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Lambda controlled boilers

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Treefarmer, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. Treefarmer

    Treefarmer Member

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    Hello all,

    I am a long time lurker here.

    Hopefully not duplicating a query about these hi tech boilers.

    Are the oxygen sensors and computers merely added on to an existing gasifier design or has the boiler been manufactured differently?

    Can a lambda equipped boiler run if/when the sensors or controls die? If so, How much efficiency is lost?

    Are these sensors proprietary, or off the shelf components that are readily available?

    Thanks

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  2. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    I can only answer part of your question. The only thing special about a Lambda boiler is the Lambda controls. The boiler is not manufactured differently to any real extent. Randy
  3. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    I can only speak accurately about the effecta lambda boilers regarding the O2 sensors.

    Here are the facts:

    1.) Effecta lambda boilers can be run without the lambda sensor and the result is a slightly lower and less consistent secondary chamber temperature and about 50F higher flue temperatures. In addition, the boiler takes more time and hassle to get started and shift into the "high burn, gasification mode".

    2.) If the specially selected Bosch O2 sensor were to fail, the lambda control panel allows an operator to easily "disconnect" the lambda sensor from the overall operation of the boiler. This is done very simply by holding the A & B buttons down at the same for approx. 5-7 seconds, at which time the screen will become dark and will flash continuously (thus indicating the "emergency mode" is active.) When in this mode the primary draft defaults to approx. 70% open and the secondary draft defaults to about 30% open upon pushing the start button. The position of these stepper motor controlled drafts will remain the same throughout the entire burn when in this mode. Please keep in mind that other than an annual cleaning, the lambda sensor is hassel free and will last for many, many years. This is true of all the sensors and entire digital control system on our effecta lambda boilers.

    3.) I have attached a graph of the performance of my effecta lambda 35 boiler with and without the lambda sensor "active". Please look at it closely and you will see the items I listed above displayed in the graphs.

    I hope this helps you to understand the lambda system on the high quality, high efficiency lambda controlled effecta boilers.

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Attached Files:

  4. Treefarmer

    Treefarmer Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    The graphs are great. They illustrate nicely the virtues of these controls. I like the efficiency gains, and emmission reductions coupled with the convenience of firing the boiler.

    So effectively these boilers can function the same as a 'standard' gasifier if a sensor or module fails.

    What is the expected lifespan of these parts and are they in inventory at all times?

    Are they cheap enough to have on hand when they eventually fail?

    Given the relative rarity of these boilers parts availability is a concern.

    Thanks again
  5. It seems like an infomercial for Lambda controlled boilers around here lately.

    For me the extra cost, complexity and potential for problems wasn't worth it. Though I may be biased as my Honda needs a new secondary o2 sensor thanks to the infamous p0420 diagnostic code. Off topic I know, but I am still getting 37 mpg so I guess the car can run fine without the fancy pollution controls :)
  6. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I have been told that O2 controls for fossil fuel boilers run anywhere from $400-700. .......no idea at all what they cost for these small wood boilers. Wringing that last 3-5% efficiency out of a wood boiler, heck, any boiler for that matter is expensive and requires some pretty finely tuned a sophisticated control work. Great while it works but kinda tough when it fails.
  7. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Up kinda late heaterman, your night on call??
  8. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    I am making this post in response to treefarmers recent post.

    YES, the effecta lambda boiler can be operated as a normal, non-lambda boiler with the lambda sensor de-activated for whatever the reason. Once again, when the lambda control circuit has been de-activated on the effecta lambda boilers the primary draft defaults to 70% open and the secondary draft opening defaults to 30% open.

    With regards to the longevity of the Bosch O2 sensor, it is very similar to that of an automotive O2 sensor and thus can be expected to operate for many, many years without problems. The only maintenance required/recommended is an annual cleaning of the O2 sensor surface with a brush.

    I cannot speak for the availability of replacement Bosch O2 sensors for other makes and models of boilers. However, for the effecta lambda boilers I can say with 100% accuracy that there are 2 Bosch O2 sensors sitting on a shelf in a warm warehouse in East Jordan, Michigan collecting dust. I have yet to have any issues with O2 senors on any effecta lambda boiler in operation in North America.

