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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. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    A number of Euro brands use the Lambda, but it's hard to keep up with which are being imported. Eric may chime in because he has been (and is going again soon) to Europe for one of the trade shows......But,

    It appears that the Frohling at Bioheat uses it. And being as that importer has a 30 year history here - that may give an edge over some other importers that may have started up this year.

    Here is some info on the processor:
    http://www.atech.si/index.php?page=10&lang=2

    Lots of boilers without this fancy new control work very well.....especially with good wood and tied to storage. In the end, I think there are a number of factors which will go into your final decision.

    As to the continuous evolution, keep in mind that we sold the TARM system in about 1987 - and it was highly tuned. I think it can be accurately stated that the Lambda is really the only major potential evolution since that time. Even the TARM was largely based on the HILL and KETT (Jetstream, etc.) boilers from the late 1970's.

    We had very little innovation in biomass boiler in the USA from the mid-1980's until after 2000. In fact, it could be said we went backwards with tens of thousands of OWBs being installed.

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  2. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    I agree, OWBs were backwards, that is non-gassifiers, thanks to the EPA's Phase 2 program, that has changed and will continue to improve, the more the standards for solid fuels climb, the more improved the technology becomes, and the more people will use the resulting products, and rely less on fossil fuels, thus for me anytime the EPA or a State DEP raises the bar I feel it is a good thing ultimately for everyone. The more the numbers of users increase, the more the innovation will increase, and also the higher the standards will become. Europeans are ahead of the curve as I am sure you know because oil is double or more there than in the US, they have refined the tech much more, we have to do the same here, everyone wants to be more energy independent and save money too, but we have to do it without paying another cost in breathing less clean air, which equates to a lower quality of life for all, that is the challenge, and I don't see why that cannot be achieved. I have heard that Frohling is good stuff but again their units are too small for my situation. Check out the Austrian manufacturer KWB and their story, they it seems already have achieved what the industry standard needs to rise to in my mind. If in this country we had as a nation addressed the energy problem adequetely with conviction some 30 or so years ago as we should have instead of living, relying, and being so on the edge of our seatpants dependent on the roller coaster ups and downs of the price of oil, and all its convoluted geopolitics, and wars, then all of these things would have been worked out long ago and we would have already been energy independent with clean renewables, but that is just too logical, too sensible, too sustainable, too valid a goal for the powers that be to have established, nevermind to have achieved. Like Yogi said, "...this is like deja vu all over gain."

    thanks for your ideas, much appreciated, will take your suggestions
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess you could call it "kicking and screaming" - because the OWB makers fought hard for 20+ years against any regulations - and some are still fighting many of those battles. In fact, I had the top dog of Central Boiler fly down to visit me (they had their own twin engine) and try to convince me that their stuff was clean....that was mid-90's....or may have even be earlier than that.

    The EPA stuff was finally put into place as a voluntary standard....we really should thank VT and some other states for this. It was done due largely to complaints from the public. And, since it was done during the last admin, it was put into place as 100% voluntary....because the EPA was gutted and they were instructed not to put in ANY new regs (enforceable ones)...... In other words, this differs greatly from the wood stove regs which are not voluntary.

    And so life goes on. I agree that cleaner and cleaner products is a great thing, and I wish we (they and we) would have done it a long time ago. I suspect that a vast quantity of the sales of OWB are still the older boilers and will continue to be for a while.

    Another fly in the ointment is that these voluntary EPA numbers cannot take into account the system efficiency - just the efficiency of the burning of the wood. As much as 1/2 of that "clean" energy may be lost in transmission to the house itself by various means (also somewhat true of indoor boilers, but worse for outdoor)......

    As a result of all of this and the current low fuel prices, it may be a LONG time (decades) before you are really able to find the most efficient total system by using EPA data.

    There is another BIG angle to all of this - and that involved the longevity of ALL the products we are discussing. Any problems with engineering or materials can take 4-10 years to show up in enough quantity to allow for a real smart buying decision.

    I don't want to come across as too negative on this stuff, but since I sat in the hot seat (I imported and sold many a boiler), I would want this to be a consideration for new buyers.

