Hello all! I'm new here and really am enjoying reading all the great information found here. I'm ready to switch my home over from oil to some other form of heat but have tons of questions! Hopefully, all the knowledge here will help my wife and I make an informed decision.
Currently, our home is set up with an Fuel Oil burning forced hot air furnace. It's close to 20 years old and starting to show its age. We have a three story house and the furnace is in the basement. Since the basement is unfinished, I really don't need to heat it (and there is no current ductwork to do so). I'm looking to supplement my heat using some form of stove on the first floor. It will be centrally located so hopefully it will do a good job keeping the important rooms warm (we can close the doors to the rest). It will also be next to the stairs, so hopefully, some of the heat will rise up to the third floor. Also, my house is quite small (around 1500 sq feet) but the third floor has angled ceilings. It's well insulated as well.
The problem is that for insurance purposes, I want to keep the oil burner functional (also if we go away for extended periods of time). Also, to get the stove centrally located, it's impossible to use a chimney and building one really isn't in the budget. This means that my options are a direct vent stoker or a pellet stove (gasp).
Pricing coal and pellets around here, it seems that a ton of pellets is the same price as a ton of coal. For this reason, coal seems better. Also, I'm not certain the price of pellets won't go up as oil prices rise. I feel that coal will be more stable. However, in talking to a local stove dealer whom has come highly recommended, I was told that pellets were cleaner, easier and the stoves seemed to have less problems. They sell Harman. They also said that the direct vent blowers for coal stoves weren't lasting as well as they had hoped. They have had several die in around 2 years. The pellet stove was also close to $1000 cheaper installed and they had a package that included 2 tons of pellets. Good deal.
But I'm really not sure that I want pellets. Coal seems so much more stable price wise and provides much more heat. I don't want to install this myself so I'm pricing things completely installed. It seems that if I want a good stove with direct vent, I'm talking close to $4000 installed. Is this insane?
Basically, I'm looking for some good advice as to what stoves to look at that may be less expensive but still serve to heat my house.
Thanks in advance for any help. If you don't feel comfortable posting prices or anything, feel free to PM me.