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Biomass 60 Fine Tuning

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by 1969gmc, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. 1969gmc

    1969gmc Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Loc:
    northern new york
    Hello to all,

    I have had a Biomass 60 boiler with no storage. I installed the unit in early September 2012, after doing a ton a research I thought this was the boiler for my home. 1870 farm house about 2200 square ft, with a 1000 sq ft shop. I had two main reasons for buying the Biomass 60. The first a the positive draft because it is my cabinet shop and the need for no smoke is a must......Unfortunately that is a bust. I have excellent draft, the fan at 100% will keep most of the smoke out, until I stir up the coals the blue smoke and soot rolls out of the door. The second was the burn time, I work 12 hrs shift. I needed the unit to last hopefully 12 hrs or close. I am lucky to get 8 hours out of the unit. I have had the seller of the unit at my house...He can't figure out what is wrong. I have lost my faith in the unit. I find myself had to tend to it all the time. Tonight I took some setting from a member and set my to those setting. I closed my primary to 1/4" and my secondary to 1/2" setting. My blower shutter is open to 3/4" inch. I hope someone has had the same issues to lend me a had. My wood is mainly ash from our farms hedge rows 6-8 inch in diameter split once been down about a year.

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  2. Kevin Dolan

    Kevin Dolan Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    187
    Loc:
    SW Ontario
    Hi gmc and welcome to the forums.
    I do not know anything about your boiler and only posted as your remark about your wood, ash split and down about one year. If this was a wood stove situation I would question whether your wood may not be dry enough and thus having problems with getting the burn times you want. Is your wood split, stacked and below 20% moisture?
    Anyway, as I say I have no knowledge of your machine and I am sure there are people more knowledgeable than me to help you. Check your wood and good luck with your boiler.
  3. 12 hour burn times is not realistic. It will idle and smolder and burn poorly if you are loading it up and letting it idle. Get some storage!

    And I never have to stir the coals. Sounds like a possible wood issue (split size?, mc?) or it's being overloaded and idleing too much.

    I can operate it smoke free after a year of learning and adding storage. The trick for me is let it burn down to just a few coals or completely out and never opening the bypass. When I start a fire I leave the rear fan running and the bypass closed. Load it up with some small splits than kindling and cardboard and then fill the rest of the way with regular sized splits. Light it leave the door cracked for a couple minutes (with the front blower running) and then shut the door. Thanks to storage it will burn full out for ~5 hours. But I will have heat for 12-24 hours. Without any babysitting or tending the boiler.
  4. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    666
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    Well breaks my heart.... just spent a long time typing and screwed up and lost it.... So here goes again, but probably much shorter. I'll chime in more sporatically since now the day's events are overtaking me. Now in my 4th season of running the BioMass 60 without storage I can emphatically tell you it's not the boiler, it's what your expecting it to do and how you're operating it. 3 years ago I was so proud because I had cut the fan down to 50-60% to get longer burns, which it did but dramatically increased my babysitting... due to increased idling. This season I've been running 80% fan with fairly choked setting on the flaps unlike Mike above or some of the other BioMass users with storage. Our home is a 5,000sf very inefficient 1850's home. To get to the quick... on cold nites (to us 30-35F is cold) I load the boiler at 9-9:30PM, go to bed and reload at 5:30 AM typically with mostly ashes (about 8hrs). During the day with lots of idling we've learned to look out the window to the boiler barn and any hint of smoke go stir the coals to cover a blow hole or bridging. It's been very clear to me finally this season that burning wood in these gassification boiler really is at it best, burning well unless burning seasoned wood, wide open and hot. When the house demand is up and requiring the boiler to operate at say... 60-70% demand it stays hot and the need for me to babysit the upper chamber goes way down, hence fewer openings and less smoke. Still I've learned at nite to only stack against one side of the chamber to reduce the likelyhood of bridging. Using smaller, well seasoned splits also reduces the frequency of tending the upper chamber. But without letting ANY of these boiler run hot and wide open will require more attention to the coals which results in opening the upper door and allowing fresh air into those coals and suddenly that little blower and the flue is overwhelmed and out the front it comes. For me just a nusance since I just get soot on dirt bikes and chainsaws.... you it's on your livelihood. Essentially everyone here ultimately moves to storage to minimize opening that upper door, either for loading or babysitting. I will be adding storage this spring to let this boiler operate as it's intended.

    If you must maintain a clean environment for painting etc, I think you'll need to enclose the boiler because even after I add storage I'm certain there will be instances I'll need to check on the upper chamber. If your cash flow is dependent on a clean environment to spray your product I don't think even smoke hood will guarantee that. Your situation is similar to the guys here who prefer to locate their bioler in their basement or homes. They eventually get happy and learn when they can open the upper door, but in virtually every instance these are guys have storage, not like you and I who have to deal with LOTS of idling and all the side effects. I'll add more as I remember what I typed before which was about twice as long as this.... crap. Bottomline, you've selected a good gassification boiler, don't expect it to defy the laws of physics. If you're in your first season you have much to learn and time to correct misunderstandings. Our boiler paid for itself in about the first two years because we were heating with propane.... boy that was ugly expensive. We'll help you get thru, but our boiler is the happiest when its running wide open and I finally saw that this season...so now I'm going to drop the next shoe for storage. Your boiler decision was fine, now adapt it for your application. Sorry I lost many other nuggets of wisdom from 4 years running without storage. Gotta go make money.
  5. 1969gmc

    1969gmc Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Loc:
    northern new york
    Hello again,

    I really appreciate all the words of encouragement. I will get this to work, I am as stubborn as the day is long. this works great from time to time. I have really considered storage, but I have to get it by my wife who is already discouraged with the boiler because I spend more time with it then I do her, LOL. Any suggestion of storage? The only problem I see occurring is getting it into my cellar. I am hoping to find the modular style storage and bring it down in pieces. I again really appreciate the knowledge you all have. PLEASE keep it coming.
  6. Can you give some more specifics... Is the boiler in the basement or in an out building? Underground lines? Is it providing enough heat to keep you warm? Size of splits. And how long has the wood been cut split and stacked?

