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ECONOBURN ANY USERS?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by SUPPLYGUY, Mar 10, 2008.

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  1. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    from heaterman:

    "Running a gasifier is different than just heaving a huge load into an OWB. They are all more of a thinking man’s boiler regardless of brand and I think you’ll find that you’ll have the same issues regardless of whose piece of equipment you’re running. Do yourselves a favor and hang in there while you learn the ropes because I have a suspicion that you’ll encounter the same issues with another brand, whatever that may be. "

    I have dedicated a lot of time the past three days in getting to really know my econoburn by burning different types of wood, experimenting with wood size, split versus whole, etc. etc. I am getting better at running mine, and while I can not yet say I have a love affair with it, I am getting more comfortable with it. Heaterman hit it right on the head with the thinking man's statement, as I equate running mine to driving a heavy commercial truck with a split rear axle, timing and execution is key to a good outcome. A long time friend stopped by to see my installation yesterday and was impressed with the technology, but I stressed to him the importance of understanding the nuances of these machines and especially the importance of storage. The manufacturers would do well in publishing a "how to" guide when selling these boilers. More to come.

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  2. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    I'm sure that Econoburn is a good unit and it sounds like they are working hard to make them one of the leading co. but I sure wish they would change there web site in stating that they can burn GREEN wood. Granted they then go on to state that GREEN wood is as there diffinition 20% moisture. They are giving people the wrong impression on gasifiers and are causing alot of there own grief. Burning green wood was one of the big selling points of the OWB's and it is a hard idea to change and stating that they can is hurting everyones cause. Knowing what I know now I would not buy one from them with that kind of statements being made as I would suspect ANY thing they say. I'm sure that is not fair and from what I can see they are a very good unit and they are doing most things right but when they try to mislead it gives a bad impression. I don't want to see them going down the path of the OWB's
    leaddog
  3. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    I posted this earlier: "The manufacturers would do well in publishing a “how to” guide when selling these boilers".

    I since have explored the Tarm website and they have super instructions and strongly recommend storage up front. They also have customer testimonials and pictures of field installations. This is a good feature. I hope Econoburn adds a similar section to their site soon for potential buyers to explore and digest.
  4. beefalocows

    beefalocows New Member

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    We are unsatisfied owners of an econoline burner and their salesmen. We purchased an econo 150 instead of a 100 in August 2007 to be safe on having enough burn time and heat for our 1100 sq. ft. ranch home. Once we got it installed and hooked up the damper handle broke. Once taken apart we discovered it was only spot welded. When notified the salesman he said have someone come weld it and we'd be reimbursed. Then there was a power outage in our area and the pex pipe blew and we were told that the pressure relief valve must have been faulty to go ahead and replace it and we'd be reimbursed. (still have not been reimbursed for either job). Boiler worked fine after this for a couple of months as long as weather did not drop below 20 degrees then it only lasted 5-6 hours burn time. Plus we NEVER have enough HOT water. Tired of taking cold showers!! Then we had an ice storm and lost power again for over 24 hours and we opened the damper as the manual states and guess what? The pex pipe blew again and steam and water went everywhere. Luckily someone was home or we would have lost our oil burner and flooded our cellar. What happens when people aren't home when these things happen such as power failure?? Anyone else have problems with power outage or replacing relief valve? We still have not gotten this boiler rehooked up and running. After spending $10,000 investment and now having to burn oil for the last 3 weeks!!! We also called the company to come take this boiler back and have gotten no results. My next move is contacting the Better Business Bureau.
  5. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Beefalo

    ANY pressurized type wood boiler should be installed with a bypass circuit or dump zone that is set up to deal with that very scenario. Out here in the sticks where we live, power failures are a fact of life and you have to design the system accordingly.
    We always make the piping copper or steel until the water reaches the point where the dump zone exits the main loop. Sometimes it's difficult to do because you obviously have to design it so it will flow with no circulator. As a general practice it's best not to attach pex directly to the boiler. We try to use at least 10-15 feet of metal before we adapt to pex. 250*+ water will do bad things to pex even at pressures below the 30PSI relief valve.

