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Cost of gasification boilers

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by baskinglizards, Nov 6, 2007.

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  1. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    We're looking into replacing our furnace with a woodburning appliance, and have been reading about gasification boilers. None of the manufacturers' websites mention anything about what the boilers cost to buy and install, so I'm wondering if anyone here would care to share their experiences. We have a 2200 sq. ft. house and have a forced hot air system; apparently, most boilers can be adapted to this type of system with an additional air heat exchanger. If you have a similar system, I would love to hear from you.

    Thanks! :)

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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  3. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    I see some of the "list" prices any idea what type of discounts off this are available ?

    Thanks
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Any discounts I've seen are in the spring for inventory reduction purposes. Doubt you'd get much of a break this time of year, though it doesn't hurt to call and ask.
  5. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    How about installation costs? I see you have an EKO, would you be willing to share that info here? :) I'm assuming this is something you'd have to have a professional install, not a job for a do-it-yourselfer...
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I did it myself, but it took a long time and wasn't cheap. I'm sure a pro could it fast and probably for less, especially if they know what they're doing. If you're not really into this sort of thing, don't try doing it yourself. Your installation cost is going to depend greatly on what you have already set up and how you want the new boiler to work. Impossible to ballpark, but I'd budget around $3,000 in addition to the cost of the boiler. Even if you're tapping into an existing heating system, there's still a lot of stuff you have to hang on the gasifier to protect it and make it work right. Fittings and parts ain't cheap.

    With the exception of the boiler, nothing you see in these pictures is included. In my case, I'm pumping two hot water lines (1" and .75") 100 feet into the basement, which is a lot of additional pipe, fittings, pumps, insulation and other crap.

    Things to consider:

    Class A chimney?
    Buffer tank?

    Bottom line, I'm having a blast.

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  7. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    Got chimney. What's a buffer tank?
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Do you have a dedicated, Class chimney not serving any other appliance?

    Buffer tank is hot water storage. You don't absolutely need it (right away), but it's nice.
  9. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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    Eric in all the European literature I've seen the water storage tanks, (say 200 gallons plus), for solid fuel boilers are called accumulator tanks whereas other literature I've seen refers to buffer tanks as smaller tanks which provide a small buffer, (40-120 gallons) to offset short cycling in a low-mass boiler or as a store of DHW. Given that this is a newish forum it might good if we all agree on a common vocabulary. I don't think it really matters but searching the web for buffer tanks gives choices which are probably too small to effectively fire a wood boiler efficiently.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My vote would go to "heat storage tanks."

    Having said that, I see the heat storage tank as a buffer between a satisfied house heating system and an overheated or idle boiler.

    But I agree that it's good to have some common terminology.
  11. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    Our chimney is currently serving our woodburning furnace, which we plan on replacing. So the boiler would be on that chimney on its own, basically. We have an electric hot water heater, a 50-gallon tank. Would that count as hot water storage? Or would that be a separate thing?
  12. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I second the vote for 'heat storage tank'. I'm wondering, though, if we're making too big a deal over having one. Being a fanatic, I want it to allow me to keep an even house temperature without having the boiler idling and thereby being less efficient.

    However, I did heat my first season without a storage tank, and I have to say it still worked better than my experience with conventional (non-gasification) boilers. The EKO has a 'keep alive' function that cycles the fan every so often when idling, and I didn't get any creosote problems.

    Maybe for someone considering a new boiler, the choice of a gasification vs. conventional can be made without getting wrapped up in the whole storage tank debate. For my part, I think they still win out in terms of higher efficiency, lower nasty smoke fumes outside, and less (maybe none) creosote.
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I too have been impressed at how well the EKO idles. Occasionally in idle there is a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimney, but at other times, it's clear. No evidence of creosote in the heat exchanger tubes or on the chimney cap, so I'm guessing there's little or none. So I think you could get by without a tank with no real problems.
  14. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    Thanks for the info on discounts. I spoke with Dave at Cozy heat and he indicated that storage is nice and can have have its advantages but the system will work well without it and running for the first year without it will often help you decide if you need it or not. The EKO 40 looks pretty nice I am just having a little trouble with the length of payback at 5 to 6 years.
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    As usual, I'd say that's pretty good advice from Dave.

    Just guessing and projecting here, but I'd say that if the payback is 5 to 6 years at today's fuel prices, it will turn out to be less time when all is said and done. I can't predict the price and/or availability of oil and gas, but I can make some educated assumptions about my wood pile. If you can get the wood and the boiler lasts 10 or 12 or 15 years, then I'd say you come out smelling like a rose.

