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FEED IT WOOD AND WALK AWAY

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by LOKO, Apr 1, 2009.

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  1. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    There are also high output baseboards that could be installed. However, you will most likely be fine with what you have as good installers often oversize the zones a bit to ensure there will be sufficient heat when the thermostat calls. An oversized zone just means it will run in shorter durations to heat the space. Running lower water temp it will have to run longer to accomplish the same thing. This is not a big deal and you can always upgrade or add baseboard and/or add a radiant zone as needed to extend the heating time from storage. It doesn't have to be done right off.

    I ran my tarm for a couple of seasons without storage at all. It just had to be filled 2-4 times per day depending on how cold it was and I used more wood. These systems can be installed in phases as time and money allow. Just plan for everything you want in your system design and add when you can.

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  2. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I could do this but my demand would be 70 - 110 feet away. Or, I could add collector area and put it on the SW face at the end of the house with the demand. It would seem that either way I need a tank with two coils as 1500 gallons of storage isn't going to help the dilution problem...
  3. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    My opinion for your situation is:

    1) Insulation and storm windows fitted where you have single pane glass.

    2) Garn

    The storm windows have such a fast payback period you can't afford not to do it.

    The Garn has a longer payback but is probably the best wood heat option with minimal fuss setting up or operating.
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    As the former owner of a Wood Gun, I can tell you that unless they've changed the unit since mine was built (and I doubt that they have) your fire will not re-ignite after a long idle. It closes so tight that unless there is a call for heat in a short amount of time it will go out. I even had it go out during periods of low demand during the heating season if I happened to be using a species of firewood that didn't have good coaling characteristics. Getting up to a cold house in the morning and seeing a full firebox can be frustrating.
  5. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Water storage is water storage, regardless of what boiler you use. You will either have enough radiation to use it or not. I did not mean to imply that baseboard cannot be used with thermal storage, just that radiant is generally the best way to go because of the lower usable water temps. If you have enough baseboard to keep your house warm with 120* water at design temps, then you probably have a little more baseboard installed than most people, and storage will work fine. IF on the other hand, you notice that's it's difficult to keep the temperature up in the house on the coldest day, even if your boiler is pumping out 180* water, then you will require more radiation for sure.

    A heat load study is key. Find out what your worst case scenario load is going to be, and go from there. You will then be able to compare the output of your current baseboard at any given water temp to the overall load. Doing this will provide you with the lowest usable water temp on the coldest day, for your current system. If you need more radiation so you can lower the usable temps, you can either add the required amount of baseboard, radiant floor, or air exchange.

    There are several happy garn customers here on the forums for sure. That having been said, adding storage to a downdraft gasser is not as big a deal as some people think, especially if you are using pressurized storage tanks. In fact, a series of small pressurized storage tanks are much easier to handle than one big unit with integrated storage. Also, adding storage in stages is a nice feature too. Run for a season or two without storage... add 500 gallons one year, another 500 gallons the next year.

    I don't think you will need very much storage just to heat your domestic hot water for the summer. I would say most people could get by with 500 gallons of storage for DHW, and only have to fire every 3 or 4 days... depending on usage of course.

    The bottom line is, that whatever you do, take your time and do it right. Any furnace that is installed improperly will not be able to perform as well as it should.

    cheers
  6. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    3 April - Installing in phases sounds like a wise way to proceed - have had some really helpful advice and starting to feel a bit less confused - beginning to think that GARN is probably best choice for my application.

    Thank you - a "Bit less confuised LOKO"
  7. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    3 Apr - Hi slowzuki - I think you just hit the "jackpot - starting to see a GARN in my future - can you really get away without a chimney stack for the GARN - that would be a big savings.

    Thank you - beginning to feel less confused - LOKO
  8. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    3 Apr - Fred61 - thank you for the note - Gunwood is still on my list of options - will talk to some recent (new) owners - but starting to see a GARN in my future

    Thank you for your post - LOKO
  9. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    23 Apr - Hi muleman51 - beginning to think you were right on - starting to see a GARN in my future (if I can find one) - is it really possible to operate these without a "chimney"??

