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10,000 SF of Heating with 16 bathrooms

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mattmaine, Mar 1, 2008.

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  1. mattmaine

    mattmaine New Member

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    I burn a whole lot of oil. If I am going to spend alot of money I want it to go into the American Economy not overseas. I need a system that will heat over 10,000 SF with 16 bathrooms and a commercial kitchen and a small indoor pool 12x15. It most likely will have to be two systems because of the space or even three. Looking for cost effective pellet boilers that will work well. Space is an issue too. Any ideas out there or direction in places to look. I am in Maine so I would prefer to work as local as I can get. The new system will also have a solar component to it as well.

    Thanks for your time.

    Matt

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  2. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    What area of Maine?

    Do you currently heat with forced-air or forced-water?

    In any case, keep an eye on the Maine Sunday Telegram. There will be, theoretically, an article on wood and pellet fuel in there tomorrow. They were photographing over at Evergreen Heat on Friday.

    If you're in Southern Maine, it would be worthwhile to visit them (or from further away, if you like driving). Mark will show you the equipment and do his best to talk you out of heating with biomass. If he can't talk you out of it, then you're actually serious. I respect that policy, since these aren't "flip a switch and forget it" fuels like oil and gas. You do need to have a commitment to heating this way, so it's better to talk folks out of it if they aren't really certain. If they are, then they stand to save a pretty decent amount in heating costs, and support local fuel manufacturers.

    Joe
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Before you even think about it, make certain you research all the pellet plants open nearby or ready to open. See if they will offer bulk delivery. Remember, it takes about the same amount of pellets (in weight) to heat your home as it would firewood - that is MANY MANY tons a year, and I doubt you want to schlep all those bags, open each one and dump it into a hopper......

    So get the fuel in line first....storage, movement of it, etc.

    Depending on the heat load of your space, you might need a BIG boiler. Can you share with us your maximum oil consumed per month? Or the BTU of the existing boiler?

    You might be able to use two boilers to do it....twice the fun, of course. I know that Tarm has some commercial installations they have done this way.

    This company makes some big pellet boilers:
    http://www.profab.org/products/pelco/index.html
    They can be fed from a small silo on site, and maybe also from a bin.

    Also, keep this in mind. Yes, your fuel may be more local. But don't the idea that the pellet manufacturers have your long term interests in mind. These are companies that invest a lot of money in their plants and have investors to satisfy. Last year they sold much of their production overseas to the highest bidders and also raised prices right along with oil (even though their costs had not risen). We saw $300 a ton pellets as well as real shortages. All I am saying is Fair Warning......go into such a venture with eyes wide open and understand that the market for pellet fuel is extremely tiny and therefore it does not have the maturity of oil, etc.

    If you set up a real system with silo and bulk delivery, etc - at least you will be somewhat insulated from the ups and downs.
  4. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    Pelco is a great choice for an big engine.

    You can burn wood pellets - corn - barley - coal - or any combination from large bins - no need to reinvent the wheel!
    [​IMG]
  5. mattmaine

    mattmaine New Member

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    We currently have oil domestic and heat - 300K BTU's - We use about 3000 gal of oil a year. I own and operate an Inn in Gorham maine and while looking at ways to go green i found that going local was better. I would rather put my money in our economy than over seas. Even if in the end i am still paying the same amount.

    As i am sure you know we have large producers here in Maine and more coming on line, the source shouldn't be a problem. But i can assume that using 2 or 3 boilers is a lot of pellets and lot of attention. But what else do i have to do with my time.
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    At 10,000sf, even with the pool and kitchen, it's unlikely that he needs a 750kbtu boiler, which is the smallest Pelco model listed on that site.

    An actual heatloss is necessary to know the exact load, but I would highly doubt that an accurate heat loss on the building will top 500kbtu. And if there's one thing you don't want with a solid-fuel boiler, it's to be oversized. Much better to use 10 or 20 gallons of oil on the coldest day of the year, instead of losing weeks of burn time in the spring and fall because the heat demand isn't big enough to justify running the solid-fuel system.

    Two or three smaller boilers will give better efficiency (longer burn season, since you can drop to one and keep burning) and better convenience (shut one down for cleaning while the other heats the building).

    Definitely a good application for a silo, though. I believe there's a supplier in Maine with some nice 10-ton silos.

