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High tech wood heating in the south?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Philwill93, Jan 30, 2008.

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  1. Philwill93

    Philwill93 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Near Rome Georgia
    Hello to everyone. I don’t see many OWB or gasification boilers in the south.
    I’m in Georgia and not many people around here know about these set ups.
    I’m in a 80+ year old home 2000 sq ft with good insulation in the attic and
    Fair insulation in the walls. I currently have a heat pump with propane gas furnace
    Back up. My heating bills run about $1500.00 total, but we only
    keep the house at 71. My wife would prefer 75.
    I like the idea of the EKO but could only load morning and evening.
    I have a barn 75 feet from the house that I could put it in, but
    The barn is very old and I don’t know if I can risk sparks from a chimney pipe.
    I don’t know if I would want to go with the extra storage tank, or if I would need it.
    Oh and my hvac system is in the attic.
    Just thinking I could stay a little warmer and not have to pay Ga. power and gas man.
    Payback is not the most important thing for me, keeping my wife happy is though.
    I would appreciate any replies and comments. Thanks for all the good reading material.
    I have a good wood supply from friend and local tree service.
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    Ag. High 52° 57° 66° 75° 81° 87° 88° 88° 84° 74° 64° 55°
    Ag. Low 30° 32° 40° 47° 55° 62° 67° 66° 60° 47° 38° 34°
    Mean 42° 45° 54° 61° 68° 75° 78° 78° 72° 61° 52° 45°

    Degrees in Fahrenheit

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Welcome to the forum and to the boiler room.

    I would suggest that in your climate, storage would be a big help. Being able to add wood only twice a day is not the issue, because a single load in even a small boiler will likely provide enough heat for a day to even several days. The problem is that you can't and don't want to stretch that load out by having it smolder. That greatly reduces your efficiency and creates smoke, creosote, and angry neighbors.

    Storage would let you build a hot efficient fire once every few days and live off of the heat in between fires. There are lots of schemes. The total cost depends on how much scrounging you can do and how much of the work you're comfortable tackling.

    I have the beginnings of a writeup in the different tradeoffs involved on my site - might help answer a few questions and raise a few more.
  3. Philwill93

    Philwill93 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Near Rome Georgia
    Thanks for the reply, but what your talking about sounds to complicated for my needs.
    I need something that I can do most of the work on and an owb sound much more simple.
    I do however hate to think about mountains of wood.
    If I can come up with a simple storage tank system and no controllers etc, it might work for me.

    Phil
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Nofossil has the Cadillac of control systems and he enjoys playing around with that stuff, so don't be scared off by what you see on his website. There are much more basic tank arrangements that would probably suit your needs pretty well. After all, you're in such a mild climate, relative to those of us in the Northeast, that you can get by with something pretty basic.

    You won't get any sparks or anything else from your chimney with a gasifier like the EKO because there's no creosote produced and the stack temps tend to be pretty low, like in the 300 to 400 degree range, compared to over 1,000 in a conventional wood stove or OWB. One problem with OWBs, especially in warmer climates, is that they produce a lot of smoke in addition to using more wood.

    New Horizon Corp. (http://www.newhorizoncorp.com) has a ready-to-use outdoor gasifier complete with hot water storage, all in one package. You pay a bit more, but most of the system design has already been done.

    Really, in its simplest incarnation, a hot water storage tank is simply another zone on your heating system, which can be activated or not, depending on your needs. And yes, as nofossil said, in your climate, you would probably only have to run the boiler every couple of days to get the heat you need, Phil.
  5. Philwill93

    Philwill93 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Near Rome Georgia
    I hope you guys are right about every couple days, that sounds good to me.
    I would like to find some prices on the 40 NextGen BioMax Gassification Boilers.
    And believe me no one around me and including me knows much about these.
    So I would have to rely on this forum and the dealers help. If I can't go with the
    the biomax and built in storage, maybe I could find some sort of storage to go in the
    crawl space (no basement) but it would have to lay on it's side, or maybe out in the well house.
    thanks again guys. More later I hope.

