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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. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    On the flip side to the lamda comment, their utter simplicity has me on the brink of ordering one. There is only one thing in the whole boiler unit I'm looking at that even resembles a moving or electrical part, and that is the loading/storage circulator & flue temp controller for it. Even if the ones coming with it suddenly go unavailable or obsolete for some reason in the future, those tasks can be accomplished by all kinds of common circs & controls that have been on the market for years. It has been a long winter of researching every wood burning & back up combination option out there, and I keep coming back to it. I wish I was a lot closer to Smokeless than I am - usually not too fussy about buying something this major sight unseen. Now if only the currency markets would just cooperate for a week or so...

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  2. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    I know that Dean is heating a large farmhouse with his. I am not home during the day and in the winter I plow snow-a normal winter that is. For the sake of my wife, I wanted a lambda unit. I do not think you would be dissapointed with the Varmabaronen. If I remember correctly, one of my concerns with them was their weight and the thickness of the steel. I may be wrong on that since I researched so many boilers. Good luck on whatever boiler you choose.
  3. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Currently, I cant charge them on one fill, but thats really due to my wood supply more than anything else. Some of my wood is still a little damp for my liking, and it hisses at me when first getting going. Also, the Varm will take a 20" stick, and some of mine (that I had to purchase seasoned last August) is only 12" or so. Lots of it is in the 14 to 16". So my firebox runs out of space, but its not really full (if that makes any sense). For a full charge, I typically have to go back and add a few more pieces once the kindling that I put in the bottom burns down. Its also dependent on how much my house is pulling out, since if there is a call for heat, it goes to the house instead of storage.

    EDIT: And by charge, I mean that I would heat them from where I can still get usable heat out of the top, which is around 140 for me. I cannot heat them from room temp to 180 on a single load, that takes two or three fills.
  4. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Paver,

    I like it a lot! I have a few posts about it here on the forum if you dig around some, but I really couldnt ask for much more. I did buy from Dean, as he is the only Varmebaronen distributor in the US I think. His service has been top notch, I cant praise it enough. He even came up here to NY to help me get it going.

    As far as the boiler itself, its amazingly easy to clean. The curved tubes made it a snap. I brushed them out once a week this winter, which was probably overkill, but it only took a few minutes, so why not? Maple is right, that its very simple to operate. Turn on the fan, light it up, and everything else just works. Only adjustment is when you want the loading pump to kick on, and then when the fan and loading pump kick back off. Otherwise, its all pretty simple stuff, not a lot go to wrong. Some of the models dont even have the fan, but you need a tall enough chimney for that.

    Im pretty sure that I dont have the boiler "tweaked" for optimal efficiency, but I havent played much with all of the air adjustments because I cant notice a difference myself. Maybe I should just play with it and see what happens?

    There was a rumor here on the Hearth forums that Varmebaronen might be coming out with a lambda model in the future, but I have no idea where that stands. Just so you know, my wife can operate this boiler with no issue at all. She was a little hesitant, but when I travel for work she was able to get it fired up just fine for days at a time.

    It does weigh less than a lot of other models, but it was still too darn heavy when trying to move it around :) There isnt the same amount of refractory as some other boilers, which I thought was a benefit. The combustion tunnel is something that will need to be replaced eventually, but it held up pretty well this year. The thickness of the steel doesnt have me worried, as I think there are a lot of other factors that would go into how long the boiler lasts.
  5. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    You must mean $500 - $750 cheaper :) I'm getting mine through the spring sale and your post made me bug out for a sec!

    EDIT:
    Nope, Woodmaster is right - I just looked at the flyer again and they say the pellet system is $5,750 cheaper than last year. I'm actually going with the FHG wood boiler which is $750 off hence my confusion
  6. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    Sorry Neil, I've been away for a few days.

    I do have one. I've had a small hiccup with mine but Tom's been great to deal with getting it resolved. He's also just a neat person to talk to, I would do business with him again.

    I'm guessing I could have one of these tanks from pallet to ready for water in about a half a day. I put mine together by my self over a few evenings.

    What I liked about it was it was nothing more then putting it together, I didn't have to worry about finding someone to weld up a tank or then deal with getting it into my space. I also didn't have to get a big expansion tank since this setup only adds a few gallons of water to the system.

    When looking at the price of one of these tanks verses a converted LP tank keep in mind it's more then just the cost of the tank. It's refitting it to do what you need it to, insulating it and getting the thing into your space. The folks that can do all three of those things them selves, then yes the LP tank is going to be cheaper but if you have to hire out two out of three then the prices start to match up.

    Flyingcow also has one and Heat Farmer has the new 1100 gallon monster. They might chime in or maybe you could send them a PM.

    K
  7. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    Hiker with the 750.00 of list where does that put the price of the froling?
  8. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    About $10,200. That's the fully assembled boiler w\all near boiler piping included (termovar, low water cut off, normally open zone valve, air elimination scoop and vent, thermal expansion tank and also the near boiler wiring complete).

    Meant to say I don't know where the line ends between the boiler price and my add ons. Nothing's free...
  9. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    If it's any consulation, the company I'm getting my boiler through also sells their own storage kit. I flat out told them I was looking at Tom's tank and he said that if he was putting in a boiler w\storage he would use Tom's tank. I would say that was a pretty big decision maker for me.

    RE: the price issue. I agree. If I had done the propane thing the only thing I could have done on my own was shell out the dollars. With the non pressure kits, I can pick it up w\my subaru and do everything on my own with a full warranty.
  10. gtjp

    gtjp New Member

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    Commercial message - moderated
  11. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd Member

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    Should have my estimate back tomorrow. What a process!! Between the heat calc's, installer walkthough, design etc.... it's quite a process. I have a feeling its going to be EXPENSIVE. I'll let you all know so you can let me know what you think.