    Joe
  7. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Okay, you should definitely give Evergreen Heat a call. You're close enough to visit easily, and there are some good installers in the area, if I recall correctly (I don't know exactly where all the Maine installers are located).

    Just for a reality-check, at 3000 gallons of oil, you'd be looking at running about 25 tons of pellets. Definitely going to want a silo to handle that. At least, I definitely wouldn't want to actually be handling 25 tons of pellets per year in 40-pound bags...

    Joe
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    At current prices, you will probably save $3000-$4000 per year, which is certainly nice. Payback for even an expensive system will not take very long.
  9. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    Burning wood pellets is far less drama than burning other biomass such as corn. But solid fuel will require a bit more attention than the oil burner you currently employ!

    HS Tarm multi units or a single strong Pelco boiler - well be prepared for sticker shock - yet burning all that oil, you know what your in for.

    I read your wish to go green but you may be well served to look into new state of the art oil burning appliances also consider several smaller oil fueled appliances running in staged sequence or concert on a primary loop.

    Another green alternative is coal - sort of mined near you - 1.7 times the BTU per ton in relation to wood pellets, so less to store on site - less storage drama but its different then mill bins as my picture above - and less fragile than wood pellet fuel. Again a staged group of two or three appliances would give you the needed potential - provide fault tolerance - be easy to maintain once you get past the learning curve and they are less expensive appliances to buy vs similar wood pellet appliances of equal or less potential.

    But these are just random thoughts - thats my interpretation of what you are looking for here - have fun this summer on your heating upgrade.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I'm curious how you get to coal being a "green" fuel, Sting. It's alternative, for sure, but about as green as a barrel of oil, IMO.

    Craig, not that I'm normally inclined to stick up for Big Business, but in all fairness I think the price of raw material for manufacturing pellets did go up last year, along with everything else. The reason the price of wood probably went up is that their preferred feed stock, sawdust and sawmill chips, are both in high demand from other industries (paper), and in dminiishing supply, as the number of sawmills going out of business continues unabated. So while I agree with your point that pellet prices tend to track those of oil, it's not actually true that the costs of pellet production didn't rise last year. And I expect that for many of the same reasons, they'll rise again next year.

    Back on topic, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Garn as a possibility. I know it's a chunkwood boiler, but firewood is actually a locally-produced resource in Maine, and it's one heck of a lot cheaper and with a rig like a Garn, the only work is in feeding it wood--no worries about augers not working or fuel bridging or a conveyor breaking down.
  11. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    HI Eric,

    Well by now you note that I tend to skirt in and out of others reality perceptions due to real life experience! I am not an "engineer" or a teacher or a TV DIY host. Just a simple guy doing a poor job hiding complicated issues - but I have been around the block.

    I might ask too -- IF I DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW ABOUT MODERN WOOD HARVESTING PRACTICES - how burning chunk wood could be green? Lets visit clear cut lumber harvesting of the past and those big smoking outhouses that some chastise here.

    Old technology

    Coal is also "an old fuel" with a less than stellar past history - but if you look into it today as intently as a box of Cracker Jack - I hope you find a big pleasant surprise. The learning curve is tall to burn coal - maybe steeper than what I see here learning to burn a gasifier - but when you run a business - you can't be out scrounging stacking splitting feeding chunk wood. You need a more mechanized heating plant or a new business.

    But this is what tossing and exchanging ideas out is supposed to be - like you IMO - not grilling and a chilling!

    We all need to do our own reconnaissance and make lucid decisions based on that - not the opinion extolled on pages of the public internet.
  12. mattmaine

    mattmaine New Member

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    Having grown up in Maine and forced into the summer labor camp in our back lot with a chainsaw cutting 13 cords of wood, hauling it by hand and pickup to the house, swinging an ax until my hands bled and then back breaking toss in a small window in the basement does not give me a great deal of fond thoughts about heating with wood. Storage for that much is an issue, in town burner may not be welcomed and here in maine I watched the wood price rise along side oil to over $200 a yard. I know wood prices haven't change in 30 years until this oil increase and maybe its due in time to folks out their in the cold cutting wood. I also see alot of sellers up here selling dried wood and its really not.

