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get an OWB or just pay the gas bill?????????????

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by shawn6596, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    I have had the thought in my mind for years to do an OWB. Recently I checked into a Heiss gasser. The guy said he could have me out the door for under $5k. After reading here I called a CB dealer and talked to him about an E-classic unit. He explained to me that it wasn't cost effective for me to burn wood. I heat my 26 x 30 insulated shop with a side kick (wood furnace and smokey) and burn around 3-4 cord a year. My thought process was if I could heat the house and shop for 6-8 cords a year with a gasser that would be great since I already cut and split wood. Where I hit a wall is the units I am looking at are probable junk or 10k-15k for the whole system (not cost effective). My Nat gas bill is around $1100 a year for the house and the shop is wood only. Am I crazy to consider an OWB or should I just look into a more efficient stove for the shop???? Please be honest and let me know What you really think. Spare no feeling I have none.

    Thanks guys

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I love my boiler setup, but would be hard pressed to justify it on cost return alone if the alternative was $1000/yr in gas.

    Main question is, how long will it stay at $1000/yr? Who knows. A big factor for some is taking it completely out of the question & into their control by going to wood that they can supply themselves, even if there is a long pay back at todays rates. i.e., it's not always justified on rate of return alone.

    Not sure on what kind of shop you have or if it would allow a boiler install (gas fumes = bad), but you can get into an indoor gassifying boiler for not much more than the inferior Heiss thing you were looking at. Then add storage later as you can.
    BoilerMan likes this.
  3. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    I'm seriously considering that as an option. It is a woodworking / cabinet shop. One problem is storage, I can't get anything much bigger than a 50 gal drum down in the basement because of the door. I considered a 1200 gal LP tank. I can get the tank cheap. I was thinking of setting it behind the shop and building a box and filling it with coleus. Also I have never messed with a pressure system.
  4. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    If you have natural gas your payback would be far beyond the life expectancy of the OWB. A wood stove for a little auxiliary heat would be about the only thing that would make sense for your situation.
  5. __dan

    __dan Burning Hunk

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    Nat gas and cordwood are near the same fuel cost, if you buy cordwood. Factor in the efficiency loss of going from an 85% efficient gas boiler to a < 50% efficient OWB and your fuel cost could go up, a lot. Nothing is less labor to operate than gas.

    Assuming the home is gas boiler hydronic and the shop is convection air (wood stove), adding a hydronic zone and fan coil unit to the garage is a bigger install, especially if hired out to a professional.

    Yes you are nuts to consider an OWB if you have gas available onsite. (I have no feelings either).

    With the fracking process, they are saying nat gas reserves in the US are more than 200 years, and the US is becoming a net hydrocarbon fuel exporter. Methane should stay cheap because of production surpluses, for this lifetime.

    You have x amount of dollars to spend and want the best bang for the buck. A new woodstove for the shop if an improvement can be made there, gas space unit heater for the garage !, swap the house boiler to a new gas condensing bboiler with indirect DHW, insulation, new siding and windows ... new quad, bass boat, golf clubs, anything but an OWB.

    OWB, bad idea, baaad, baaaaddd ...
    BoilerMan and BoilerBob like this.
  6. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Have to agree with the above, if you have nat gas & your bill is $ 3 - 4/day, you wont recover the money spent on a wood burner, OWB that is before it rusts out.

    If you really just like the idea of heating everything with wood, save your money for a good gasification unit. Plenty of help to be had right here when the time comes.