    A quick note about lambda sensor's in general - Lambda controlled sensors have been around (on automobiles) for a very long time and are extremely reliable. Bosch is the "king" of O2 sensors and has also been around (and is very well recognized) for many, many years. Thus, I'm a little surprised by the reflectance of many wood boiler users to at least look at a lambda controlled boiler. There seems to be a somewhat "negative/sceptical attitude" towards lambda controlled wood boilers in general.

    Lambda controlled wood boilers have been around for many, many years in other country's but are just now becoming readily available in the US. Effecta has been using Bosch O2 sesnors on its lambda boilers for almost 10 years now and they are extremely dependable. In addition, the price of lambda controlled wood gasification boilers is not much more than the price of a non-lambda controlled boiler (maybe 20% higher or so - similar to that of a water storage system).

    With all the benefits of a lambda controlled wood gasification wood boiler it only makes sense to a least check these boilers out when spending 10-12K for a wood gasification boiler system with storage!

    I guess its like many things in life - change is hard to accept!

    I Hope this post helps others to understand the simplicity and reliability of lambda controlled wood gasification boilers.

    Any other lambda controlled boiler users out there? Please make comments about your experience with lambda controlled wood boilers so that others may get "real world" feedback from "real world" experiences.



    Brian
  9. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    If only it were so simple. I guess what you're saying is that the sensor is the only thing that can go wrong so let's not worry about the controller, the steppers themselves, the wiring harness. Seems naive.
    Just so we have our terminology straight, how many 'many's are there in a dozen years? Just a couple or is it a few?
    How many hundred thousand units would that be?
    You may be missing the point. Even if what you say is very, very true, who really, really needs it? How will it make my house more reliably the temperature I desire? I come home, ignite the charcoal, load the firebox and that's it.

    --ewd
  10. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Schedule got screwed up yesterday because of that leaking boiler and hung me up all day when I was supposed to be getting ready to hit the Manistee with my son Drew this morning. Hence I was up rigging tackle at O:dark30 this morning.

    Wouldn't you know we got down on the river for about an hour and got a phone call from the wife saying someone had a CO detector going off. 140ppm in the house. So guess what happened to today's fishing excursion...........

    Drew did manage to land a sparkling little 17" rainbow. Man, was that little guy pretty in the early morning sunshine! Last week the boys came home with one that hit 11 pounds and a second one that went 7. THAT was a meal fit for a king!
  11. rpmm70

    rpmm70 Member

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    Ewdudley, on that note, if lambda technology is not a "must", then neither is gasification, so we should all go out and get OWB smoke dragons. OWB still perform the same task of heating water, but the efficiencies are not there. I would much rather cut/split/stack wood for a gasser than on OWB and alternately I would rather cut/split/stack for a lambda controlled gasser than a plain-ol-gasser. Less wood used therefore less time spending to cut/split/transport/stack/transport/stack/burn the wood = more time with the family and doing the things I could or would rather be doing. One draw back to lambda is the initial cost of investment, but I would like to let that increase in cost take place to allow ultimately less wood to be used. Merely my opinion
  12. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Now there's a whopper. Normally invalid straw man arguments are a whole lot more subtle than this.
  13. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    The advantage I see to these boilers over the regular down drafters is the learning curve. When I first started to use my boiler I
    couldn't figure out Why somtimes it burnt great and somtimes it smoked. Finnaly I figured out it wasn't getting enough air and
    I made an adjustment and It's burn't great every since. Also a slight efficieny gain on start ups, but I don't think the efficiency
    would be enough to justify the 20% greater price. The leavning curve and slight adjustments down the road with changes in fuel
    may be enough for some to justify the price difference. My opinion. others may vary
  14. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    When I was in Sweden 2 years ago (meeting with Effecta AB and attending the World Energy Fair) I really got an education on how other parts of the world do "Alternative Energy" and the European's concern (especially the Sweden people) for our environment.

    In Sweden they are:

    1.) Pulling stumps when logging timber and then grinding these stumps into wood chips for efficient conversion into energy.
    2.) Requiring that the general population sort it's garbage so that the food scraps can be placed in a large tank where they can extract Methane gas from the decomposition process.
    3.) Very concerned about the environment and the efficient use of its natural resources (they have much less natural resources than we have in the US).