    Thanks for your post - a little less then LOKO
  10. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    3 Apr - WoodNotOil - believe there is a GARN in my future - thank you for your interest in helping point nme in the right direction. - can one really operate the GARN without a chimney - that will be a big savings.
    Thank youj - a bit less confused - LOKO
  11. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    confused LOKO,
    The choice you make is forever going to be yours regardless of the input that you get for making a choice. Garn is good but so are the gasifiers that do not include storage. Fine tuning is just that. Fine tuning! It is not an every day occurrence and frankly most are set to run as is when received. Tweaking is optional but beneficial. Without storage I have taken my EKO40 from 8-10 hour burns to 14 hours. During the summer to supply dhw I will have one small daily fire. the choice should be based on function and output and the discipline you are going exercise towards fuel quality. Gasifiers are not OWB's, are not wood stoves and are not fire places. But now that mine is tuned I load it and basically walk away. The qualifier in the winter and cooler weather is I have a bed of coals to put fresh wood on. In warmer weather I start a fire, just like any other wood burning appliance, and don't walk away until the fire is going. The effort you make in economic functionality will reward you with less hard work and more effective output. I ran my EKO 24-7 for 1 1/2 years and was happy but then I found I could tweak it and I have not regretted the decision to do so and now I don't adjust the dials. If you get a Garn you may want to see if you can make it work better. People get Cadillac's and get them tuned every now and then. People with oil and gas heat systems get them tuned once in a while too. Wood is fuel. Consistent tweaking is "mother henning" but it can be fun. Enjoy what ever heating system you buy for your reasons.
  12. muleman51

    muleman51 Member

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    You actually can just vent a Garn out the wall. Thats what my BIL does and seems to get by with it. He has close neighbors too.
  13. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Fröling is the flat-out simplest to operate. Load it, light it, wait about two-and-a-half minutes for it to fully establish the fire, and walk away. It's a complex boiler with a high level of automation, so it does all the "tweaking" for you, and requires minimal input from the user. Even has a little bargraph (like a cell phone) to tell you how much energy is stored in the tanks.

    Garn is probably the second-simplest, because it's just a simple design. I say that respectfully - it possesses what engineers call "elegant simplicity" and gets the job down with the minimal amount of moving parts and such.

    Either would be an excellent choice for ease-of-use.

    Joe
  14. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    10 Apr - Hi Joe - Thank you for the note - right now GARN is at the top of my list - trying to get my arms around two items: (1) will it provide adequate water which is "hot enough" for my currently nstalled baseboard hot water?? - I read and hear conflicting comments and differing opinions in that regard - and (2) what will be the total cost at the end of the day: boiler, pad, plumbing, heat exchanger, pumps, mechanical room, insulation, etc. Any feedback on this would be appreciated.

    Many thanks - LOKO
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Essentially what you need to do is the heat loss analysis that others have suggested - this will give you your BTU/hr heating requirement - and you can then look at the amount of baseboard heating you currently have installed and see how much heat it can supply at different operating temperatures. You might have to look up your brand of baseboard if possible to see what it's exact specs are, but I think there are also "guestimation" numbers you can use if you don't know what kind it is. See how the baseboard output compares to the heating requirement of your house, and that will give you some idea of how hot your water needs to be...

    Essentially you can think of the storage tank (whether it's a remote tank off a regular boiler, or the built in storage of a Garn) as being like a battery that you charge with BTU's and then run off of until the "charge" is below the point you need to be running at. ANY boiler setup will presumably give you enough heat to run on when it's burning, the question is how long can you run off the battery? This is determined by the the size of the storage and the difference between your "charged" temperature, and your operating "current draw" temperature - the lower your operating temperature, the longer your storage tank "battery" will last, just like a car battery will run your parking lights for a lot longer than the headlights.

    However we CAN'T tell you what the battery life will be until you tell us your BTU/hr demand and the minimum operating temperature of your baseboards. Your minimum temperature is going to be a function of how much heat your baseboards can put out, and how many feet you have installed. If the installer put in a lot of extra footage, you will have a fairly low operating temperature, and thus will be able to run off the tank for a long time. OTOH, if he just barely put in enough to get by, then you will need to run it hot in order to get the most out of it, and the storage won't help you as much. (Note that this is all based on your "worst case" conditions - the coldest days of your season; as the temperature warms up, your operating temperature can go down, and you'll definitely get more benefit from the storage)

    Another BIG factor is something else that has been suggested several times already - adding insulation, improving your airsealing, fixing the windows, etc... All of those will improve your heat loss figures, and the less heat you are losing, the cooler you can run the baseboard, with all the benefits mentioned above - quite aside from the direct efficiency benefits, improving your insulation also has the same impact on your heating system's performance as putting in a more powerful system with more baseboards, and so forth...

