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EKO 40 for a Newbie

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by J5dklein1, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. J5dklein1

    J5dklein1 New Member

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    Grand Rapids, MI
    Hello All,
    This is my first post. I have spent more hrs than I care to share researching wood boilers on this site. A ton of good information, but I still have many questions.
    From searching on this site, it appears the most economical way to heat is with a gasser. I have been looking at the EKO 40 as it is more affordable than others out there and seems to work well for most people on this site.
    I am heating a 2200 sf, 2 story house and a 20' x 36' 2 story block building. Both are moderately insulated. I have hot water baseboard heat in the house and a forced air unit in the block building.
    What can I expect from the EKO 40 if I do not have a storage tank with it? Can I get by firing it in the morning before I leave for work and in the evening when I get home from work?
    I will most likely add storage next year, but this year I do not think I will have time as I'm already behind the 8ball. Assuming I can get some old propane tanks for cheap, what other costs are associated with making the storage tanks? 1000 gallons seems to be a good size from what I could find.
    Would it be better to have the boiler inside or build a little shed outside with room for storage tanks?
    I'm sorry if these questions have been talked about before, but if they have already been discussed, could I be pointed to a previous thread so I can read through it?

    I realize many of these are loaded questions, but any input/suggestions/other alternatives would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Jason

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  2. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    What is the function of the block building? If shop/garage i would strongly consider placing boiler and storage there. 1000 gal minimum storage as the forced air wont perform as well at lower supply temps. Work up a heat loss to determine storage size.
  3. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    Jason,

    I heated my old farmhouse with a TARM boiler for 15+ years without storage. This summer I put in an EKO 60 without storage. It's not ideal, but it is my reality. So far, I am loading the EKO twice a day with the same amount of wood the old TARM used. The only time I had to load more then twice a day was when the daytime highs didn't come out of the twenties, or the night time lows were in the single digits. We've had temps in the 30s during the day, and upper teens the last few nights. I would assume that you can get by loading twice a day without storage. My one question for you would be if you wood is dry?

    Bob
  4. J5dklein1

    J5dklein1 New Member

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    Loc:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks for the reply. The building is a garage/workshop. Instead of putting it in the block building, could I
    Thanks for the input. That is what I am looking for. I currently heat with propane so I do not have a wood source yet. I plan to purchase cut/split/seasoned wood for this year. $175/cord, but its still way cheaper than propane. I am OK with twice a day and the occasional 3rd time if its really cold out. I just wouldn't be able to tend to the fire every couple hrs as I am a single guy who is gone to work for 10-11 hrs each day.
  5. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    I work 12 hour days and I drive an hour to work, so I am usually gone 14 to 15 hours at a time. I rarely had to think about running out of wood before I got home. The TARM was a combo boiler with oil backup so I never had to worry even if it was very cold. Now I have an oil boiler as backup in case the wood runs out. I'm getting help in another thread with the wiring setup for it.
    Good luck. Don't hesitate to ask questions. This is the place!

    Bob
  6. J5dklein1

    J5dklein1 New Member

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    Grand Rapids, MI
    Do you have to start a new fire when you get home from work or are the coals still going in the furnace? I will plan to use my existing propane boiler as a backup as well. Is your EKO inside the house or in an shed outside? If outside, are you worried about the water freezing if kicked over to the backup boiler for an extended period?
  7. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    make some room if you can and put everything in the block building. insulation of tanks/plumbing/fittings wont be critical as any heat loss will be to a building you are trying to heat. its nice to not have to go out to a sepearate shed to load firebox. get your lines insulated well and below frost level and you will be fine.
  8. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Ahh Grand Rapids....been a cold couple of weeks, ehh?

    First and foremost I'd suggest you reconsider the idea of heating in 2013/2014 with a new boiler. If you don't have 2 year +/- seasoned wood already ready you will not find yourself happy with a gasser. It's going to need dry wood, regardless of setup/brand. If you buy cordwood now from the guys around here I can almost promise you it was dropped this past spring. That stuff, unless it's ash or maybe cherry, will not burn in a gasser without significant grief.

    Second and equally as important - please ignore anybody that tells you that storage is a "requirement" to use a gasser. It's just not true even though we talk a LOT about thermal storage on this board. Our down drafters love storage, this is true, but it's just not in the cards for everybody and the bottom line is that a gasser w/o storage is still substantially better than any OWB in terms of performance. Do not fear lack of storage!

    So on to other thoughts. If your plan is to get max length of time between burms without storage, while sacraficing efficiency, you might want to consider getting an EKO 60. It's tough to tell without a heat load calc but you might be on the edge with a 40 for a two loads per day run.

