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Boiler fuel strategy when things get cold?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Gasifier, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Do any of you have a different fuel strategy for your wood boilers when things get colder?

    My son and I brought in enough wood to get us through the next five days of cold because I am on a tight schedule for those days. We seperated out any Pine slab wood and brought in only the hard wood. That is 95% White Ash and 5% Cherry. I brought in any Cherry I could find. I loaded up the boiler last night using small rounds and splits (3-5") to prevent bridging and keep good gassification. Worked great. It is 0 ::Fthis morning and when I got up at 05:30 and came down to check the boiler it was running and had enough red coals to spread out over the nozzle and put some wood on. The boiler was filled to the top last night when I went to bed at 09:30.

    So I am curious. Do any of you guys do anything different with your fuel supply when things get colder? My E100 Wood Gun is heating a large house, garage, and domestic hot water. It is going to be colder the next few nights from the looks of things. I will probably stay up an hour later on the coldest night and load then. Might try slightly larger rounds and splits to see if that buys me a little more time. So 09:30-05:30 got me eight hours at 0 ::F. Another night not to long ago we had -5 ::Fand I came down stairs after seven hours of sleep to find the boiler empty with just enough red coals in it to throw some wood on and let her rip again. :) Nothing like heating everything with wood, and as I bring the wood in, walk by my oil tank and see it is still at the half way full mark where it has been for over a year. It is suppose to go to -5 - 20 the next few nights. Thanks for any suggestions. Sorry about the novel. ;lol

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  2. In the last 24 hours I've had one fire, overnight low of 9. If it gets much colder I'm going to have to add a second fire in the evening. But I've only been getting the bottom of my tanks to 140 since they are unisulated still. Otherwise the basement gets way too hot.
    Gasifier likes this.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Burn another load or part load/day. That means start the fire earlier in the afternoon than usual. The last load at night I load with the biggest sticks at hand - but that's not really a colder weather thing, I generally do that anyway.

    I'm glad my days of staying up late & getting up early to maintain heat are over.

    Do you still have heat in your tank on those mornings when you find the boiler out?
  4. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    With my 180 I just put more wood in. We are looking at 9 overnight which is cold for where I live. Heating ~2500 sqft of house + 2 showers and a dishwasher. I always put wood in it 2x per day, so for today (20F/9F) I will just put in a bit more. Probably bring her to ~60% full instead of the 40% I usually do.

    ac
    Gasifier likes this.
  5. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    We may have to load 1 extra time than normal and I'll probably be sure to stay up a little later at night and load her up to be sure there's still a good fire going in the morning for a hot shower.

    Really don't mind the cold temps if they don't get any lower than -5 or so and would be nice if the wind stayed calm. It's certainly a lot better than an ice storm!
    Gasifier likes this.
  6. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Yes. Tank is still 175 ::F, so will probably still heat the house for another 1-2 hours. And we still have plenty of hot water for showers! Yehhhh! I load twice a day, full load when temps are this cold. I or my wife will be loading around 3:15 in the afternoon the next few days when it is staying below 10 ::F 24/7. !!!
  7. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Mike. I am trying to remember. You have 1000 gallons of storage. Is that right? Unfortunately I do not have as much storage as I would like. But for the few days a year it is getting this cold it is working out good. If the temps stayed between 5 and 25 degrees more of the winter I think everything would run more smoothly to tell you the truth.
  8. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    I hear that Bob! Dam straight. What about types of wood? With the wood BTU chart in mind I am thinking I will keep my eye open for any higher BTU wood, and if I can find some, try to pick up 1 cord for each season and keep that seperate. I am thinking I could keep finding some Oak ( I bought about 10 face cord c/s for the second half of next season and about 2 face cord was red oak) and let it have good drying time. That is a type higher in BTUs that I can find around here. Maybe find some hickory, but don't see much around here. Beech would be good as well.

    I see I better try to find White Oak instead of Red. The BTU chart shows Red Oak just below my White Ash. o_O

    What types of wood do you guys burn in general through your boilers? Gassers or regular?
  9. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I need about 30,000 BTU per hour on a REALLY cold day (for us, average of -15 for 24 hours). That works out to 12 hours a day of burn time. I want the boiler running when temps are coldest and there's no solar gain.

    Since I have unpressurized storage and heat with baseboards, my effective storage capacity is less when it's cold outside - I need higher baseboard temps to get enough heat, so storage is 'done' at higher storage temps than on a normal day.

    With more BTUs required and less usable storage, I start earlier in the day and allow the fire to pretty much down before refuelling out for a couple of cycles. My goal is to keep the house warm during the day but not put too much into storage. I like to load it to the gills at bedtime so that it will heat the house and top off storage during the small hours, switching from wood to storage around 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. Storage is hopefully hot enough to keep the house warm until early afternoon.
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    My wood is a bit of softwood (fir & spruce) I use mostly in fire starting (likely 1/3 of the first load), the rest is mostly maple (sugar & white) with some birch (yellow & white).
  11. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    Black locust if you want dense high btu wood.


    I am still burning a 50/50 mix of red pine and red oak. The pine takes up a lot of space for its weight but it burns nice. Doesn't really matter much to me with a 1000 gallons of storage. I was burning around 100lbs a day. Probably close to 160 today but It is cold and windy for a few days here.

    gg
  12. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I'm starting my fires about 45 minutes earlier than usual after work and I will probably stretch my middle load to last until 10PM or so. That's about all it will take for this weather.

