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Just starting to research. Help please.

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by jrod770, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    Loc:
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    I currently have a Clayton add on furnace that I have heated with for the past 4 years. Works great, used 6 cords of mixed wood last year. We think our youngest daughter may be having some breathing problems associated with the firewood stored and burnt in the house and I'm tired of the mess inside. I was originally thinking OWB all along, but then I started reading about gasification units. A little more info:House is 4 years old, 2300 sq ft, 2 x 6 exterior walls, R-30 in the 3rd floor, and very tight. No neighbors around for a good 1/2 mile and I am surrounded by 100 acres of woods to cut from. How much can I expect to invest in a system if i do all of the install? Install should not be a problem, I am a plumber. I see the Eko 25 for $3,990 currently which looks like it will handle the size of my house. How much more can I expect to pay to get the system up and running? I'm thinking of installing in exterior building that sits about 50' from the house.

    Thanks for the help

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  2. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Probably double or more the cost of the boiler to do it right with thermal storage + the building.

    I'd be thinking about a ground source heat pump if I was in your shoes and had that kind of a house to work with. 30% tax credit on the entire system cost through 2015 IIRC.
    Have you done a heat loss calc on the house? What is the current primary (automatically fired) heat source for the house now?
  3. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    No, I haven't done a heat loss calc yet. I have 3 heat sources to choose from, wood burner in bsmt, heat pump, and propane 90% furnace.
  4. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    I have seen price estimates double what the OWB will be, but it just doesn't compute, unless I'm missing something. A Hardy OWB for my house will be $5,000.00, the Eko will be $4,000.00. I will still have the same underground PEX in between the unit and the house and still use the same heat exchanger on top of the furnace. What extra costs, other than storage tanks, am I missing?
  5. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    You might not need to put it that far away unless there are other reasons besides smoke. You'll find that the EKO will smoke for 5-10 minutes when you start a fire, but pretty much no smoke at all after that. 50' is a long distance to tend the fire at night in the snow.

    Big-ticket items:
    1. Boiler
    2. Building
    3. Underground lines including excavation and insulation
    4. Circulator(s) & valves (including inlet temp protection)
    5. Storage tank (plus heat exchangers if not pressurized)
    6. pipe and fittings
    7. HX for house - you mention 'furnace' so I'm assuming hot air heat
    8. Controls
    The out-of-pocket cost for most of these can vary widely depending on your available time and skill at scrounging. For instance, you can pay a fair chunk for nice clean refurbished propane tanks (for storage) with all the fittings and supports welded up, or you might find raw (and rusty but serviceable) tanks at your local scrap yard for scrap metal prices.

    There's another active thread that mentions a guy who scrounged a ton of big-diameter culvert for his buried lines, or you can buy very high quality (and price) pre-made insulated lines.

    There are folks here who have built boiler outbuildings nicer than my house, and others who have been creative with 'found materials'.

    The short answer to your question: "It depends".
    woodsmaster and BoilerMan like this.
  6. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Welcome Jerid!

    This may well be the cause of your daughters issues but you also mention:

    Are you running any kind of mechanical ventilation system in your house?
    Have you verified the air exchange rate of your house with a blower door test? This would give you a good idea of how much mechanical ventilation (ACH) your house might require to keep your family healthy. What about your indoor humidity levels? Tight houses often have higher than ideal humidity levels without proper ventilation.

    You may have all this well covered but I just wanted to express my concern as this can be a cause of respiratory problems, especially in children.

    For more info on ventilation systems check out http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/how-do-everything and scroll down to "ventilation systems"

    Noah
    hobbyheater and BoilerMan like this.
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Regarding your daughters breathing issues......
    There is a lot of medical data being accumulated about the rise in childhood asthma and other respiratory aliments. Two things rise to the surface pretty quickly when you read through some of it and both have already been mentioned here.
    Wood, stored and burned in the home.....had experience with that when our kids were young, got rid of the wood and got rid of the constant ear, nose, throat infections simultaneously. (If the wood is not seasoned properly you can about triple the effect it has on indoor air quality)
    New homes that are very tight. (Very tight = less than .3-.4 air changes per hour.) These homes need to be mechanically ventilated (which virtually no builders and very few heating contractors can tell you about) or else just open a window or two on a regular basis.
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    BTW.....add a pellet boiler to your list of options.
    arbutus likes this.
  9. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I'm living in a very tight home and although I knew in advance what problems can occur I've been fighting problems that I just didn't think would have any effect until I experienced them. Moisture and condensation being the culprit. I had a small vent on the top of my unpressurized storage in order for it to breath and was able to detect the moisture it was causing in the house prompting me to install a snorkel tube to the outside. Roasting a turkey puts a noticeable amount of moisture in the house that can be detected by my glasses fogging up when I enter from outside as well as with the hygrometer that is hanging prominently in the center hall which I monitor several times a day.

    Drying clothing or towels on a rack is a no no and any other activity that could cause moisture is banned here until I get my air exchanger installed.

    Stacking firewood in the house will never be an acceptable practice. My wood comes in on a cart loaded with no more than I will be burning in that session. Mold is the thing you should worry about when you are in this situation and if you read up on mold you will learn that it is the cause of most respiratory problems.
  10. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    Check your humidity levels. Mold was mentioned as a potential cause of respiratory problems, and in the previous rental we had it was a problem if we let the humidity get too high. Running the bathroom fan nearly all the time in that house worked, as well as running a dehumidifier in the basement. You may need a HRV system to bring fresh air into the house. These allow the exhausted air to heat the incoming air.

