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Does anyone run a Magic Heat reclaimer off an Encore?

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by VCBurner, Mar 2, 2011.

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  1. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Craig, I love it when you occasionally pull your head out of your "Ash Can" and drop in with us ordinary folk on the hearth-related forums. Your experience and viewpoints are always welcome. ;-)


    What's the financial incentive to do real-world efficiency testing? These studies are rarely funded by the industry. Last thing they want is for folks to find out that half their computed fuel may be going up the chimney. The government(s) paid for a lot of the old studies way back when, and the EPA used the results of these tests to formulate a strategy to reduce emissions into the environment. There is very little work of this kind being done in academia since both funding and interest simply aren't there any more.

    It would be a pretty expensive study to install flue-analysis equipment in a variety of homes and see how they do in the real world of common users. There have been, however, numerous studies done under controlled conditions in laboratories using cordwood burned in the theoretically most efficient manner inside special calorimeter rooms, and the results were a lot better than 35-45% efficiency. Combustion efficiency in a conventional airtight wood heater a lab setting can be almost 90%, and overall heating efficiency well over 60% in the same stove when using the very best and scientifically sound burn methods. Surely the new stoves have tweaked that by at least a few percentage points, wouldn't you think? But to do that in any stove requires understanding what the most efficient burning conditions really are. The closer you can get your stove to work like it was being tested in a lab, the better the results should be. Either that, or the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on real-time sensing equipment used at places like OMNI was a total waste of coin.

    Me... I trust the lab results and try my best to adapt their burning parameters to my home situation. If I got even 75% of the way there, I'd consider it a complete success. Considering that I'm burning about 100 million BTU of wood fiber in a home that theoretically needs 80 million BTU of heat energy to maintain room temps around the clock for the entire heating season, I think I'm doing OK. The extra few percentage points I might get out of the newer technologies hold little interest for me, not as long as nice old VC stoves and such are still available. Now if you can come up with one that takes whole logs, cuts, splits, dries, and feeds them automatically to the fire and leaves nothing but blue skies behind the view of the chimney top... well, I'm all over that one. :)

    To me, it's obvious that these new heaters aren't achieving real-world efficiencies even close to the advertised claims just by looking at the wood consumption reports here on the forum. There are folks here burning more wood in a season in their little EPA stoves that I do in my 2.5 cu.ft. pre-EPA stove that's never been rebuilt in the 25 years since it was made. Operator effect is huge with wood stoves, and none of these new marvels are intuitive to run like the old ones. Seems to me that the most efficient use is coming from the same people who successfully burned cleanly and efficiently using the old technologies. In short, long experience, careful observation and a very open mind are needed in all cases to really master the art. The stove itself just ain't gonna do it for ya.

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  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I politely disagree with this entire statement.
  3. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Dude! Brilliant, just brilliant! :lol:

    Now as far as this statement:
    It's sort of unfair to take it out of context and single out as if it were the only part of another brilliant post. I agree with most of what you said in that post. However, operators affect efficiency just as much as their machines can. By that I mean, if you for example were to burn the same wood in the same efficient minded manner in a newer stove, you'd certainly be better off. Which is not to say that it would be worth the cost and effort of replacing the Vigilant. Another point that can be made is the fact that the old Vigilant is a downdraft stove correct? Has it ever been tested to see what kind of emissions you get with it? I bet if it were tested it would do better with emissions than some moder EPA rated stoves. I also think that sometimes we can get carried away in overgeneralizing things.



    Just because some industry members are willing to bend facts to fit their needs, doesn't mean that we should discount all studies. We just have to take the numbers as a part of the equation. Not the end all say all.
    The truth is, we all use a lot of numbers while talking about our stoves and others, but we really have no way of knowing how they compare unless we were to use them CORRECTLY under the very same conditions with all the same variables at play. Near impossible right? People such as yourself and other dealers may have the advantage of being able to play with all sorts of stoves in a shop where you can compare them all to each other in similar conditions. Have you ever tried to hook up a reclaimer to any of your EPA stoves?
  4. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You can pick up Shelton's work at used bookstores online or from Amazon.

