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Gasser, about to pull the trigger

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mustash29, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Gassing, it just seems like the right thing to do, but there are so many options. I've been researching for about 1.5 years now, and have narrowed the field somewhat.

    If you have not seen my other threads, a lot of detail and pics are in them.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/englander-28-3500-furnace-install-mods.102100/

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/woody-mustash.110700/

    My stove was getting up there in age, but it did a decent job helping out.

    I ran the Englander furnace last year. It did a good job. I have pretty much learned it's quirks. It will get better this year with better seasoned wood.

    But I am still burning 1 tank of oil in the winter and 1 tank in the summer for DHW & ambient losses through the oil boiler. Upward of 500 gal is no longer acceptable at today's prices. I still have hot & cold spots in the house. I think we have had enough of "central radiant heat from the middle."

    I have contemplated modding the Englander further. Add secondary burn tubes up top, install a large Hilkoil in the roof, run a constant circ pump and atmospheric storage in an effort to heat my DHW and pre-heat my baseboard returns to the oil boiler. I still forsee it being a semi-hack project, so maybe I should just go all out and do it right.....

    I have looked at:

    - Froling 20/30 + storage.

    - Empyre Elite.

    - Varmabaronen lambda & non lambda with exhaust fan + storage.

    - Garn JR. This really excited me, big tank and solar capable is a huge plus, but it won't fit inside, so I need a slab, outside boiler room, more property taxes, short run of piping to interconnect. Would also be a hassle to move should I decide to relocate to another house.

    And then I came across this tonight:

    http://worcester.craigslist.org/ppd/3946068975.html

    "Empyre Elite Wood boilers use half the wood of regular wood boilers. Indoor and outdoor models. Lowest prices of the year with instant rebates up to $1,000 during our Sizzlin' Summer Sales Event. Limited time only! Sale ends August 31st. Call 978-355-6343 x-231.
    Higgins Energy Alternatives
    140 Worcester Road
    Barre, MA 01005
    M-W 9-6:30, Th 9-8, F 9-6:30, Sa 9-4 "

    That seems like a decent price for a decent gasser that would fit my limited mechanical area. I'm thinking I could always run additional atmospheric storage with it, and that storage would also be suitable for integrating solar when the time comes.

    I have to make some calls to clarify if this price is indeed realistic.

    Any opinions?

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  2. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    A recent poster had a rust through in less than a year with a Empire Elite. You might want to search and find that info.

    Personally I would vote for;

    Garn if you want simple and durable.

    Froling if you like High tech and are not at all worried about getting parts in the future.

    gg
  3. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    FWIW- i have the solo Inova 30 for 5 yrs. had good luck with it. Simple operation. Good customer service. Not a Froling' but in the same efficiency class.
  4. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    The Froling is effortless and they really know what they are doing. The dedication to quality and engineering is obvious when you look at it and compare. It is normal in the market, the customer would expect to pay a little more for better quality, but expects to save money over the life of the install because of the better build quality, in longevity, or easier operation, less maintenance repair issues. The unit is obviously built to go the distance, but we don't have the experience of what the result is after 20 or 30 years of operation. I wanted to scavenge waste heat from the system into the house, so the inside install was better for me, in case firewood because scarce or difficult to obtain.

    Your firewood thread is awesome and you certainly have a lot of high quality cordwood to feed whatever beast you decide to go with. Probably, storage with a gasser will make the most difference in your satisfaction with the install, along with insulation, siding, windows, and flashing of the building envelope. I did not see details of your zone distribution type but was assuming conventional house with HW baseboard. There is a big variance just in the system tie in to your loads and existing boiler. The market is not mature in this area and some of the things i've seen posted here, would never do. Isolating the boiler to limit parallel losses with autofailover to oil, and outdoor reset controls for the zones is a bigger, more expensive package. I would guess the low to high package cost could add $10K, depending on storage tank size, type, plumbing headers, and controls. The customer decides if he wants to build for five years down the road or thirty

    If you're planing on moving in five years or less, you may not get the payback on the install. Especially if the house needs something for resale that would be better to spend the money on. The Garn could be the easiest choice for you as an outbuilding install is cleaner operation wise. I would think a floating concrete slab on a gravel bed would be low or no taxes because it "is not attached to the earth". When move time comes, with the right equipment you can lift the shed off the slab and then lift the Garn.
  5. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    I'm rural. My neighbor runs a CB E Classic on a 4000 sqft house with lots of windows. He is happy. We do not smell it. He ran it into May this year since we had a long chilly spring. We had no issues. He is a landscaper, fence installer, plow guy, etc. Great neighbor, etc.