    I have no idea where you are located but I would be glad to contact Econoburn on your behalf and help you get your other issues resolved. PM me if you would like.

    A couple questions if you would.

    Did you work through a dealer on the purchase and installation and if so have you contacted him?

    What type of wood burner did you use previous to the Econoburn?

    Do you have any idea what the moisture content of your wood is?

    The reason I ask the last question is that Gopherwood (previous posts on this thread) was having heat output issues with his boiler and we found out that the stuff he had was fairly damp even though it looked good and had been dead for 3-5 years. Now, with wood that tests below 25% his 100 is kicking butt and taking names. You would swear it's a different piece of equipment since he got some decent wood in it.
  6. Mainewood

    Mainewood Member

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    Beefalo, I have found in my experience, that it is very important to have a QUALIFIED heating contractor do the installtion on these types of wood boilers. I suggest you befriend your heating contractor as he will be your best chance of resolving your issues. The dealers should be working with local contractors to make sure the installtion is done correctly. Hang in there beefalo. there are heating professionals and wood boiler users with real life experience, on this blog, who will be able to help you.
  7. skidsteer

    skidsteer New Member

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    OVERHEATING BOILERS . I had some power outages since burning my econoburn boiler and it was not any fun listing to the pipes ping. I have since bought a battery back-up unit they were designed for pellet stoves but it works really nice to power my circulator pump set up just for that special occasion. But I do have to say IF you follow the directions that come with your boiler to have 10% of the boilers out put for a dump zone it is not enough I have closer to twenty percent and my temps during a power out situation still reach uncomfortable high temps but it don't boil. NEXT QUESTION FOR ALL. Since I have been grouped in to one of the latest blogs about burning dry wood if you read back I have not had any problems making heat so I guess we will rule out my quality of wood . I an having some concerns of the operating and the longevity of the boiler. Along with the factory because I felt that I've gotten fed some B.S. about operating it and about some maniacal things that had broke like the turbulator arm the lobes were tack welded and one let go the did send me a new redesign bar thicker material and the lobes were positioned in different llocations moved to the outside of the bar . other bar lobes were in the center I also an not impressed with the fan operation it doesn't shut down during high or low temp so you can not really control the boiler either direction it never idles.
    I'm stuck in between a rock in a hard place with this boiler I REALLY want the factory to take it back and start fresh but they wont.
    If I'm gonna be stuck with It I'm gonna put Moore money into it with changing the controls to operate Moore like its copy the EKO or even the tarm to shut down the fan in both directions upon low or high temp . I adding water storage this spring to my set-up with will help but it wont help the operation of how the boiler runs. ALSO in past blogs Ihave had asked I'm seeing small strips of sheet-metal coming apart think their coming from my refractory Hmm what other kind of failure an I gonna have!!!!
    Sorry to sound so negitive towards ECONOBURN but as someone stated about their advertisement about burning greenwood no waterstorage etc. etc etc have hard time believing any thing they say
  8. hotwaterman

    hotwaterman New Member

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    Rich, "from HotWaterMan"

    You mentioned that you have flow meters in the system. When are burning at that 10 degree delta T, what is the flow rate ?
    If you are burning flat out and you need to to keep the house warm, the I am not sure I understand how additional storage is going to help unless, the unit is cycling.

    If the unit is cycling because you are satisfying the heat load during the burn cycle, then I can see storage being a huge help.
    On the other hand like I stated before , if the unit is burning flat out just to handle the load then I suspect heat loss, poor combustion or a sizing or flow issue somewhere and storage doesn't solve the problem in my mind . The latter doesn't sound like the case with all of the controls you have.

