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Help deciding on Gassifier wood boiler

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Den69RS96, Nov 15, 2011.

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  1. barkeatr

    barkeatr Member

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    why would a gassifying OWB be a contradiction? Im just curious what your definition of an OWB is?

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  2. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Outdoor Wood Boiler.

    Outdoor - impractical/unsafe to have it in your building.

    Wood - the implicit ability to accept a wider rang that would be able to burn efficiently. Ability to smoulder.

    Boiler - heats hot water.

    I would also add no provision for storage, usually specified by manufacturer that it is not needed. Inability to meet most first world pollution standards.

    Obviously there are gassifying wood boilers that can be located outside.

    Also you know it when you see it.
  3. barkeatr

    barkeatr Member

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    Ok, I get it...I think some folks still use the term OWB when they are talking about generation two gassification boilers, but I see your definition is that when the word OWB is used its referring exclusively to Generation One non gassifying units. Cool.
  4. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    OWB's

    Gassifying OWB's - Generation 2 is out for debate

    Gassifying Wood Boilers

    Simplistically.
  5. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    You know I don't quite get where your coming from with this.
    Don't get me wrong I know how you feel, as I too believed all the OWB sales pitch BS & like you bought an OWB.
    Yes...I know I didn't do the research, didn't check the math, or the physics, or the laws of thermodynamics.
    Sooo...in the end when I am looking for someone to blame, all I have to do is stand in front of a mirror.
    AFA I know "Heaterman" does not tell the EPA how to test, what to test, or how the results will determine who passes/fails.
    He is nice enough to pass along info that he gets through his industry affiliation & IMO that's a good thing.
    Sooo...when the tests are done & some manufacturers get their tags while others lose theirs.
    I fail to see how that's his fault, or even how he had anything to do with it, aside from encouraging everyone to burn cleaner.
    Perhaps, if you feel I am wrong or not seeing the whole picture you could clear this up for me.
    Oh & BTW AFA the eff % you asked to be filled in, the Garn & many other indoor gassers are going to hit the mid to high 80's on a regular basis.
    My OWB & many others are going to hit 20's % on a bad day & when they really get cooking they will very occasionally hit 40's %.
    That's about as good as they can get given the math, the physics & the laws of thermodynamics. I know...sucks to be us.
  6. barkeatr

    barkeatr Member

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    I think martyinmi's comment was directed towards a certain apparent "my toy is better than yours" attitude, that while under the cover of the talk of efficiency facts and the laws of thermodyamics comes across very strong. THat might not be the intent, but it is the result. now, if we are discussing thermodynamics, lets look at the big picture.

    I think there are lots of ways to look at efficiencies, this white tag efficiency is just one of them and quite narrow in scope. In these efficiency comparisons being tossed around, is the embodied energy and efficiency of the final install included? some of these large heating units require concrete pads that could hold up a saturn 5 launch vehicle and the amount of energy it takes to produce concrete is outrageous. look it up. The same thing goes for the amount of steel going into some of these units, is the steel recycled or do the boiler specs call for steel from china? It becomes more important when you are using 15-20 times more of it. Closer to the direct argument: Infrastructure requirement vary with the heating solution you have selected, some require large buildings and amounts of insulation used to attempt to hold in the heat. Are the units tested in installed situations where the sitebuilt insulation techniques can be part of the efficiency? I have seen some of these installs and the opportunity for efficiency losing thermal bridging would cause problems in my climate. Martyinmi mentions testing side by side but if you tested them side by side coming off the truck it would not be fair to the uninsulated Garn. Some units require daily start up..are the efficiencies of a cold start and burning the ink laden sunday paper included? or do the testers start with a nice hot fire regardless of how the fire got to that point. Is the embodied energy of the transportation included? Did the truck delivering this unit burn 5 years of #2 diesel to deliver just one of these units ? what happens when 2000 gallons of anti freeze laden water gets dumped? If we are comparing installed situations vs off the truck, then please include a subcategory outdoor gassers that have chosen this fairly easy upgrade to increase an already efficient burner to even higher levels. I can keep going. I work on schools, Im involved with installing large boilers among other things. These Garns as big as a large commercial boiler requiring large capitol investments to install and construct fully functioning infrastructure around them. Maybe some folks can out of pocket this kind of investment, but others are financing. Do the efficiency calcs include the gas this investor burns up going to work for another year or two to pay for the final cost?

    its crazy, but I almost detect a kind of class warfare against the OWB..but if you look at the term without preconception and inside industry appropriatness, isnt the garn, outdoors, burns wood, and it heats water? I mean, most folks cant put one of those units in their basement can they? I guess I'm missing insider information. Maybe we need a white tag test for that.

