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Found a Chevette, now I need a Wood Boiler!

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by WRPage, Jun 30, 2008.

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  1. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Coal is screened and washed several times before bagging. On bulk deliveries you should have a garden hose handy so you can spray the coal down with a mist when the truck is conveying it into your basement or bin.

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  2. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Coal positives: seems you hit on the main ones.

    Coal negatives:
    1) fossil fuel, adds carbon to the atmosphere
    2) sulfur content (0.4 - 5%; contributes to acid rain, deterioration of lakes and streams, acidification of oceans, environmental destruction)
    3) emissions: check this carefully; will home-fired coal appliances be subjected to emission standards which will put them at risk, much like OWB's? Also, sulfur emission is a new consideration.)
    4) smoke and smell: no familiarity with coal, will this be a community issue?)
    5) cost - I would make a bet, subject to exceptions, that coal will track with oil and natural gas on btu content, adjusted by transportation cost. Mine owners are not stupid. Cost savings, if any, may be illusory. Based on the following, coal already is commanding a premium, depending on your local price for wood.
    6) availability - lots is available, but no more is being made. Lots of wood also is available, and when other cellulose is considered, vast quantities will remain available, and more is being made all the time.

    Heat value of coal typically is listed at 8,000 - 11,000 btu/lb. The high number would be quality anthracite. Heat value of red oak is listed at about 6300 btu/lb air dried, and about 3800 lbs. Using $238/ton delivered for 11000 btu coal (22 million btu's per ton), and $170 (local price) per cord for red oak (24 million btu's per cord), relative cost per million btu: coal - $10.83; red oak - $7.08. Coal is at a 53% price premium now, and only an oil-filled crystal ball will tell you what the premium will be tomorrow.

    This is an expression of my values, but I can't help but seeing coal as an increasing contributor to a local and world problem that each one of us has a responsibility to lessen, not increase.
  3. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Jim - Thanks for taking the time to emphasise the negatives...they are many and certainly worth taking into consideration.
  4. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately it is very difficult to find seasoned hard wood in Southern Maine atm, and if there was any to be had it would be more like $250-300 per cord. However, I agree with your other arguments Jim.

    Only Bill is able to determine what is important for him and his.
  5. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Southern Maine
    I wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger but wanted to at least get the gun loaded today so called the Keystoker dealer my buddy ordered his KA-6 from to get some firm pricing. (I'm admittedly still struggling with coal vs wood too.)

    I asked for a price on the same model friend ordered and was given a price of $7000...a full 2000-bucks more than he paid! I asked if there had been a price increase and was told, yes, a couple weeks ago. Needless to say, this was a shock to my system and my payback math doesn't look as good now. Fact is...I can't afford it for that, it was a long stretch for me at 5k.

    There was SOME good news during the call...I WAS told that I could get it at the 5k price in January!

    I will be checking with some other dealers starting tomorrow for the same bolier and other options. Hopefully they aren't all participating in this take advantage of the increased demand and stick it to the customer program.

    Similar situation in the auto biz I ran across last week...I had a couple friends buy Honda Civics...I took one to get their car at the dealer and he pointed out how the dealer was scraping off the original window stickers and adding new ones way over MSRP...yah, yah...supply and demand...I think it stinks.

    I live in Southern Maine...am I going to be able to find a coal boiler for delivery before January without a silly price??
  6. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Jack pine is 17 million btu/cord. Using same price of $170 cord (split, air dried, delivered), jack pine would be $10.00/million btu's, still under your current quote for coal. If you have room, you may be able to get a logger to deliver a 10 cord +/- truckload of green logs, and you cut, split, stack and dry. Around were I live in northern MN that can be had at $75 per cord. Now the cost per million btu's with jack pine is $4.41, a whopping savings over coal.

    I burn pine, mostly jack, almost exclusively in my gasification boiler. Sweet heat.
  7. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    I'm a Chevette expert, not a wood expert...can we even get jack pine here in southern Maine? I've always been under the impression you weren't supposed to burn pine in a woodstove or wood boiler due to the pitch making creosote or something similar. What's the deal on this?