    I looked a corn as well, with new suppliers and growers here in Maine as well. But what if we have a multi year drought. Its not like That hasn't happened here before. Right now we only have 7 guest rooms with baths, but i am planning on expanding which is why i have to change our heating and domestic sytsems regardless of what I do.

    www.pinecrestmaine.com
  13. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    An other posibity is going with a chip burner. http://www.newhorizoncorp.com/goliath.html this is one and there are other ones. You would have to investigate the availabity of proper chips but They should be available there and most burners require wet chips. The best part about chips is the raw material is available almost any where and is quite cheap sometimes free from local sources. The down side is they take some oversite and they are for larger requirements like yours.
    leaddog
  14. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Good point on timber harvesting and public perceptions of what is "green" and what ain't, Sting. That said, I'm happy to debate the point. Any wood is carbon neutral and any fossil fuel is not. Depends on your definition of "green," I guess. In defense of coal, I will concede that it's more patriotic than imported oil (by a long shot) and it's certainly a viable alternative to any other fossil fuel where cost is a concern.

    In my experience, a gasification boiler is a lot easier to operate than a conventional wood-fired boiler, and since I never had much luck burning coal (not for lack of trying), I'd say that's a lot harder than either of the first two. But if you can get it working, coal will heat your house like no other solid fuel, I know that for a fact. So I'm not knocking it.
  16. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Ok, now, would that be teal green? or aquamarine green?
  17. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Another vote for a chip burner. Arguably greener than pellets and chips are not tied to the pellet supply in a given year. There are a number of northeast chip boilers made. Last option, sawdust / any dust burner, the woodmizer bio-mizer. Test units are running right now seems to work really well, the big unit burns chips nicely too.
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Coal may be inexpensive and alternative - but it is not green due to the mining and CO2 /CO issues.

    As to the price of pellets, I am certain that raw materials can change in pricing. I was alluding to a situation where I spoke to an industry member in the pellet manufacturing business who claimed they were tracking the price of oil (by raising their price).

    I applaud anyone who invests in a business like renewable biomass, but that does not mean I would not give fair warning to the end user. Until the market proves itself over a number of years, the supply and price is subject to potential changes....which can come as a surprise! I am admittedly conservative in these matters due to having lived through the first pellet boom and bust and then having seen a lot of similarities this time around. The real problems, IHMO, have been mostly the appliance reliability (or lack of it), but I think central heaters should do better in this dept because the makers have fewer design constraints.
  19. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/index.html

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2008/03/obama_goes_highbrow_in_working.html

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=clean-coal-power-plant-canceled-hydrogen-economy-too

    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2008/08003-DOE_Announces_Restructured_FutureG.html

    One of the reasons coal is so cheap is overall there is relatively little processing involved. You dig it out of the ground, process it into manageable sizes then burn it.

    You want clean energy, lets build more Nuclear power plants like the beloved French.
  20. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Part of the "oil tracking" is that the transportation costs of the raw materials are so high. Transporting the woodchips and such that are used can easily end up costing more per ton than the actual chips do.

    The other part is simple economics: if the cost of oil goes up, the value of alternative fuels go up, as well. That includes cordwood, too, and we've seen cordwood prices track oil this past year.

    Let's imagine that I decide it's worth the labor of dealing with wood, provided I can save $1000/year in heating oil. If oil is cheap, and I can't save that much, I'm going to heat with oil. Once oil gets expensive enough that I can save more than $1000 by switching to wood, I do so. Some of my neighbors felt that they would switch if it hit $800, so they already did so. Others need to see $1200 in savings before they will switch. As oil keeps going up, more and more people switch to wood. That means that the supply of wood increases, but lags the demand, so the price goes up.

    The wood, itself, is also more valuable just in terms of fuel savings. You can draw two curves, one showing how much sales will drop as your raise the price of wood, and the other showing how much profit you make will make based on more expensive per-cord pricing. The point of maximum profit is where those two curves intersect. The profit profit versus price curve is a relatively stable one, and isn't going to change much unless you modify your harvesting methods or somesuch. The sales curve is going to track the price of oil - as oil goes up, more people will buy wood at a higher price. That slides the point of maximum profit (intersection of the curves) up as oil goes up.

    The same goes for pellets, or any other fuel-cost-saving technology. If I have a widget that I can install for $400, which will save you 10% on your fuel bill, a certain number of folks will buy it at that price, and current oil prices. If oil prices go up, I might be able to raise the price to $425 and not lose any sales, and I might be able to raise the price to $450 and lose some sales, but make enough more per sale on the sales I do have, that I make more per year selling widgets.

    Joe
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