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Another "help me pick a boiler" thread

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by cityboy172, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    Got the majority of the money rounded up, and am starting to look seriously at purchasing a boiler. I've got about $5,500 to spend on the boiler max, and am looking at an EKO 40, Biomass 40, and an Attack dpx45 profi if I go the new route. Also scanning the horizons for a reasonably priced used boiler in the 40-60kw range, but not holding my breath at this point.

    I have 2,000 gallons of pressurized storage gathered, and am putting all this in an out building or a shipping container, or a combination of the two and an existing pole barn that I already have. Whatever works when I have all the boiler in hand. Lines and general setup are already in place from my previous Central boiler.

    What I am wanting to know is peoples experiences and opinions on the EKO, Biomass, and Attack boilers, and pros and cons of the different set ups. Any leads on good used boilers would also be appreciated. Thanks.
    kjahnz likes this.

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  2. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    BioMass was designed based on lessons learned from the very reliable and proven EKO. I drove to West Virginia and reviewed the design of all three. Left with the BioMass and don't regret the decision. But another poster here Boilerman I'm pretty sure has an Attack and I think it has an improved control system since the time I selected the BioMass over the Attack. From hanging around here for ~6 years, you CAN become a satisfied user or any of these three. I'd call the BioMass and Attack second generation boilers. According to the importer, the EKO was the baseline to create a improved, cost-effective gasser boiler, the BioMass. Not sure about the Attack's design background. If you go by the number of posters here it appears there is a larger BioMass user base than Attack. No idea why because as I recall all the Attack users ended up satisfied. Be warned, there is a price to be paid for these lower cost systems, that mainly your customer support will come from this web site. Some new users are either talented or persistent enough to not let that deter them, but if you're not of the nature or skillset that fixes most stuff around the house, you might be better served spending a few more thousand to purchase from a dealer that makes enough money on a unit sale to support you. Rather than bash here you can PM me about the BioMass and maybe Boilerman will chime in and you can get his personal take on the Attack. The BioMass has earned the honor of having a Sticky above so there's a good bit of unit specific info there, but frankly my first year was saved by the gracious help of EKO users here. The users who just want to feed wood and walk away, I think, seem to be better served by stepping up to the next tier which is roughly a $3-4K step. Then if you want the Mercedes class boiler and be almost guaranteed to be satisfied is at the Froling level.

    For my wife and I, we had no idea if heating our large, inefficient home with wood was practical, feasible, or worth all the trouble/effort. No idea if my wife would hate feeding the beast while I was at work. But, it heats our home very well for a fraction of the cost of propane (our home is very remote) and she actually enjoys it. Knowing what I know now going into our sixth season about ourselves, wood heat, gasification boilers, and everything that goes with operating it, I'd spend several thousand more and step into at least the Vigas, Varm, tier. But really, if I was to do over, I just get a Froling. For me payback would have been 4 instead of 2-3 years. The cost difference spread over a 10-15 years of living with these things running them for ~1/3 of a year.... the cheapest route can become very frustrating. You don't hear of Frolings for sale on Craigslist because of frustrated users. But you may find a BioMass. Ok... I need to go make money. Bottomline, going cheap has it's own cost. Evaluate if you enjoy figuring things out mostly on your own, or if you're the feed it and leave it type and pick a unit that matches you. Not many more thousands will get you to the next tier of boilers. Read and you'll find the biggest frustration of users at this price point is customer support. Don't rush the decision for this season. It's best to go visit users and get a sense of happiness first hand. Best wishes and take your time.
    cityboy172 and hobbyheater like this.
  3. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    To add on to Tennman's comments I'd say that the level of upfront investment in a downdraft gasser correlates most closely to the amount of time spent standing in front of said boiler during operation whilst tuning, tinkering or adjusting (inversely). The amount of time spent cutting, splitting and stacking your fuel wood will be largely unchanged by the differing levels of technology on the boiler itself, in my humble opinion.

    I can't say enough good things about my EKO. It's simple, robust, reliable and performs very well.

    I'd do it again with the EKO. If I had a lot more room I'd buy a Garn the next time. And if I had unlimited funds I'd surely go with a Froiling or other lambda boiler just for the bling factor.