    I am not interested in a typical OWB. I sort of live in a "bowl" surrounded by trees. 2 acre lot but only 1/2 acre of lawn. The trees are tall and mature. If there is no wind smoke / smell can hang in the yard. The house already has 3 flues, 6" oil, 6" stove, 8" zero clearance fire place (that we do not use). It does not make much sense to instal a 4th outdoor chimney. Ground level venting of the Garn has me a little concerned, as the boiler shed would go very close to the existing foundation.

    We are already used to the seasoning & stacking arrangement we have used over the years to feed the stove. It works well, keeps most everything outside untill it goes into the fire. Easy to sweep the crumbs off the concrete floor daily. That will eventually be covered with tile or slate so still easy clean up.

    I think we are looking at the Empyre as a huge improvement in efficiency and comfort without having the larger investment in cost and space that the others require. Sort of a K.I.S.S principle. Adding some additional atmospheric storage will be do-able without much added complexity. Boiler, pump, return water protection, HX. Pretty simple install.

    As far as concerns for the Empyre, the unit has been re-designed. New door latches, warning light for load lever replaced with a pezio buzzer, stainless firebox liner, improved "creosote lip" where the refractory brick meets the fire box walls. This was a major factor in the corrosion issue. Tars were allowed to get behind the refractory and hit a cold spot. The new style lip makes the drips stay on the fire side of the refractory, away from the water jacket. The dealer I spoke to mentioned that many installs were done improperly, without return water protection valves, plumbed poorly (baseboard returns run directly back to the boiler), some even not using the proper corrosion inhibitor. A perfect storm for rotting out ANY unit.

    I work at a trash to energy steam power plant, so I am very well aware of corrosion and it's effects. I have access to a water lab daily so I can run my own frequent tests to back up any annual testing the boiler requires.

    I'm not sure about a move, been here since I built the place in '96, but one never knows what tomorrow may bring.

    My buddies at work keep pushing the pellet stove / boiler idea. I still enjoy the work of proccessing my own wood, weather is is freebie stuff or a log load delivered. Truck, trailer, splitter, winch, cheap tractor all make my work easy and enjoyable. I enjoy a good old fashined sweat occasionally after sitting in an office all day long.
  6. treefrog359

    treefrog359 New Member

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    if I was you I would not go with the empire elite stove or any other pro fab product. they have very very poor customer service. At least 4 times then sent the wrong parts that I need. there are so many other issues with the redesigned stove. poor insulation surrounding the hole stove, I could never keep any snow on the roof of my stove. there is no room in the back of the stove to attach the lines, pump, and ball valves, plus other issues. just my 2 cents
  7. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    Took a look at the second thread, nice house.

    Would agree with your buddies about the pellet boiler. I believe I saw in a thread here the pellet boilers are approved as the primary central heat source, and if so, that's what I would recommend as the cleanest and simplest install. Yank the oil boiler and go pellet boiler primary, year round.

    I see you like making and burning cordwood. My recommendation would be to visit the dealers for the Empyre and Froling, Tarm in Lyme NH, and see the products first hand before buying. It will be obvious the Froling is not costing $5000 extra. What you will see is the Froling is delivering a lot more for the money and you may be willing to pay extra for the more that the Froling delivers.

    Things to look at: The Froling runs the combustion zone at negative draft pressure with the draft inducer last at the exit of the boiler to the flue. This reduces smoke leakage to the house as the burn chambers are at negative pressure, and imo, the way they should all be. The Empyre seems to say it is forced draft, positive pressure in the burn chambers. If you look at the cast iron nozzle arrangement on the Froling with the secondary air coming in right under the iron, the stay clean primary chamber burn plates, the way the massive refractory is setup for easy cleaning, lamba controls, the Froling is thousands more in product extras delivered to you.

    The way I look at is not the upfront cost - savings, but the cost over the life of the install. For a capital investment expected to last more than 20 years, what is 5 grand more averaged over 20 years. It is $250 annually. Now you have to look at the Froling and ask yourself if the added features will save you $250 annually by making your burn operations easier work for you. Will it save you $250 annually in your labor making your life easier. There are a lot of threads on this board from people who tried one boiler, stopped and tried another.

    Tarm has a nice 400 gallon buffer tank to go with the Froling if you have 8 ft tall clearance, so you could stay pressurized and skip the HX. Upfront there is a cost difference, but over the life of the install there is zero cost difference, just a difference in your satisfaction with the install and differences in how much you have to fight with it or how well it runs by itself.
  8. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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  9. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Good points to discuss with the distributor when I speak to them next week.

