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Coal in a pellet stove Pt 2

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by shapps1313, Jan 3, 2009.

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  1. shapps1313

    shapps1313 New Member

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    O.K. Since I am new here I will say that I do not want to ruffle too many feathers. But I will tell you my story and you all can judge me by that.
    Back in 2000 I wanted to supplement my heat pump and looked into many different kinds of appliances. I finally settled on a Harman P61 pellet stove, pretty much the best there was at the time. Alot of people thought it was strange since I live in the "Coal Region" and why wouldn't I burn coal. Well my wife,also from the "Region", said absolutely not,not in my new house. So I burned pellets. Until this year. I coud not find pellets, at a reasonable price, or at all. Pellets around here were $300 a ton and coal picked up at the breaker was $145 a ton. So I decided that rather than let the stove sit, or buy a new stove I would experiment with coal. I will say, this may not work for all auger fed pellet stoves and in no way do I recommend that you void your warranty,my 6year "harman gold" warranty had expired for what it was worth,so I thought why not. I will say, I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance. It does not give me the heat that pellets do, it was not designed to burn coal, but harman did design a coal stove called the 44 magnum, with the same feed system and burn pot arrangement. There are different electronics involved, which I coud not get from the dealer, but I have worked around that. I started burning anthracite rice coal on Oct. 24th. I worked with the settings on the stove and have the feed set to below 1 on the dial and the stove temp also set below 1 on the dial. I have the airwash to the door glass blocked off because coal likes air from below and I found too much unburned coal in the ashbin. So far I have burned 1 ton of coal at these settings. I did shut the stove down the first week of Dec. to check for wear or other possible issues. I found none. The surface temp is not as high as with the pellets, and the exhaust temp is actually lower with the coal. I will say again, I do not recommend this, no warranty is expessed or implied, your results may vary, do not attempt this, yadda yadda yadda.
    My wife doesn't know the difference, its all heat to her. And it helps to keep the local guys working. Feel free to ask questions,I am not trying to convert anyone, just letting you know what I did and my results.
    Bill

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  2. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    The Hearth Police will be here shortly to tell you you're an idiot, you're going to kill your family, etc...

    With that said, yesterday morning I decided to try burning some coil in my pellet stove. I didn't bother placing anything in the hopper, I just threw some pieces in the pot. All I had on hand was nut coal, which is larger than I felt comfortable with placing in my stove. I broke up a couple of pieces before placing them in there. I was amazed how well it seemed to burn. I later tried cat food (the old stuff the cat wont touch after it has been sitting around), and found it also burned quite well... I'm thinking of tyring the cat next! :)

    Anyway, if I had some rice coal on hand, I'd consider mixing a little in with the pellets (maybe 10%?), but I don't have any access to it so I think the majority of my coal burning in the pellet stove adventures are over... Although I was pleased with how the nut burned in my stove!

    I wish I could buy coal for $145 around here (in CT), I wouldn't bother with anything else!
  3. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    This post is not to pass judgement but to warn about something I have read in the past. Your pellet stove may burn the coal for awhile, but as others have said the acidic condensates may eventually destroy some of the thinner metal in the firebox area, or may even eat through a weak spot in a weld. Once your firebox area has a breach in it, you could end up with the coal exhuast fumes mixing with the distribution air. You will then be blowing the vapors into your house. You may burn fine a thousand times over or maybe not, but the one night you go to sleep unaware of the breach...
  4. roadrat

    roadrat Member

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    Experimentation is the mother of invention as long as your careful and understand the risk go for it.
    That being said prepare for the "YOU"LL BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE!!!" pellet police to soon chime in.



    peace

    bill
  5. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    LOL...well I guess your right about how inventions are born, just be careful. I am sure this thread will be closed soon as this is a pellet/corn forum, but so be it.

    Also, of course we all hope you have good luck burning and would never want to see anything happen to your family or house. Just another reminder for other folks who may want to try this. If you would experience a fire in your house due to burning coal in your pellet stove, not only will your stove waranty be void, but don't be surprised if your home owners insurance refuses to pay you a dime.
  6. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    I have burned coal years ago and from what I can recollect a coal fire requires a tertiary air supply . I think that means air on top of the fire too as well as below. Of course if the air is being forced up thru the coals this might be a moot point.
    Also I`d be concerned about the acid effects on the chimney itself and not so much as the stove .
    I going to assume you are aware of all this and have a good idea of what you are doing so I wish you continued success with the experiment.
    Being mechanical minded myself I can appreciate what you are doing.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I have to laugh at this level of experimentation. As I said before, if you are inventive type....then there are lots of other inventions which may help you and mankind more.

