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Garn 1500 Arrived - Can't afford to hook it up

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by rvtgr8, May 22, 2008.

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  1. MrEd

    MrEd New Member

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    $5K sounds awfully high to me to, just for parts. I am just wading into my install this summer, and I have been surprised by how expensive some things are, but even so, I am think my parts, piping, controls etc will only come in around $1500 - that doesn't include storage or the chimney however.

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  2. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    I have returned to share the continuing saga of the Garn 1500 that refused to be installed. On a positive note, I have read Pumping Away by Dan Holohan. It was very helpful and much more useful than California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's seldom read, Pump Your Way into Politics. I lost my race for County Commissioner, which dominated all my spare time for over six months. Now I have returned to the Garn. The following picture should elicit a few tears from some or at least a few hardy chortles from others.
    [​IMG]
    Of course, it is now the dead of winter here in Colorado and the work should be made all the more interesting by the cold. The game plan is to decommission my garage and build a new one adjacent to the house next spring. I have to build a containment area around the Garn (one can ill afford to have Garn running around loose) and fill it full of vermiculite. This containment area will be built in what was the stall closest to the interior of the house (it is an attached garage). I then am required to put up an additional wall between what was the second and first stalls of the garage. My wife wants this area to be a hot tub area heated by the Garn. I actually will be required to provide a firewall between the boiler room and the second stall to protect any soakers from a raging fire for a full 20 minutes. I already have a firewall between the the garage and the interior as per code.
    I am being required to eliminate the overhead doors. I must replace them with walls in front of the Garn and an egress door in front of the hot tub. I hope all of this is making sense.
    I have continued my quest to determine why my installer wanted $8K to hook this up. Even though I believe the man to be a decent person, I think the fact that he had not done one before and the fact that he had to drive 140 miles back and forth to where I live was a huge cost. He never shared the breakdown nor his design and so I hope to accomplish it myself over the next few weeks. Oh yeah and I also need to beg and plead for your generous offers of advice.
    The first question comes about my existing propane boiler. My plumber had never heard of any books about pumping anything in any direction and so the system has the water pumping toward and not away from the boiler. Should I rectify this while I am at all of this?
  3. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    http://cgi.ebay.com/Ball-Valve-1-1-2-x-1-1-2-Brass-Full-Port_W0QQitemZ110245559491QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item110245559491&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=72:1205|66:2|65:12|39:1|240:1318
    check this link out for valves. I bought some from him and he combined shipping so it made them really resonable. I think he has listed 1-1/2 and 1-1/4. I've bought alot of stuff on ebay and if you aren't in a hurry you can lower your costs of insallation alot. good luck and keep in touch here and you will get some great advise and we are all cheering for you
    leaddog
  4. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    AAAH, the saga continues! It looks sad sitting there next to the recyclables. Seems to me it should be loose in a field somewhere! ;-)

    It sounds like you have run afoul of a lot of red tape. I suspect that your installer knew this was liable to be a problem and quoted accordingly. Some jurisdictions can be a real bear to deal with.

    It sounds like it would be a lot easier to meet code by putting the Garn somewhere other than the garage. Any room in the back yard?

    To answer your question about the circulator; they are traditionally put in the return line to the boiler, usually because the water is cooler. It doesn't have to be there, but that minimizes the possibility of other problems like cavitation. YMMV.

    Chris
  5. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    If you have the room a 20ft shipping container makes a great boiler room. They are quite cheap and can be sided and trimmed to look nice and moved if you want. They are made of steel, fire proof, waterproof, large enough for the boiler and some wood. Some garns have been done this way for commertial use. I would think that would be one of the cheapest ways to install and insulate a garn.
    leaddog
  6. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Welcome back, and thanks for posting up about your situation. You came up in another GARN thread a couple of weeks ago.

    Sad to see it looking so cold :-/

    Using the attached garage will eliminate the need for a trench for underground piping, which I imagine would be impossible to dig in your area until some time around the 4th of July.

    Can you use the demising/fire code wall between the GARN and the hot tub area as the insulation containment wall?


    Your description is making sense, but the code justification is not. Why on earth are they making you remove the roll-up doors? Government run amok, again.

    There is good information here by the bucketful. Check the sticky at the top of this forum regarding primary/secondary pumping for boilers. Also, get Dan Holohan's other book called "Primary-secondary pumping made easy" if you don't already have a copy. Also, if you have not already done so, go over to www.garn.com and register for the forums over there. You'll see some familiar faces, and some new ones.

