1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Gasifier dilemma

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by stupe, May 3, 2012.

  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,108
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    Lot's of good advice here about lot's of good boilers. I would like to reiterate one point that has already been made and that is regarding properly seasoned wood in a gasification boiler. I cannot over emphasize the importance of getting the wood you expect to burn seasoned to below 25% moisture content. Once you go much above that you can expect a substantial uptick in maintenance, more "fiddling around" to get it to burn right, if at all, more difficulty kindling a fire and reduced efficiency/output.
    If a person reads back through some of the threads where people have had issues with their gasser, you'll find that a good share are due to "wet wood".

    One other thing I have to say is in regards to a brand that I haven't seen mentioned yet in this discussion and that is Garn. They are more $$ but if it's within your financial capability you owe it to yourself to check one out. There are no adjustments, no variable speed blowers, no oxygen sensors, no dampers, not even so much as an aquastat. There is also no need for added complexity resulting from field engineering external storage. They are in a class by themselves when it comes to being simple.
    The design is 30 years old and it surpasses the EPA Phase II standard by a wide margin using the more accurate ASTM test method. There are many out there yet that are 25+ years old and still chugging along which is a track record few, if any can match.

    An astute observer of this forum will notice that many come here and talk about having to tweak and "fine tune" their boilers, as well as figuring out how to add storage, but users who end up with a Garn usually disappear once they get them installed. There is a reason for that.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    716
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    You're right HM. My subconscious poll collected over the past ~4 years would have to put Garn owners either at or very near the top in customer satisfaction. Seems like Garn owners show up here for research, install one, tell us they love it, and say see ya. At this point in time I've got somewhere between 11-12k in my 60 class system and about to probably spend ~1.5-2k adding storage. In fairness ~1-2k of that install cost includes my infamous underground screwup. That is my direct cost not accounting for probably several hundred hours of free labor doing the install (which BTW I enjoyed). So my full up, DIY 60 class system with storage and without screwup expenses is about 12-13k. For some reason I'm thinking Garn doesn't allow DIY. If you can, roughly how much more would I have spent to get a Garn 1500 boiler. A DIY +/- 1k ROM estimate would make it more apples to apples. No pricing on the Garn site. But I agree, knowing what I know now the Garn would be up there in my trade study with those fancy lambda boilers.
  3. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2011
    Messages:
    1,006
    When we acquired our Jetstream, Garn was not yet in the market. Had it been, there would have been a Garn in our basement! As a long time user of gasification and storage, I will list some of the reasons why I Like Garn.
    1 Firebox has a simple system of fire brick.
    2 Refractory nozzle is easy to replace, is available even for your very early models and if necessary, it would not be to hard to make.
    3 The refractory is heated gradually as the fire is lit and builds to peak temperature and cools gradually as the fire dies and goes out. No sudden thermal shock of the refractory so one should get maximum life out of the refractory.
    4 The unit is basic simple.

    Thanks to Gord Bullen of Advanced Wood Heat, I got to see one first hand. This one was being delivered to the remote community of Quatsino on Vancouver Island.

    Attached Files:

  4. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,108
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    Factory suggested list on a 1500 horizontal flue model is $12,995.00 and many Garns are installed via DIY labor.
  5. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,779
    Loc:
    Cayuga County NY
    Just one more assurance that lighting a gasifier takes very little fuss or time. With forced draft it's really not a problem.

