I'm looking to move from forced hot air to anthracite. Dealer in Nashua (about 10 minutes from us in Mass.) recommends a stoker. I want something off-the-grid. When the apocalypse or armageddon strike, I want to know we can survive without electricity and battery back-up will only go so far. Stocking up on guns, ammo and home pressure canning gear. I'm even considering an old-fashioned coal stovetop/oven for cooking. (Yes, I will try to remember my tin foil hat also).
Is a hand fed really that bad? We have two flues already - one feeds fireplace, the other natural gas. A boiler would be overkill at 900 sq. ft.ranch (if you count the basement say 1500 sq ft of usable space).
Looking for something relatively inexpensive which will get us through. I checked craigslist but am not sure how well we can trust something bought second-hand since I don't know what I'm looking at or for.
One of four kids has autism. Not sure how well he'll do with the whole "stay away, it's hot" thing. Ideally, the stove would go on the poured concrete foundation storage room floor which is in the basement behind locked louvered doors, and would tie into the existing duct work. If worse comes to worse, I have more than 12" clearance in front of the fireplace and can try to tie a hearth stove in. I'm on a tight budget so really need to watch how much I'm spending on this.
I'd love advice on what would work best and am open to suggestions...I've done many home improvement projects so although I am a beginner I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and get the work done. I'm also not a girly-girl afraid of loading a little coal every day.
The way the economy is going, old-school homesteading is looking better and better. Too bad I have to do it from the middle of a blue state on just a half acre of land...
(q: can you use the coal ash in your garden as a soil amendment like wood ash, or no?)