    Thanks,

    Neil
  12. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd Member

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    Well the estimate came back today and as I suspected it is expensive!!! :(

    Here is the text from the actual quote:

    PLUMBING SCOPE:
    Provide and install a Froling FHG Turbo 3000 40/50 indoor wood gasification boiler, emergency heat
    dump, one 820 gallon non-pressurized storage tank, a Triangle Tube Smart 40 gallon indirect water
    heater, one Triangle Tube Solo Prestige boiler, staple up hydronic heat tubing on 2nd and 3rd levels, and
    Zurn Thermal Track on 1st and 4th levels, seven zones with round digital heat only thermostats, venting
    and combustion air piping for propane boiler, type A chimney piping for wood boiler, storage tank heating
    coils, domestic hot water coil, all piping, fittings, hangers, low voltage controls, low voltage wiring, indoor
    gas piping, and pumps for hydronic heating system.
    EXCLUSIONS:
    All permit fees. All framing of walls, chimney chase, etc. Propane tank, line from propane tank to
    house, digging and back fill of ditches, including all plumbing and gas ditches. Pipe insulation unless
    otherwise noted. Any electrical, and any low voltage wiring unless otherwise noted. All outdoor gas
    appliances, tanks, pressure regulators, or piping unless otherwise noted. Sealing of any building and or
    roof penetrations. All demo work of walls, ceilings, floors, etc. Staple up heat transfer plates ( to be
    provided by customer, contractor can supply at an additional cost). All flooring over-layment, finished
    flooring, and under floor insulation.
    PLUMBING SCOPE PROPOSAL PRICE INCLUDING MATERIALS, TAXES, AND LABOR:
    $66,989.66

    I'm thinking about installing the staple up hydronic heat tubing myself as it doesn't seem that complicated but I'm not sure how much that will save me. There is a lot of money in exclusions listed as well so that scares me a little. What does everyone think about the $66,989.66 price tag?

    Thanks,

    Neil
  13. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    What do I think? Wow, that's expensive!

    K
  14. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    That sounds expensive. I know that I put up my tubing during construction but I do not have near that much in my entire system. I have over 7000' of tubing, 7 zones, a triangle tube propane boiler, a triangle tube indirect water heater, a froling 40/50 and a 1500 gal unpressurized storage tank with 4 heat exchangers in it.
    I put the froling and storage in 2.5 years after I built. I think total, it cost around 20-23k.
  15. Paver56

    Paver56 Member

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    I should clarify-my whole system was not 20-23k, just the froling storage and installation. On the bright side, I have not burned an ounce of propane since it was installed, and can go a week between burns right now for my dhw. That is with 3 young kids and my wife having a salon in our house.
  16. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Neil, I'd say that cost estimate is ridiculously high. I can't imagine anyone else on this site having spent that much unless they had some very unusual circumstances. Even then..... Maybe others could share their costs. I'm guessing my setup ran no more than $15,000 for the boiler and parts plus $3500 more for a new Goodman propane backup furnace installed. Other than the Goodman I am doing my own labor though. I'm heating a 3000 sq. ft house and purchased a Tarm Solo Innova 50 bolier.

    Mike
  17. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    It's high, yes - but is it unrealistic? I'm not so sure. If I was the one retrofitting in-floor/radiant heat into four levels - practically an entire dual-source heating system including chimneys - well, that's a pretty large job to say the least. I know I go in my basement & look up and think about putting some in-floor up there, and I say forgetaboutit pretty quick. Retrofitting something like that is a huge undertaking.
  18. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    How much of the cost do you think the retrofitting of in-floor radiant might be?
  19. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Not sure who you're asking - but if there's floor above & ceiling below, I couldn't even hazard a guess.
  20. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd Member

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    Yes. That amount I would be fine with.
  21. denvershepherd

    denvershepherd Member

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    I'm going to try and get a breakdown of that. I'd obviously like to know that myself.
  22. skfire

    skfire Feeling the Heat

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    It is not very very expensive if you consider the overall scope but
    you need to see an itemized breakdown with values.
    Froling and piping/vlvs, tank and dz not more than 20,000 if no ridiculous runs or chimney installs are involved.

    The staple up labor is the rub and I did not see anything regarding types of pumps, vlvs, materials used and/or system diagrams.

    Have you seen ay of this installer's previous work?
    In my experience, the extra dough spent on something "expensive" but professionally done, is hands down more valuable than the "cheaper" headaches and slop.

    Take your time.

    Scott
  23. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I personally think that if you are burning pine or other softwoods you should set up with a good amount of storage and do batch burns. Due to the poor coaling qualities of pine you will encounter several instances when the unit will not re-light, especially in a Wood Gun where the fire is completely deprived of air upon shutdown (unless your gaskets leak). I burned a limited amount of pine in my Wood Gun but only when there was a high heat demand and idling was at a minimum. Having said that, I personally believe that when batch burning, the conditions in the firebox do not change enough to make a lambda controlled boiler necessary. From what I am readiing, the Garn appears to be a perfect fit for your application.
  24. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    It's a lot but, you want a lot. Probably $25,000 in matterials. I'd try to get another estimate to compaire to if possable.
  25. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm not in the installations or supply business, but I was thinking there would be more than 25k in materials - that's a pretty extensive list of items. Doesn't take long for a bunch of fittings, pipe & controls to add up, I know that. I didn't try to add all the listed items up though.

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