    If there's no chance you'll be getting natural gas service, or you're otherwise buying fuel, or you don't think 'free' wood is inexpensive, don't overlook the coal boiler option. A boiler and a full ten year supply of bagged coal would run about $15k. That's all your heating needs out of the way for ten years with no wood to purchase, season, or handle. Bagged coal stores indefinitely, but you do need to keep the plastic bags themselves out of the sun.
  6. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Wood Boiler.JPG P1020524.JPG 500 gal propane tank on end..JPG Wood shed.JPG Just thought I would share my Vigas install pictures. I've been completely converted. I love this stupid thing. My wife calls it my "new best friend". I built a woodshed addition off the back side of my garage for wood and the boiler. I have 500 gallons of storage in the basement (now wish I went with another 500 gallon tank but Mark couldn't find any more). As it was my tank had to be a "pig-nose" type propane tank, because a normal 500 gallon propane tank is taller than my 9'-6" basement ceiling. Anyway, 500 gallons works fine for now because I have radiant heat so I occationally let my tank drift own to 110F. On a 30 deg day I only need to fire it once, although I find myself sometime firing it twice a day just because I love playing with it. I'm heating 6000 sqft. I leave the man-door open beween my garage and woodshed and it keeps my 1200sqft garage at a comfortable 65F (just from the boiler heat).

    Completely happy with the choice. Thanks for everyone's help!
    lotawood, Gasifier and 711mhw like this.
  7. Congratulations, looks great. Quite a change from your first post -- wasn't sure a gasser was right for you since you didnt want to have to start a fire everyday.

    Mark couldn't find any tanks or just the pig noses?
  8. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,142
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    No matter what boiler you are even thinking about. Get a couple years of wood ahead NOW. Best thing you could do is have good, DRY wood to mess with once you're up and running.

    +1 on JP's comment.

    OH. I just realized how old this thread is. ;lol Nice install and congrats on the system!
  9. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    Congrats!

    I too spent way to much time watching a big steel box not do a whole lot besides keep the oil man away. :)

    K
  10. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Couldn't find any more pig noses. As it was it took him a few months to find the one I got.

    Yeah I know, I pretty much took a 180 deg turn from my first post. Its amazing how much heat stays in the boiler between firings. If I go 5-6 hours between firings theres usually enough hot coals left to allow it to fire back up - and if there isn't, 30 seconds with the propane torch is all it takes. 5 minute job at most.
  11. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,142
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    Hey stupe. I forgot to ask. How did you end up insulating that tank?
  12. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Blown-in fiberglass insulation. buy 10 bags at Home Depot and the machine rental is free. Tank took 5 bags and I blew the other 5 bags into my attic. The temp in the space where the tank is located is 71F, so I'm not loosing much heat, and if I do, who cares, its in my basement anyways. I also managed to route my 1 1/4" pex from my boiler to the tank (which is in the basement) though the garage, mudroom, laundry rm, and down into the basement so all my standby losses go into the house. I won't run the wood boiler in the summer because I have solar that takes care of that.
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,241
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I am kind of suprised at how little insulation seems to be needed to keep my heat in my tanks. Right now I've more or less just got them boxed - the top, one side & one end only has some 1-1/2" left over foam board cut to pieces that would fit the spaces. Other side has a 3-1/2" space filled with fibreglass batts plus the foamboard over top. other end has Roxul batts held in place with bungey cords. I had to crack the foam board on the foam board end open a little bit to let some heat out because my basement was getting too chilly for comfort. I seem to be getting a LOT less latent heat off the new boiler & piping (smoke & water) than I did off the old one. I will be adding more insulation later for after the heating season.
  14. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    716
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    Ahhhh... Stupe. Way to go! Never heard of a "pig nose" tank before. That's what I need. My internal customer satisfaction database on happy Vigas customers is steadily growing. (With great restraint I will absolutely resist any references or comments regarding a Viagra boiler). ;lol
  15. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,238
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    You don't see too many of us on here posting about not being happy with the boiler, or Mark.

    You also don't see us posting about tinkering with settings much either. Push button.. load wood... push button.

