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large boiler for my dad

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by brian89gp, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    My dad heats his couple greenhouses with wood, used to heat them with propane but it was running $60k plus a year to do so. He switched to wood and now goes through 20-30 cords. His heating now is accomplished by double barrel 55 gallon drum stoves in the smaller greenhouses and a large forced air wood furnace for the larger one. He then has kerosene torpedo heaters to act as backup. Problem is he is getting old and to keep the greenhouses warm through the winter he has to feed the fires ever 2 hours and by feeding the fires I mean 1 wheelbarrow full of wood per stove and two for the furnace.

    I am looking to see if this can be accomplished by a wood boiler and very large storage system so that he can load up a hell of a lot of wood during the day and let it burn and the heat is used during the night. Also a boiler that could take 4' long pieces and be loaded by a tractor to reduce the amount of cutting and lifting.

    Going off of the propane heater size before the switch to wood, there are 2 smaller greenhouses and their heaters were 350k BTU each and one larger one that had 900k BTU worth of heaters. Due to the extreme amount of work it is to keep them heated with wood he shortened some of the greenhouses so there is roughly 1 MBTU heat load total now in-between all of them.

    What I was thinking:
    1. Several large popane takes to act as storage. Insulated,
    2. Fan coils in each greenhouse running off the propane tanks. The greenhouses are generally held at 40-45* so there should be a large delta for good efficiency using the fan coils and 180* tank temp.
    3. Very large central wood boiler. Not a gassifier as he burns fresh cut and somewhat green wood and I do not think that will ever change (getting 2-3 years ahead at 30 cords per year is quite a task!). If a secondary burn stove could handle it then great, otherwise an old smoke dragon style.
    4. Would prefer if somehow the boiler could be loaded by a set of forks on the back of a tractor
    5. Boiler would have a huge firebox size to try and minimize the reloading

    The heat loss is almost always during the night unless it is cloudy during the day. Even at single digit temps if it is sunny the greenhouses generally stay warm enough.

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  2. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Doesn't somebody make (commercial)OWB's that are fed either by the pallet load of wood or have a set of loading doors that you can dump the wood in with a bucket? Saw it somewheres.
  3. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    Try to search bigburner he has a huge boiler that I believe he built.

    gg
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I would go with a chip system. I think there was a discussion on here recently about that.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  5. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    Will do. I think I saw a picture of his a while back.

    Any idea's/suggestions about storage? The required amounts are absolutely massive, a 1 MBTU load for 12 hours with a 40* delta is something like 24,000 gallons. The two options I can think of is separate storage with fan coils or storage in the greenhouse that heats via radiation of the tank itself.
  6. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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    30 chord @ $90 = $2700 thats a great savings! Is he heating his home with wood also? Is it near his green houses?
  7. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    They live on 40 acres and get wood from the neighbors 80 acres as well so it is all free. But can you imagine being 65 and cutting, splitting, and burning 30 cord over 4 months?

    The house is heated by wood but they only go through maybe 1.5 cord a year.
  8. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    90/ chord? Wish I could get one for that, I may stop cutting my own...

    Wood chip, wood pellet, coal would be my research, in that order.

    You'd need an awful lot of storage with a wood gasser to get any kind of off-time with that kind of heat load.

    TS
  9. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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    Well thats impressive! I saw a while back, a commercial log sized boiler on youtube. It was in Canada I believe. It could eat 4,8 or 12' logs. If he hired a logger to haul out two years ahead I believe the savings of dry wood may offset the cost of logger. just a thought.
  10. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    needs something that will load itself.

    pellets, chips, coal, like the previous poster said.

    there's a happy medium there. a price has to be applied to getting up every two hours. Maybe buying pellets or chips isn't IDEAL compared to cheap wood. But it's better than propane... and a single boiler would be a nice solution.

    JP
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  11. Are you sure about the heat loss. Just because there were 350k boilers doesn't mean that is the heat loss. I doubt he is outputting anywhere near that burning green wood in a 55 gallon barrel stove.

    Burning green wood is a waste of time and resources. Pay someone to cut and split enough wood to get ahead a couple years. It will be the cheapest upgrade he can buy.

    If you go into the night with storage up to temp and a fire going then storage won't need to be sized to last the entire night. Just the time between when the fire goes out and he wants to get up to reload.

    It seems like a garn or two would be the natural choice once he decides burning green wood is a waste of time.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  12. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    It is an uneducated guess, if anyone knows how to do a heat loss calc on a greenhouse I'll run it. He has two of the double 55 gallon stoves along with two 60k BTU kerosene torpedo heaters (for backup and supplimental on the real cold nights) per smaller greenhouse that used to have a 350k forced air propane heater. The stoves look like the one in the below link, they aren't efficient by any means but they do put out a large amount of heat (a heaping wheel barrow full every 2 hours...). I've read 200-240k peak.

    http://www.northlineexpress.com/dou...ID=974960795&gclid=CJm76tWUyLQCFYKPPAodPTYASQ

    I agree and have been working on it. 100+ cords is quite a task to do. The one thing I cannot do is put in a system that for if any reason the seasoned stuff runs out and he has to burn green and it won't work properly.