    This type of experimentation is just plain foolhardy. You might enjoy it. It might be fun. It might be neat to brag about how you are getting heat for less.

    But those of us who just MAY know a bit more than you......we know things such as these:

    1. Pellet venting and the metal within pellet stoves is NOT designed to withstand the corrosive compounds formed by the burning of coal.
    2. Coal produces vast quantities of CO, and even properly functioning coal stoves are responsible for a number of residential DEATHS each year....to say nothing about the hospital visits.
    3. Statistics are hard to grasp on an individual level. YOU may not end up hurting or killing anyone in your family, but SOMEONE WILL. Taking an arbitrary example, you may increase the danger by a factor of 10X or more.....so instead of 1 in 500,000, maybe the factor is now 1 in 50,000.
    4. Pellet vent is allowed to terminate closer to a home than would a stack with high CO output. This means you can poison your family slowly, lowering IQ points......

    Now you may accept those statistics. But would you do so AFTER harm is done? That is simply the question to ask yourself. Imagine your insurance company when the claim is due........a little google search will bring up these threads, and they will see that you did this after being advised not to.

    Let's see - 1 in 50,000. That would mean that about 20 commercial airliners would crash each MONTH in the USA. Would that make you less likely to get on an airplane? I can answer in the affirmative.

    There is nothing that I can do from afar to stop stupid behavior. This amazing sense of wonderment that folks get from seeing that coal actually has BTU's in it seems to be unstoppable. At the same time, I'm not going to help you hurt yourself and others. Just because 49,999 fools can do something....does not mean it is safe.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Understanding the risk means you can live with yourself after your child dies from CO poisoning. Can you?
    The only place I will agree is this. If you live alone and are stupid enough to experiment with this, it may just help the gene pool for your experiment to fail. Other than that, I can't condone it.
    '
    BTW, I am an inventor and hold several patents. If you are going to come up with the next solar powered airplane, be my guest and experiment...but don't put your kids in the plane when you are doing so. Adding risk to innocent people without their true knowledge....is, IMHO, almost criminal. Maybe a lawyer here can tell us whether it is simply manslaughter or 3rd degree.
  9. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Although I`d love to see this contraption running , I have to ask this question.
    Why on earth wouldn`t you just sell off the Harman stove (for a good price) and purchase an industry approved stove that was designed to burn coal properly and safely in the first place?
  10. firewarrior820

    firewarrior820 Feeling the Heat

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    no pictures it DIDN'T HAPPEN
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    A fair question.

    A good coal stove can be had used for less than $500.

    I don't see how money is "saved" by buying a $3000 stove which uses electricity..........
  12. bungalobob

    bungalobob Feeling the Heat

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    Show your wife this thread. See if she allows you to run your experiment a minute longer. These guys who chimed in are giving sound advice to follow. There are actual experts out there in testing facilities who have come to scientific conclusions on these experiments and many, many others. Do not allow yourself and your loved ones to come to any harm.
  13. rphurley

    rphurley Feeling the Heat

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    This forum is always great entertainment. What's next, is someone out there using rags soaked in used motor oil as firestarters in your woodstove? :)
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, since oil is cheaper than pellets at the moment, why aren't folks simply soaking their pellets first?

    Or, contact the local firearms ammunition plant and get their bad batches of powder....lots of BTU's there......

    Or, the crowning glory - why not just try some uranium? After all, I thought of nuclear pellets over a decade ago when customer told me they heated their large house all winter on one ton. Had to be nuclear....no other possibility......

    Me? I'm going to try to make my cut saw into an iphone. But I'm going to let my wife and kids try it first. That way I can report back to y'all.

    ;-P
  15. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    i thought about trying this experiment...this is what i am going to use as a coal to pellet mix 0% coal 100% pellet, and everything should balance out.on the serious side...i dont think it is a wise move to do an experiment like this within the home where your family lives eats and SLEEPS. if you are serious about doing this, why not wait until you have an out building like a shed and do it there? if the shed burns down there will not be much loss. if its your house and family....no brainer for me.


    mike
  16. roadrat

    roadrat Member

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    The original poster did not mention having kids in the house just his wife who said she would not allow a coal stove in her new house. this is just his way of pulling one over on the old lady,
    You know its kinda like if my ol'lady said I was absolutly not allowed to buy a motorcycle. I would have to buy one! even if I did'nt want one I would have to do it, Its the only thing that keeps us Men, MEN damn it!


    bill
  17. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    Bet the wife would be real thrilled when her new house is burnt
    to the ground and the insurance company laughs in your face.
    Of course, this is assuming you survive the ordeal.