    Honestly with projections for nat gas prices you are further ahead to save & invest in new mod con technology when you can. Many of these units run into the 90's as far as efficiency goes. With high eff & low fuel costs you may never see a break even point for a cord wood burner.
  7. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    +1 on forgetting about the OWB. I am about a mile away from the reach of nat gas. Heating my new home solely with electric heat pump/backup heat strip would only cost around $1000-1200 per year. The payback of my EKO 40 on this alone is in the 10-15 yr range since even though the boiler was only 5k, I've spent over 10k counting u/g pex, insulation, fittings, etc. I do heat my 30x60 insulated shed for free too which helps justify my expense but it too is well insulated and could probably be heated with electric for not much cost. If electricity doubles or triples that could change. Nat gas should be pretty reasonable for many years to come.
  8. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

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    OWB really means Oh Why Bother?
    With Nat Gas that cheap, I'd be staying with the convenience.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Natural gas? I only wish I could get it.
  10. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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    If you have wood chips and/or saw dust (free fuel) a wood chip boiler may work fine for you depending on the output you need.
    100,000 BTU/hr is kind of the smallest I would go AND this in combination with some substantial thermal storage.
    Check out the Heizomat RHK-AK wood chip boiler line with moving grate for saw dust.
  11. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    If you really like to burn wood, get a good gasser and heat both buildings. It will take a long time to pay off. maybe 10 years. but the ten years after that it's all money in the bank. If you get 20 years out of it that's $11,000 saved. I know that's not a lot but if you like to cut wood anyhow...

    You see pressurized boilers often that last over 20 years with proper maintenance.
  12. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    If you do in fact like to cut wood that much, sell your four cords a year and that should just about cover your nat gas bill.
  13. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    On the storage question. I was thinking if I had some tanks could I use a pressurized loop with antifreeze and a coil of sorts to transfer to heat to open storage in doors. the reason I was thinking this was so if I wasn't able to feed it then there would be no fear of freezing. also I have forced air in the house.
  14. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Lots of good input in this thread. Also not one answer for everyone so you'll have to weigh all the things that are important to you.

    Further input: 110 gallon propoane tanks are not much bigger than a 50 gal. drum, about 30" dia x 4 ft. tall. Might be possible to hook a few up for some storage in a tight basement.

    Hard to beat gas right now though.
  15. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    wood must be expensive where you are. Around here 4 cord wouldn't even pay half that gas bill. I'm not say it makes sense for him to put a boiler in but if he likes to play with fire and cut wood, why not ? Definitely not an OWB though.
  16. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    4 cord of cut & split firewood here would run around $600-800.
  17. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    $500.00 here. Can get white ash cut and split for $125.00 a cord
  18. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    If I was buying it around Here South Bend IN, it runs around 135-150 a cord. I am getting free wood. I have 3 cords of red and white oak drying, and have a stack of wild cherry that a farmer clear cut 5 acres and stacked in a neat pile on the edge of the field. It has been sitting off the ground and is just waiting to decompose. I have been cutting it into 4' logs and hauling it home it is a half mile from the house. The bark and sapwood are falling off, but the hard wood is solid and dry. I also have a lot (3 acres mixed hardwood) across the street that the owner has asked me to clear cut so his grand daughter can ride her horse there. So wood is kind of a non issue, but always in my mind because if I had to pay for it then it would be a waste since gas is cheap. And I know time is money, I like to cut and split. It is a great stress reliever and good exercise.
  19. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    Seasoned hardwood will fetch $200/cord in nwnj during the winter. Falling a little short of just about.
    Pop a woodstove in the barn to supplement and be done. Unless you have your heart set on a boiler, the payback period to install a worthwhile system is too long given current nat gas prices.
  20. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    you guys are 100% right it would be a bad investment on my part. you guys are a great wealth of knowledge and I thank you. I will investigate a new stove for the shop. any advise where to look?
  21. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    Craigslist
  22. shawn6596

    shawn6596 New Member

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    Yeah That was the first place I looked they were all junk. I was hoping to find something with a reburn, so there was less smoke.
  23. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I can speak from first hand expierence that an EPA stove is worlds ahead of the old air-tights. I have one in the LR that I traded for a (laugh now.... gas Rinnai wall furnace). We'll never have gas where I live it's 3 hours away and LP was expensive at the time, but much cheaper now.

    TS

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