    I am looking at the indoor model 100, so any ambient losses would be into the house, not melting the snow.

    The plan is to fire during both shoulder seasons and the dead of winter. Once temps moderate I will shut down the wood & oil and run electric DHW during the summer months.
  10. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    _Dan:

    IIRC, I read through your install thread some time ago, nice set up. Don't get me wrong, Froling was my first choice, love it, but the cost and SPACE REQUIREMETS are my biggest hinderance. My storage area / basement is 14 x 16 and it has to hold all of our stuff: xmas, camping, coolers, Jeep accessories, garden stuff, boiler, water system, soon to be water softner, oil tank, indirect DHW, electric DHW. Not much room left for 400 - 800 gal of BTU storage and the expansion tank. It's like trying to fit 10 lbs of potatoes in a 5 lb sack.

    Nice pic, but I see about 10 different circ pumps, well tank, exp tank & DHW tank. Where's the storage? You simply can't fit all that stuff in a coat closet like I have to work with. Ceiling height is too low to accomodate the cost effective 400 gal Tarm tank, so I would be forced to go with multiple 300's or 200's, or modified propane tanks outside, not keen on that idea.
  11. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    You do seem to have some plan for the inside install. If the Englander is going, you will have that footprint and maybe that flue for the Froling.

    Right next to the Englander, you probably have a spot in the basement slab with nothing in or underneath. You may be able to saw cut the slab and dig down two feet easy, make a waterproof box to set the 8 ft., 400 gallon, vertical tank into, and fill the box with closed cell foam.

    I am plumbed and tapped for storage, have the footprint, but the tank is in the future because of the cost. Actually have a line on a beautiful 1000 gal stamped air receiver that I will buy from the scrap dealer when they gut and strip a plant that is closing. Have my eye on another, ~ 200 gallon extra heavy duty, but it has a large DHW tube bundle in it. I have constant reset mixed flow in the radiant basement slab and the Froling does turn down the fire to match the slab, but only with a half load of fuel and no slumbering. A full load of fuel with a warm slab and house would drive it into slumbering, but I'm not doing that. It's working perfectly with small fuel loads, but I will add the tank when the time for that comes.

    Have a 10 ft x 10 ft pile of rough sawn red oak for house trim, cabinets, stairs, in the basement, blocking the path from the door to the tank location. That has to move to get the tank in. Have all the heat I want right now and am looking forward to winter to heat the slabs again.

    The plumbing header has no ghost or parallel flow. I can make DHW and the header or oil boiler is cool. The circs are for the radiant zones and redundant, one can fail and I still have heat. There is no cost increase compared to zone valves, all 007s and 00Rs.
  12. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    I need to clean out a bunch of crap & find a new home for the old stove. A buddy recently bought a house with an identical one of them in it, but his is in really bad shape, so he may be interested in mine. I had already replaced the outter upper brick retainers / angle iron a while back. The inner retainers for the roof bricks were replaced a few years ago. Both of those jobs were not fun, ban-aids on a '94 model that has had a healthy workout over it's lifetime. I had a friend from work do the welding. I got it used for 100 bucks and it has served me well. The problem was that my other half failed to properly latch the door on a few occasions, the stove overfired and experienced some warping & now needs more internal work.

    I wanted an ash pan and a larger fire box, so we ran the Englander last year for the interm, did not have the time to finish my boiler research and winter was setting in. It heats better than the stove did, but I know we can do better with a decent boiler and T-stat control via the HW baseboards.

    I need to find a new home for the Englander. Once it is disconnected, the boiler will go in that spot on that 27 foot 6" class A flue. The oil boiler is on the other side of that wall and 1/2 level lower, so interconnection will be a breeze.

    I already scored a 13 yr old stainless Crown Mega Stor MS40 indirect for 75 bucks, complete with Honewell A400 a-stat. It had a tiny weep on the lower DHW inlet / drain. My buddy tig welded all 4 piping penetrations to beef them up.

    LR zone will stay as is, but get a programmable T-stat. BR zone will stay as is, but get a programmable T-stat.

    The end of the BR zone hits a 4' baseboard in the rec room. That will be eliminated in lew of installing a proper 3rd zone for the rec room, then sheet rocked & trimmed once the piping is all set. For now the floor can stay concrete, because it is more of a utility / mud room but we may finish it off more in the future. We really don't want to fill it with storage tanks if at all possible.

