climates. This is as a result of the pure burning power of wood. Wood furnaces will burn hot, and that is essential for warming any building that is located in an area that is known for frosty temperatures.

Outdoor wood furnaces are most commonly found in residential locations. They are an economical heating source, and use of such a furnace has show to reduce overall home energy expenses. As a high demand furnace, exterior wood furnaces are a large financial investment. Even the outdoor wood furnace models that offer no extra features can put an initial strain on any household’s budget.

Like any furnace, outdoor wood furnaces are made up of a few distinct parts that have specific functions. Basic exterior wood burning furnaces are made up of a sealed firebox, a blower and doors. The doors allow access to the furnace for fire maintenance and furnace cleaning. The blower distributes the hot air, and the firebox holds the fire and wood. A large outdoor wood furnace may have additional parts and functions.

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Discussion Comments
By Feryll — On Dec 16, 2014

@mobilian33 - I agree that a wood furnace in the basement is more convenient than one on the outside when you are adding wood to the fire. However, I think this all evens out because stacking the wood on the outside takes less work and energy than carrying it to the basement and storing it there until you are ready to load the furnace.

Also, when the furnace is on the outside, any smoke that escapes when you are loading wood into the furnace doesn't go into the house. Wood burning heaters and furnaces can be messy, and that's why some people prefer outdoor wood furnaces.

By mobilian33 — On Dec 16, 2014

I would think that a wood burning furnace in the basement would be much more convenient than an outdoor wood furnace. I wouldn't want to have to go outside into the cold to restock the furnace. Going into the basement would be much easier.

By Drentel — On Dec 15, 2014

When I was a kid, I made a new friend at school and I went over to his house one weekend. This was in the winter, so the weather was not the best. I remember the day was cold and wet, so we were in the house playing and watching television.

The house was a big old two-story house and it was very warm, but I didn't give any thought to how it was being heated until my new friend's father came into the room where we were and told my friend that it was his turn to load the furnace. We had fireplaces at my house, so I knew about burning wood, but I had not seen an outdoor wood furnace.

I went outside with my friend and there were stacks of wood next to the furnace at the back of the house. The furnace was under a cover comprised of four poles and a wood and tin roof. We loaded what seemed like a truck load of wood into the thing. Actually, I'm exaggerating, but the furnace held a good amount of wood.

I think they had to fill it two or three times in a 24-hour period, depending on the type of wood they were burning and the setting on the furnace.

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