    As for fires from oil or gas furnaces, or more importantly injury or death related to them, there are lots. This is because there are so many installations out there that the odds are just greater. Does this make them unsafe? No. But anytime there is a 1000F fire raging in the house, there is the potential for problems. The more complex the system, the more possibilities there are for failure. It comes down to design, installation, operation and maintenance. Same as for wood heating.

    For example, when we moved into our house there was a high-efficiency, propane furnace. The unit was fine, but the jerks that installed it must have been drunk. Fortunately I spotted some glaring errors right away and fixed them before someone got killed. I found a smashed elbow on the PVC exhaust that was completely missing its backside. It wasn't the fault of the system at all, it was a dangerous installation. You have installed the MH in a conscientious fashion and have carefully maintained it and monitored it carefully. And the results speak well for you. Unfortunately, a lot of these units are not maintained and run on dirty stoves burning poorly seasoned wood. They install the MH as a bandaid, treating the symptoms instead of the problem and often end up with a significantly more serious problem as a result.
  6. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Isn't that the truth! I saw some utube videos of a guy who had a boxwood like stove in his basement that had a top exit pipe into a 90 that ran into about 12 feet of hgorizontal pipe and the dude had a reclaimer attached to the horizontal pipe! He was modifying his short run of vertical pipe to be able to heat water there. He had a coil of copper pipe around the six inch and covered it with an eight inch pipe. He was later going to connect his contraption into a used water storage tank he found somewhere. I'd be surprised if this guy's house is still standing.

    I agree all these things we use too heat our homes have some potential danger, and understand the warnings from people here are just showing care about safety and well being of other members on this site. This is a safe haven for information on safe heating! I appreciate all the posts on this thread. Thank you all.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    VCB, I just checked the top and bottom flue temps. With a flue gas temp of 485ºF in the pipe, about 20" above the stove, I am getting ~300F at the top with 43ºF ambient temp. This is with about 7 ft outdoor exposed pipe.
  8. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Quite a difference huh? If you had a reclaimer on the pipe you'd be at around 225 at the top! Certainly would be condensating there! A cap would be pretty quick to clog under those conditions. Thanks for the info BG!
  9. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Correct. That's exactly what I mean by the importance of operator effect. But when I see countless photos and videos of "spectacular" secondaries that are really just air jets hitting an overly dense wall of smoke inside the box, I know that that particular operator isn't getting the cleanest and most efficient burns regardless of what he thinks, or how clean his chimney is. I'd love to see somebody dump that mess into my 25' tall masonry chimney for 4-5 cord of burning and give me the cleaning report then. ;-)

    It might be so, but that doesn't matter. The way the Vigilant is set up so that you can shut the air entirely off to choke it down, it would never be allowed on the marketplace. It has to pass the emissions test at the lowest burn possible on the appliance, and the Vig would fail that test miserably. Burned to the best of its abilities it is a pretty clean heater, but it also has a well-deserved rep for being one of the dirtiest stoves ever when burned improperly. I intuitively feel that the best burns on almost any new EPA stove would be cleaner and have higher combustion efficiency than any of the older VC non-cat stoves, but again, no way to prove that without comparison testing.

    Personally, I think the EPA test results can speak for themselves as far as what is possible to attain, because they actually do obtain those results. They produce less PM at an hourly rate, and that is what the EPA mandates. I have no idea of how well they compare as far as overall heating efficiency, something that the EPA doesn't seem to give a hoot about. All I know is what the dealers try to convince me of, and what I hear from the reports on the forum. I hear over and over again how they produce twice the heat from half the wood. I'll never believe such ridiculous claims unless they are confirmed by the proper instrumentation. Claims of results that lie outside the laws of physics are difficult to substantiate... even for a scientist. :coolsmirk:

