How do I install a wood stove as an auxiliary heat source?

I've read this question, it doesn't really answer what I need to know. What I would like to do is install a wood stove (the old pot belly iron kind that you can get used for $300-$500) outside. I currently have a heat pump as my main HVAC system, with a LP fireplace that heats one room upstairs. I am working on finishing my basement and would like to know if it is feasible to have the wood stove outdoors and connect it to ductwork for the current HVAC system. Would this work? Would it be better to make a place for it in the basement?

I've seen outdoor wood furnaces by Central Boiler, but they are more than I'd like to pay, and a bit overkill for what I'm planning to use it for.

  • 2
    Potbelly stoves are primarily a radiative heater. Attaching it outside would require some kind of heat exchanger (like the water jacket and piping detailed in the Central Boiler link you provided). How were you planning to attach the stove to your existing forced air system? Dec 10, 2010 at 19:30
  • It doesn't have to be the pot belly variety, obviously to keep it outside I would need a hot air out duct, but I haven't looked at how much those are. Something like this richmond.craigslist.org/app/2103931869.html would be fine (can't see if it has hot air duct or not though)
    – BlackICE
    Dec 10, 2010 at 19:36

4 Answers 4


As one comment mentions, the type of old stove you're describing heats by radiating, and it will be difficult to move that heat into the house somehow.

Another issue to be concerned with is whether or not the stove is certified - if it's not, chances are you won't be able to get insurance, or insurance may be invalidated if it's the cause of a fire. Check your policy.

There are some good solutions for an outdoor wood furnace, but they're not going to be cheap. It's far easier and cheaper to install a good quality, modern wood stove in the basement, and it's (IMHO) the nicest quality heat you'll get.

When we moved out of a house that had a wood furnace (which heated via forced air, and also had a boiler to heat water for the baseboard radiators) into a house with electric baseboard, the first thing we did was install a wood stove.

  • 1
    +1 for advice to check insurance policy. I didn't know certain stoves could invalidate your home owner's insurance policy.
    – ChrisP
    Dec 12, 2010 at 12:55
  • When we installed ours, the insurance agent actually came out and inspected it himself. He also insisted on a metal bucket for ashes - which you are not permitted to dispose of in the garbage.
    – chris
    Dec 12, 2010 at 19:12

If you have the space, I think it's a better plan to put the stove in the basement.

It just doesn't seem efficient for the stove to be outside and then find a way to bring the heat inside, when you can just put the stove inside and exhaust the CO out a vent or chimney. I have a co-worker who uses a wood stove to heat his whole house and he loves it.

  • A neighbor put his wood stove in the basement and reducted the air return to pull the hot air from near the stove. It worked like a dream.
    – Michaelkay
    Dec 12, 2010 at 15:14
  • That makes sense because you are pulling in hot air from close proximity to the stove within an area without much air flow to disperse the hot air. However, if the stove is sitting outside in cold weather, there probably isn't going to be much hot air to pull into the duct system.
    – ChrisP
    Dec 12, 2010 at 22:25

You mention you've got an LP fireplace upstairs so you have an LP source -- any interest in installing an LP wall heater like this one in the basement?

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From here.

  • A good idea, but my goal with the wood stove was to get away from gas products due to cost of fuel.
    – BlackICE
    Dec 12, 2010 at 20:37

We built a small metal building next to our house and put a wood furnace into it. We are blowing warm air into the basement. We have a duct running from the plenum through the basement window and to our existing duct in the house. There is heat loss even with insulation but we have no smoke, ashes or wood mess in the house. Still playing with the optimum spot for cold air return.

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