    I'll look into pellets though he would still be looking at around $10k a year for them. Cheap is a requirement, otherwise he will continue killing himself to do it for almost free.
  13. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Ok.. if he's determined to use wood.. maybe a one time deal where he hires some help to get way ahead for dry wood?

    ANYTHING is going to be more efficient than those 55gal drum stoves.

    Garn is sure "plug and play" stuff it in one of the ends of a greenhouse..... and then insulate it. Any losses in that insulation will heat that greenhouse. Maybe store wood in the unused portion of the greenhouse you say he no longer uses?
  14. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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  15. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    Wood gun makes a coal unit that can be fed from a hopper. How much longer does he want to cut wood?

    gg
  16. Quincy

    Quincy New Member

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    Brian check out logburner.ca these boiler are pretty cool it might be what your after.
  17. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    So this is a revenue producing business obviously to pay 60k/yr heat costs. I'd look at 1 or more of the big Garns. Hopefully Heaterman will drop in here and chat with you. Lots of businesses, schools, etc drop in here and ask this question. Garn gets installed and they disappear. What I'd like about the Garn route is that it could be done in stages... First unit this year... Need more capacity add another..... Modularity.

    Ok HM... Fill him in.

    BTW Brian... Is affordable large amounts of firewood readily available near your dad's place?
  18. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Accidentally touched the New Horizons link and they also have BIG industrial boilers.
  19. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    When do you want one delivered ? ;) We have to bring one to Ohio week after next and could throw another one on the trailer for you.

    I have a couple running greenhouses and if sized right they are tailor made for that kind of work.
    I noticed though that you mentioned unseasoned wood.......if he's planning on cutting in the fall and burning that winter I would probably not recommend anything but a big OWB.
    He will fight with any normal downdraft gasser to no end and even in a Garn his efficiency would be reduced in short order due to creosote buildup in the flue tubes.
    I do have a few guys using Garns and DD gassers that cut in the winter/early spring before the sap comes up and seem to do OK. They still fight things a bit especially with the gassers but it's far better than cutting in the summer and trying to burn it 5 months later.
  20. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    One of the main goals is to have one place that has a fire instead of 5 (central boiler in an out building fits this bill), that has a huge firebox so that the burn time is long (so he can sleep), and be built in such a way that a machine can assist with much of the loading (because he is aging). I'm not disagreeing that improving efficiency will help but those other three things to me are more important as it means he will live longer. I can and will pay to have however much wood delivered that he needs at whatever cost if it comes to that, but the rest of the process needs to be simplified for his own well being.

    I like the idea of pellets/chips as well as a stove that can be loaded by a bucket on a tractor. He has access to probably 200 acres of primarily red oak woods so a cord wood stove comes out ahead in the cost benefit calculation at the added expense of less automation.

    That is what I am looking for, hoping the guy responds with the approximate BTU output.

    Coal is not readily available. He has said he is going to work until he dies, I am just trying to make the work as easy as possible so he dies later rather then sooner.

    That there is hard core. Too big probably and I doubt I can afford it.

    About 8 years ago he had a furnace go out while on vacation and everything froze. So, $50k+ fuel bill and zero income. Then a forest fire flared up a couple years later and burned everything (each sheet of plastic runs $2000+) His business used to be much larger but due to the string of unfortunate events he is making a profit but not anything near what it used to be. He realistically isn't going to do anything else and is too stubborn to give up so I am on a mission to make what he is going to continue doing anyways easier. Most everything that will be bought will be bought by me and I do alright but am far from rich.


    110 aces of primarly red oak in the family, and access to another 80 acres that is regularly thinned for cattle. There is plenty of wood and I can do a good part of the processing but I live several hours away and cannot help with the day to day burning operation.
  21. fuelfarmer

    fuelfarmer Burning Hunk

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    Take a look at wood chip burners. I am running a 500,000 btu chip burner from LEI Products to help heat a barn. The unit has a gas burner to start the woods chips burning and the 400,000 btu gas burner will also work as back up heat if you run out of chips. With auto start and shut down storage is not that important.

    video clip
  22. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Watched the videos.. Sure doesn't look super efficient.. being that it would be outside. But if you had wood to burn.. or chips or about anything.. can't get much less work involved.
  23. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    Its not really the plan, but more of necessity. No fire means total loss and no income so it is a struggle to just keep up but I am hoping to get him a stockpile of seasoned wood going on. The green wood I speak of is usually blow down or cut down from the previous year, but from there it is direct from the saw to the stove. Not horribly green but not seasoned either.
  24. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Chips are the most difficult bio fuel to handle on a small scale and the easiest to handle on a large scale such as yours.

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