    ultimately its important that the efficient burning of wood becomes more widespread. I live in a very large poor rural area...around me, every winter a trailer or 200 year old house ( usualy one of each) burns to the ground from a woodstove ignited fire, spewing out enough toxins and particulates to make up the difference between efficiencies of hundreds of generation 1 OWBs and the more efficient approaches. Im not advocating OWB for everwhere, but we have naturall, environmentally desired, forest fires that make this efficency argument ridicoulous. Two years ago the forest fires in canada actually changed our climate for two weeks. im not advocating for inefficent burning, im just saying please put the lab test into perspective. I know that my "under debate" outdoor gasser provides plenty of heat on two large armfulls of wood a day when its cold, has a blue flame in the gasification chamber and has lots of heat exchange tubing that remains fairly clean in one of the coldest sunless climates in the US. If this drag and drop technology (ready to plug in outdoor gasser) could become more affordable and give safe, renewable and affordable heating to more folks it would be good for all of us. Despite my rant, the Garns are beautifull machines and a probably more efficient in the lab, but We all pursue the best choice we can afford, some are smaller solutions than others but its all good! Im gonna hit submit post and run!
  7. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    I think the thread is being derailed due to mention of the Garn, which has a very small share of the Gassifyer market.

    The pressure on my concrete slab is less than in a a garage.

    I drive an old truck, probably gets 16mpg. A new one will get 22mpg and is significantly more powerful to boot.

    So if I was in the market for a new truck I would want the new specs, not the old. And it is cleaner.

    As far as OWB's are concerned as each State goes its own way then the chances are that in many any proper stats will have zero effect, my assumption is that they will in the mass market areas, which is where you would want the impact anyway.
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    ...........looking for the "like" button here............ ^
  9. timbur

    timbur Member

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    Barkeatr , I love your way of calculating your efficiency rating , it doesn't get any better than that !

    Looks like you really like your Pro 200 , I have been considering becoming a dealer for the Empyre Pro Series


    Tim
  10. martyinmi

    martyinmi Member

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    Holy Mackerel,
    Some of you guys read too much into things. I was actually asking a legitimate question- namely,how will OWB GASIFYERS stack up against the Garn IF they are tested the same way? Will the Garn, or even the European style indoor gassers out perform the gasifying OWB? Or will it be the other way around? Words like reactants, thermodynamics,reaction thermodynamics,entropy,delta t's,catalysts,inhibitors,stoichiometry,photosynthesis, and formulas like (delta)S=(delta)Q/(delta)T, or even E=MC2 are not needed in the response to this question. Simple layman's terms please.

    Thanks!

    barkeatr-
    Your formula is nearly identical to mine, except your girl is my boy and your dog is my wife's cat. Will mine consume more renewable resources, or will yours? Or maybe it doesn't matter as long as they are happy and our beer is cold :)
  11. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Sorry if I misinterpreted your intent.

    Simple layman's terms, you, me & any other OWB brand we care to name, in a side by side comparison with a garn or any other indoor wood gasifyer that we see so often in the forums & that is operated as intended, are going to be absolutely killed. Our units burn & then smoulder, they're units are designed & built to burn flat out until it's gone, then rest. Our units burn & smoulder from the first day of heating season until the last, theirs never should. If we want a side by side comparison we have a prayer at we need to find ourselves the owner of an old seton clone, who posts as cutting his wood from the forest, dragging it close to his seton clone with say a tractor, cuts it into pieces that will fit in his seton clone & tries to burn it, no splitting allowed for him. Then we have a prayer, as he will spend about as much time in full gasification mode as a gasifying OWB does, we just need to have his unit run without storage just like any OWB. Then yes we have a prayer, just don't ask me to lay odds or take bets on the winner.
  12. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    So then would a Wood Gun be somewhere in the middle? It is touted as a start & stop unit that doesn't need storage and doesn't burn flat out until the fuel is gone - however, from what I know about them, they're pretty darned efficient? I was thinking there should not be much difference in efficiency between a gassing OWB and a Wood Gun.
  13. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    I just got back from taking the dog to the Vet.

    He has a CB OWB, not sure which one, looks middle size.

    He gets through 40 cords a year so I guess idling is not an issue, he also splits.

    The building is about 4,000 sq ft and not that old so I assume reasonably well insulated.

    When it gets really cold the propane kicks in.