    If you are gonna burn coal, get a stove and setup that is designed for it.
  18. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    plain and simple, if pellet stoves had been meant to burn coal the would have been called "COAL STOVES" and would have been designed to burn that fuel safely. pellet vent pipe has a max tolerance of less than 600F it will not sustain the temps of coal burning under a forced draft. nor will the clearances specified by enough to keep the wall surfaces from becoming dangerously hot. the exhaust blower has a thermal protection device which will shut that motor off at 485F which will stop the mechanical exhaust of the stove causing potential leakage of fumes into the home. the stove itself was not made of thick enough metal to withstand this heat either which will lead to warpage, which can further reduce the stove's ability to protect itself(and you for that matter) from a catastrophic failure.

    this is an amazingly dangerous thing you are attempting to do here. i urge you as strongly as i can to please stop doing this as you are putting your property and potentially you and your family's lives at serious risk. even doing this for a short time can render the stove unsafe for future normal use.
  19. firemannate31

    firemannate31 Member

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    I call troll-one post and join date of today.

    Just my .02.
  20. OU812

    OU812 Member

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    Let me guess? Do you also use gasoline to start your coal stove? I have a feeling the coal thing may backfire. I havent even seen a lot of the multi fuel pellet stoves list coal as an acceptable fuel type.
  21. shapps1313

    shapps1313 New Member

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    Well I've read all your posts and can say that I am well aware of the dangers you all talk about burning solid fuel. My system is in excellent condition. This is not my first rodeo ladies. Is this something that I would recommend YOU ALL HERE try, NO. I will not debate you all here. I did this, YOU did not. As far as the name calling goes,PLEASE! Say what you will,you are the moderator you can delete any topic or post you like, I came to this forum to relate an experience and maybe answer a few questions, I now know I was wrong to do THAT. Thanks to those of you who were at least intrigued by the idea and even thought about asking a question.I am giving in to your pressure and will not relate any more of my story to you. Now,I'm removing this site from my favorites and going out to buy another ton of coal.
    Bill
  22. OU812

    OU812 Member

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    c'mon shapps, you asked for peoples opinion. I dont blame you for trying coal especially at half the price of pellets but there has to be a reason, most likely a safety issue, as to why people don't normally do this. Also, even if it did work great in your situation, it may be dangerous in another stove. My guess is that people are just concerned about your safety and dont want to see your house ablaze. I wouldnt let the name calling get to you as I think most people are enjoying your post and having a good time. IMO there are a lot of people on here who are way too serious and need to learn how to "lighten up". Get it? "lighten up"? On the other hand, just in the short time that I have been here, I have seen a lot of cool people, in fact they are the majority here, who go out of their way to help people with their problems be it pellet stove related or whatever. I also think that what makes this site so great is the freedom the moderators (within reason) give people in expressing their opinions or ideas. Remove this site from your favorites if need be but I also think that this site has the potential to save you a lot of money as you can have a lot of issues resolved without an expensive service call and you might make a few friends to boot.
  23. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    As I stated above... I knew exactly where this was going to go and tried warning you ahead of time. "You're going to shoot your eye out kid..."

    I for one would appreciate you staying and continuing to post updates on how this is working out for you. I'll assume you're doing this safely outside in your driveway. ;)
  24. bksaun

    bksaun New Member

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    Shapps,

    I wonder if any of these doomsday fortune tellers has ever heard of a CO detector? I am sure you probably have one if not more.

    From some of the hysterical replys, I'd say this site needs a BS detector!

    Properly operating coal stoves sending people to the hospital, what BULL, sounds like a Greenpeace Rep.

    In reality almost all pellet stoves should never see coal used in them, your stove is a knock off of the Harman 44 mag coal stove and the difference is the amount of air allowed through the grate, coal needs more. If you burned pellets in the 44 mag the amount of air would blow the pellets off the grate.

    Do youself a favor, clean it up and sell it, buy a good stoker coal stove and you will never want to fool with pellets again! I Did.

    Bk
  25. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    WTF?


    Eric
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