A log homes may be the home of your dreams – I say go for it. But there are many misconceptions and when researching log home options, and you can often come back with more questions than answers. This is how we felt the years before we built our first log home. Now I hope that we can answer some of your concerns – today lets start with heating and cooling a log home. People often have the impression that there is something different about a log home HVAC system. But a standard system will work as well in a log home as a traditional stick built home.
Almost all log homes are built with at least one fireplace, it just seems appropriate. We happen to prefer wood burning stoves to gas fireplaces – but that is another post. We will install 2 wood stoves in this Jocassee IV model, and we would use our forced-air propane heat as a backup. Because we have a cathedral ceiling with a big loft, we will install two ceiling fans to recirculate the warm air.
It’s important to consider your heating and air-conditioning needs early in the design phase. Although log homes are naturally energy-efficient, it’s not wise to skimp on your system. You may be able to heat your whole house with a huge fireplace or wood stove, but you need to consider resale value. And any potential buyers will probably not consider it as cozy as you. A similar problem exists if you try to get away without central air conditioning. Yes, log homes do stay cooler in the summer, but those “dog days” of August can give you a perfectly hot summers night.
Gentry Heating has installed all of the HVAC systems in our log homes, and are familiar with the special considerations. One of the first things you have to consider when designing your log home HVAC system is where the vents go. Since all of our exterior walls are full log, many of our vents are placed in the floor. Our interior walls are tongue-and-groove, you can put some of the vents where they normally go. You must review the plan with the HVAC contractor, because he may put the vents in places you may not find convenient. Some times it can be helped, and some times it can’t.
With forced air heat the same ductwork will serve the air conditioner. Propane or oil are usually the fuels of choice in rural areas, we chose propane. You want to keep the angles at a minimum, so it helps to design first floor walls that will conveniently carry the air straight up to the second floor. An open floor plan offers a challenge, because you must bear in mind that the upstairs rooms need to be heated somehow, and you will need both supply and return vents to create an efficient air flow. If you want to use full log interior walls, and even sometimes with tongue-and-groove you’ll have to find another way to run the ductwork, electric, and plumbing. We have had to build some chases in hidden corners, closets or along the perimeter of the ceiling in on the ground floor foundation. If you can afford it, another solution is to install radiant-floor heating (not in our budget).
In our smaller log homes we installed one unit with either one zone of heating and cooling or two zones for different floors. In this home we are installing two separate units – one for the ground floor and another for the log floor and loft. Think it through throughly – In the long run, it’s cheaper to do it correctly in the first place. because retrofitting a log home at a later date is not going to be easy.