    Back to real efficiency - engineer and forum member nofossil gave us an education when he measured the total system efficiency of a "90%" wood boiler as closer to 58%. Those appear to me to be REAL numbers. If, as claimed, the Lambda can increase the efficiency as much as 30% from those numbers, that would yield a system efficiency as high as 75%.....in theory. I always figure low because that is the story of the real world - so let's say 70%.

    KWB seems to sell wood boiler up to 50KW.
    Frohling shows boilers which claim up to 60KW

    It seems most larger units are wood chip or pellets.

    Of course, it bears repeating that if you take some of the money set aside for a total system...and put it into insulation and other conservation methods, you may be able to get away with a smaller boiler. It all depends, also, on your access to wood. A larger boiler obviously eats a lot more!
  4. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    I just want to chime in and reitterate that you can make or break just about any boiler with the installation. Many of the OWB's installed these days wouldn't use near the wood that they do if the people installing them would do a proper job. I have customer after customer calling me and telling me of their nightmare with their underground pex lines heating clear to china all winter. They want something more efficient, but I have to tell them that regardless of what boiler they use, they will still burn more wood than necessary if their line is heating the ground. This is just one example.

    The indoor gasifiers are no different with regard to installs. The biggest problem I have seen is folks installing a boiler that is grossly oversized without any thermal storage. Because of the gasification process, the heat exchangers can be made more efficient in a gasser... when the boilers are forced to idle for extended periods of time, issues with soot can arise fairly quickly in the heat exchange area. Some of this can be counter-acted with proper burning technique... ie not filling the firebox completely full on a 50* day to get a 20 hour burn time. In my experience thus far, running a downdraft gasser without storage is definitely a viable option for most people... I have done it myself this year with zero issues... however, when customers are against storage, I work hard to convince them to at least install provision to add thermal storage at later date. My gut tells me that once people get past the first season or two without storage, and the memory of the check they wrote fades away, that they will eventually install some storage.

    As far as there not being many satisfied customers of the indoor downdrafts... I disagree totally. Caution is the rule when reading forums... they're like watching the news... the bad stuff always seems to get the most press... And lets face it... when the consumer goes to the marketplace to investigate a purchase, the first thing they look for are scams and horror stories. You are bound to find a few for any mfg. I spent 15 years in precision manufacturing as a journeyman, and I can tell you that even with the best, most skilled tradesmand, and the highest quality assurance team available, things slip through the cracks from time to time. When this happens, and it occassionally will, what really counts is the dedication of the dealers and manufacturers to their customers.

    I believe that the biggest reason why most of what you hear about garn is good is because of the integrated storage. By forcing the only sales of their boilers to be "storage installs", they pretty much do away with a great deal of piping issues, and oversizing issues as well. I mean, you can still oversize a garn for sure, but you would probably have less problems with an oversized garn than an oversized downdraft gasser (w/o storage), simply because of the storage and it's ability to maintain gasification and reduce idle time. That having been said, any boiler or system can be abused as well.

    cheers
  5. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    Excellent point that I had not thought of. With the storm coming I wanted to get my storage totally charged and did so today. Now that the temps are 193 top and 180 at the bottom I really have no more place to put the heat. I hate idling so what I tried was to turn the thermostats in the house to 178 and shut off the storage so I'm only heating the house. My boiler was almost out of fuel so I figured I would get the house up to 176 or so but the house is at 178 with almost no fire in the boiler but its still producing hot water. I don't know how people burn w/o storage. These 60's sure do put out the heat.
  6. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    FWIW, I'm a very happy user of an Econoburn 150- it's been very good so far without storage, and will only get better with storage, which'll hopefully be completed within a few months (been sidetracked on other projects). As to efficiency, I have no data, all I can say is that I am getting immensely more heat per unit of wood than with my old wood/ air furnace, to the point that I have basically been able to shut off the oil- something that never was possible before. And much of my wood this winter was iffy on moisture content- so, again, things should only get better in the future when I can and do get my wood out of the woods earlier in the year (as long as we don't get more significant snow, I am going to start laying trees down in a week or two).
  7. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    There's no if's and's or but's about it... storage is definitely the best way to go. The fact that you can get by without it, however, makes the purchase of a gasser more feasable financially for alot of people, though education by the dealer or manufacturer about proper operation during the shoulder seasons is critical to keep people's gassers running smoothly.