    We have recently been playing with another brand having the identical problems you are experiencing. What we are finding is that we are coking up the heat exchanger (big time) and once that happens, we get no heat exchange and we have to burn tons of wood.
    The key is delta T. IF we are flowing 10 gpm, getting a 20 degree, we are producing 100K btu. This can be tested and proven in a system. If we are only getting a 10 degree delta, we are only producing 50K btu @ 10 gpm. We had been using wood that as either
    standing dead, or on the ground dead. I suspect from reading this forum that there is alot more moisture in this wood then what
    I assumed there was. I will let you know soon as I am purchasing a good meter shortly. Thanks to this forum, I am also coming to the belief that wood quality is critical in a gasser as is storage. We had been burning with expectations of as much heat and long burn times as an OWB, with half the wood. NOT Gonna happen apparently.
  9. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    Storage is the key, I am absolutely convinced.

    I have been dedicating all of my free time the past four days to running my system and tinkering. Wood preparation is a huge factor, as is storage. More on that later. These units truly require a learning curve, even for experienced wood burners. I have had wood stoves all my life, this is my first boiler, and I went with a gassifier due to it being built in NY/US. I didn't know a gassifier from a regular one when I ordered it, I got hooked by Econoburn's website. As said in previous posts, these units require a learning curve and special treatment. I refired my cold unit yesterday with my storage tank (300G) at 105 Deg F. I did not attempt to heat the house until the storage was at 170. That took 2 hours, which I thought to be excellent. My primary loop pump, a Taco 011, runs all the time, through the tank, to my plenum heat exhanger and a baseboard zone. I have 11 gpm flow on this loop. My second loop which feeds two zones has a taco 007, and I have this temperature interlocked to not run until the boiler return temperature reaches 160 deg F. That flows at 4 gpm. When I allowed my furnace blower to run, the house warmed up very quickly via my plenum exhanger, then I turned on my zones for my finished basement living space. I kept the unit gasifying and I only overshot to 183 Deg F with the setpoint on the boiler at 180 Deg F. The boiler went to low fire and stayed there until this morning, maintaining 180 Deg F on the system. With it being mild, in the '30's, I had all sorts of heat to spare. Delta T went as low as 5 Deg F. I re-fueled every 4 hours, only filling the firebox half full due to the mild temperatures. My previous mistakes have involved trying to heat the whole house while coming up to temperature and not building a perfect fire. I was wasting wood like crazy the past month trying to heat the house before allowing the system to come up to temperature. I only recently added the storage, and that has been a huge benefit. I am now absolutely convinced that using these without storage is difficult at best and that I need more. The experts here have been saying that from the start. I am hoping we get another cold spell so I can do more testing.

    A perfect fire for my machine involves properly sized and split wood and making absolutely sure the wood cannot bridge. If the wood bridges, the fire will literally burn out under the wood. Seems crazy, but it happens.

    Now to the wood. With my unit, it runs so much better on split wood than whole logs. I never tried a whole log rounder than 8" in diameter, but they simply do not burn as well as split logs, period. I am burning dry ash, elm, maple, and cherry. I do not see how green wood can be used in these gassifiers.

    I am closer to being happy with my system, I am convinced that additional storage will benefit me further.
  10. beefalocows

    beefalocows New Member

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    Sounds like your or someone is home most of the to feed the boiler.
  11. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Beefalo:

    Is there any way you could post pictures of your installation here? That would maybe help us help you get a handle on what's going on. If the two boilers are in different locations, pics of both would be nice.
  12. ebbci05

    ebbci05 New Member

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    Just went to econoburns web site and read it for a while. Interesting on how they stress the quality of their boilers more so than the other sites I visited. Yet spot welding turbulator arms and water leaks out of the bottom of the boiler, PRV,s that don't work. I think they need to either redo their web page or start building a boiler that meets what they are saying. Also look at the FAQ,s on their webpage, especially #4. If this was even remotely true I should have had the best winter ever in heating my house. Not even close to the truth. Sounds like a sales gimmick to me or that nobody on their staff has ever tried one of these out. Just glad to see that there is a 5 year warrenty on manufacurer defects. So far they have upheld that with me, hope they continue to honor that. Judging by their website don't know what is fact or fiction.
    I really need my boiler to last a long time. With all the things that went wrong in two months makes a guy wonder what will happen a year or two down the road, or worse 6 years(no more warrenty). Also I would like to hear from anybody that burned wood with 20% or higher moisture like they say and had any results other than dissappointment.
  13. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I'd second that for all the "troublesome" installations.