    I'm personally in the camp of having the boiler inside your house. It minimizes heat loss and enables the often discussed "boxer short reloads" we indoor guys enjoy so much. Their are pros and cons to inside vs outside. It's very much a Chevy vs Ford type topic.

    No matter what you end up doing I think you'll be very pleased with the EKO. It's a workhorse. Plenty of happy users here on this site, myself included.
    McKraut and Coal Reaper like this.
  9. Hydronics

    Hydronics Feeling the Heat

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    I can vouch for an EKO without storage. I have a 60 (4th year I believe) and I bought it oversized with the intent to burn 1 load to storage. I am quite satisfied even wiithout storage. As mentioned dry wood is important. I load 2 times a day - about 5 or 6 - 24" long splits. I would leave Tees for storage in the future if you decide to install it. The EKO's have the best controllers for non-storage in my opinion, overall, they're tough to beat bang for the buck. If money is no object -get a Garn. Good Luck!
  10. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    For what it's worth, if you are going to suggest that forced air HX setups require higher supply temps you should actually be arguing against using storage, not arguing for it.

    Low temp emitter systems will maximize the effectiveness of thermal storage compared to high temp emitters which, in theory, have a much smaller envelope of usefullness when using thermal storage based on the narrow band of useable output temps they can operate within.
  11. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Yes but, storage IS a requirement for some boilers. So don't ignore everyone that says storage is a requirement - it might just be for the boiler they are referring to.

    So if one does not want to use storage, one should not buy a boiler that requires it.
    arngnick likes this.
  12. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    i am not arguing for or against storage. and i agree with what you are saying. i think that with the potential heat load for the two buildings in question, 1000 gallons will leave something to be desired when using forced air HX because effectiveness drops outside of high high temperature supply. that is why i would suggest locating the system in that building so the heat loss can compliment the deficiences of HX. i tihnk we all can agree that shoulder seasons is where systems with storage really shine.

    regarding seasoned wood, with very few exceptions you will need a source of kiln dried if you want to burn this year.
  13. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Roger that. Agreed. Big tanks or....a really efficient coil...and you're in business. I can work pretty comfortably down to 140 +/- with my HX but certainly 160+ is much better in terms of furnace fan on-time. There are days I wished I had a higher end coil...
  14. J5dklein1

    J5dklein1 New Member

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    Thank you for all the input. I sort of like the idea of the boiler being inside. Little more work bring all the wood downstairs, but more convenient to load. Do any of you western MI guys know where I could purchase some dry wood for this year if I choose to go that route? Also, if I put the boiler inside, could I still have storage in the block building (about 75' away) or wouldn't that be efficient? Reason I ask is that I have a fork truck in there that I could easily maneuver a couple 500 gallon propane tanks or one 1000 gallon tank if I could find one. Also, what is the "best" temp range for radiant baseboard heat as far as storage goes?
  15. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    I put the EKO outside in a woodshed. I had the TARM in the basement, but after years of loading wood in the basement, smoke in the house, and never ending dust and ash, then new boiler was not going in the house. I built a small room in the woodshed to house the EKO and piping. It is very well insulated. When the boiler is running, the room is usually 100 to 115*. The other day the fire went out probably around midnight, when I got out there at 6 AM the room was about 90* the boiler was 160*. Outside it was 12*. When we go on vacation, I was planning on leaving a space heater in the room set on the lowest setting.

    There are almost always some coals left in the boiler when I get home. Hot coals start up quite nicely. Rarely is it an issue.

    Bob
  16. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    I am sad to say I miss the boxer short reloads. Almost tried the "12* really isn't all that cold" sprint across the yard yesterday morning in my whities, but my on-board thermometers were already telling me not to try it.
  17. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    I wish I had done the woodshed with boiler room thing. Big enough to house propane tanks for shortage, reduce the handling of my wood, full use of my entire metal building and no chance of burning it down(extreme worst case). I like that the mess is in my shed and not my house but it would be even better in a separate "woodshed".
    woodsmaster likes this.
  18. arbutus

    arbutus Burning Hunk

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    I moved from the Grand Rapids area a year ago. I bought firewood from several local vendors over the years that we were there. It generally burned ok in our woodstove, but it probably was too high in moisture for a gasification boiler. I was paying $150 a cord cut split and delivered, and usually got a few dollars knocked off that because I bought six or eight cords at once.

    If your price is $175 a cord, things went up considerably since I last purchased wood in 2011, and if you expect it to stay at that price, I can only encourage you to at least consider pellet boilers too.
  19. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    With storage there is no boxer short reloads.
  20. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    Where's the fun in that?
  21. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    No waking up to a cold house, rushing out to get a fire going etc.. I Know it's pretty boring. lol
  22. McKraut

    McKraut Member

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    Woodmaster,

    My next move is a sidearm. Are you happy with yours? What brand did you use?

    Bob

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