    Here's another way to look at it: With fossil fuels, the next five or six winters are going to involve keeping the thermostat set as low as you can get away with, vs. setting it where you're most comfortable and then enjoying the beautiful winter weather.
  16. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    I agree with Tony, 5-6 years is a long payback time. We're probably going to end up going with just a plain forced hot air woodburning furnace, since we can get one for just a little over $2,000 and install it ourselves fairly easily. That'll pay for itself in just a year or two, even if it does use more wood. :) I do love the idea behind the gasification boilers in that they are very efficient and create minimal pollution, but I don't think I'm willing to pay nearly $8,000 for it. Or, more accurately, we just don't have it to spend in the first place. LOL
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've used a wood-fired hot air furnace and that's a great alternative if you have forced air heat. Like woodstoves, furnaces burn hot, so it pays to spend a little more on a well-constructed one. The heat takes its toll on the steel over time. But it's a much lower investment than a boiler and should keep you just as warm for many years to come. And as it becomes more popular, I suspect the price of gasification will come down, so when it's time to replace the furnace, you might be in a position to invest in a boiler.

    As to payback, I guess that all depends on your situation. My natural gas bill would probably run $4,000 to $5,000 at today's prices for one heating season, plus what we save on domestic hot water, so the payback period for me is closer to 2 years.

    Of course, I could drop $30,000 or $40,000 on new windows, doors, etc. and cut my heating bill in half. But with free wood and a cleanburning boiler to burn it in, I think plowing my meager resources into a woodburner is a reasonable approach.
  18. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    I agree with both acounts the payback will be less due to price increases and the family would much rather have the heat set at a nice warm temp and not have to wear a coat inside. I am still concerned with the additional cost of the gasification boiler over the standard boilers and other burners. I love the idea of having the boiler out in the shed along with the mess and smell plus the much lower risk of fire. The lower use of wood is also nice ,my pal next door used 10 cords last year in his forced air add on furnace and I hope to use 3 to 5 with a gasification unit.
  19. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    What brand furnace was it? We've been looking at the Clayton 1600G (US Stove), probably not the best quality out there but seems pretty good for what it costs. We also like that it offers the option of heating your domestic hot water. It's also one of the few woodburning furnaces that we could actually buy locally.
  20. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't recall. It was about 20 years ago. I do remember that the first time I overfired it, the nameplate that was screwed into the cast iron door melted. I've always thought that was a pretty clever way to justify the denial of warranty claims. But it provided many years of dependable service after that, so I've got no complaints.
  21. baskinglizards

    baskinglizards New Member

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    LOL That must have been one hot fire!! :-D
  22. GibsonGuy

    GibsonGuy Member

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    I can’t say enough good things about my EKO 60. I’ve been burning for 6 weeks and haven’t had the propane on since then. I was even gone from a Friday to Sunday and still came home to a 64 degree house temp. The forum guys talked me into water storage and I went w/ approx. 800 gallons. I was able to find a galvanized tank for $100, but w/ a liner and lots of insulation, I may have close to a $1 per gallon, which is still a great price. I built a 2 X 6 stud wall and insulated it w/ glass. I also put a 2 –3 inches of foil faced foam on the inside of the stud wall, then poured perlite in the voids. The tank is round and the crib is square. I put aluminum bubble insulation on the top of the tank and it just floats on the surface. I then took 16” strips of the same bubble insulation and taped it w/ aluminum tape to the top perimeter of the tank and also to the top of the bubble wrap that was floating on the water. I think it work just great. I added insulation on top, but hope to add a SIP panel at some point in time. My storage is in an uninsulated room off my garage, as is my boiler. I had to go w/ an open system because of strict zoning requirements. My only heat exchanger is where I meet the house’s closed boiler system. I have two pumps, one inside my house and one outside at the boiler and that’s it. My water heats up very fast. I also went w/ a sidearm.

    As for the water storage, I wouldn’t be w/out it. I am burning a fire a day and have learned that I was initially trying to keep the boiler going just to keep from starting a fire from scratch. But now I build a fire after work and the water storage easily takes care of the next 12-16 hours. I don’t cram wood in anymore, because my wood is not as dry as it should be. I have plenty of wood, but because this is my first year burning and the fact we had a terribly wet fall, I try to keep smaller fires and I’m been doing well with getting my water storage up to temp and leaving it at that. 75% of my house is in-floor heat which probably eases things a bit. I live real close to Dave’s shop and he’s the greatest. He recommended an installer that was close to half the cost of my regular plumber. I did as much as I could myself, but didn’t feel comfortable with the final install.

    As for payback, I get a 10 yard dump truck load of hard maple and oak of veneer wood cut offs. Some are huge, but there is little cutting, lots of splitting and hardly any bark. A load is $150, so I figure the wood is free and I’m paying for the delivery. I get 15 cords per load. I to have about $10K in my system, but would have paid $4K-$4.5K for propane this year. My last propane quote was $2.84 per gallon. My pay back will be 2-3 years, which is real decent. Better than my wind generator that I installed back in the Carter years.

    Thanks for your help with this forum. I spoke w/ LeadDog a few times and he ALWAYS had the right answers to my questions.
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Glad to hear it, GibsonGuy. I really like my 60 as well. Once I got the air adjusted right, it really took off for me.
  24. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell Minister of Fire

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    out of pocket costs,garn , insulation,flatplate, pex , copper, black iron, and ongoing misc, 22k, a warm house, shop, hot tub,and summer pool heating and not hearing the oil boiler fire-PRICELESS! a 3 year payback
  25. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    AMEN!
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