    Some of the pictures I've seen of installations that were done by homeowners or inexperienced contractors are just flat-out scary.

    That doesn't mean that your particular installation is one, but we need to be able to rule out an improper installation before just blaming the boiler.

    And any boiler that was oversized needs to have adequate storage hooked up to it. Oversizing a wood boiler is a very bad idea, and will make for poor performance. If anything, a wood boiler should be slightly undersized.

    In my experience with wood boilers, performance issues tend to be from...

    1. Oversized boiler
    2. Wrong wood (too wet, and not split correctly for the boiler type)
    3. Piped incorrectly, or controls set at wrong temperature.

    Once those three issues are sorted out, at least 90% of wood boiler problems are eliminated. Even less-than-stellar brands/designs can be made to perform decently, if they are sized correctly, piped correctly, and fed the right wood. Quality boilers will perform amazingly well if the details are sorted out.

    Joe
  14. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Dude, don't be embarassed. . .how much'd ya get for her??
  15. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    So, Joe . . . still think the Econoburn is better than the last brand you were dealing?
  16. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    "Dude, don’t be embarassed. . .how much’d ya get for her?? "


    I could get a lot, she is quite a hottie. I wouldn't sell her, I'd be hard pressed to find one nicer. In regards to my econoburn, my installation has been inspected by a boiler pro and he was impressed with the entire installation. I am down for the season but expect much better results next heating season with more storage and more experience. I'll talk to you fine folks at that time.
  17. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely. There was nothing wrong with the other boilers. Just the company that was making and selling them.

    The Econoburn is a very well-designed boiler and I still haven't found any "poor performance" complaint that wasn't related to an improper install (or oversizing), or improper wood.

    Like many companies are contemplating, I think you'll see them reducing or even ending sales to homeowners as a result of that.

    The only thing they really lack is a small model (under 100kbtuh), but that ends up being pretty minor once you add a storage tank. I've pretty much decided that I won't sell wood boilers without thermal storage, except in some very specific situations. For example, I'm doing a design for a hotel with a large pool. The rooms are actually heated by electric heat pumps, and the central heat only does the lobby, exercise room, pool room, locker rooms, and restaurant. Even so, the space heating load is almost a million btuh. Add the domestic hot water, and maybe heat the pool a bit, and a 500kbtuh wood boiler will never need storage, because it will really only be pre-heating the system water before the three oil boilers get their chance at heating it up the rest of the way. If they eventually add hot water heat to the rooms, we could put in a second 500k boiler, and they'll still use some oil (space heating supplement) and propane (pool heating supplement) during the coldest weather.

    But for standard residential installs, thermal storage (refractory like the Seton-style boilers, or water tanks for others) is the way to go.

    Joe
  18. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, sounds like your system got sorted out on the wood side, and storage will help even out the operation of the boiler.

    Joe
  19. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    I have been looking for an indoor boiler on the larger side, have to heat 6000 s.f. in 2 buildings and wanted to do GARN originally because I only hear good things about them but my space is limitied so now am considering EKO or Econoburn, have not heard enough good about Greenwood to consider them. From what I am reading here though, seems like a lot of negative about ECONOBURN, short burn times, which is certainly not good. ECONOBURN is definitely an expensive unit when you get to the larger sizes also. QUESTION -besides those mentioned does anyone know of any other good options?

    A DIFFERENT IDEA - Central Boiler's newer 2300 unit is currently to my knowledge the only PHASE 2 boiler available of any kind, it is as such also the cleanest burning boiler of all INDOOR and OUTDOOR boilers. Cleaner burning means higher efficiency and I am all for cleaner air.

    I am located in CT, which has a regulation which requires any OWB to be minimum 200' from any neighbors house which I cannot comply with, I do not live in the sticks.

    QUESTION - I have an existing garage with a legal lined masonry chimney, could I install the Central Boiler unit in the garage instead of outside?

    thanks
  20. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Number 1. Do a heat loss calculation to find out what size you actually need. Don't base your purchase on someone's "rule of thumb" sizing method.

