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A pair of Windhagers 99% complete

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by heaterman, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Some pictures of an installation we did the last week of September.

    These are replacing a pair of Garn 2000's on a farm near our location. If you can believe it or not, the farm owner found that keeping the Garns operating proved to be too much for his personnel to handle.:oops:
    To be fair, the farm itself has undergone huge changes since the Garns were installed in 2008.
    The owner, (my favorite farmer) said it to me this way. "Steven, when you put those Garns in I was milking 325 cows, had 9 people working here and we were farming about 600 acres of land. Now I have 1,100 cows, over 1,000 acres of land and close to 40 people including part time help. I love my Garn but we have to do something else for the farm."

    So.....he wanted to try a couple pellet boilers thinking that his people would not be able to screw them up. Which is probably true.

    The pair of 260's shown here are far less output than the pair of 2000's we took out so we reconfigured the control side of things in the barn to give priority for making 400 gallons of 170* water, 3 times per day, over the radiant floor heating system. We are going to see how this works out this winter and if needed come up with some other means to get some additional heat in the barn offices and milking parlor.

    I'm guessing based on his propane bills which were for hot water only, that he will probably go through about 35 tons of pellets per year so this is going to be severe duty for the Windhagers. The acid test so to speak. If they hold up here they will work anywhere for anyone. I have a hunch they will be up to the task.

    There is no cascade control which stages or rotates the boilers automatically. We set them up with one dialed in for 170* and the other for 175*. Since there is no communication (as yet) between the system controls in the barn and the Windhagers, they are simply maintaining the programmed setpoint. For this particular application that works OK because there is near constant heat demand from somewhere in the barn even in the summer.

    I've noticed that the run time per day is about 18 hours on the boiler set for 170 and about 20 hours on the one set for 175*. I have a hunch that probably half of the hours on each will turn out to be at reduced output of around 40-50% with the remaining time at 100% output. I would like to get some kind of data logger that could tie into the Windhager control to monitor firing rates and see what exactly goes on over the course of a day.

    We have a couple details to finish up there (the missing barometric and sealing up some holes) and will be doing monthly checks and maintenance on them so I'll be able to update on how these boilers are handling the monumental load they are connected to. Watch for updates. Windhager 260 063.JPG Windhager 260 070.JPG Windhager 260 066.JPG Windhager 260 067.JPG
    stayfitz, skfire and hobbyheater like this.

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  2. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Very nice setup. I guess the cost of pellets isn't that far off from the cost of wood. I would have thought that with that big of an operation they could just have a dedicated employee doing near nothing but wood. Cut, split, fire the boilers. But maybe no one liked doing it.. so it got left behind.

    He sure saved some floor space. Curious about the bulk pellet bin, and bulk pellet delivery. Wonder if bulk prices are that much different from bagged.

    Thanks for sharing.

    JP
  3. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    What happened to the old Garns?

    ac
  4. harttj

    harttj Member

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    Nice setup. No bulk storage? With 35 tons I would want bulk storage.

    Makes me want to build a storage shed for one and convert.

    I'll be burning corn this year anyways.

    Tim
  5. AK13

    AK13 Burning Hunk

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    35 tons and no bulk storage/feed! That is crazy. I can't believe he's going to run 35 tons through those boilers bag by bag. He's a farmer so I'm sure a pellet silo would look real nice next to this boiler building.

    Who is the distributor for Windhager boilers in the US? Google didn't find it for me.
  6. charly

    charly Guest

    I just want to commend you on caring about the quality of your work... Well appreciated here... think that's a dieing art caring anymore.. Wow, what size pex is coming out of the floor?
  7. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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    35 tons may seem crazy, but at the other hand the farmer was using cord wood before.
    Just switching to bagged wood pellets will be a big time and labor saver.

    35 ton = 70,000 Lbs = 1,750 bags of 40 Lbs
    The BioWIN holds 8 bags or 320 Lbs in its hopper
    1750 bags represents 219 fillings of 8 bags
    This is every 1.7 days knowing the constant heat load year round.

    Not that bad compared with filling a wood boiler with cord wood.
  8. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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  9. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell Minister of Fire

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    Beautiful work, who says farming is dead! This is another nail on the coffin for cordwood, has anybody tried a pellet head in a garn?
    Vizsla likes this.
  10. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    .
    When you factor in the labor involved with cord wood, especially that much, the difference between pellets and wood becomes very small.

