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Is storage a "must" with a gasifier?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by bigbear, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. bigbear

    bigbear Member

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    I've been trying to read up on indoor gasification boilers and it seems like the majority of folks using them are also using storage. I'm going to be buying a boiler in the next few months (not determined which one yet), but I don't really have the space in my basement to add alot of storage, if any. So, in a situation like mine, is a gassifier a wise choice, or should I look at other options. Does anyone burn a gasser without storage? My main concern is that without storage will they adequately heat my 20 year old 2300sq./ft. (1150 each floor) raised ranch home through the night and while I'm at work during the day.

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  2. BadgerBoilerMN

    BadgerBoilerMN New Member

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    A gasser generally makes for a hotter cleaner more efficient burn. Storage makes it last longer and cost less to operate. The size of the particular boiler and its operating characteristics and how it matches up with your existing radiation will determine how well it heats your home. You will likely want to store domestic hot water though. We use indirect water heaters in our designs.
  3. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I don't have storage. I have a 2500 sq ft ranch, single floor. I am located in Northwest NJ, on a ridge at 1k feet elevation with a clean line of attack for wind.

    My gassifier has EASILY heated my house through the low temps this week. We have been ~5F without wind chill at night and around 15F without windchill during the days for the past few days.

    It has also supplied me with hot water for 2 showers/day and running the dishwasher every 2 days.

    I am able to load the boiler 2x daily if I want to accomplish this. I load it once at 6:30AM for the day load and again at 6:30pm for the night load. I usually check in on the boiler before bed just because I sleep better that way :)

    I have burned 40 cu ft of wood since Saturday to accomplish this. This wood consumption is WAY higher than I was experiencing when it was ~30F outside. I am satisfied, we haven't burned a drop of oil since Nov 19th. Heck, I don't even have an oil burner hooked up right now.

    Would storage be "better"? I'm not sure, but THEY say it would be.

    ac
  4. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    If i descide not to go with storage theni will be getting a woodgun. Avc wont stop singing and dancing about how much he loves his. I am leaning towards vedolux and storage tho, well this week anyway. And there seems to be a learning curve no matter what system you get. Theres plenty of time for research before next heating season but get up on your wood supply now.
  5. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Whether it is strictly a must or not depends on the boiler. Eg., avc's Woodgun & most others it isn't (they will function without it by going into idle [closing air intake] when up to hot temp), mine it is (burns wide open all the time so must have storage to take the extra heat when up to hot temp).

    If you get talking past the functionality requirements, it's more of a debate - I would be sold on storage even if my boiler could function without it, but not all are. It adds a lot of convenience and gives you more to come & go on with firings. A firing cushion, so to speak. I loaded my last load of wood in my boiler at 10pm last night (a partial load since my storage was almost up to temp), and am about to go check on my storage temps to see when I will need to light again. It's sunny but windy here, -15c. I might light right away, might be a couple more hours yet. This is worst case/coldest condtions, normally I can go to supper time or early evening before re-firing. The coolest our two storey house gets now at any time is 19c. The main difference in firing operation between storage & non-storage is that with it, I need to make a new fire every day (nothing but cold ash left), whereas those without can likely find enough hot coals left from the last fire that they can just scrape those together, add wood & go again.

    But we ALL like not burning oil.
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I've run both ways. Storage might provide some gains in efficiency (less idling), but for me it provided a HUGE increase in comfort and convenience. I can build fires when I want to, and the house temperatures stays pretty much constant. When it's warmer and sunnier, I can go two or even three days between fires, and I *never* have to worry about running out of hot water (which would ironically get me in hot water).

    Last I looked some manufacturers strongly suggested storage, and some required it.

    If you can't do storage as part of the initial project, see if it's possible to plan for future storage and plumb accordingly.
  7. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Why wouldn't the house temps be constant without storage? For the entire learning period with my boiler I had never experienced more than 2F off the set point on my thermostats. That includes periods of running out of wood, losing the fire and anything else that had the boiler losing temp.

    When I installed my boiler I left provisions for storage. One day I may go back and add storage. The problem is, in my area I just can't find propane tanks cheap. Adding storage to my system looks like it would cost me ~$2k+ between tanks, controls, insulation, pumps, etc. Right now I am already burning no oil, so I am already on the "recovery" portion of my investment. Adding storage would just aid in convenience and I don't feel inconvenienced in the least right now. If that changes, I'll cross that bridge later.

    Another factoid: NO ONE with storage has publicly stated life was better WITHOUT storage. So, I am confident that if you did install storage you would like it.

    ac
  8. bmblank

    bmblank Minister of Fire

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    I would absolutely go with storage for the reasons just posted. Build a fire at convenience instead of doing it because its cold. I'm getting a couple days out of mine in the winter. Its also serving my domestic, so in the summer I'm expecting a few weeks between fires maybe (hopefully).
  9. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    Gotta look how much storage you could fit and how it would benifit you. For my lifestyle of i could not fit enough storage such that i had to light two or more fires a day then it would not be worth it to me. I am currently planning to start off with 1000 gallons and hope to only need one fire a day unless the high temp of the day remains much below freezing. I thought i had decent insulation in my 2x6 constructed 2400sqft house but my oil burner has been struggling to bring the house up to a blazing 62'. It just shut off now. 18'f outside. This is partly because i let the downstairs go to 55' at night. Most on here that are currently burning wood would consider this unsuitable living conditions but i cant afford the oil. Gotta make 330 more gallons last till july. Oh and i got vaulted cielings upstairs.