    Number 2. Both the EKO and the Econoburn are fine units. Personally I wouldn't recommend running either one without thermal storage incorporated into your system design. I can't describe here how much the addition of storage smooths out the burn cycle for any down draft gasifier.
    In Europe, where this and nearly all other good heating technology originated, it is nearly mandatory to add storage to a bio-mass burning system.

    Number 3. I have found that "burn times" are highly variable from one installation to the next on ALL brands and types of boilers. Heating loads vary greatly from building to building which can cause one user to proclaim the benefits of "his" unit while another user with the identical model may curse the day he bought it. One person may have wood with 20% moisture content and the other may be trying to burn fuel containing 35%, guess which one will go through more wood and have trouble with smoke, creosote, starting fires, etc.....I would say that either brand will do equally well when properly sized to the heating load. (see number 1)

    Number 4. It would be illegal to install the CB inside a building as it is UL listed for outdoor use only. IMHO the design and engineering concepts of the CB E-Classic leave something to be desired at any rate.

    Number 5. I have customers or know folks using EKO, Econoburn, CB, Garn and many other brands of OWB's. I can say that without fail the Garn owners are the happiest with their choice. They are extremely simple, extremely well built and flat out work as advertised both now and years down the road.

    just my $.02
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, before anyone else chides you on this......

    No, it is not "as such the cleanest burning"........boiler....in any way!
    I'm sure others may be able to explain it better than I can, but there are lots of ways to measure these things and the standards we are talking about were designed and implemented ONLY for what EPA describes as:
    "outdoor wood heaters or outdoor wood boilers"

    Most of the indoor boilers (which I define as pressurized boilers) ......were first tested (and still are) to certain European standards which I would guess are completely different from these voluntary EPA specs. As a for-instance, when we tested the TARM wood gasifyer many years ago, we came up with less than 1 gram per hour....in certain test runs.

    Not splitting hairs here - but when a couple thousands of these new EPA boilers are out in the field and we all have much more experience, it will be much easier to gauge some of these things.

    Anyway, in answer to your questions...

    First thing is to carefully check the regulations. Many states and locales have been changing them when to comes to EPA boilers.

    However, if you are not allowed to use the OWB as an OWB, it is highly doubtful that you can use it in a residential attached garage, as ALL use of solid fuel products is prohibited in such structures by NFPA, which is subscribed to by most all states.

    The exception MIGHT be if the garage cannot be used for a car, etc....in which case, it may be a call for a local inspector (who may have some latitude in such matters).
  22. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I'll second Craig's observation on the "cleanest burning" thing. As it stands right now the EPA test bears about as much resemblance to real world use as I do to Jessica Simpson......well, after she gained that weight........maybe.........nah, I won't go there. :)

    Basically the test burn consists of sawn 4'' X 4" wood that has been kiln dried to 20% MC. This is then weighed exactly to spec and "placed" in the firebox in a cribbed fashion. The unit is then connected to a constant flow system much like the useless AFUE test for gas and oil fired appliances and results from the burn are measured. Note that the burn, as I understand it, is continuous. That is a huge difference from real world applications on any unit but a Garn. They will all cycle unless there is adequate storage involved. Off cycle is when you lose efficiency and start to get dirty. I don't put much stock in those ratings and I'm still waiting for what could be deemed a valid test. The background noise I'm hearing from industry sources says that CB played an inordinate part in designing the test criteria. Just a rumor but who knows?
  23. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    I agree with both responses, doing a heat loss is vital, so is water storage, and also that the testing is not uniform but it is all that we have, that is why there are forums like this so actual users can share knowledge. If there was an independent side by side, apples to apples test of these things, and it was scientifically valid, then there would only be one choice, whichever is the most efficient, and clean burning, but that information source does not exist. I made an error about CB though, I was looking at the EPA hydronic heater list and was looking at the MAX 250 numbers, which is a pellet/corn boiler, the cleanest OWB is actually WoodMaster per the EPA, also the cleanest burning woodstove is the Vermont Castings Defiant at .08 grams per hour. As for indoor boilers, I do not know which is, in fact, the cleanest burning, will try to find out. AS for GARN, would love to have one but simply do not have the room, and when you factor in that one must build a space for it, which would include at least a 7' thick concrete pad, shed, then insulate the unit, then also pay for the not included heat exchanger, and other plumbing valves, etc., it is a much bigger space, dollar and time invested, too bad, GARN definitely has the most positive actual user feedback. I got this onformation from a GARN user who loves it, but would never do it if limited for space. Also, a non-pressurized unit has some disadvantages, more corrosion prone, and will not get to as high a water temperature if needed as easily as a pressurized unit.