    We always talk about wood etc, he mentioned adding another boiler but I do not see that it would be worth it. Best bet is to run this one till it falls apart.
  14. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    I think his best bet would be to get rid of the cb and get a gasser If he could cut his consumption by % 30 it wouldn't take
    to long to pay off.
  15. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm thinking anyone burning 40 cords of wood a year to heat 4000 sq.ft. has some serious issues somewhere - OWB or not.

    Are those 'real' cords?
  16. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I've never seen a dog that has a CB..........



    sorry, couldn't resist :)
  17. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    OK guys, let's leave brand names out of the discussion entirely. Here is a set of factors/issues that are going on or have gone on which get my blood pressure up.

    For years the OWB industry and their representatives/sales force condoned and in many, many cases actually promoted and encouraged outrageous burn practices by claiming their units would:
    *burn green wood
    *operate at amazing efficiency
    *provide literally any amount of heat required through 1" pex
    *be capable of burning your garbage, dead animals, old tires and in short anything you threw in them
    *be "green" in the sense that their unit was better for the earth than burning fossil fuels
    *save you enormous amounts of money.

    Now we begin to see the results of that with EPA coming into the picture...........which brings up another serious matter entirely.
    EPA came up with a test protocol for OWB's, both standard and gasifying types based on a test method from the 70's/80's which was used for small wood burning stoves such as Jotul and Lopi to name a couple of the type.
    This standard was/is fatally flawed for two reasons. Number 1 was that it bears nearly no resemblance to real world use and number 2 was the application of that test by the OWB manufacturers themselves. Let me just say this about the PhaseI and PhaseII rated units. There is nearly no credibility in the numbers generated by those tests. They should not be believed in any way and the numbers generated should not be used by anyone in forming an opinion or making a decision. They are truly that bad and that far off base. I can't say it any more strongly than that without testing my Christian vocabulary.

    So what's the answer?

    After messing with these things for the better part of 20 years it is readily apparent that the paramount issues that become plain when selecting a clean burning and efficient system regardless of whether it is gasification or not, boils (pun intended) down to two factors.

    Batch burning and heat storage.

    I will flatly state that nearly any boiler, in any installation, will burn cleaner and transfer more heat when the fire is not shut down and allowed to burn the fuel load completely. This of course means that storage for the heat is a requirement rather than an option.
    Even a basic old style indoor boiler will show improvement in efficiency and emissions when combustion temperatures are kept high.

    I have a few more thoughts but I gotta hit send. Just got a phone call from a customer with an OWB peeing out the back of the water jacket............
  18. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    If storage is not present or possible, I think there is also a large underestimation on how much refined operating procedures can improve efficiencies. I am discovering this myself this winter with my old smoker - spurred mainly by the sudden almost very painful realization in December that on my new two story steel roof cleaning my chimney in the winter is NO place for anyone to be. I have been seeing improvements by doing a LOT of resplitting with my electric splitter in the basement for daytime loads. But larger ones in just the timing and loading of fires. I load it up when the house temp is low and demand is high. I let it die out and burn up coaling when the house is up to temp & just maintaining. I let the boiler get down in temp and get most of its heat in the house before plugging it full of wood at bed time. I spend a lot more time keeping it as empty as I can of ash & coals. I treat the house as storage more, and let the interior temps get higher in the daytime - it is much easier to maintain a warmer interior, than heat a cold one. A cold interior sucks up a lot of heat even after the air temp has reached 70f. My woodpile is a lot larger than usual at this time of year (realizing that it has been a warmer fall/winter this year), but it is still generating creosote. I don't think quite as much, but I will be finding out in my next sweep (revised to messily do from the basement) in the next couple of weeks. But now I'm down there with my head in the boiler almost every hour or so - can't wait to get rid of this thing.
  19. BoilerBob

    BoilerBob Member

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    +1 Maple
    I do the exact same loading procedure as you, and I now burn 5 to 6 cord of wood, no oil, per season. Before I used to burn 7 to 8 cord plus $1500.00 of oil.
    When I load boiler, I leave a tunnel in the firewood at the bottom of boiler for air flow. Boiler temps go up faster if I do this, my boiler is 35 years old, round firebox like garn. It is a 1976 HS Hedler Tarm from Denmark. Not efficient but works like the day it was installed.
  20. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    [/quote]


    Ahh but the dog is a she, broke a bone in her leg. If anybody asks me again how she did it.... She has not told me, they can ask her.

    Burning Pine mainly at say 40% maybe and keeping it at 70F with people coming in and out, sounded right to me.

    He gets most of his wood for 'free' or from clients who may have outstanding bills.

    A new Boiler will cost.

