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Geothermal is out! Need advice on the boiler route

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by denvershepherd, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    Thanks. I'll talk to the Tarm people about it.

    Neil

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  2. bro-tek

    bro-tek Member

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  3. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I'm curious as to what the difference is between finding space for a Garn vs 2 or 3 500 gallon tanks actually is.

    Why not save the complexity and use a single unit that incorporates burner, heat exchanger and storage in an all in one package?

    As for your question about tanks, I would have no idea where you could get them locally let alone who to have fab them up and connect.

    My personal rule of thumb for tank sizing, based on nothing more than experience is pretty simple. I stick by a ratio that is basically for every 30,000but of heat loss connect 500 gallons of storage. The actual firing rate of the boiler matters little (within reason) as long as it is sufficient to sustain peak load + dumping a little into the storage while burning. Others may disagree and that is fine. My suggestion is based on average situations and is of course subject to the vagaries of any given application.

    Your switching control between wood/LP can be nothing more than a single pole, double throw switch/aquastat that energizes one system or the other based on water temperature.
  4. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    3 free cord is a nice way to begin, but IMO you need to get into processing your own wood, before moving forward with any boiler purchases. As we've already said, firewood is a lot of work, and will require your time. Never having done this before, you can't understand what that means until you actually do the work yourself. There's cutting, splitting, hauling, and stacking (later unstacking and hauling again when burned). Someone I work with was planning to install a wood furnace, and decided to see what the firewood processing was all about, prior to buying a unit. He determined (correctly) that there was just not enough time at that point in his life (small child, etc.) to allow for what firewood would require. So, you need to know in advance that you will be ok with processing enough firewood every year going forward from now on. Cut/split/stack some wood, calculate the the volume you cut, extrapolate to what you will need (rough range 8-12 cord of pine), and then give yourself a 20% bonus because you will get more efficient in your methods later on. After doing this, you'll hopefully still feel the same about bringing in a wood boiler. If your fall-back is buying wood, and you're financially ok with that, then great - you're good to go.
  5. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Seems pretty simple to me - the Garn is all one big unit that needs a big door & lots of room & lots of muscle & one big landing space. Separate boiler & storage can be compartmentalized and moved easier into spaces they will fit. It is a physical impossibility for a Garn to fit my space, but a smaller boiler & the right sized tanks will fit into the 2 or 3 spaces I do have.
  6. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    Yup. It just wouldn't fit. It would come through the front door but would never make it down the stairs to the wreck room. Heaterman's point makes all the sense in the world though because I've been pricing out 1500 gallons of storage and the Garn financially would be the logical choice but it just doesn't fit. Wish it did because storage is going to end up costing more than the unit. :(

    Neil
  7. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    Denvershepherd,
    I have a 1500 gal unpressurized tank made by STSS. They are located in Mechanicsburg, PA-their website is stsscoinc@comcast.net
    If you look that up it will give you an idea of what this type of tank looks like. Mine is 8' in diameter-you need plenty of space. I bought mine from a local HVAC co that bought it for a solar project and then never used it. I was able to buy it around 60% off.
    Others can correct me if I am wrong but I think Tarm can make a square tank to a size of that suites your situation. I am told they are a lot easier to assemble and move around than the style tank that I have. The dealer I bought my Froling from also told me that they are using a liner that is better than the one on my tank. It can handle higher temps and is supposed to last longer before replacement.
    I have found that I can raise the temperature in my tank about 10 degrees per hour when it is running wide open. I just finished hooking up a temperature gauge for the top and bottom of my tank that will allow me to see the temp in F. I am excited-I put the gauge in my kitchen so I can monitor my tank without having to go down to the basement.
    I should be able to get a better idea of how much time is takes to raise the temps in the tank now that I can see the temps in F
    If I let that tank get down to 120 or so I usually have been filling the boiler and then adding about another half of a load to get it up to 170-175.
    I would rather have to add some wood to a burn and get longer in between fires-that is why I went with the 1500 gal-and that I was able to get it so cheap.
    Tennman likes this.
  8. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I thought that also at the beginning of my searching. Stumbling across the right salvage yard can make all the difference in the world - storage should now be the least of my outlays.
  9. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    How tall are the ceilings in the room you want to put your storage? How big is the room you are puttin boiler and storage in? How much room do you have?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ROY-E-HANSO...399?pt=BI_Air_Compressors&hash=item3f156978d7

    Just one example. You would be surprised what you can find if you really want to look for it. Here is the one I found that fit my needs. 400 gallon air reciever tank.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/moving-in-the-tank-pictures-i.74168/#post-938094

    If you search the web for air reciever tank, look around at places that sell used equipment, etc. Some of the companies will strap it to a pallet for you and ship it reasonably. Lot cheaper than buying a new tank. You can find an ASME rated tank with the stamp and spend much less. Not have any of the work that comes with used propane tanks. Sometimes the propane tanks can be found very cheaply though. Lots of options out there. Take your time. Don't make quick decisions.