    What's the difference between Jack Pine and the big tall pine that grows in my yard? I could stand to cut some of that down if I could burn it. (I think it's white pine.)

    Is it the characteristics of jack pine or the way a gassifier works that makes it ok to burn it?

    Last question...can you burn wood in a coal boiler?...for example in a keystoker?

    Thanks - Bill
  8. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    one of the very cool things about a gasifier is that it CAN burn softwoods as well as hardwoods without problems (assuming your wood is seasoned and that you run the thing properly (don't let it idle a lot, which is where adding thermal storage comes in handy -burn it hot all the time, and store the heat to use as needed ) ).

    since the energy content of any wood is basically a function of the relative mass of the wood (virtually all wood has nearly the same heat value per pound) once you have a unit like a gasifier that can burn any of them, you can feed your gasifier ANY seasoned wood you can get most easily and affordably- with the only advantage of hardwood being that it's more compact to store per amount of heat. if you noodle around the web you can find tables listing both the relative BTU/cord and moisture levels of various wood species

    Regarding coal-- one other thing to add into the mix-- a year and a half ago I was on a trip in PA and took my 10 year old son on a tour of an old coal mine in Lackawanna County. The tour guide was a retired very experienced miner. I was chatting with him afterwards and learned, to my surprise, that a very large portion of US coal is going to- get ready: China. At first I was amazed, thinking that it was an awfully heavy/ bulky thing to ship so far. then the retired miner pointed out to me that all the ships bringing manufactured goods from the Far East to the US might as well return loaded with something, and that they carry coal on their return trip. Given the way that the run-up in energy prices is being driven in large measure by the energy appetite of the Far East, and given what that fellow told me (and he seemed knowledgeable and for-real, not one to throw information around), I wouldn't want to assume that coal will be insulated from the run-up in fossil fuel prices
  9. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    I'm officially overwhelmed with this project :)

    In order to get things rolling around here, I decided to stick/go with wood today. This decision was based on many factors but was partly due to the great feedback I got here, and the simple fact that I can almost heat my house now with the Garrison woodstove I have in the living room. The way I saw it...if I can't get anything done in the boiler department, I AT LEAST need to be ready to burn my Garrison full-time this winter!

    Based on this, I made a firm commitment to wood today by going out and buying a nice homemade splitter. I then proceed to split that big ugly pile that's been sitting in the yard for about three years! I was pretty surprised it wasn't in worse shape. I bought a grapple about 4 years ago, bucked and split 3/4 of it with a borrowed splitter, and never got around to splitting the rest. That's why I went looking for a splitter...I don't want to be in the position again of not doing it because I don't have the equipment. (I tried splitting it with a maul and it just wasn't my kind of fun!)

    I do still want to get into a wood boiler BUT am intimidated somewhat by all the choices, decisions, confusion, flue shortage, the high prices for the best...which is what I want but can't afford, leadtimes, lack of knowledge etc, etc, etc.

    Here's a question that may not be answerable without more detail but I'll ask it anyway.

    If I install a non-gassifier, add on wood boiler (no storage) and use it faithfully, will it save me money over oil with prices the way they are now? (I'll buy log length wood, buck and split it myself...if I can find it!)

    I ask this question because I've gotten some feedback outside of this forum saying ..."a boiler is just a woodstove if you don't have storage". If that's the case, what's the use in hooking the boiler up to the FHW? Am I just heating my basement or is one of these things going to heat my house via the FHW baseboard?

    Lastly...I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who lives in Southern Maine / Seacoast NH who knows this stuff like I know a Chevette and would like to help a guy who wants to do it but can't afford "expensive guidance" or "full-service" design and installation. Figured I'd throw it out there.

    Thanks again - Bill
  10. shawntitan

    shawntitan Member

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    "a boiler is just a woodstove if you don’t have storage”

    Don't let all this talk about heat storage scare you off. It definitely helps alot if you have a gasifier, but my father heats a 4500 square foot house in NJ with a 30 year old boiler, no heat storage, feeding hot water to two forced-air air handlers, gets 8 hour burn time, and with very little smoke. In the perfect world, gasification and heat storage would be ideal, but with the price of oil now, lots of set-ups will work, and save you a ton of money.
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