Barn Conversion Advice…. Heating/rayburn/wood burner questions

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  • Barn Conversion Advice…. Heating/rayburn/wood burner questions
  • Tom B
    Member

    So, in short my girlfriend and I are at the very beginning of doing a barn conversion (currently getting plans drawn, planning sorted etc)

    The barn is attached to my girlfriends family home, which isn’t on mains gas…. They’re on oil, and the current tank is able to service our conversion too….as is the sceptic tank apparently.

    Anyway, we’re looking at heating setups etc and the more I look into to it, the more I just can’t see the forest for the trees! We had been pretty set on an oil fueled Marshall cooker (like a rayburn) to serve as both the main cooker as well as hot water and central heating. We’re both pretty set on an Aga style cooker but the more I look into it, they seem to be a nightmare in summer and pretty costly to run (especially running Central heating and hot water) Any suggestions from people that aren’t on mains gas for the best ways to go?

    We looked into things such as ground source heat pumps, but the quotes were absolutely eye wateringly expensive.

    Also any other pearls of wisdom would be great, it’s both daunting and exciting in equal measure at the minute!

    gobuchul
    Member

    I would just go for a normal oil fired central heating boiler.

    Go with underfloor heating as well. It’s great.

    We inherited an electric Aga when we bought our current house. Eye watering expensive to run. Oil might be a bit better but it’s an old concept from when houses were lot colder and draftier. We got rid and saved a fortune. They are good to cook with and look really good but just make no financial or carbon sense.

    I assume you will be building a well insulated energy efficient home, which will mean it will probably be too warm for 9 months of the year.

    Look at solar, if you get a 3 phase supply you can install 12kw for about £1000 per kw.

    trail_rat
    Member

    Couple of my family have aga and Stanley heating/cookers on the Farm.

    They both have plug In hobs for the summer and secondary heating in rooms other than the kitchen in winter

    When they are on doing the heating for the house you visibly can watch the oil drop across the day.

    In the end grand parents got a government grant under fuel poverty to put in a combi boiler and a hob. But as the house was built round the cooker they had a huge bulky ornament in the corner that to remove meant taking a wall out…..and ruining the garden to get the teleporter in.

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Subscriber

    Pros of an oil fired range cooker are that the kitchen will always be snug and warm, there will always be plenty of hot water available, you can leave a kettle on them permanently boiling for instant brews, and if you enjoy batch baking or making jams and chutneys, they really come into there own. Another advantage is they are great for warming up hypothermic lambs, though I doubt you will need that Facility 🙂
    Only major downside really is the expense. They are eye wateringly expensive by current standards with the ever increasing oil price. Ours will easily use £1200 of oil a year as a cooker and domestic hot water heater. All our central heating is by wood burner so that is extra on top. If there is not going to be someone in the house 24/7 who enjoys cooking and taking baths, then consider a combi boiler with solar-thermal, and an induction hob with a microwave combi oven for cooking. Then get the best oil fired central heating system you can, maybe with a wood burner back up/supplement if firewood is available

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Subscriber

    Also consider wood pellet boilers as an option especially if there are any grants/RHI stuff still available??

    Premier Icon bedmaker
    Subscriber

    Sort out the insulation in a new build and you won’t need much heating full stop.
    I built ten years ago and went over spec on insulation, but not crazy. We have rads upstairs which have never been used since moving in.
    Upstairs just needs no heating other than a little burst with a £30 Argos convector before going to bed, that’s only when it’s sub zero outside. Body heat is enough through the night.

    Forget the oil Aga, it would be madness to shell out for one unless you really want to look good in a magazine feature. So many cons compared to the pros.

    A decent, modern woodburner, fitted right, is a wonderful thing. Our two do the bulk of our heating on around £250 of wood per year. A wet underfloor system powered by an electric boiler does the rest. Four bed detached house in the chilly Highlands.