    I realize that in the US there has been alot of talk about our environment but very little action (unfortunately, politics more often than not gets in the way of these "proven" energy efficient technologies becoming more popular in the US) . In addition, as a general rule, US citizens take for granted what we have been blessed with in the US.

    Thus, I have made the decision to be one of the few that will bring more "action" and less "talk" to the US with regards to the clean, efficient burning of bio mas fuel.

    I am confident that as time goes by, lambda controlled wood gasifiaction boilers will become the norm rather than the exception.

    I enjoy the challenge of bringing a proven technology (not to mention a great product) to a great country where wood gasification is relatively unknown and lambda controlled wood gasification is both relatively unknown and not fully understood.

    If we look around I think most of us can recognize/agree that the way in which wood has been converted to energy for many, many years in the US and Canada is quickly and drastically changing and I find it very rewarding and enjoyable to be actively involved in educating and implementing the proven technologies that will help to:

    1.) Reduce the consumption of our precious natural resources.
    2.) Greatly reduce the harmful emissions that are a by-product of the conversion of wood into energy.
    3.) Help to ensure a better environment for my kids and their grand kids.

    I also enjoy the different scenery one sees by being out in front, leading the pack (with a proven technology and great effecta lambda product) as I get very board being in the back of the pack, doing what everyone else is doing, getting the same results everyone else is getting and seeing the same scenery everyone else is seeing.

    I'm sure we have all heard that there are leaders and followers. I have nothing at all against those who like to follow but for myself, I have decided to be a leader and teach as many people as I can how we can conserve our natural resource's, live in a cleaner environment and better use the resources and blessings that our Awesome GOD has given us!

    Brian
  15. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I would like to see that comment expanded on further. Seems 'out there'.
  16. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Part of me is fascinated by lambda control technology, in that it seems like a great way to achieve and maintain an efficient burn not only during various phases of the fire, but also in the face of fuel (wood) that can vary hugely in moisture content, species, and even variations within a species.

    I am glad to hear that at least this lambda boiler has a "limp" mode in case the sensor goes out, so that one is not dead in the water.

    My one remaining hesitation (other than that I can't be boiler shopping since I already have a satisfactory unit) would be the long run availability of the actual electronic controls, stepper motors, etc.-- I am an electronics afficionado by hobby, and have been since very young, so am not (at all) put off by potential needs for repair, but I _have_ been put off by situations in which a circuit board or integrated circuit is not repairable and has been discontinued, rendering the rest of an otherwise still serviceable major appliance a big doorstop.

    I believe that such long-run repair and maintenance is possible if a company is committed to that level of support-- which I hope is the case here, I've just learned the hard way that not all manufacturers are, and to not assume anything.
  17. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell Minister of Fire

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    Maple,
    You can't fault eliot for his opinion as it is based on his experiences and comfort level, just not sure why the negativaty about o2 CONTROL ! Except a portion of residential boilers, most all industrial/commercial boilers employ o2 control, he knows this is not new.
  18. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Brian I will loudly second your comments regarding the backwardness of the USA in terms of energy efficiency and conservation. Dealing with builders who look at nothing but first cost, and trying to design systems that offer maximum performance are two things that are not yet on the same page here in the good 'ol USofA. Just look at the hesitation to adopt variable speed pumps and the systems that work well with them for example. In many cases a system that is designed to work with variable flow rates such as a panel rad system can reduce electrical costs by 80%. Payback is one side of that equation but we here in the US must also learn to consider the environmental and energy footprints we leave for our kids and grandkids.
    It frustrates me to no end when I constantly hear things from the OWB gasser salesmen like "our unit tested at 85%" or, "My boiler was tested by the EPA and they rated it at 94%", when I know that without a doubt those statements are false. Customers believe it though and they keep selling the bloody things.

    Feeling another rant coming on so I better just quit here. It is the weekend you know............
  19. rpmm70

    rpmm70 Member

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    You may be missing the point. Even if what you say is very, very true, who really, really needs it? How will it make my house more reliably the temperature I desire? I come home, ignite the charcoal, load the firebox and that's it.