    "rectifying" the pump on the return side of your existing furnace is not necessarily required, depending on a couple of basic premises. Is it functioning adequately now? Will you be using a heat exchanger between the GARN and the gas furnace (the preferred method)? You can probably leave things as they are and save some $$ if the answer to both questions is yes. The assumption of course is that you are using the gas fired furnace as your backup heat source.

    As others have mentioned, you can source much of your materials online vie eBay, www.pexsupply.com, www.plumbersurplus.com, and others. Without the need for trenching and underground piping, I don't see why you couldn't get your GARN up and running with a flat plate HX for the gas furnace for under $1500 (not including hot tub purchase ;-) ).

    Keep us posted!
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome back, Robert. It's good to see you again.

    We have had quite a few new Garn owners sign up to the site in recent months, so I think you should be able to get all the advice you need to do your installation. Of course, advice doesn't pay the bills, but it might help keep them under control. I'll second leaddog's Ebay recommendation. You can cut your costs by around half on the parts you buy on Ebay--IF--you know what you need and are willing to wait on it. An $80 aquastat, for example, can be had for around $20 on the 'bay, brand new and in the original box. Just make sure you don't buy some oddball stat that you can't use.

    The red tape is really unfortunate. Seems like no good intention goes unpunished.
  8. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Leaddog – Thanks for the tip on the valves on eBay. I will have to get “best prices” on the materials I need without cutting corners on quality. I will be here a lot and cheering will help.

    Redox - It is somewhat embarrassing to say the least. I have made all of the usual excuses when asked what is that “thing” in my garage. The most plausible is the standard, “Oh that’s just an iron lung that I won on a TV game show.” Equally useful is the ever popular, “Oh that thing, it’s a bathescope from Cousteau’s Calypso that I got for a steal on Craig’s List!”
    Yeah, I think I am pretty much okay with loosing the garage to the red tape. I kind of like the idea of not having to go out into the weather to stoke the fire. Hoops aside, there are a couple of advantages to the current placement. Thanks for the answer on the pump placement. If there is no serious problem with air and/or corrosion, then I will just leave it as plumbed.

    Leaddog #2 – The metal container is an excellent idea and if the Garn strays from the garage, you can bet that I will be looking into this idea. Cost effective and fireproof, the same two reasons my wife consented to marry me.

    Jim K – Thanks for your response. Yes, I found the references to my situation on a Garn thread yesterday. I was thinking that it would be a lot better to be a success story on this site than the alternative. One way or the other, this thing is going on line in the next few weeks (hopefully not months).
    The whole deal about the installation price is regrettable. I did do my homework reading everything I could get my hand on about installation prices. I set aside almost $3000 for the chore. The estimates I was seeing online looked like between $1500 and $2500. When the guy said $8000, I was just blown away and unfortunately mired in a political campaign. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have spent more energy on the heater problem because working myself to near exhaustion on a failed campaign did not get me much. With the Garn working, I would have been warmer as I dealt with my losses.
    I already have the hot tub. The heater has gone out on the dern thing about three times since we bought it. The Garn will put an end to that nonsense.

    Eric - It is also nice to talk to you again. I will have to rely on the advice here, but am confident all will fall into place. This is not the largest nor the only project of this sort I have taken on in my past. As long as I take my time and can still laugh at myself, I should get through this.
  9. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Amen, my friend, amen.

    My biggest error (so far) with my GARN install was letting someone else size my heat exchanger. I installed a 5x12 20 plate GEA unit, and it is OK for average loads. It cannot meet peak loads (I see delta Ts in the 30-40 degree range), and there is substantial head loss with such a small HX, so cranking the pump higher did not help. I have a brand new 50 plate unit sitting on the kitchen table now waiting to get swapped in. I may use the 20 plate for our waiting to be installed hot tub.
  10. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    This is my homemade schematic with part numbers on my existing radiant system.