    From the info you have given I suspect the boiler is idleing a good portion of the time. Which will lead to bridging and more smoke. Before I had storage I turned my oil boiler off and turned the tstats way up. I used the wood boiler to get the house hot and then let the house cool down before relighting a fire. Which allowed the wood boiler to run with as little idleing as possible. Kind of a poor man 'storage' system. Others have used a basement heating zone as storage -- get the basement as hot as possible when the boiler is firing.

    You can make your own storage out of a reinforced plywood box with an epdm liner. The copper for a heat exchanger will be the most expensive part... I've run with and without storage. The cost of adding storage was definitely worth it. Everything runs smoother and you can start a fire when you feel like it without worrying about smoke.
  7. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    666
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    Now a 4 year non-storage user I agree with Mike. In the previous years I had so many inefficiences in the boiler, unseasoned wood, VERY poor underground, excessive thermal protection bypass, and not the least of which was ignorance and inexperience.... on and on.... So at least for 2 years the boiler ran with all these factors, but in an out building where I could screwup without filling our home with smoke!!! Now, sadly in the forth year, I finally see a production of WAY excess energy for our historically correct (we chose inefficiency to preserve the historic appearance) inefficient home. Consequently just now clearly seeing our boiler running happily on seasoned wood and the benefits of it running hot and hard. From your previous comments I presumed the boiler was in your shop where you needed a clean environment, now it sounds like it's in the house where clean is even more important. There are lots of guys here that prefer the boiler in their home for the obvious convenience and efficiency advantages. You need to tap into their brains about in-home cleanliness. I'm of the out building camp where I give up those advantages in exchange for carefree smoke and dirty operations. If I could have the best of both worlds it would be for me to have my storage tanks in the basement and the boiler out where I do all my splitting and stacking and burning. I'm not a good controls guy and I've not found any knowledgeable HVAC guys that want to mess with my boiler, so I think I'm going to use a loading valve like the Laddomat 21-60 to manage flow and return temp water between the boiler and storage. All the comments I've received about the Laddo and other loading valves is that they are "boring".... my kind of device. There are other multiple components to solve this problem, but for me the several hundred more dollars to go the brainless loading unit avoids the expense of a controls guy helping me. I'm good with wrenches but bad with multimeters. I'll be buying two - 500 gal propane tanks to get 1000 gal of storage and keep my Taco 0013 as the circulator between the boiler barn and the house. My personal preference is a closed, pressurized system, but again that is preference because others here use and prefer non-pressurized since the storage tank is easier to set up in places like your basement. Start a new thread, read, and pick folks brains about different storage approaches to meet your needs and budget. Good that you're tenacious..... That seems to be a common trait of many of us first year users with these new boilers. Especially if you are a DIY'er operating in the middle of the Sahara desert.... like me.... This site is my lifeline.
  8. kod198707

    kod198707 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2013
    Messages:
    22
    Loc:
    Hopkinton NY
    Hello I'm in my first year of operation and found this forum very helpful. Try looking on builditsolar.com the solar guys have lots of great ideas and plans for self built storage tanks. I'm working on a nonpressurized storage now with rubber liner. Talking to a friend of mine the other day and he said there are 2 styles of draft inducer fans. His original fan was a squirl cage type that he said worked great . Then he had to replace it and got a flat plate which he says now he gets lots of smoke. he runs with out storage in his basement. Good luck, these guy are great. By the way we all buy a "misstress" the frist year LOL.
  9. Trex83

    Trex83 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Loc:
    Far Eastern Ontario, Canada
    W
    What is the moisture content of the wood. Wet wood syndrome is a probable diagnostic...

    You could daisy-chain the tanks smokelessheat.com supplies (200 gals US?) from Sweeden. Check the dimensions on the website. For a heat load of a 60 kW, a minium of 3 tanks. Again, i didn't saw your house and don't know you have 4 teenage kids taking long showers... Maybe 60 kW is oversized for your setup unless you have a peak heat load for DHW or process water (what do you do in your shop?). A 40 kW would be good with 600-800 gal of storage.
    Don't worry about the learning curve, we've all been there!
    Cheers,
    Trex
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,955
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    Consider 110 gallon propane tanks for modular storage. They're 30" dia. x 4 ft. high (+/-). You could arrange/stack & plumb them together however you get them to fit your space. There would be more plumbing involved than one big tank, for sure, but if they allow you to get decent storage volume that you otheriwse couldn't get - more plumbing is a minor concern. The place I got my 330 gallon tanks from literally had a mountain of them to pick through at $80 per.
  11. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,490
    Loc:
    N.W. Ohio
    Well I'm very glad my boiler isn't in the house. That being said, with storage you could get the 12 hrs and very minimal smoke inside. bridging is the biggest issue i have that makes me want to open the door. I'm sure if I let it go most of the time it fall on its own. If It was in the house I'd probably put a smoke hood above it.

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