    Most likely I cannot install an OWB in the garage for various reasons, so I am back to looking at indoor units. If I needed less btu, I would go with a TARM, that would be easy, but they are not big enough for what I need.

    It seems like other than TARM and GARN, there are not a lot of totally happy users of indoor boilers, be they GREENWOOD, ECONOBURN, EKO or anyone else.

    Maybe, you guys should put your heads together, come up with a superior design, 3 perhaps, even four phase gasification, self-cleaning, cleanest burning, with a dual-fuel capability which would allow for auto firestarting if nothing else, and start up a company to sell them, and Jessica Simpson can be hired as the pitchgirl. Later on the next thing will be automatic log feeding. I'll buy it.

    thanks for the replies
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    TARM hardly exists any longer in it's old form.

    The former importer offers similar units including this dandy:
    http://www.woodboilers.com/product-detail.aspx?id=50

    User satisfaction is MUCH more dependent on installation and other factors. Folks were much happier when fuel oil was $4 a gallon than they are when it is $2 or less.

    I don't think you can really beat the most modern indoor gasifiers with the new processors......they are reaching the pinnacle of potential efficiency. The rest probably depends more on heat loss, storage, insulation, wood, chimney, owner, etc......

    I don't know where you get the idea of "not a lot of happy indoor boiler users".........

    Oh, I won't even start with the owner satisfaction on the cleanest burning woodstove......it would take WEEKS to go over that one, but do a forum search on Everburn if you want to do some heavy reading. Also, that is .8 grams, not .08

    I would hazard a guess that if you really want the most efficient wood boiler made that you would choose the Lamba Control models. That does not mean the installed systems beats all others, because there are too many variables. But all things considered, a unit with the ability to monitor it's own emissions and continually tune itself (like your car computer) will result in a cleaner burn....

    So there.....we did your work for you. Of course, the Prius may be the most efficient car on the market too, but it may not be able to tow your load. So the final decision is usually based on much more than the exact unit efficiency.
  25. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    "Not a lot of happy indoor boiler users", other than GARN and TARM, by that I mean there are a lot of complaints that I have read here about other brands, never have heard anything negative about either GARN or TARM, but have heard plenty of negative about ECONOBURN, GW, EKO, and others less known, be it the service, the product or both. It is totally different than if you are buying an oil or gas furnace obviously becuase the technology and standards simply have not evolved far enough yet. If they had, you would not hear so many complaints. If the technology was more advanced, it would not depend on the price of oil as you say. Insulation and heat loss factors, the envelope as it is called, are relevant no matter what the source of heat. The technology on wood and biomass is evolving and has a long way to go, and solid fuels are subject to more negative variables than oil or natural gas, and unfortunately the standards for testing and certifying the products are just not there and/or are also evolving, the keyword in going forward for solid fuels is sustainablility, which takes into account ALL factors, efficiency, heat output, environmental impact, convenience of use, manufacturing quality, in essence, intelligent engineering. Like I said if I could I would go with a GARN for all those reasons, save for one, they are too big. When you speak of Lambda, which brands use that? Are you talking about the Austrian manufacturers? KWB is supposed to be the best, but they are not distributed here. You can operate one using your cellphone and they burn cleaner than the cleanest fuel oil furnace. Which indoor gassifiers with new processors are you speaking of specifically? What brands?
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