    Regarding a dedicated operator.......I think that was part of the problem. Seeing that they milk basically around the clock there were a couple persons on each of the 3 different shifts who were feeding and caring for the Garns each day. Add to that at least two different rotations of personnel each week and he had probably 6-8 different employees looking at the Garns each week.
    So it became everyone's job and no ones job if you get my drift. We would get a call for no hot water or running out of hot water during the wash cycle and go there to find the Garns completely full of ashes with the bottom air inlet blocked off or maybe jammed with wood without ever having turned on the combustion fan timer. All the wood was just sitting in there smoldering on top of coals.:confused: Add the green wood and the whole scenario was just a mess he didn't have time to deal with.

    On one of the calls we went there and found that someone had dropped a large block of wood on the drain in front, broke the 3/4 nipple off in the tank and both of them were drained. 4,000 gallons of water on the floor of the boiler room.!!! Luckily the fires were nearly out when that happened.

    I think that at least some of the employees had OWB's themselves so they just thought they had to throw wood in and let it take care of itself. You can imagine how that worked.........

    As far as prices go around here, none of the mills are set up to deliver bulk, they only do bags. One of the producers is looking into it but has not seen enough demand to warrant the expense of a delivery truck. Being that you can get a 10 ton load of premium pellets delivered for around $175 per, there is not a lot of cost savings to be had in the first place.
  11. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Thank you very much. :)
    I will pass that along to my sons, Andrew and Matthew. They set the boilers, did all the piping, installed the Class A chimney and chimney connectors and tied everything together. Then they did some "remodel" work on the distribution side in the barn besides. All this dad did was give them the basic layout and turn them loose with the threader. I have to confess I did the wiring too but that's about it.
    Matthew says Andy is just about too fussy to work with. Matt can hold a 36" pipe wrench in each hand straight out from his shoulders......so they make a good team. .............Yes I am proud of them both and I am bragging.

    The pex coming out of the floor is 2" Rehau brand.
    flyingcow and Chris Hoskin like this.
  12. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the info. I'm surprised that bulk hasn't caught on. We had some real 'early adopters' in western maine building bulk bins and delivering 5 years or so ago.

    Very cool to read about your sons. That's great. I enjoyed watching the uncle/nephew combo that put in my boiler. Near no conversation, just quietly moving around reading each other's minds.

    JP
  13. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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    Pricing on wood pellets seems significantly cheaper in Michigan then here in the North East.
    $175/ton we can only dream off.
    Wondering why this big gap
  14. Chris Hoskin

    Chris Hoskin TarmSalesGuy

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    Great looking install heaterman! Certainly the pellets will be easier handling than that much cordwood and, perhaps more importantly, will minimize the mult-user / operator error issues they were having with the Garns. Are these boilers cascaded? (lead/lag, etc)
  15. charly

    charly Guest

    You should be proud of them.. Nice thing is, later on, they'll always have work! Tell Matt fussy is a good thing ;).. I think that's in your blood... no one can really make you fussy or care... I was a Harley Tech for a dealer for like 10 years... I always told people I would fly what I worked on.... People use to remark how it didn't even look like I worked on their bikes... That's because I covered any paint , chrome, never scratched a thing, and the best thing, no come backs. Simply did all my work like it was for me.. I always said it was just as easy to do it right then cob.. Looks like you have a great team ! I'm one to make sure all my wire ties go on the same way and spaced equally.. ... I think it's a good sickness;lol
  16. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Chris.


    Not cascaded at this point. We may do that later depending on how this setup runs. Right now we simply have the set point 5* different on them. One at 175* and one at 170*. Hour meter shows 10% difference in run time so far.
    It's interesting to see them modulate as the setpoint is reached. The lower one will begin to modulate down as water temp gets within 2-3* of target, while the other one continues at full throttle. Then it too will start to ramp down as the system temp nears 172-173*. It makes for a nice smooth shutoff with no temperature overshoot at the end of a cycle.
    I was there yesterday and the system was at 176* with one boiler at 35% fire and the other at 47%. The first boiler went off when the system temp hit 177* and the second one was running at 30% with the same water temp when I left 20 minutes later.

    One of the stipulations of the job is that we would be allowed to come back once per month to check and clean as needed so we will be back often to monitor what is going on. Windhager is in the process of making their own cascade control available for use here so if the need for it is apparent we will probably install that when we can get our hands on it just to see how it works.
  17. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    We are in a sweet spot Marc. There are 4 pellet producers within a 60 mile radius of our location. All of them will sell directly to the consumer if you show up with cash and something to haul a pallet or two right out of their warehouse.
    Competition is the key. It shouldn't cost any more to produce pellets out east than it does here.
    flyingcow likes this.
  18. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    I think your cordwood out there goes for less too. Even in the rural areas of the NE where there's loggers around, prices still seem high.