    :)

    JP
  16. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    158
    Loc:
    MA
    I 2nd that!!
  17. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Yeah not much to tinker with. Although, have any of you Vigas owners ever played around with the boiler output capacity by lowering the maximum fan speed using the "delta fan" option in the settings? I'm have a hard time understanding if I'm having an impact on efficiency by lowering the fan speed and slowing the boiler down. With the slower fan speed the boiler still gasifies and creates gobs of heat. I think maybe the flue temps are a little lower, but I'm not positive since it's always variable. I sometime wish the boiler didn't run through its cycle so quickly. If you leave the fan at 100% speed, essentially what is happening is the gas pedal is mashing to the floor and its full speed ahead, which may very well be the best way to run these things. I really don't know for sure. I'm sure someone on here has played around with it.
  18. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,238
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I have played with mine. I THINK I got slightly better burns with marginal wood. I spoke with Mark about this at this year's fair... as I had the boiler in and running by then... and was ready to soak up some more knowledge.

    He essentially said that setting 0 was the most efficient for the boiler. After going over my settings with him.. He recommended that I change my min fan speed up to 35.

    I may go back to running +1 on the delta.. just because I'm running 1 year seasoned wood... and the extra push ATTEMPTING to get 215k btus out of it instead of 205.. will actually get me closer to rated output. I've had AT TIMES flue temps in the 250 range when my wife is burning. So maybe the plus setting would help her out.

    When I'm home.. and checking it more often and generally messing with it when I don't have to... I seem to get flue temps closer to 350 or so. Right in the sweet spot.

    Mark has said that he burns old corn in his.. and it burns SO HOT that he has to run -3 just to keep the temps down.

    Some settings in there to monkey with.. but nothing you really NEED to make it run right. Just kind of tweaks to your individual setup.

    JP
  19. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Ok I gotcha, that makes sense. So if your wood was a little wet, it would make sense to bump the delta up a little bit, right? My wood must be pretty dry because this thing runs like a ***** ape. I'm like you, I can't help from looking inside every now and then just to see whats do'n. I have noticed that with some fatter pieces of wood that I get the occasional bridging over the nozzle and once I poke it a few times the boiler takes right off like a rocket again. That howling gasser sound just never gets old. Thanks for the insight on how that delta works.
  20. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,238
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I am by no means an expert. I've gotten well over rated output while on 0 setting when I stuffed it full of hemlock. I seem to have just brought in a couple loads of punky stuff. I cranked up the delta tonight just to try. Got back up into the 300s. The burn sure isn't linear. First couple hours were lackluster with intermittent gassing. After that though.. I stirred and added some wood.. and off to the races and hit max temp within minutes. Very happy, despite the good size investment I made.
  21. stupe

    stupe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Loc:
    Lake George, NY
    Yeah I hear ya on the cost, its a pricey toy. Maybe the price of propane will hit $10/gal... I'd feel better then.
  22. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    158
    Loc:
    MA

    It's only a matter of time before it does!
  23. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    716
    Loc:
    Southern Tenn
    I'm surprised more of these high end boilers don't offer a window in the lower chamber door. I know exactly what you mean about the temptation to peek. But I always glance to see the glow in the lower chamber door window as I leave the boiler room. That glow and then looking at the flue when I step outside the boiler barn to make sure I don't see a wiff of blue smoke let's me know all's well. For you Lambda guys, I guess except in the case of bridging, the boiler takes care of that hint of smoke. Trying to pick up what you guys are talking about to learn your lingo.
  24. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,142
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    Yup. I have been wishing for one of those since I went over to the Gassifier. Love it. But miss seeing the fire. :( The glass door in the wood stove was nice, real nice. Many a night I would grab a cold beer and go down and watch the fire before going to bed. Talk about relaxing. Better than the TV any day.! I wonder what it would take to get a lower door made with a glass view?
  25. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Messages:
    202
    Loc:
    Michigan
    I'm probably one of the few people who have owned and operated both a non-lambda controlled and lambda controlled boiler. My first boiler was an EKO40 which I operated for two years in northern Michigan. My second (and final boiler) is an Effecta Lambda 35kW. I am on my 3rd winter with this boiler and just love it. It is certainly one of the best performing and best looking wood gasification boilers on the market today and would highly recommend anyone looking at purchasing a wood boiler to check these boilers out.

Share This Page