    Gooserider
  16. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    As to the adequate water temp part of the question, a Garn will provide the same water temps as any other boiler, pressurized or not, that is operated at normal (160-200*) water temps. The real question you need to address in that regard is this; how much spare capacity did the installer of your BB system leave you? If he designed the BB right at the edge of providing enough heat at 180* water temp then you are going to be forced no matter what you buy, to maintain that temp.
    Add up the total feet of active baseboard in your house and multiply by 450 to arrive at a heat output with what I would call a little "cushion". Then do a heat loss calculation on your house to find what your heating load is at design temperatures for your area. With those two numbers in hand you can make a fairly informed decision as to what water temp you will need. Bear in mind that the warmer it is outside the lower water temp you will need. Also bear in mind that BB heat output rises and falls with water temp. You can find chart on the www that will show outputs at water temps from 120 to 220* .
    When I do a design and installation of a new hydronic heating system I use 140* water as the reference point. Some will argue that is too low but the lower the water temp is the more efficient any heating system becomes. For example, an Econoburn 150 that I tested recently showed combustion efficiency of 88% plus firing into 120* water. The same boiler with the same wood load later showed about 83% firing into 190* water. Same goes for all other boilers I have ever done a combustion test on be they gas, oil or wood fired.
    As far as costs go, they can vary so widely from project to project that each installation has to be looked at on a case by case basis. "One size fits all" is a recipe for disaster. Witness some of the folks on this site who are having fun trying to ram loads of 150,000 BTU through 1" tubing. Choosing the size of the HX is critical to getting the most from your boiler. Typically quoted heat outputs are for a 20 * drop from side A to side B. This effectively reduces the capacity of any boiler by making it necessary to run at higher temps in order to get the desired output from the load side of the HX. Lot's of variables to contend with on your project and/or that of anyone else.
    Take your time, think it through enjoy the process and you will be OK. I have absolutely no doubt that you would be very pleased with a Garn, especially in the long run. There is nearly nothing to break and what moving parts there are are very inexpensive compared to some of the 'high tech' stuff on the market.
  17. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    11 APR For recent post from Heaterman and Gooserider and all the others who have been so generous with their time - it is time for LOKO to do some serious homwork on determining my BTU/Hr heating requirement. Been just sort of "Flying by the seat of my pants" on that critical part of the formula - and that is not the right answer if I want to be happy in the middle of winter at -20 F. Unfotunately there is probably no single formula for my situation as we live in an old New England farmhouse and there are a number of different room configurations in terms of window types, wall insulation and desired temperature. What is conssitent is that the "sleeping rooms" are upstairs, all are single pane windows, the ceiling is insulated with blown cellulose (not sure how much), and a temperature of 64 F is considered adequate for these rooms. I do intend to do something about the upstairs windows. The downstairs rooms in general have thermopane windows - but probably not all exterior walls have insulation - I would like to have a temperature of 70 F for these rooms. I do have a Woodstock Soapstone Fireview which I have kept going the bulk of the Winter and during cool days Fall and Spring.

    So any suggestions for a good site where I can find a useful and easy to use tool for crunching some numbers is appreciated. I have already measured the rooms dimensions, window areas, door areas, and length of installed baseboard - I will try to determine type of baseboard and its output as suggested.

    Yes - make haste slowly - is good advice....

    Thanks for all the helpful hints - LOKO
  18. muleman51

    muleman51 Member

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    There is great advise on this sight. One of my concerns in picking a boiler is how small you have to split your wood. I prefer to not have to split, I have enough trouble just getting the wood cut in the first place. Iprefer to be able to use wood as large as possible. I do beleive that a garn is more foregiving on wood size than a frohling, although I have no experience with a frohling. Jim
  19. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    A Garn firebox is sized so that you could crawl in and pull the wood in behind you. ;)

    At one time Slant Fin, the baseboard/boiler company had a free download on their website. I do not know if it's still up there as i heard they were updating it.
    A rough rule of thumb............would be 35 BTU's per sq ft of heated space for an older farmhouse type structure. Be aware that I zealously preach against using rules of thumb but that would be a place to start. Very few structures that I have done a Manual J calculation on have exceeded that figure and most are in the high 20's.