    I assume you will be building a well insulated energy efficient home, which will mean it will probably be too warm for 9 months of the year.

    handybar
    Member

    Sounds exciting. I love me a barn conversion I do.
    Can I just ask, have you discussed the issue of ownership? If the barn is on your gf’s family land, and you are putting money into it, then you need to think about what happens if you split up – have you effectively just paid for an extension to the family home with no ownership of your own?
    The land ownership situation would concern me in this situation.

    gobuchul
    Member

    I assume you will be building a well insulated energy efficient home, which will mean it will probably be too warm for 9 months of the year.

    SK – I meant if they fitted an Aga. Our house is extremely well insulated, when we had an Aga, we had the kitchen door open for around 9 mths of the year, as it belted out heat 24/7. We didn’t have a normal oven and hob, so couldn’t switch it off.

    Tom B
    Member

    We have considered the issue of ownership yeah…. I’ll not go into too many personal details, but suffice to say if we do split, I’ll be paid out what I’ll be paying in….

    In terms of heating specs etc then….. Yeah the idea is of course to make it as well insulated as possible. It’s going to be around 150m2 but only 2 bedrooms, downstairs is significantly bigger than upstairs. I was thinking wet underfloor heating downstairs then radiators upstairs. I think that I need to research wood pellet burners more, there is a pretty decent supply of wood at the farm already and a friend is a tree surgeon so always plenty on offer from him too.

    Excellent info so far, I’m looking forward to documenting all of the build process (maybe I’ll be less enthusiastic once we’ve started 🤣)

    SK – I meant if they fitted an Aga.

    *facepalm*

    I’ll get my coat.

    (I did wonder at you saying that, IIRC you’re an engineer?)

    tjagain
    Member

    My folks had an oil fired rayburn. cost thousands a year to run – it did run the central heating as well. YOu still need another cooker as well. Lovely things in a house you visit – hugely expensive to own

    I’d be going ground source heat pump for heating

    TheBrick
    Member

    Second the comment about works well if someone is always at home especially if cooking.

    As far as fuel source goes it tough. Investing in a oil system now seems a bit crazy compared to keeping an oil system going. Heat pumps are expensive Especially ground source. log based boiler depends on supply and is a life style choice. It’s a lot of work. Don’t know how wood pellet compare price wise.

    Tom B
    Member

    The fact that the existing farmhouse is on oil and the tank can supply our conversion too does mean that the installation costs of oil systems are really low comparatively.

    Ground source is appealing but ultimately far too expensive currently.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    Just insulate properly and underfloor heating forget silly Aga type things and get practical ovens at chest height.

    Also don’t use parents oil tank get your own. You will struggle to sell the property without, and what happens when parents want to move on/die and someone buys that house.

    Wood burners look very nice and give off heat, but not so great for the environment

    Tom B
    Member

    The property will never be able to be sold separately. It’s owned by her grandparents currently and will transfer to my girlfriend and her mum when they die…. No one has any plans to move away from there.

    Poldarn
    Member

    We use a Rayburn solid fuel (wood) and I really like it but it takes over your life. Constant adjustments and refueling but when it’s on song and heating the house, cooking our food, drying the washing it adds to our life. It’s a bit like classic cars, they make no sense but they’re great if you have the time.
    I own woodland so my fuel is free (after chainsaw fuel, oil, sweat etc) and I know it won’t suit everyone. Maybe just go for the well insulated home plus wood stove. It’ll heat the house if you spec everything right.

    Premier Icon lesgrandepotato
    Subscriber

    Where are you based? I have an Esse oil fired range I need shot of. Come and get it. It is just a range not a central heating setup.
    Bought for a barn conversion but plans change.

    I’ve serviced a few, removed a few, never installed one. Those that we service seem to be kept as a lifestyle choice for the affluent rather than a sensible solution to keeping their house warm. They all have another oven/hob and most have log stoves/open fireplaces elsewhere in their homes. Those we’ve removed have generally been swapped for conventional oil/gas boilers because just about the only thing more expensive than using a Rayburn to heat your house is straight up burning £20 notes.

    If it were my money I’d be having an oil boiler, especially if you’ve already got access to an oil tank, and a range-style electric oven/hob. And a log burner if you were desperate for the rustic aesthetic.