    Robert
    [​IMG]
  11. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Okay, I finally contacted my installer again. The conversation was pleasant and he said that he would let me buy his plans that ABC Plumbing had prepared. He was able to break the bill down a little for me. He said that of the $8000, only $2400 was labor. Again, I was to do all the framing, insulating, flue work through the walls etc. So in effect, the parts for the install came to $5600. There is no trenching or burying so it has to be that whatever his design is is heavily dependent on components that do not show up in other designs that I have seen. The installation manual, the Pumping Away plans do not seem to be laden with gadgets or scores of extra circulation pumps.
    He told me that the company had just installed their first Garn this December in Sedalia, Colorado and he was unsure whether the actual first install had changed their minds on their design. He wants to see what I have in the way of drawings and how I intend to hook into the present system which is why I posted my drawing of the present radiant set-up.
    Am I being too cautious here? They have put in only one more of these than I have and now they want to play a game of, "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours." Should I pay to see plans that already sound too exorbitant to begin with???
  12. chrisfallis

    chrisfallis Member

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    I would do a little comparison shopping for parts. I live about 5 minutes from ABC Plumbing in Colorado Springs and while they have an extensive inventory, their prices are a bit high. As an example, I special ordered a thin gasket to keep a toilet from leaking. It was $14. Yikes. And it was the wrong part!

    An alternative too would be to ask the people at ABC Plumbing who designed the system to sell you that design directly. I would have a bit of a conscience problem taking their design, which they prepared in anticipation of parts sales, and getting your parts via mail order. Finally Dectra in Minnesota can provide fee based consultations about system design. Those guys may be the best since it is their system that you are about to install.
  13. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Chris - Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I have struggled with all of this and told Kirk over at ABC that I feel badly. I just can't afford it by a factor of almost three. Part of the reasons I contacted them is that they have been apologetic saying that they had no idea that it could be done for less and they say that is why they want to see my plans. I just figured that I should offer to buy their plans to compensate them for their trouble, but if they truly have $5400 in parts in the design, I don't know if they are being realistic. Let's just say they are twice as expensive as the guy down the street. That means I could get the parts for $2700 elsewhere, and that still is very pricey when you read about the installs on the site from qualified gasification gurus. I am hoping that someone can toss me a bone on this one and give a few tips on my plans that I am currently working on. Thanks again.

    Robert
  14. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Robert,

    Excellent diagram. I think you have one of the potentially easiest installs of a GARN that I have come across. Given that your GARN is located adjacent to and within the heated space, and you already have a house fully plumbed with radiant tube, you are in great shape.

    IMO, and I am sure others will correct me where I stray, you can install a very simple singe primary pipe loop to/from your existing Burnham boiler. Tee into the return line of your Burnham and install a flat plate HX. Size it based on your peak heat load, not your average heat load (I am upgrading my 5x12 20 plate to a 50 plate soon). Use a variable speed circ pump (~$300) on the primary loop that is controlled by the boiler aquastat or by an end switch that energizes any time there is a heat call. Plumb the primary loop through the other side of the HX and insulate the piping. Done. Some pipe, a pump, one big fat HX (~$500-700) and maybe an extra aquastat/pump controller. It will work fine. You can certainly upgrade and enhance it in the future, but if you want to get it running, I still think you can do the piping, fittings, valves, pump and controller for under $2k.

    If you want to integrate the hot tub now, install a pair of closely spaced Tees in the primary loop with shut offs. You can then add a small circ (Grundfos 15-58 or equivalent) to feed the hot tub.

    Go see the pics on my web site to see how I integrated the Tees and HX into my existing EFM oil furnace. If you have done P&H;before, you can easily handle this.
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It occurred to me the other day that my recent heating projects have all started out more complicated than they eventually wound up being. I've bought a lot of fancy stuff that I either never used, or removed after installing. You always hate to admit that simple is better, but at least in my experience, it usually is. And interestingly enough, that's the basic principle behind the Garn.
  16. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Okay, I realize that this is a pretty simple drawing that lacks specific parts. My intention is to try and determine whether this is just unworkable and a tribute to the bone density of my cranium or the glimmer of understanding. Fire away!

    Robert

    [​IMG]
  17. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Your are close Robert, very close. However, the circuit you have drawn is not the best setup. You have created a Bullheaded Tee, which is a restrictive setup. With the what you are showing you have the following as I see it:

    Primary load - House

    Additional load - hot tub

    Additional load - local zone heating (garage? other outbuilding?)

    Additional load - greenhouse(?)

    You may want to switch the indirect water heater to a feed off the GARN directly rather than through the HX, but that is not mandatory.

    This is a perfect setup for primary/secondary pumping. I will give you a brief description, but there is a "sticky" at the top of the posts here in the Boiler Room that covers the subject, and you should get a copy of that book I mention from Dan Holohan (Primary-Secondary Pumping Made Easy).