    FWIW I think buying both of Shelton's books and taking the info contained to heart is the wisest investment a new burner could make. Yes, there is a lot of technical info in them, but (at least with "The Woodburner's Encyclopedia), it is presented in a manner that any layperson with a high school education can get through all of the important stuff and be that much the wiser when they are done. There is simply no other literature that I am aware of that covers burning in such a thoughtful, thorough, and accessible manner.
  10. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, and it's about 50º F out his way today. Imagine how much lower the flue temps would be in our neck of the woods in mid-February with the outside temps maybe -15º or so some nights.
  11. kettensäge

    kettensäge Feeling the Heat

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    VC burner,
    You can always try it to see how it works. My dad had 1 one his old Fisher GM bear. It was installed below the damper, not sure if this was on purpose but, it had to have been a lot hotter there than above.
    I think you would be able to compensate for lost flue heat with it installed this way, maybe monitor flue temps before the MH and then above the damper?
    I can remember the middle of the tubes glowing dull red at times, Could not have been much creosote build up there but there sure was alot in the rest of the chimney.
    Biggest problem was the cleaning plate rod attachment point. The threaded end of the rod would pull out of the plate.
    Don't want to get off subject but why not try to get it to work, monitor closley and remove if there are any ill effects seen.
    If I had a free standing set up I wouldn't use one because of the noise. I also think it's better to harvest heat from the firebox but I understand that can't always be done.

    There are a lot of creative people here, might be worth a look, then again it might not.
  12. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    BG, I'm goin back maybe 20 years with that Encore with the MH. I dont remember the flue temps. Just that there were no chimney cleaning issues or complaints about noise.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Ambient temp was 43F when I measured it. My first thought was hmm, what would this read at 23F? My second thought was, I am not getting up on this roof when it's frost covered. :smirk:
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Eh? Speak up. I don't have my hearing aids on. %-P
  15. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like a good, rational decision to me. ;-)

    As I continue to learn the intricacies of burning in this stove, I'm finding that the longer I run it in updraft mode the better it seems to run in downdraft mode. I am still getting used to the whole flue thermometer thing after almost 20 years of knowing what my flue temps should be, but never knowing what they really were. Last year I was waiting until it hit 600º on the pipe then shutting it down right away, but the flue temps would eventually drop below 250º, so even with that being assumed to be 500º gas temp, by the time it exits 25' above, I'll bet it was way below 200º.

    This season I've been shutting down the primary air and letting the stove cruise with 500-600º flue temps while the bypass is open (for at least 30 minutes, sometimes up to an hour) to pre-warm the clay tiles, and that seems to make a big difference. The stove settles in now with a pipe temp at about 400-425º with the primary air open about 1/4 of the way, and that's how I've been told it need to burn it for a clean flue. Another noticeable effect of doing that for me is that my upstairs walls that enclose the chimney are about 10º hotter, and over a bigger surface area as well. That puts out lots of heat into my main living space (living room on one side of chimney, kitchen on the other side), so I still get some benefit from that extra heat going up the flue.

    I'm burning significantly less wood this year, even though intuition might suggest I'd burn more with the extra heat in the flue. Thinking about it some more, I believe that even though the actual temp is higher, being able to close down the air entering the stove more is allowing longer residence time inside the flue, so there is not as much air going up and therefore less heat really lost. Does that seem plausible? May be other factors as well, but I'll come in with close to a cord less than I did last year when all is said and done, and this was a brutal winter compared to last, and I started burning earlier in the season. Apparently, this operator is getting smarter, at least with this stove.

    So, for me, even if somebody gave me a MH I wouldn't try it, because it would probably just ef up what's been proven to work for me. Very last thing I need is more dang heat in the basement, I can hardly even work down there as it is.
  16. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    This has nothing to do with the original post. But! Do we think that lower outside temperatures = increased draft = less temperature variance from top to bottom, due to the flue gasses traveling faster? Or am I just too tired to think straight right now? Of course the obvious thing to think would be lower temperatures outside more variance, but can we say this for sure. There must be some sort of formula for this sort of question!
  17. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If I follow what you are asking, the greater the temp difference from indoor to outdoor the greater the draft. So, generally speaking, the colder it is outside the harder the chimney will pull.

    pen
  18. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Yes, and if the gasses are moving faster up the flue. So maybe there will be less of a decrease in flue temperature from 24 inches above the stove to the top of the flue? Of course this would be off set by the lower temperature of the exposed part of the chimney.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm not so sure about this. True the draft will be stronger, but usually that mean the fellow running the stove is backing down the air to compensate.
  20. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Just a thought! Maybe a bit of a stretch.
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