    EDIT – actually if I’d earmarked money for a Rayburn + installation (the Rayburns in the shop down the road from me start at £10k!) I’d seriously think about using it instead for an electric boiler and solar panel/battery installation. Would cost just about the same for a 10kWp installation with significantly less running costs going forward and no CO2 emissions either.

    Premier Icon austen
    Subscriber

    What’s with the oil thing?  A friend’s family run an oil supply business and are planning on the business closing in as little as 10 years due to carbon taxes.  It’s old and outdated technology and soon to be very expensive.

    Fork out for groundsource if you have land, or air source if you don’t, to run your underfloor heating, and then electric/PV boost for hot water when you need it.  As said above, if you get the insulation and airtightness right in the new house you’ll barely need heating.

    I’ve worked on a few properties recently where they’ve put in big woodburners for aesthetics and then had to open all the windows as soon as the thing is lit.

    andyl
    Member

    as is the sceptic tank

    Are you sure about that? 😉

    On a serious note, is their septic tank a modern treatment one? The rules changed around septic tanks a few years ago so if theirs is old it is likely to not comply with new build requirements which are also applied if they try and sell their house (needs to updated before sale).

    As for heating…been through this.

    Insulate well. You may well lose 1-2″ of internal wall space but it will be worth it.

    Look at GSHP again if you have a field you can use. It may well cost you £10k (single storey) or more for a 2 storey but RHI payments should get that back. You can then be fully electric without the need for oil tanks, gas bottles etc. Go for wet underfloor heating and enjoy having no radiators.

    If we have the room we may install an electric Aga or rayburn but only to use it during the winter and lambing. They make a good heat store for solar when you are out during the day but then if you want that you can just go with something like a Sunamp heat storage system plumbed into the underfloor system.

    Originally I gave the OH the choice of Aga or wood burner. She chose the latter, I then reveiwed our heating system and ditched the wood burner so Aga might be back on the card if it makes sense.

    We have an oil rayburn in our current house and I am not keen. Useless for cooking on unless you like buying lots of oil and when it’s off in the summer we keep running out of hot water due it being on electric immersion.

    Tom B
    Member

    I’ll look into the sceptic tank Andy!

    Plenty of land for ground source, but we haven’t had a quote even close to under 20k unfortunately…..and that was if we dug our own trenches!

    Premier Icon ajaj
    Subscriber

    “if we do split, I’ll be paid out what I’ll be paying in…”

    I don’t know your circumstances but if you are putting in a non-trivial amount then this is, depending on the other arrangements, likely a bad deal. The conversation will appreciate in value whereas your stake will be a constant. Fairer, in my view, to own a share of the asset and contribute towards the running costs.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I was thinking wet underfloor heating downstairs then radiators upstairs.

    Get the insulation, air tightness and MVHR right and you won’t need radiators upstairs.
    We supplied insulation to houses 15 years ago that had no heating upstairs apart from electric towel rail. New owners complained that any activity* upstairs was too warm at times.
    .
    .
    .
    *(she had a treadmill in the spare room)

    Don’t start speccing heating until you know the baseload and extreme requirements.
    Don’t go tech, go simple.
    Spend on the fabric, not ‘toys’ that wear out and require maintenance.

    wrightyson
    Member

    Where’s stoner? He’ll tell you all you need to know!

    Premier Icon amatuer
    Subscriber

    +1 for underfloor heating;
    Check out http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ before deciding on any eco friendly heating sources, as air source heat pumps aren’t efficient in some parts of the country. I had the same problem when our place was being done – GSHP was a massive upfront expense compared to oil and some GSHP reviews weren’t great during cold winter months which put me off.
    As Welshfarmer said – check out grants for wood burners. If you have the space then an automatic feed system is great, but if not, then you’ll be lugging 10kg bags regularly to keep the boiler going. If you do opt for oil and if you have a suitable south facing roof, then get PV cells for the water heater. This will pay you back in about 8 – 10years.

    gobuchul
    Member

    If they are going to phase out oil heating in 10 years then that is going to kill a lot of rural businesses. Electricity for heating is extremely expensive at the moment and is only going to get more expensive. If the the hotels around here had to go on to electricity it would put them out of business.

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