    Fabricate a primary loop of 1.5" black iron, with a primary circulating pump (I used a Grundfos 43-44 speed). Install adapter Tees closely spaced with a "close" nipple for the supply and return for each load. You can probably use 1.25" for the house loop to the HX, 1" for the Greenhouse, and 3/4" for the HT and additional zone. These sizes will depend somewhat on the heat load of each secondary loop. For each of the secondary loops you will utilize another circulator sized according to the GPM/heat load. The house may need something equivalent to a Grundfos 26-99 3 speed due to the higher head, but the other secondary loops should be able to get by with a Grundfos 15-58. I am using these pumps only for reference, and because I used them so I know their capacity.

    Look at the pictures of my primary loop on my website (link in signature).

    I suggest using a TACO SRC-405 or 406 to control the primary and secondary pumps. I have not completed that part of my setup yet.

    I hope I did not confuse you (or me). It's getting late.
  18. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Thanks to Jim K, Heaterman, Hot Rod Rohr, No Fosil and anyone else from whom I could steal, here is my latest stab in the dark. Did I mention that the closest I have ever come to being an engineer involved a plastic train set? Fire away! Robert
    [​IMG]
  19. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    I'll weigh in, I have to think more about it but I don't think you need all aspects of the primary secondary pumping and the basics of the first setup would be faster and more effective to get ou up and running.

    The Garn doesn't need cold water return protection like a conventional boiler.
    All those extra pumps would need to run just to get water to the HX.
    I like the sidearm in the original drawing. The treated boiler water in the Garn is an extra step away from the drinking water at the expense of peak output from the lower temps.

    I'd have to think more about the additional loads in the original drawing, I'd do them differnently.
  20. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Slowzuki,

    Thanks for weighing in on this. As a pure novice in terms of design (I do plumb) I find it truly amazing how much willingness there is to share what can only be described as engineering intelligence. There are not that many people out there that have the expertise to design these systems and help install them. I can only imagine that there are systems being put into place all over the country that are not well thought out and offer solutions that do not allow the owners to utilize the full potential of their equipment. I know, after reading the books that I have, that I could build something that might work, but would it be efficient or safe for that matter? This site provides such an important service. It cannot be emphasized enough that while there may be more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, there are some ways that verge on inspired genius. What a great exchange of ideas.
  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Apparently a lot of people with engineering degrees, like slowzuki, are into this kind of thing. And I think the professional heating and plumbing guys--heaterman, Joe Brown, hot rod, mtnfallsmikey, et. al--degreed engineers or not--have a wealth of practical experience and knowledge that they're gracious enough to share.
  22. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Robert,

    Slowzuki is correct. Put the indirect WH back where it is/was on a loop from the boiler side. The only thing to consider is that you will want the (relatively) high temp water from the HX to circulate through the WH, while the rest of the radiant zones will want cooler water. I did not see it in the drawing, but things should already be set up this way if your first drawing depicts your existing system. The radiant loops should have mixing valves, and the WH loop should not.

    On the primary loop, just take the return after the greenhouse legs and send it back to the GARN. You will need to use circulators on each of the secondary loops (you only put a pump on the house HX loop). With closely spaced tees, the water will not flow through the secondary loop unless induced. The pump on the primary circuit will can run continuously or come on whenever any secondary loop pump comes on. This is easy with the switching relay controller I mentioned.
  23. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    And the lights come on! Jim K has just made me cognizant of the fact that my original system, designed by a plumber from Alaska and who has since left the state, neglected to point out the need for mixing valves. They, as the picture bears out, are not there! So, as I understand the problem, I have been dumping water that is too hot into my slab for nearly three years now! I am guessing that this is a huge problem and has caused me to use more propane than has been necessary. I now know where they should go, but can anyone tell me what to look for in terms of problems that this may have caused?
    [​IMG]
    The other drawing is my latest version. I realize that it does not have all the necessary valves and correct circ motor sizes etc., but am I getting closer? Fire away! I could just spit! I should have checked into all of this more closely as the guy put it in. Hindsight is 20/20
    [​IMG]
  24. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Could you post up a bit about your burnham boiler? You mention propane, is it a mod-con boiler? If so it is important.

    Thanks
  25. rvtgr8

    rvtgr8 New Member

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    Slowzuki,

    This is the information on the side of my Burnham boiler. If this is not sufficient, I can dig out the manuals from the barn. Thank you so much for your interest in my problem and your patience with my ignorance.

    Robert

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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