    --ewd[/quote]

    My basis for my comment is, this is the same methodology for an OWB. Is a gasser really a necessity? no, (atleast for areas that have not banned or outlawed OWB) I think we know enough to not to want to have to cut/split/stack 15-20 cords of wood a year to maintain our homes at 72-74 degrees. A gasser drastically improves the efficiency of the system so ultimately we are not spending all year cutting wood. A lambda boiler is just another step towards greater effiencies to be had. Less wood used with the same overall end result. I personally lead a very busy lifestyle and do not have time nor the ability to cut that much wood. I have 4400 Sq. Ft. of house, an attached 2.5 car garage, 2100 Sq. Ft. Shop and DHW, All to be heated with a boiler. I could do it with an OWB. I would have to quit my job to be able to cut all this wood.

    So ultimately, you are correct. It is not "needed" (Lambda). But it can make it even more of an enjoyable experience/process. Again, merely my opinion...
  20. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    No faulting of ew in my post.
  21. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Of course industrial boilers use closed loop combustion control. If you're generating 250,000 pounds per hour of 850 psi steam, an improvement in efficiency of 0.6% is a big deal. For 3% on my 70,000 btu per hour wood boiler I couldn't much care less. You may, but that's up to you.

    And I'm in no way negative about what lambda control may have to offer, I merely object to the idea that somehow it is invalid to neither want nor need it.

    Here's the thing: the difference between my clean-burning easy-starting downdraft gasifying boiler and a new Effecta 35kW lambda control unit with a full set of on-site spare components is a new electric SuperSplit, plus a new plasma cutter, plus a 1951 Super C in good working order with new rubber.

    --ewd
  22. thecontrolguy

    thecontrolguy Member

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    Yes! I am an electrician, electronics technologist, and power engineer. Figure the number of old controllers I've tossed out and and then had to reconfigure the system as the board and/or parts are not available anymore. There is such a thing as planned obsolescence in engineering design.

    As many folks have found with vehicles, when the computer that reads the O2 sensor dies, you are dead on the road. No limp-home then. Same for these boilers unless the user can, and has acces to, adjust the primary and secondary dampers manually and hold them in place. I would wager a bet, based on LOTS of service experience, that the controllers for these boilers will be the achilles-heel. It is relatively easy to find the field parts for old control systems, like temp sensors, damper actuators, CO2 sensors, etc. But, try to find the controller board. Everyone with electronics is one power surge away from a dead system, not to mention the components inside dying for no special reason. Anyone lost a computer hard-drive or power supply? 'Nuff said. Plan for it, or expect the need for a back-up plan if you have a complex system.
  23. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I have had a computer mother board die suddenly with no warning. A very maddening experience given the way they are constantly obsoleting themselves - it was far from a replace-and-carry-on experience.

    I suspect I am not alone on that one?

    I can certainly see the side of those who favour increased efficiency with increased technology.

    I can also certainly see the side of those who favour increased simplicity, reliability & repairability at the expense of minimal gains in efficiency.
  24. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    Mr. Controls Guy,

    Thanks for your input as you hit the "nail on the head" with your reply.

    Thus, that is why we have (2) of every electronic part on the effecta lambda boilers (35 and 60kw) kept in our warm warehouse in East Jordan, MI. (see attached photo of fan motors, fan motor capacitors, lambda control circuit boards, stepper motors, Bosch CO2 sensors, temperature sensors and transformers).

    Thus, we are able to overnight any electrical part on the effecta lambda boiler to anyone in North America if the need arises.

    Please also keep in mind that all effecta boilers come with a 2 year warranty for all electrical items and the ceramics. When doing my research on manufactures warranties in the initial stages of this business venture, I noticed that most manufactures will warranty the electrical items for only 12 months. The effecta lambda boilers themselves have a 20 year limited warranty as do most reputable boiler manufactures.

    Brian

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  25. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    For me a Lambda boiler would be a big help. I need to babysit my boiler for quite some time untill the air intake flap is down. The point that most gassers are more user friendly is well taken. I wouldn't want to take a chance though when I replace my boiler. I hear one owner say brand X is great & the next that it is troublesome. Lambda is consistency. I would gladly spend the extra money for this. The controllers/controls seem pretty bulletproof, not saying they can't go bad. My Cummins has an ECM(engine control module) & the failure rate is incredibly low. I like simplicity although not at the "cost" of user ease & predictability, Randy

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