    JP
  19. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Delivered rate for green firewood in full length (100")? sticks in 10 cord loads is running between $750- $850. Those are full 4' x4' x 8' cords. There are a couple of the larger producers that yard up all the unsalable timber from a cut and stack it. Some of that stuff can be as much as a year or two old so not quite as wet as normal. They typically run $850-$950 delivered.
  20. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Iv'e gotten numbers in the 110 to 120 per cord for tree length delivered IF you took a full load. That varies from 8 to 12 cord depending on the logger.

    I'll stick to my own trees. Got plenty.

    The idea of pellets in bulk sure is appealing for someone that wants to get off oil, and keep their money local. How long do you expect one of these boilers to be able to run before they NEED to be cleaned out. I know they have a bag type system that seems to be quick and easy to clean. Just wonder how JQPublic would react to the mtx requirements.

    I would imagine even with a few bags a day needed.. pretty easy to tell the employees that job number 1 is check the hopper. takes a few seconds to slit the top of a bag and dump it it. not like starting and building a fire.

    thanks for the info.

    JP
  21. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    The cost of living in general is higher here in New England than in most other places in the country so it would follow that wood pellets may be a little more too. The one thing I have noticed is that the closer that one is to the pellet producers in Maine, (there are a 3-4 companies making pellets in Maine currently) the better deals you can get seemingly because transportation costs are not factored into the pellet price as much. I've seen pricing reports on this site and spoken to people who can actually buy branded pellets in certain parts of Maine for about $195 a ton at Walmart and other retailers. I'm in NH and the best price I've seen in my local area for the very same pellets is $230 per ton. There is one pellet producer in NH but I have heard mostly bad things about the quality of their product and the Maine rule does not hold true here where being closer to the source drives the price down. I think with regard to certain things economies tend to become very local.

    I've actually created a spreadsheet to track pellet pricing in the area and which will also track my family's pellet use, boiler settings weather patterns/temps etc etc. It's just a tool to ensure I'm getting the most bang for my buck.

    I hope you'll be sharing with us how that pair of Biowin's performs this winter heaterman.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  22. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    We have the control set up on a cleaning schedule of every 600 hours for first. We'll see how they do. By that I mean an actual cleaning where you open it up and physically remove what has not been automatically removed to the on board ash container.
    These boiler will go through a self clean cycle at every start up or every 6 hours of run time automatically. During that cycle it dumps the firepot contents, scrapes the flue tubes and runs the ash removal augers to move ashes into the container.
    Last winter I let mine run for about 1000 hours before I actually opened it up and cleaned it. At that point there was the equivalent of a 10 quart pail of ashes in the ash container and the fire box combined. They seem to burn extremely clean so far.
  23. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    Heaterman you are lucky to have your sons working with you.How old are they?
    I would love to have any of my kids help me in the cabinet shop but none of them have any interest in it right now,maybe when they get older.

    I wonder if we could learn a thing or two from these pellet boilers and the frequency that they auto clean the HX area,was it every 6hrs?

    I know my boiler always seems to run so much better after a good cleaning of the ashes and the HX tubes.
    I think this season I will try to do it weekly.
  24. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Matt is 28 and Andy is 33. Andy has been with me since right after college. (2 year HVAC course at Ferris State here in Michigan) Matt played basketball at Muskegon Community college for a couple years after high school, then worked as a surveyor doing road construction and general property boundary work, then worked for another HVAC company that specializes in ground source heat pumps off and on until coming back "home" this past winter. Both of them are experienced beyond their years and usually find themselves "helping" the instructor at various classes they attend.

    Your question about cleaning is a good one and your observation about how your boiler runs after cleaning is 100% accurate. My humble opinion is that cleaning of the flue tubes should be automated and built into the program on all solid fuel boilers. They all "run better" when clean. .......that reminds me ...... I gotta quiz one of the son in laws about whether he has cleaned his Econoburn yet.......lol
  25. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    y'know, a bulk hopper would be great, but if you have to load it from bags, you could load the bags into a hopper that augers them into the top of the bulk bin, and then auger them from the bulk bin into the top of the Windhager hoppers. it's a farm, those guys know augers. someone can just walk by and push the button, and the auger runs for 30 seconds and then stops.

    Are you thinking you'd upgrade him when the bigger windhagers become available in the US next year? or add another one?

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