    If you haven't started on your wood yet and you are positive you are going with a wood gassification boiler, you may want to buy some wood now to get it started on the seasoning process now. If you can afford to spend the money, no shame in buying some wood that is already cut and split and delivered to your home. Especially with now experience processing wood. It is really nice to just have to stack it. Some guys on hearth.com do that exclusively.
  10. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    I think I'm going to be ok with the firewood side of things. I'm 40, no kids, other than my dogs that is, and I have a fair bit of spare time. Even WORST case if I decide to purchase my wood I'll still be WAY ahead financially compared to my 650 a month in electric heat bills over the winter ;)
  11. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    My ceilings are only 9 feet in the wreck room where everything is going. Just off the wreck room is the utility room which is only 10X9 so I may end up moving a wall and claiming some of the space from the wreck room.

    Thanks for the info on the tanks. I have a feeling that is going to take some time. My neighbor just dropped 3 cord of wood off in my yard that I have to stack so that should get me started. Most of my neighbors are big on wood so I have a good support system ;)

    Neil
  12. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Neil, those storage tanks you see specifically made for wood boilers are ridiculously expensive as you noted. If you start scrounging around you'll find something suitable. Possible places to look are salvage yards, Craigslist, search on Google, propane dealers who may give you a lead- that's how I found mine, commercial agricultural feed and supply outfits who may have old ammonia nurse tanks (that's what mine is), recycling yards, and word of mouth. I mentioned to anyone I could think of what I needed. I like the idea of ASME air tanks because they are vertical, but hadn't thought of them when I was looking around. I imagine members here all have a story on how they located theirs. Many are posted if you do a search on site. Be creative and save a small fortune.

    I googled "used propane tank Colorado" and found this place in Colorado that says it will locate and sell you a used propane tank. http://usedpropanetankstrucksandtransports.com/.

    Mike
  13. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    Mine cost more to spray foam. I paid around $250 for both and $300 each to sprayfoam DSC_0305.JPG
  14. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    lol. Those look like they have frosted over. The fellow that may be doing my install mentioned a type of tank that I think someone on this thread mentioned. Let me go back and take a look.

    Neil
  15. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    It was American Solartechnics. He said he has had great results with them but I'm wondering why they are so much less expensive than the other options I have looked at? Do you have one of these Kopeck? Anyone else have experience with these?

    Thanks,

    Neil
  16. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    Someone else has put a bug in my ear about the VIGAS Boilers. Does anyone have an opinion on these? They are quite a bit less expensive and I'm thinking there must be a reason for that? Maybe not.

    Thanks,

    Neil
  17. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Like any newcomer to a market.. they have to be good on price and a good value to gain market share. I've never seen anyone on here say a bad word about Mark at AHONA. He's the reason I bought the vigas. It starts getting hooked up next week.
  18. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    I just looked at American Solartechnics website. I wish I had seen these tanks before I bought mine. They look very nice. I love the way that the heat exchangers hang off of the side of the tank. That would have saved me a ton of money on the installation. I was a pain in the neck to hook up 4 heat exchangers inside of the tank.
  19. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    I think its actually Tarm that recommends these with the Froling but I could be wrong on that. I wonder how long they will last though?
  20. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Not much detail about those soft tanks there - like construction, and how big they are. That I saw.
  21. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd New Member

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    I'm not sure. I'll send them an email or my installer fellow. He invited me down to see a job he just did with them and a Froling 50 but it's around an hour and a half job so not sure when I will make the trip. Maybe next weekend.
  22. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    If you look for "Tom in Maine" he is the guy to talk to about the American Solartechnics tanks. He can give you all of the info on the sides, the assembly, the liner materials, etc. I looked into his product, which seems really well built, and they can custom make a tank to fit whatever your space is, if you have a funky layout. I stumbled into my storage tanks for free on a job site (just had to pay to move them), but it ended up being perfect for my space. I wish I had more storage, but now its just incentive to reduce the amount of air infiltration in my house.
  23. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Clarkbug, can you heat all your storage up from cold on one load of wood?
  24. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    Yesterday I went from 120::F on 1200 gals to 180::F on a load and half while satisfying loads. I think it would take me around 2 and a half to 3 loads to heat it all from scratch. With douglas Fir . You guys get longer burn times with the hardwoods though.

    Huff
  25. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    How do you like the Varmebaronen? Where did you buy it? Dean Zook from Smokeless Heat is only 15 min away from me. If they would have had a lambda unit I think I would have seriously considered one. I was really impressed with their boiler. They seem very easy to clean.

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