    4th zone will be a Modine type unit for the garrage, intermittent use when needed.

    5th zone will be the DHW tank. Abandon the tankless DHW coil on the boiler. Run the indirect DHW outlet into an electric.

    Get a real saw since mine just died, continue to get ahead with the stacks.
  13. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    How exactly are you running a Fro without storage? Is that possible since you have a constant low draw from the radiant?

    My regular e-mail is currently on the fritz, so all of my correspondence with Chris Hoskins from Tarm is unavailable. I'm drawing from 1.5 yr old memory. From what I remember being told, and what the local Tarm rep told us during the site visit was essentially that they would not even sell us a boiler if we were not hooking it up to storage. I understand the more the better, but was essentially told no storage, no boiler.

    This summer I found that the Empyre was redesigned, so it was an option. And with the Garn Jr just being released, it just got us on the boiler hunt again.
  14. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    The Froling needs storage and is not rated to idle. I've been pretty clear what I'm doing is not supported and not recommended, and I'm not causing trouble by saying otherwise. I am also not idling or slumbering the boiler. I can understand that this is a new technology and not everyone will understand, but if you're a heating pro and have the background, there's no misunderstanding in what I have been saying. I also do not recommend homeowner installs. I have had my trade contractors license since 1989 and ten years wiring boilers for schools as a contractor.

    The Froling does modulate, turn down the fire, above HWS setpoint. The basement slab is a high mass load and with small fuel loads, turndown of the firing rate, a three hour burn time daily does not slumber, it exhausts the fuel completely and ride through from the slabs at temp is easily two or three days in my house. The slabs do store and ride through and the insulating system of the house has conventional wall studs with an additional complete wrap of the house with r20, 3" nailbase polyisocyanurate OSB + foam board under the siding. I have both storage and very low heat loss.I was less than three cords for satisfactory heat for the season from October to now, and I've been burning the lowest quality stuff in the yard first and keeping the good stuff in reserve.

    If you're looking for a how, exactly what, It's all there, if you want to spend another 50 grand for 2" rigid foam exterior sheathing and 3000 sf of all concrete radiant slabs. I have no idea what communication will help you. There is a learning curve and I have tried to help move things in the right direction and avoid loss due to, well, as a pro I see shoddy, hack, code and statutory violations all the time. I overbuild for the customer and wanted some of that for myself. However I am fully aware the cost of overbuilding is far more than the market can imagine paying for.
  15. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Thank you for your insite, some very well said words. :)

    I grew up 35 miles from Three Mile Island. I was in 3rd grade when unit 3 melted down. Somehow I wound up doing 10 yrs in Navy nuclear power and have been burning garbage for the last 14. Lots of "making hot water" experience.

    I have to make some more calls, and maybe a few road trips, but I am getting closer.
  16. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    mustash, didn't read all the threads, whats the Empyre cost?

    If you don't have room for storage, no biggie. Storage is(IMO) more for convenience than efficiency.
  17. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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  18. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

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    That's good pricing.
    I paid $7K for mine this time last year. I was able to get a 15% rebate from the province on the entire system, so that helped ease the pain.
    It brought the boiler pricing down to $5950.

    I see by the pictures that it is a phase two boiler.
  19. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    I bought the prior Empyre for a hair under $5000, delivered, just under $5300 with tax. Didn't know about the improved model.
  20. I'd question whether its an 'improved' model or just a different model.
    flyingcow likes this.
  21. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    From reading that ad and a couple others out there it appears that the Empyre Elite 100 now has a stainless firebox (liner?)
    http://www.discountstoves.net/WoodBoilers-s/42.htm halfway down.
    A quick glance at the Profab website shows nothing about an update.
  22. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Just for kicks price out a tarm,eko, and other equvilents. I think i paid close to $7 for the innova and it was a sellers market at the time.
    mikefrommaine likes this.
  23. And don't forget the added costs of a heat exchanger, pump and controls since the empyre is not pressurized.
  24. Stainless steel: what manufacturers claim as an 'upgrade' when they can't figure out why their boilers are rotting out in a couple of years.
  25. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

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    Stainless Steel: What all manufactures have to change to once they realize users think,
    "It can burn wet wood" or "Why should I have to control my return water temperature"?

    I have run a lot of business in my life, and the easiest one to make and keep successful are those that the customers has no input in the process, other than to pay for it.

    I would never build or sell a solid fuel boiler as I have no way of controlling how they run it.
    heaterman likes this.

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