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Go with a differet system? I need to make a choice.

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by rombi, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. rombi

    rombi Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    82
    Loc:
    Green Bay Wi
    I have been thinking a lot lately about a different heating system here. I now have a Aquatherm outdoor wood eater and I am thinking of trying to sell it as I have used it for about 5 years and have burned up my "free" wood. Our house can be heated with our fireplace insert and it does a great job keeping up if we keep up with it. The boiler heats a 1000 sqft dog kennel and also our 2000 sqft house if we don't burn our insert. It does a good job just eats the wood at a pace that I think could be reduced with different options. I have thought of a gasser but storage is an issue and a Garn with built in is a little too much cash. So what i am thinking is a wood furnace like the new Napoleon for the kennel or even a good wood stove like the Blazeking for out there to keep the dogs warm and using the wood sipping insert in the house with a little more labor from us to keep it warm. Being the type that hates wasted time, money and effort is there any other option with all the underground well insulated pex that I put in and all the pumps, piping, and labor that went into this system to try something else? My wife has had it with me talking about wood supply and I hate burning unseasoned wood at the end of the year like now. A 12 cord of wood goes every year and I think I could cut that in half if without the old boiler and using seasoned wood in a better stove. Burning free wood I did not think too much about how much I was tossing in this thing but now that I bought a load I am thinking while the saw is cutting. The kennel is a HX with forced air and so is the house and I think I am not doing this right with the warm water thing.

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  2. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    536
    Loc:
    Nebraska
    Tending two fires sounds like a lot of work too to me. That's why I wanted my boiler (& mess) in the barn. The 2-500gal propane tanks do take up a lot of room in my 30x60 barn however too. I may box them in to give myself some shelf or storage space over the top of them since ceilings are 14' high. If I could do all over I would build a 10x20x6' high woodshed over a slab to house the boiler, 1000gal tank, and a good supply of wood. It would be nice to have full use of the entire barn and not have to carry wood in on those very cold days. One could also get by using 1" pex in most cases too. Plus the shed would make a great place to dry out wood and useful in summer if a person were using wood for DHW or to heat a pool or hot tub. I don't see myself ever running my boiler in the barn from May-Oct so I will be stuck with electric during those months. I think many here on hearth burn once a week during summer to maintain storage for DHW. So if all the piping is well insulated, heating up the pole barn might not be that big of a problem. Sorry for the rant , back to your situation. Assuming the Aquatherm is on a slab with the lines already coming up from the ground going to the kennel and house, would it be feasibly to extend the slab and build a small shed? Probably $1000 in materials I would think, just enough to house a gasser, storage, and possibly some wood. Since you already have HX in both locations and the underground in place, I think it would be hard not to go the gasser route since your main concern is wood consumption. Keeping the wood mess out of the house and kennel would be great too. No insurance worries either.
  3. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
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    536
    Loc:
    Nebraska
    Something else to note. I bought my HX from Cozyheat and I don't think it is greatly oversized. I bought it more because of the dimensional size I needed to mount in the air handler. Probably by luck, I am able to still get somewhat decent heat out of this down to about 85 degrees as measured by the Johnson Controls aquastat probe tucked under the pipe insulation on my black iron manifold. The manual thermometer reads about 10 degrees higher so it might be more like 95 degrees. When I shut down, I plan to install a thermowell in the manifold which should give me a more accurate reading. The bottom line is I should be able to get about 85 degrees of heat from my storage when I cut it in (180 down to 95). 180 storage should be easily doable on a closed system too. If I remember correctly other posts in the past seemed to indicated 120 degree was a minimum for a water to air HX in an air handler but I don't find that to be the case.
  4. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    I would go with a gasser & do what it takes to add storage, probably minimum 1000 gallons. 2 fires to tend would be too much for me also. With the gasser you don't have the creosote worries either, Randy
  5. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Upstate NY
    Do you happen to know if the boiler is the problem with your wood usage? Any way to know what your supply/return temps are to the boiler? Im wondering if you have any significant heat loss through the buried piping, and if thats something that could help reduce your consumption.

    I know the insert is much easier on wood, but you also have to split it down into much smaller pieces, bring it inside, deal with the mess, etc. I think the extra prep to keep two wood stoves/inserts going may add up to a LOT more time.

    If it were me, I would look into an outdoor gasser. You already have the infrastructure in place, and assuming you arent losing a lot of heat to the ground, you have already taken care of a good portion of the initial expense. Also, I dont know your costs for wood, but assuming you buy log length (you mentioned you were cutting it earlier) the cost difference is going to be maybe 600-800 per year? While that isnt insignificant by any means, you will have to buy a new stove/boiler, and that seems like a long payback.
  6. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I go back and forth with this as well. I bought a Blazeking as a stopgap until I could afford a boiler. Now, I'm second guessing the need for a boiler. The BlazeKing has a firebox the size of the smaller boilers and is easy to burn 24/7. I would also look at the BK Apex catalytic furnace. Similar output to the big stove but has a firebox almost half again bigger. To me, the biggest advantage of the boiler is the zoning. It is a big price in both dollars and complexity to get there though. For a drop in replacement for your existing boiler, have you looked at the Econoburn outdoor models?
  7. rombi

    rombi Member

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    Dec 17, 2007
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    Loc:
    Green Bay Wi
    I was just looking at some of the used prices people are asking for their outdoor units. Mine is inside the kennel so it is in really good shape. The last time I measured the heat loss it was around 2 degrees from the kennel to the house so I am good to go there as it is about 150 feet one way. I was just thinking that the little heat exchanger that the boiler is heating out there is doing OK and that is about 80 degree air out of that thing and there is not a lot of radiant heat off the boiler so I was just thinking that a stove out there would do the same or better with less wood and if I could get a couple grand out of my unit the price would wash. My wife enjoys loading the insert in the house anyway and also like to watch the thermostat reading around 75 with the insert going all the time.
  8. rombi

    rombi Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    82
    Loc:
    Green Bay Wi
    Old post but same thoughts are going again this year. What is a fair price to ask for a 6 year old boiler that is in great shape? I might just go propane in the kennel an d save a lot of time that the family could use instead of me cutting wood every free minute of the day.
  9. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I don't think used OWB are worth very much - I have seen them on kijiji here and they just stay there forever.

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