    For what it's worth I think a 40KW boiler is going to be undersized for recharging 2,000 gallons of storage in what most would consider a reasonable amount of time. Oversizing storage for the sake of oversizing storage usually equates to increased standby losses. What's the load you're trying to satisfy? Why have you decided on 2,000 gallons? Do tell!
    hobbyheater likes this.
  4. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    Honestly, the 2,000 gallons was one of the first things I grabbed, and was thinking about tieing it to a 60kw. I don't have "New" 60 money, but I've got just enough for a new 40 if I have to.

    The load is about 1400 square feet of uninsulated, single pane windowed farm house in the middle of a corn field. My central boiler was going through roughly a cord and a half every 2 weeks this January, and I decided that was enough. That when I found this place.

    The other issue that needs addressed is the house, and that is next.
  5. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    I'd insulate the house first. Upgrade windows? At least put clear plastic on the windows, it makes a big difference. You do that and you're central OWB will be idiling.

    Then save up some more money and a 40kw boiler with 1000 gals of storage will heat that easy.
  6. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    I heat with a 30kw boiler and 820 gals of storage. That would be big enough. I do 1 full fire and it brings my storage up real good with very little idiling.
  7. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    Thought about that, I'm cash poor right now. Found a buyer for the central boiler, and it will fund the majority of the change to a gaser ($5500). The house is on the slate for early 2015.
  8. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    My thoughts with the 2000 gallons go around trying to stretch farther if I have too. I have no problems doing 2 batches at night if I have to to keep the storage charged, if needed. I figure I'll be burning twice a day, and will be happy if I find out it's less.
  9. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    40 kw and 1,000 gallon would b plenty for 1,400sf even poorly insulated. If you plan to add on or heat an outbuilding then the 2,000 with a 60 KW boiler would be awesome.
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I think a good chunk of the 2000 gallon advantage would be lost if it is in an outbuilding.

    Maybe limited though if it is in an outbuilding that would be heated, or if you can get it superinsulated. There will be some heat loss no matter how good you insulate, and the larger the volume the bigger the loss - just a matter of how good you can get it. Plus there's the underground piping - are you really sure that was done right? How old is it?
  11. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Maple has a very good ? Underground is important.

    How dry is your wood? Needs to be at least one yr seasoned.
  12. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    2000 gallon storage is not a good balance with a 40 Kw boiler regardless of how porous your house is. Cut your storage in half and try to fit it in to your heated space. It sounds like you need all the heat you can get and standby losses are a good way to increase efficiency.
    woodsmaster likes this.
  13. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    I have 1,000 gal of storage "gathered" in two 500 gal propane tanks. Does your 2,000 "gathered" consist of multiple tanks that would allow starting with 500 or 1000? As noted by all, 2,000 gals is way outside the norm for a home of your size. Or do what I did, run without storage and add it later. If your home is very inefficient you may not have much excess energy from a 40 to store anyway.
  14. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    The storage will more then likely end up in my 24x24 pole barn, which I would eventually like to heat, but for the time being I'll just enclose whats necessary. Would like to add on to the barn and the house if I don't end up moving.
  15. cityboy172

    cityboy172 Member

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    There's a used EKO 80 on the east coast. I suppose that would be a bit much. :eek:
  16. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    That would be perfect if you're dead set on 2,000 gallons of storage. That 40 will not love life on 2,000 gallons, drafty farmhouse, storage stored in an unheated space. You may well have to burn it 15-20 hours to recharge depending on your wood. If that falls on an odd schedule (every day and a half or something) you'll be fighting your water temps constantly unless you end up burning every day like you would on half the storage. I'm really not sure you're going to see any upside to this amount of storage unless you insulate the tanks to R10,000.

    Are you using a heat exchanger in your forced air furnace? The type of heat emitter you're using will determine the width of the band of useable heat you can get from those tanks. Most of us running forced air rigs like to stay above 140 degrees.

    One other thought - if you end up with the 40kw boiler and 2,000 gallons storage I'd suggest you plumb your tanks in such a way that allows you to run the system on 1,000 gallons if you choose to. After you burn for a few months and realize we were right about the 2,000 gallons you're going to be glad you spent an extra $50 on valves to make this happen! ha.
  17. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    If your thinking of moving I wouldn't put a bunch of money in a wood boiler. You likely wont get much of a return on it at sale time.
    flyingcow likes this.

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