How Much Does It Cost to Install an Outdoor Wood Boiler?

Typical Range:

$6,000 - $20,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated June 7, 2022

Reviewed by Jeff Botelho, Licensed Journeyman Plumber.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Outdoor wood boiler prices vary from $8,000 to $14,000, depending on the size, features and model. Homeowners pay around $12,000 on average for a large system. Small standard boiler units plus installation may cost as little as $6,000. In contrast, large 300,000 BTU gasification boiler units tend to cost as much as $20,000.

Average Cost to Install an Outdoor Wood Boiler

Low Average High
$6,000 $12,000 $20,000

Wood Boiler Cost by Type

Outdoor wood boilers come in two basic types: standard and gasification. Boilers boil water to produce heat. They produce many smoke-containing particles; thus, some of the heat and energy used in the process get lost. Gasification boilers work similarly to traditional boilers. The difference is that they burn the particles in the smoke, resulting in more efficient burning. There's also less smoke and a milder smell.

Standard Wood Boiler Cost

Boilers that use wood instead of natural gas cost less to install and run, ranging from $6,000 to $12,000, depending on the size. However, they require more wood to generate the same amount of heat. They also produce a lot of smoke, which can be a nuisance.

Gasification Wood Boilers Cost

Gasification boilers range in price from $6,000 to $20,000, depending on the size. They’re more expensive up front, but they use less wood and pay for themselves over time. Because they emit less smoke, you can use them outside or indoors; they operate at significantly higher temperatures than standard boilers. They’re frequently powerful enough to heat a hot water tank for storage, which is quite efficient.

Outdoor Wood Boiler Installation Cost

Installation charges for a wood boiler vary from $2,300 to $4,500 for labor only. HVAC professionals charge anything from $75 to $125 an hour; some large HVAC corporations charge as much as $200 per hour. Expect fixed labor expenses throughout the job with two technicians working on it in a few hours.

You'll need about $300 to $700 in materials and equipment to run the boiler to your home and connect it to your heating system.

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Outdoor Wood Boiler Cost Factors

Wood boiler costs vary greatly depending on the size, capacity and features you choose to purchase. There are several options available to homeowners, including:

Boiler Size

A firebox’s capacity varies from 10 to 24 cubic feet or more. The larger the capacity, the more BTUs the heater can generate. Residential units with capacities ranging from 150,000 to 240,000 BTUs are typical, although units greater than 400,000 BTUs are available.

Dampers can regulate the amount of heat a device produces by limiting oxygen and causing the wood to smolder, thus lowering or increasing it. Larger fireboxes enable a longer burning fire. A 24-cubic foot boiler will burn 2.4 times longer than a 10 cubic-foot unit when generating the same BTU levels.

Water Capacity

Boilers built for a single-family or small home are often smaller capacity, although this is not always the case. The maximum capacity of a residential wood boiler is usually around 100 to 325 gallons of water. Water capacity impacts how many BTUs the boiler can generate and how big a home it can serve.

Hot Water Use

Savings of more than $1,000 per year is possible in large homes. You can use your outdoor wood boiler to generate hot water for your house, a heated pool, hot tub, sauna and other uses. In most cases, homeowners select a boiler that can also fulfill their domestic hot water demands. 

“While burning wood is not as efficient as other fossil fuels, it burns at higher temperatures, creating more heat to use for other things like domestic hot water, somewhat offsetting the difference in efficiency,” says Jeff Botelho, plumber at Harold Brothers Mechanical Contractors, Inc. in Massachusetts.

Connection and System

Installing these systems is a time-consuming and labor-intensive operation. Costs vary based on the sort of heating system you have (hydronic or forced hot air). Other factors include the type of connection system required and how far away from your property you build the boiler.

Wood Boiler Operating Costs

Plan to spend around $400 to $800 per year for 3 to 5 cords of firewood. It all depends on your usage throughout the year. Most people pay about $130 to $200 per cord, depending on location.

How to Determine Wood Boiler Size

A home with a total area of 1,000 square feet or less in a moderate to moderate-cold climate needs a 100,000 BTU wood boiler. However, if you own a bigger house and want to heat multiple structures on the grounds or live in a colder region, calculate the number of BTUs based on the entire building area.

Square feet / BTUs Needed

2,000 / 100,000–120,000

2,500 / 125,000–150,000

2,750 / 137,000–165,000

3,000 / 150,000–180,000

3,500 / 175,000–210,000

Outdoor Wood Furnace vs. Outdoor Wood Boiler

The significant difference between a wood furnace and a wood boiler is that air surrounds the firebox rather than water, so you don't need a pump. The system uses a fan to circulate the air. The most considerable difference is it can't heat your domestic hot water.

A wood boiler can heat almost any amount of structures and more than one water heater. Because of the expense of the line and airflow losses, if it's too distant, a forced-air furnace has to be quite close to your home.

Furthermore, adding a furnace adds an extra $2,000 to $3,000 on top of boiler and installation costs.

DIY Wood Boiler Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

It's not a good idea to install your wood boiler on your own. If you make incorrect connections, you might harm the boiler or cause water damage to your floors and basement. A qualified HVAC professional near you can install it promptly and correctly. They also have insurance, so in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you'll be OK. For free quotes on boilers, contact a boiler installer near you.

Furthermore, purchasing through your installer may save you money. Some installers won't install a unit unless they provide it, while others charge extra. They mark up the wholesale price by around 30% to cover overhead, such as insurance, vehicle expenses and travel costs.


How does an outdoor wood boiler work?

A wood-fired boiler heats water the same way as an outdoor fire does: by burning wood inside a firebox. Hydronic systems or a forced-air system then carry heat to your house. It may also warm your hot water, depending on the size of the system.

What is the difference between an outdoor wood boiler and an outdoor wood furnace?

The distinction between a wood boiler and a wood furnace is in the way it heats the air.

  • A boiler heats water that flows through pipes and radiators in your house to produce heat.

  • A furnace warms coils and blows air overheated metal ductwork throughout your property.

How efficient is an outdoor wood boiler?

A standard wood boiler is around 75% energy efficient, converting 75% of wood-burning energy into heat. That equals 25% smoke waste. With gasification wood boilers, there are 2 stages to burn and less wood to use. The result is over 90% efficiency for the same amount of heat as a standard model.

How long does an outdoor wood boiler last?

Boilers may last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. If you're constantly making repairs or finding out they aren't heating the property, it's time to replace your wood boiler.

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