    Phil in Georgia
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, Phil, we have a couple of BioMax owners on this forum, and I hope they check in with some status reports before long. They are, as I recall, termite and Rob Reihnart. Try searching for BioMax and you'll find the guys I'm talking about.
  7. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Loc:
    Conklin, NY
    Phil - the storage doesn't have to be in your house. I put my EKO and a storage tank in a shed I built just for this purpose. If you put the boiler in your barn, you can put the storage tank there too. Just insulate it real well, and it will be fine.
  8. Jersey Bill

    Jersey Bill Member

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    Loc:
    Central NJ
    I think that a 75 ft piping run underground is pretty far. At the AHR show in NYC last week I saw a PEX tubing product that was pre-insulated and ready for direct burial. It wasnt cheap though.

    The best place would probably next to the house with the storage tank in a shed, as was mentioned.

    If the storage was 1000 gallons, and it was heated up to 190 deg, and drawn down to 160 deg, I calculate, if i did the math right, thats 250,000 btu's stored. Drawn out over 8 hours, its about 31 Mbh, not counting storage loss.

    cheers
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    200 foot underground loops are not uncommon with outdoor boilers and I've even heard of longer runs. You're right about the price on pre-assembled underground lines, but from what I've read here, it's probably worth it.
  10. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    My underground run is about 150 ft. No problems at all.

    I really think you can do better than those prepackaged setups for less money. All of the ones that I've seen don't have much between the pex and the outside of the shell. That thin spot is your limiting factor. Regardless of how you do it, insulating that run is important.
  11. termite

    termite New Member

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    Phil:
    I'm one of the Biomax owners Eric was talking about earlier. I'm very pleased with my 60. We have only had a couple of really cold snaps since I commisioned my system but it is working very well in 20 to 30 degree weather. I'm building one fire per evening and skipping the occasional evening when the next day will be mild. I'm filling the fire box about half full of wood (maybe less) and throwing a couple of 6"x6" lumps of coal on top. If the next day is really cold and the tank gets cooler I'll build a bigger fire. It looks like my 1200 gallon tank is perfect for my heating needs.

    I can't stress enough the need for a large tank and appropriate insulation. Before I put the tank in service I was reloading twice a day and idling a lot. I know there has been some discussion about tanks and their modest effect on efficiency. I guess my boiler was way oversized for my heat load because I'm using less than half the wood and coal. My friends with OWB's boilers are ready to switch after seeing my fuel usage.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the update, termite. I'm glad to hear it's working out so well. We haven't heard from Rob in awhile. I wonder how he's going. You guys both have really nice looking installs.
  13. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    SE Iowa
    Just wondering, as a newbee, I'm kind of confused by new horisons website. Is the Boimax made by the same people as the EKO? I see them both on that site with plenty of technical info but wondering (from the schematics) who they differ in efficiency and quality, etc.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Very similar design, but different manufacturers, I believe. Both are manufactured in Poland and sold in the U.S. through New Horizons, which is the importer. The EKO is sold through a dealer network (i.e., Cozy Heat) while I believe the BioMax is only available from New Horizon. I think they have the same controller. I know that the Biomax has only one blower on its 60 KW model, while the EKO has two. The EKO 60 has two nozzles, but I'm not sure about the BioMax.

    That about sums up all I know. If you call Zenon at New Horizon, I'm sure he'll have more useful information, including pricing.
  15. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Eric, It's hard to see the differences between the Bio and the EKO from Zennon's web site. Can all gassifiers burn coal? I know on his site is says the Bio can, but I couldn't tell the difference between what he has and what we have. And I may have access to some cheap chestnut coal.....
  16. termite

    termite New Member

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    I think the Biomax is the Volkswagon and EKO is the Audi or maybe even Porche. I don't know if one is more efficient than the other. I don't have any experience with the EKO, but if it performs better than the Biomax you can't go wrong.
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It looks to me like the BioMax is closer in design to the Czech Atmos, which Zenon used to sell. They both have that distinctive curved refractory and firebox door. I've been told that you can burn soft coal in an EKO. I believe Zenon heats his house with a combination of wood and coal--the coal for when it gets "cold" in West Virginia.

    I also understand that you can burn corn cobs in these things. I'm trying to get my mind around what a winter's worth of corn cob fuel looks like, but back home in Wisconsin, they just dump them in big piles in the fields and let them rot. Apparently there's not enough goodies to bother trying to plow them into the soil or make compost. More free fuel.
  18. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Ok, so the Biomax w/ storage? From the picture I can not see any significant storage container. Is this just a separate insulated storage unit that I can not see? And is the biomax for outdoor use just the biomax placed in a metal (insulated or not) storage shed?
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't know, but I'm guessing that the storage is underneath the boiler itself. And I believe everything is insulated and ready to go.
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