    Before the rental we lived in a drafty house with 20 air changes per hour (well maybe 2 or 3) and heated primarily with a wood stove. I always had a hoarse cough during winter, and suspected it was due to the ash. Not now.

    The main costs have been covered, and they can vary widely.

    I'll recommend a pellet boiler if you have pellets available nearby as well.
  11. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    Humidity under control, hrv installed when house was built. No mold. I built house myself, with some help from others. Wood in house has been seasoned for about 3 years under cover in a machine shed, dry, very dry. Not really interested in pellet stoves. I have a never ending supply of wood and I'm not intersted in buying pellets. Also, I'm still young and enjoy cutting wood for the fun of it.
    Floydian and BoilerMan like this.
  12. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    Things that added up quickly in my system:

    1-1/2" copper pipe and lots of fittings
    Taco 4900 air separator
    25' of fin tube for No power dump
    Auto mag dump zone valve
    Danfoss valve
    Lots of ball valves
    Dirt trap
    Expansion tank
    Insulation for Tank
    Lots of miscellaneous pieces and parts

    That being said if you are set on burning cord wood, a gasifier WITH storage is a Great way to do it! I had 1 season with a OWB, 1 season gasifier w/o storage, and 2 seasons with storage.


    gg
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  13. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    gg, I should have been a little more specific. I am a plumber and I work for our family's business. That being said, all of those materials you listed, I can buy at my cost and save some money. What should I be looking for in storage? Will water heaters work, that aren't hooked to electric or gas, just simply storage?
  14. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    It sounds as though you and I have much in common.

    Do you have forced air as your posts suggest but do not confirm? If so, I'd say that is one huge area of respatory problems. Electro-Static filters can help, but I'm a wethead, water heat all the way!

    Have you considered building a small shed roofed boiler shed directly off your house? Wood, boiler, and storage in there. You can have a 36" steel exterior door from your living space into it. This would effectively separate all wood mess from the house as well as save you the buried line cost/heat loss. Plus you save the cost of one wall on your building ;)

    TS
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  15. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    You want way more volume than water heaters. Most use 1000 gal or more. Used LP tanks are the biggest seller for pressureized storage, you just need a big expansion tank.

    TS
  16. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Like Boilerman says, for storage think big. There may be a lot of used anhydrous ammonia tanks in your area. Virtually the same as propane tanks and they clean up more easily.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
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  17. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    Boilerman, yes, propane forced air, with a heat pump as well. I already have a suitable detached building within 25' of the house that can house the unit and wood supply. Not too worried about the buried lines, we have a backhoe here on the farm.

    So what I'm picturing is a $4,000.00 heater, underground coils that I would use with this or if I went OWB, a heat exchanger for the water heater, a storage tank, and a heat exchanger for the forced air furnace? Is this all there really is to it or am I forgetting an important step? It sounds to me as if I can pull this off for under $6,000.00, which will be cheaper than the Hardy or Central boiler route I was originally thinking.
  18. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    If your thinking six grand. plan on seven...
  19. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    If you are using bladder type expansion tanks they are $500 per 500 gallons of storage. If you want to pm me your email i can send you a spreadsheet of most of the items i bought and what they cost. Everything adds up.
  20. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Your forgetting expansion tank, air eliminator, overheat dump, pipes and fittings, circulators, return temp protection. etc...
  21. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    still way better off than a Hardy even if you have a couple grand more in it.. You do need dry wood for a gasser though.
  22. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    My pipe & fittings cost me way more than I was anticipating. 1-1/4" ball valves add up buying them by the dozen. Odd things I needed that the local supplier didn't carry.

    I came in pushing 15k, all in - but just getting my boiler to me was about a 2k hit right off the bat (frieght, duty & bad exchange rate timing), plus I also put in a new 80 gallon electric hot water heater, sidearm exchanger, and a backup electric boiler. Sales tax 15% on everything bought here. Way too many trips back & forth to the supplier. Misc. carpentry type stuff to prepare the spot & box in/insulate my storage. The 'little stuff' soon adds up - way up.

    Worst part is I'm still not completely done.
  23. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Its all coming right back to this. The foundation on which all proper heating systems are designed. Once you have the numbers you can find a balance between what you want and what you need.

    For me, I wanted to batch burn-one fire a day at design temp. This gives me a solid two days between fires during avg winter temps. I LOVE storage!

    Noah
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  24. jrod770

    jrod770 New Member

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    I attempted heat loss calcs for the house, which total number do I need to look for?
  25. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    Total btu/hr at the design (coldest) day will help you size the heat source, be it furnace or boiler or heat pump.
    Room by room btu/hr (or zone by zone or floor by floor) will help you size the heat emitters, whether in floor staple up, radiators, or baseboard.

    Wirsbo and Zurn have good PDF manuals that give a good explanation and have charts that detail the amount of heat emitted through various means at varying water temperatures and pressure loss tables and a wealth of other information.

    Google Zurn Radiant Heating Design and Application Guide
    and go here and click on the link to the Complete Design Manual for the Wirsbo version http://www.uponorpro.com/en/Technical-Support/Manuals.aspx



    I've seen it recommended by several on this site to size emitters to make use of lower temperature water to give you an increased capacity in your storage tank. If forced air is working for you and you want to keep system cost down you only need to worry about the heat exchanger capacity. Otherwise, you have the option of installing a couple of radiators in locations that seem cool. You just need to size the piping arrangement to accommodate that either now or in the future.

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