    One other thing from your questions above...it is perfectly acceptable to sidewall vent a Garn with no stack. At least half of the ones we have installed are done that way.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I would second the Slant-fin program reccomendation. It lets you do room by room calculations, so you can allow for your different construction styles. Some of it's choices for values are limited, but they give at least a reasonable first approximation. I've also heard a few people say that it gives estimates that are a bit on the high side, however that won't be a big issue for you, as it will certainly be close enough.

    Another way it can be used, though it isn't "officially supported" is to see what impact different home improvements might have on your heat loss numbers - i.e. change the type of windows in a room from single pane to modern low-e types, and see how the heat loss estimate changes.

    Downside is that I just checked the Slant-Fin website, and they seem to have taken the program down for now, though there is a note saying it will be back soon. :-/ I'm sure someone here could get you a copy though, as lots of us have downloaded it. I MAY have a copy of the distribution archive, I'm not sure - It's a 7.8 Meg Windows executable, not sure if that's the self extracting archive, or the actual program (Linux archives are so much nicer, as it's easy to ID a gzipped file...) It's way to big to attach here, send me a PM with your regular e-mail and I can send it to you if nobody else can come up with a copy of the download archive.

    Gooserider
  21. LOKO

    LOKO New Member

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    12 April

    Gooserider/Heaterman - thank you for the recent posts - Re Slant-Fin website - that is the type of baseboard installed in our house. Yes I would appreciate a copy of the program - but unfortunately I am a MAC user and there are no PC's in the house using windows application software. So - the slant fin calculator will not help - but I will see if I can "Google" a site where I might find something which can be used on a MAC

    For Heaterman - regarding your "rule of thumb" 35 BTU per foot square - not sure how one uses that factor: For example suppose we are talking about a room that is for example 10x10 (100 ft square) - now I have 35x100 = 3500 BTU - but how do I equate that number (3500 BTU) to the lineal feet of baseboard?? Also - would that be the amount of heat one would need for a really cold (for example -20 F type of day)??

    FYI - In general I seem to have .07 feet of baseboard per square foot on rooms with one external wall and .15 feet of baseboaerd for two corner rooms which have two external walls

    You guys are great - thank you for all your help and patience in getting me up on the curve.

    Happy Easter - Best regards - LOKO
  22. Tarmsolo60

    Tarmsolo60 Feeling the Heat

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    Here's a chart you might find useful.

    http://www.slantfin.com/documents/327.pdf there are other ones for different series slant fin baseboards.

    it's telling you at 4 gpm you will get 610 btu/ft of baseboard at 180 degrees and only 340 btu/ft of baseboard at 140 degrees. Baseboard output drops off pretty drastically with lower supply temps.

    if you measure your room sq footage multiply by 35 that will give you a rough heat load for that room like heaterman said.

    then measure how many feet of baseboard are on that room and you can figure what the minimum water temp you need through the baseboards is once you know what series baseboard you have.

    You said you have slant fin baseboard, go to their site and figure out what series baseboard you have, my link is for #30 baseboard only because it is pretty common.

    this is only rough

    You should do a better heat loss then you can figure how low you can go for baseboard temp and what the gpm flow needs to be.
  23. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Use an average heat output of 400 btu/lineal foot of active baseboard and you'll be safe with 150* water temp. So, if you have 10' of BB you'll arrive at a total of 4000btu.
  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I know some Macs can run windows software, not sure what it takes to do that...

    The other option is to see if any of your Macs will run "WINE" (recursive algorythm, WINE Is Not an Emulator) - I know that WINE will run the Slant Fin program OK on Linux (that is how I run it), and I know that WINE has been ported to some of the BSD's, but I'm not sure if they have ported it to run under whatever proprietary mods Apple has done to BSD... (One reason I don't like the BSD license, it doesn't require giving back the code...)

    Gooserider
  25. smangold

    smangold Member

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    HI, Have you considered a Switzer.Fires to 220, its pressurized.(no problem using baseboard heat) I loaded mine max once a day in Jan. and if it made it to the forties every other day.I think mine is the best system possible for my needs.
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