    Last visit we discussed the need to set up a cop op to buy a wood processor. A Chomper would do.
  21. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    It can operate without storage, but it operates better with it.

    I looked at the E500, but would have had storage with it.
  22. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    In all fairness, Heaterman, I'm not sure you can entirely "blame" the OWB manufacturers for their methods nor can you blame them entirely for where we are today. It's a natural cycle. This to me seems hardly different than Chevy, Ford and Chrysler selling cars that burned leaded gas and got 7 miles per gallon for decades while they knew if they really tried they could build cars getting 20+ mpg. Did the big 3 decide to get away from leaded gas (green wood) and start pursuing better mileage? Nah, they were forced to. No different than current safety requirements for cars today vs 30 years ago. I would bet a few minutes of google searching would produce a GM advertisement from the 70's claiming you would be uber safe in their brand new station wagon with rear facing seats for the kids in back, no seatbelts required.

    OWB manufacturers in the United States have never existed for any other reason than to make money. And that's what they did. Right, wrong or indifferent they found ways to make money and they did it. And they probably created a lot of jobs in this country while doing it. Shame on the idiot consumer who really thought burning trash in the OWB was the right thing to do. I think the operators are more to blame than anyone. It's no different than my opinion that no borrower has ever been victimized by a bank. I have yet to meet anyone in this country that was forced at gunpoint to sign a sub-prime mortgage with rediculous terms.

    Nonetheless, it seems we're on the cusp of big changes at the hands of the EPA. Many of them needed, no doubt. Did we survive the leaded gase era? Sure we did. And in 30 years our kids will probably be having this same conversation about the battery powered car revolution. And who knows what that conversation will sound like: "constant fires, landfills full of batteries, "toaster through carwash syndrome").

    Just my opinion though!!!!
  23. martyinmi

    martyinmi Member

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    Soooo...

    Will a Garn or any of the European gasifiers outperform a PolarG3 OWB, or perhaps a CB E Classic 3200 OWB in a side by side test using the EPA's current or future Phase 2 testing procedures? Will a Garn prove more efficient with fewer emissions than, say, a Woodmaster Flex Fuel 30 KW or 60KW indoor/Outdoor Wood Boiler? Have they ever been tested by the EPA in such a manner. We all know that the current procedures are not accurate, so lets not factor their inaccuracies in right now. The EPA has, however, in their infinite wisdom, incorporated a means to test wood fueled appliances whose design intent was for function inside a structure, haven't they? How will (do) these mass storage units compare?

    Just curious.
  24. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Probably best to drop the Garn from the equation.

    As has been said the "European' Gassifiers are a class above the like of the CB, and the Polar looks similar to a CB.

    The Woodmaster looks like a proper Gassifier, but that is as far as I can go.

    There is an EN Standard, I think they are up to Phase 4 now? That has proven credibility.

    You may notice that none of the ones you mentioned are exported, well outside of Canada.
  25. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The singular issue I have with the OWB industry is that unlike Ford Chevy or Dodge who never claimed their 10MPG cars got 20, they have advanced their products as clean and made efficiency claims that are bizarre to say the least and outright lies when you peel the hide off what they are saying. The PhaseII unit efficiency ratings (now deleted from EPA's website) were consumer fraud at its finest. 99% efficiency?? C'mon! I think there was one manufacturer who even listed over 100% IIRC. These are PHASE II units supposedly tested under a protocol that had some semblance of realistic use when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Many here have placed their faith in the EPA's Phase II ratings and will find that the product does not perform as claimed. The testing protocol is not worth the paper it is printed on. I would really like to see anyone here call one of these manufacturers and ask to speak with one of their engineers. Ask them point blank if they will back up their claims with some real documentation. Ask the makers of these 90%+ units where the condensate drain is.............my BP is going up again I can feel it.......

    Your point regarding due diligence is well taken and very true. That should always be the case. How many among us though, have the level of expertise in the field to determine if claims being made are real and the product is being represented accurately? That being the case and adding the typical buyers excitement about purchasing something which is held forth as being the "uber boiler", leads to a situation where the buyer is easily taken advantage of. Like the old saying goes....In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

    We live in the USA which supposedly is a country with standards and laws, not to mention the fact that everyone here expects a certain level of morality to be present in business dealings. Taken as a whole, the OWB industry seems to have put profit before truthfulness and unit sales before customer well being. I can't stand that and no one else should accept it either.

    Case and point. That leaking OWB from this morning is shot. It has pinholes everywhere and the unit is supposedly Stainless steel and "rustproof". Been in service for 9 years and it is scrap metal.
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