(John Alcock) #1

We have to install a new heating system in our house, we have a woodburner cooker which is staying in place not only does it look good but is great for cooking and warms both kitchen dining room stairs and part landing, the central heating is oil very old and non efficient , due to the rambling nature of the house we need a fire in what will eventually be our lounge but what to use as a central heating fuel, our choices are a small fire in the lounge with oil/pellet burner to run the heating and hot water or a large fire in the lounge to run heating and hot water, i know wood is labour intensive , oil/ pellets instant and easy, what about running cost and instalation, as we are already commited to wood with the cooker doe we stick with it totally or mix what do others use.


(John Alcock) #2

Hi Phil
I to heard about Esse’s reputation for poor after sales but touch wood in 3 years we haven’t had a problem, when I have contacted Esse direct they have always been helpful and answered any query with easily understood answers they have three dealers in France but we used an unofficial agent , http://www.stoves-are-us.com/ I have spoken to two installers about fitting a complete system http://www.simplyheatpyrenees.com/en/ and http://www.swansolar.eu
With a 12k euro rebate it must have been one hell of a system we have been given a off the top of the head figure of 6K euro but that’s without a full inspection for a 3 bedroom 2 story house would you mind telling me who the installer was just incase I use him

(Catharine Higginson) #3

A generator is essential IMO. James was working away when the last big storm hit and I was alone with the youngest as the girls were staying with friends. A tree blocked us in so I couldn’t even go for help. I had a horrendous 24 hours alone with small child, no water (flushing the loo with buckets of rainwater!) and we were down to last half bottle of drinking water when James turned up bearing loads of bottles of water and WINE and the generator - plugged it into the boiler and I had a hot shower soon after. Was blissful!

(Wendy Wise) #4

We need a generator, then we’ll be fully prepared. We were without power for 2 days last year, freezer was OK, we just didn’t open it, candles and battery powered lamp for lighting, small gas camping stove for cooking and heated water on top of wood-burner, but it would have been great to have TV…Scrabble starts to lose it’s appeal after half a dozen games.

We were without power for a week after the hurricane in Dec 99, no freezer then so we just waited it out. One thing though that everyone might like to know, when the power came back on there must have been a big surge and it blew the brains out of my fridge, so now we unplug all the appliances and plug back in when the lights come back on.

When we first moved to France in 93 we used get a 30 min power cut regularly every night at 10pm when it switched over to cheap rate, things have improved a lot since then, fortunately!

(Catharine Higginson) #5

Thanks for that John - I have always yearned for one.
Will now try to convince himself…!

(John Alcock) #6

Hi Catharine
We were looking for a wood burner then friends of ours mentioned that they had occasional power cuts in the winter being in the Montagne Noire so I looked deeper and saw the Esse, thinking if we were having a wood burner for heat why not use the heat for cooking, my wife saw it and that was it we had to have one, cut a long story short I looked at the practicalities and feasibility so yes we bought one, ok in the summer its not such a good idea so we have a gas hob and electric oven but summer months eat out side and BBQ , most power cuts happen in the winter where they cause the most inconvenience, I’m an engineer and I think its a great piece of kit I love cooking it’s a bit of a learning curve juggling the fire and oven temperature but cooking a 3 course meal for 6 didn’t pose a problem, the mistake I made first time in use was stoking the fire to the max it killed it for a while then once it was going I couldn’t get the oven temp down fast enough 500 c bit hot for most things, surprising how small a fire is needed according to Esse 4lb of wood per hour, little and often is the secret, load it up close the vents down and it will burn all night with the new fire box fitted in the morning open the fire box door throw in some light stuff open up the vents and away it goes its such a big lump of cast iron it takes hours to cool down , the dogs love it in front all night cant get a look in
It wont heat the whole house but it does heat our kitchen, dinning room, stairs and part of landing we haven’t been there a full winter so perhaps if its running continuously then heat may filter further, in the event of a power cut you do have heat cooking and can boil water, there is a boiler for hot water but we didn’t bother, we aren’t resident yet so could’nt claim the tax back, will try and post some photos bearing in mind the kitchen is still in the process of renovation

(Catharine Higginson) #7

Hi john
Post away!
That is my concern about the pellet burners - we were hit by the storm (Klaus) and being without heating / water / hot water / light for a few days makes you very aware of such things. I love the idea but unless there is a facility to stoke it manually, I’m out!
Re your Esse, how do you get on in the warmer months? And how often do you have to feed it with wood? Be v interested to know more if you get a minute!

(John Alcock) #8

There is a pump fitted to pellet burners, i think also it requires electricity to run the fuel feed so in the event of a power cut no heating/hot water ,i do have a couple of companies who specialise in wood burners running heating systems that in the event of a power failure the heat is dissapated through an extra radiator devise tucked away somewhere .i can post if allowed, i have a wife who feels the cold, less than 29 degs her coat is on, my worry was there would be a lag between getting up in the morning lighting the fire and waiting for the heating to warm, this i have been assured does not happen, with the correct system fitted it would give heat 24/7 if required, if its heat required with the minimum of labour then gas oil or electricity, wood is cheaper but labour intensive but the fire is so welcoming and gives a house a glow.
When we fitted our Esse Ironheart cooker there were a few that laughed and said we were going backwards until the first 3 day power cut, we had heat and full cooking facilities the cooker gives out plus 8kw so warms the kitchen ,dining room , up the stairs and partially the landing,its a huge chunk of cast iron, i love cooking on it having done beef, pork and chicken in the oven, your normal veg, steak etc on the hob also baked bread, cakes are my next challenge ,the tv program Riverside Cottage use one.

(Wendy Wise) #9

If there’s an electric pump for the CH, you’re probably stuffed!

(Catharine Higginson) #10

I like the ease element of a pelleted system but (and I’m hoping someone might know) can they still be used in the event of a power failure - is there a manual override? My concern is that with increasing severe weather, power failure is going to be increasingly common and personally I would prefer the security of knowing that we still have heating and hot water, whatever happened. I guess it depends a lot on where you live and the probability of power failure.
What kind of wood burning cooker have you got?

(Wendy Wise) #11

We replaced our old boiler with a heat pump and solar panels, we’re very happy with it, plus we got a big grant and a refund on the cost. We still have a wood-burner in our sitting room but otherwise we’re all electric, inc cooker. Costs us 1850 Euros pa in electricity bills. Plus it’s nice just to flick a switch to turn on the heating.