    There were a handful of days three of four years ago where we were below zero at night and single digits during the day, zero sun. On those days I was setting an alarm for 3AM to toss in another load of wood to keep everything up to snuff while at work. If I recall correctly that is the only year so far that I've had to do that. That was COLD for us Michiganders...
  13. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Yup. We don't get black locust around here that I have seen anyway. I will keep my eyes open for a cord of higher BTU stuff to have on hand for each winter. Even just one full cord for the really cold times of the year and keep that seperate. How about your high temps and delta differences? I am currently at 190 shut off temp with a 170 turn on temp. But it doesn't seem like if I bumped the temp up it would make much difference. There is only so many BTUs in the firebox. Correct?

    It is 4 ::Fhere right now. A low of 1 tonight, supposedly. Tomorrow night a low of -15. Wed. night -16. Thurs. night -7. Single digits during the days until Friday. Will be going through some wood this week!
  14. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    So far no need to change strategy. Single + digit temps yesterday, -20F last night, high today is -14F, low tonight forecast -29F. and then -10 to -20F nights and low + single digits for highs rest of the week. I still burn once every other day. Typical burn in these temps is about 150 lbs of wood to cover two days, or 75 lbs/day = 453,750 btu's (6050 btu/lb) = 18,900 btu/hr. The only difference is that the burn period is longer, in these temps typically to bring storage up from 100F to 190F, and then draw from storage until next burn.
  15. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    About the same for me except I burn once a day in the dead of winter to charge my 500 gallon storage. The afternoon fire which is typically 3.5 to 4 hours will be a little longer because the tank temperatures will start off lower than normal due to increased load. Time schedule will be the same. Fire at 4:00 to 4:30 and shut off boiler when storage reaches 180 - 185 degrees.
  16. Right, 1000 gallons. Just updated my signature.

    1000 gallons is great, but 2000 would be even better ;)
  17. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    I am going back to the old standby strategy of using my basement as extra storage. Cranked the basement thermostat to 80 at 07:30 tonight. Will heat the basement right up before I go to bed and then turn the thermo back down and load up the boiler at 10. That will help when it is this cold.
  18. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The weather is giving us and our systems a test like we haven't seen for a couple years here. Zero or below for the next 4 nights with daytime highs in single digits to low teens.
  19. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    It's interesting to hear other's comments, I know I'm in Maine and have spent all but one winter here. I guess I always thought it was this cold in all the northern states.

    On nights like this I reload after the initial full load is down to coals the number of splits in the second loading is directly related to how cold it's expected to be in the next 20 hours or so. Otherwise I's just the initial full load that burns out.

    When we say "it's cold out" it means it's below zero. When we say "it's really cold out" it means it's -20 or colder. As I type it's only -7 and the boiler is burning out and is 172 and I'm in shorts.

    TS
    mikefrommaine likes this.
  20. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

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    This is the first real cold we have had since we put the boiler in. So far I have been playing with load size. I get up around 6am, put on the coffee, check the temps for the next 12 hrs a load to match. It is presently -13* C( 9*F) winds forecast 20 mph. I put in what I consider a 80% load made up of maple and birch. It will last until 5-6 pm this evening at which time I'll check the forecast again and load accordingly.

    Forecast is for -20*C(-6*F) so that will be a 100% load!!
  21. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    "Charging the basement worked nicely. I brought it to 78 degrees and loaded the boiler at 09:30. Still had 1/4 load in the chamber when I came down at 05:30. There is always something if you put your mind to it. Will do the same thing from now on whenever it is around zero or below. Tonight will be a good ride, -15 ::F I think. My wife and I were talking about how cold it is when we were carting the family around to friends birthday party. I talked to her about how well the boiler is doing when it is this cold. And told her I like it when it is this cold. She looked at me as if to say, "You have a problem!". ;lol When we got home from eating banana splits for the party I got dressed warm and went outside with the dogs and got a little exercise running around with them. :p
  22. Glad it's working for you. I've been thinking about adding another zone for the basement but its unfinished and I like to keep it cool to work in.

    For me I'd rather see single digits and sunny weather than overcast and 30's. My wood consumption goes way down on sunny days. Before I had the wood boiler I didn't realize how much solar gain was heating my house on nice days.
    Fred61 likes this.
  23. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    Same here. In stead of starting a fire at 7:30/8:00 it more like 6:00 and then a few extra chunks before I go to bed.

    K
  24. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Exactly the same here re. the solar gain - I half thought of that when designing the house when I put all those windows in the south corner of our kitchen. Just wish I had kept thinking about it for the rest of the house - but I'm not complaining too much with what we do have. The other big thing was adding storm doors last year - gave more solar gain in the middle of the house from being able to open the main door and let the sun in through the storm door.

    On the basement, if mine gets cool I just crack open one end of my storage enclosure. Lots of heat in short order without plumbing in another zone.
  25. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I've been aware of solar gain for several years now. When I built my former house in 1978, I actually paid a surveyer to lay out the foundation 14 degrees, 47 minutes off magnetic for my location in order to get maximum solar gain and filled the south side with windows and a solarium. House would overheat even on -10 degree days when sunny.
    The little house I'm in now was built without orientation in mind. Just lines up with the road but the back of the house faces east and has several windows. Actually is surprising how much solar gain I get. (until noon) but with super insulation I'm able to hold on to that heat until 4 PM or so. 8:13 AM now and it's 72 degrees in here right now and getting warmer. EKO again will not be lit until 4:00 - 4:30.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.

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