    I am finally getting our storage installed this week... hopefully, if time permits. I cut the holes for the 1.5" supply and return lines in the 2 500 gallon propane tanks today, and will begin welding and assembling fittings monday evening. Can't wait.

    cheers
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Lambda control of the burn is definitely THE way to go for the epitome of combustion efficiency. There will be more boilers coming with that technology in the near future. Someone who was just at the ISH show in Germany told me that Viessmann is bringing their whole wood burning line over here in 2011. Both cord wood and pellet models. That'll be interesting as they tightly control their distribution through authorized heating businesses only.
  9. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I think I recall someone raising questions about the longevity of O2 sensors in the environment presented by wood combustion byproducts. How do the ultra-spiffy Euro boilers deal with this? The prospect of spending $300 for an oxygen sensor (assuming that it is similar to what one deals with in the automotive realm) every few years, or if one gets a ratty batch of wood, is distinctly un-appealing compared to a boiler that is theoretically less efficient under ideal conditions, but that is basically relatively simple/ battle-hardened.
  10. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    By burning very cleanly. Yes, you can change that by overloading the boiler so it idles after it finishes charging the storage, but the boiler tells you whether to do a fire, and how much wood to load, so you would have to do that intentionally...

    Joe
  11. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    Does anyone have an opinion about EKO vs. ECONOBURN? From what I know EKO costs less, has a larger firebox, possibly longer warranty(ECONOBURN is only 5 years), essentially they both do the same thing, are effective gassifiers, both well made. As I stated earlier I would not consider GREENWOOD because of too much negative feedback that I have read. Does anyone have knowledge/experience with the WOODGUN? WOODGUN has stainless steel construction and is pricey I have heard but I do not know the actual price, they are difficult to reach which is not a good sign, never got a response from them, I dont know anyone who has one. As far as GARN goes wish I could go that route they have the best user feedback it seems to me. But take up a lot of room and require a lot of expense to set up, separate building, etc. just not practical for most people, the water storage comes with it but not the heat exchanger, you have to buy that in addition, just the cost of the unit is a lot, their mid size is $13k plus, and they charge an extra steel surcharge of close to $1000.per unit, their large unit is over $23k., but everyone who has one is happy.

    I will most likely go with ECONOBURN or EKO unless anyone has other suggestions. thanks much
  12. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    A few figures for comparison...

    Firebox size on the smaller units is comparable between the Econoburn and the Eko. The Econoburn is actually a little bit larger on the smallest size.

    The EKO 60 is comparable in size to the Econoburn EBW200. Wood box volume on the EKO is 10.9 Cu ft. according to their literature. Wood box volume on the Econoburn is 8.05.

    The EKO 40 is comparable in size to the Econoburn EBW150. Wood box volume on the EKO is 6.5 cu. ft. according to their literature. Wood box volume on the Econoburn is 6.2.

    The EKO 25 is comparable in size to the Econoburn EBW100. Wood box volume on the EKO is 4.14 cu. ft according to their literature. Wood box volume on the Econoburn is 5.44.

    Firebox and water jacket on an Econoburn is .250" boiler plate. I believe the Eko uses 4mm (.157") for water jacket and 6mm (.236") for the firebox.

    All the controls on the Econoburn are non-proprietary items... "off the shelf" controllers, relays, etc.

    cheers
  13. gmlxyz

    gmlxyz New Member

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    If I go with EKO I would go with the EKO 80, their largest model, in fact, I wish there was a larger one available. The ECONOBURN EBW500 price if I remember correct is over $20K.

    Which one is the better of the two, EKO or ECONOBURN, in your opion?
  14. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    As a dealer, my opinion is obviously extremely biased. My recommendation to you is to view both products and see for yourself which one you think is better. The equivalent to an Eko 80 is an Econoburn EBW300. firebox on the Eko is 16.44 cu ft... The econoburn is about 12 cu ft.

    I have an EBW500 that is currently being installed in a warehouse type facility. Once it is installed, I will have pics and such on the website, but this will probably take some time. You must have a fairly large facility, or a bunch of smaller buildings that you are going to heat. Good luck in your decision making process. If you have Econoburn specific questions you are more than welcome to ask.

    cheers
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