    Maple, how much area are you heating and to what temp?
  10. bigbear

    bigbear Member

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    what gasser do you have?
  11. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    He has a Wood Gun as do I. Since you are in PA, why not pay a visit to Alternative Heating Systems and see them 1st hand?
    I would LOVE to have storage, esp in the shoulder seasons. To me it's mostly a convenience factor...not a necessity. In Oct to early Nov and then mid March to April I wish I had it...otherwise I never even think about it.

    2 things you should consider before "pulling the trigger" is 1. do you have well seasoned wood ready to burn? 2. Is the structure well insulated. Can't stress enough about how important #1 is regardless of what unit you buy. #2 will save you work and $$ in the long run.
    711mhw likes this.
  12. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Your conditions sound like my house the first year I lived in it. We kept the thermostat down to make the oil last. I bought the wood boiler to save on the heating costs, even if I am just heating the great outdoors. This summer will be insulation and weather stripping upgrades. Those are easily the best paybacks, and if you can do something thats easy to insulate your house, I would start there for sure.

    What size is your oil burner, and what are your heat emitters? Fin tube? Radiators?
  13. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    90,000 btu/hr installed right before i bought the house a little over a year ago. Slant fin basebord. Outside temp did go down to 7'f last night.
  14. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    While I would never "fight" someone over the benefits of insulation...most estimates place insulation investments at 5-10 year pay back. I'll have my wood boiler "paid back" in 3.

    Get off the oil first. Get your savings back up from the initial hit. Then move on to insulation with the "surplus" created each year after that.

    The big hurdle is to just get a boiler going in the first place. Keep the scope of the project small so you can both afford it and accomplish it. Leave yourself some expansion room and you can always tailor the plan and setup later as time and money allow.

    ac
    CTFIRE likes this.
  15. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Now in our 4th year heating with our BioMass an inefficient 4800 sf historic home without storage. For us payback was in about 2-3 years because we were heating our old monster with propane. After the first year finally got better seasoned wood and got the kinks out. They will absolutely heat your place but for us, without my wife adding some wood during the day our house would be cool when I get home after my typical 10-11 hr day. I load at about 9-10pm and by 4-6am depending on the temps it needs loading. I will be adding storage for our 5th heating season to add convenience.
  16. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    I think it makes the best of your time and wood. I don't think you need it (if your boiler can function with out storage, mine requires it) but it's going to be like running more like a conventional boiler.

    K
  17. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    First floor 1500 sq.ft, second floor 1200 sq.ft., basement 1500 sq.ft. unfinished but mostly insulated.

    The thermostats all set back to 19c at 11pm (not sure if setbacks help - it's a throw back to days with my old unit plus I find hotter than that upsets my sleeping). Downstairs goes back up to 21c at 6:30am, upstairs back up to 21c at 6pm. The basement is not piped for heat since it's not a living space, but I have one end of my storage enclosure cracked open to let heat out right now as it was getting a bit too chilly down there for my liking. I think I would be living here alone in short order if it was only 55f.
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm currently thinking pellet boiler. But that can change. :)
  19. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    That is nice to hear. I think i would be very happy with a 1000 gallon tank. I have the room to stand it vertical in the barn just outside the room that the boiler will be in. Will be insulating room and tank hopefully with spray foam when they spray the trench. Finances willing of course...
  20. bigbear

    bigbear Member

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    I probably have 10 cords of dry hard maple, cherry and red oak cut, split and stacked in my wood shed, so wood shouldn't a problem. As soon as the weather breaks I'll start cutting for next winter. Tons of dead hard maples standing around here so getting good wood isn't an issue.

    I am not sure what insulation is in the walls of the house. I'm currently in the process of finishing my basement and just put R-19 up the whole way around. The basement is partially exposed.

    I plan on going to the home/builders show at the farm show building. Hopefully there will be a couple different brands represented there under one roof. If not I'll just go a little further straight to AHS.
  21. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Wow! You are much better prepared to heat with wood than we were. In the end it came down to 2 boilers in our price range for us since I do not have room for storage and I wanted my boiler inside the house. The WG fit(barely) into the basement without making any modifications to the house. I had read good and not so good things about these boilers while doing my research. I think for the most part this will be true of most units.
  22. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    I have 500 gallons of storage and I hardly notice it. Once the boiler runs out of wood, the storage cools down fast. 1000 gallons would add to the convenience, but my wife drew the line with one submarine in the basement.
    flyingcow likes this.
  23. James Reimer

    James Reimer New Member

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    I think the usefulness of storage would depend on many factors. I go through a full load every 12 hours in the coldest months, so storage wouldn't be that useful for me during those times. However during the shoulder season it would help my efficiency out, as the boiler wouldn't be idling as much (but I would be lighting more fires instead of just raking the coals and throwing in more wood).

    I think if you size it right to burn a 3/4 to full load every 12 hours in the coldest months you wouldn't see a great benefit to storage. But if you want to use it year round for DHW then yes, storage would be very useful to the cleanliness and efficiency of your boiler.
    711mhw likes this.
  24. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    You're sounding like someone that hasn't experienced the joys of having storage.
    mikefrommaine likes this.
  25. James Reimer

    James Reimer New Member

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    I admit that I have never had storage. But I will also admit that I would like storage! :) Someday...It's just not in the budget right now.

    FWIW my personal opinion to date is if you live in a moderate climate with a fairly insulated home there are great benefits to storage. If you live in a very cold climate with a leaky home the benefits and ROI of storage decreases as the boiler is idling less.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't storage also give you a greater margin of error in correctly sizing the boiler for your needs? If it's too small for night temperatures it could make it up during the day and if it's too big for your home it wouldn't sit idling?

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