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Eko with coal experience

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Paul Whipple, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Paul Whipple

    Paul Whipple New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    15
    Hello Everyone,

    I've been lurking and learning for sometime and figured I would join in.

    I'm starting construction on a highly insulated ICF home soon (basement to ceiling in ICF) and I'm thinking of going with an Eko boiler with 1000 gallons of storage.

    I live in rural Alberta and have all the wood a guy could ever want at my door step. This area also has several coal mines within an hour of town and I was thinking coal might help reduce my wood chores. I know almost nothing about coal but did read one thread referencing brown coal for these boilers. Apparently brown coal is one of the lowest BTU coals and the local coal here is thermal coal which I would guess is a high BTU coal.

    Anyone have experience burning coal in wood/coal burning boiler?

    I would like to supplement with coal but it sounds like our local coal may be a little too skookum for an Eko boiler.

    Thanks for any input!

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  2. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,552
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Welcome Paul! My gut reaction is that with a well insulated home and 1K gal of storage, the "work" factor is as removed from wood buring as is possible.

    TS
    711mhw likes this.
  3. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    218
    Loc:
    PEI, Canada
    If you are going ICF, you can go with a Heat pump and a Wood stove or high effeciecy fire place.
    I helped a buddy build one, and he heats it for about 2.5 cords a yr. He has electric back up and I don't think he has even turned the breakers on yet. He has been in the house for 3 yrs.
  4. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    Dec 7, 2010
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    402
    Loc:
    Western ME
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    1,715
    Loc:
    Southeastern Vt.
    If you build right and by selecting ICF construction, you should not need a wood boiler. It will take a lifetime to pay back. I would go with a wood stove as was suggested or if the design of the home allows, a russian fireplace. Knowing what I do now, I would love to build new at this time but I'm too old. I would nearly be able to heat a new structure by baking a pie in the oven. Little things like backfilling your foundation with pourous gravel or crushed stone to keep water away from the foundation and taking extra time to be sure all joints around windows are insulated well, etc.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  6. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    218
    Loc:
    PEI, Canada
    There is a company in New Brunswick that is bulding to European Code. Take a look at the web site. They have built the most energy efficent home in NB. It uses super insulation and draft proofing. It only requires $10 month for heat and air exchange.

    I love burning wood, but if I could put the $$ that I spent on the boiler system into a new build and get these results, I'd do it in a minute!

    http://www.seconstruction.ca/naugler-home.html
  7. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Loc:
    Nebraska
    I looked at ICF construction in 2008 but the only builder using it here was so swamped by the time he returned my calls we were already living in our new stick built. I could have tried harder but the extra cost and unknown scared my wife. One of my favorite sayings was "you could heat this home with a match" when we did a walk through on a recently completed ICF home. I agree the boiler sounds like overkill with one of these but if you did an EKO with 1000 gal it would probably last a few days. You will probably need a ventilation system with an HRV because it will be such a tight home. These bring fresh outside air into the home while recovering most of the heat from the air that gets exhausted.
  8. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    1,715
    Loc:
    Southeastern Vt.
    Most HRVs will post their efficiency numbers.
  9. Paul Whipple

    Paul Whipple New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    15
    Wow, thanks for welcome and all the interest and suggestions!

    I guess I should have included more info about my build. I have looked into the Passive Haus method of building and it has inspired me to built with high efficiency in mind. I don't think I will achieve the impressive R-65 that the New Brunswick company Willyswagon posted but I am going to have the bids done with an ICF block company that offers a higher R value than the standard (Fox Blocs and Quadlock). I'm shooting for an R value in the mid 30s for the walls with 4" of blueboard under the basement slab and minimum of R-50 in the ceiling.

    I get a annoyed when I look at my current natural gas bill and 2/3 of the charge is for delivery fees and taxes. The plan is to have domestic hot water and heating provided by an Eko boiler (I have seen -45 C here although that rare) with a propane hot water heater as a backup for times when I'm away. I'm going to start with two 30-tube evacuated tube solar panels to heat my storage water in the late spring, summer and early fall. Winter time solar doesn't do much as the days are so short and the sun is so low! A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is definitely going to be included.

    711mhw- That coal site looks interesting, I will have to spend some time looking around there, Thanks.
  10. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    1,715
    Loc:
    Southeastern Vt.
    If your location and orientation are chosen carefully, low sun is beneficial. I built a passive solar house and had oodles of solar gain. When uninformed people asked me "but with all this sun coming in, doesn't it really get hot in the summe?). My answer would be: "no, it's automatic" --- Oh, the house is automatic, --- My response: "no, the sun is." Then I had to explain to them that all that sun that's shining in during the winter is shining on the roof in the summer.

    One thing, out of many, I learned in building a passive solar house was that although achieving solar gain was important, keeping the heat you made by whatever means is more important. Without window covering of some sort, your dwelling will loose more energy over the longer nights than it gained during the day. I found that "LOW-E glass works both ways, ie, less gain>less loss but worth the investment.
  11. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    438
    sold ICF's back in the 80's polysteel brand. built several buildings. Biggest draw back was the roof and floor [all wood] that's all changed now with a product called lite deck, You can do floors and roof systems with concrete.

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