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Looking for comments on boilers I saw at logging show

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mpilihp, May 19, 2013.

  1. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi I was at the show yesterday and was intrigued by the Thermo-Control model 600 and Greenwood Frontier CX unit. The THermo-Control unfortunately is probably physically too big for me to get it into my basement but its design sounds simple and reliable. They suggest some storage but minimal, Id want to run with no storage, and I would have to have it in my garage which would be a pain, relocate wood into the garage too.

    The Greenwood Frontier the salesman said did not need storage and made it sound easy to clean as well. I did not like the fact it would not auto shut down if power was lost but id rather have to have a couple batteries and an inverter to run it than placing a boiler in the garage.

    Does anyone have experience with either of these? Id like to hear some non biased comments on both of these boilers and first hand experience.

    Thanks!

    ~ Phil

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  2. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Hi Phil,I was at the show as well, 3 hours south of me. I spoke with the Greenwood guy too. There are many old Greenwood (Fred Seaton design) boilers around here. They are not easy to clean, and their new design, makes me wonder. He did say it is a totally new boiler from the gorund up, but the idea that you need to unbolt the top and peel back insulation to clean the tube HX seems alot like the old design to me. I have no expierence with the new GW's and their crossfire design. It's design seems to be like an EPA woodstove, which I must admit, seems like it would burn clean, but may still lack some thermal efficiency due to the HX design. If they used horizontal firetubes and had movable turbs in them, or had a wing-nutted cleanout door at each end like the Portage&Main's design I'd like the new GW more. Personally, if I were in your situation (not knowing anything about your heat demand or emitters though) I'd go with a quality down-draft design and storage. Wood cannot be burned slowly in a boiler efficiently.

    TS
    heaterman and mikefrommaine like this.
  3. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi TS thanks for your opinion, I am looking for a gassifier that does not need storage, I understand they do not run efficiently when throttled down due to no call for heat. But I have to compromise, my wife does not want to have to go outside to fill the boiler and we do not have room inside for storage. There are a couple of companies touting modulating gassiffiers, GW and Thermo-Control are two that I saw at the show that claim this. I currently use a New Yorker water jacket standard wood boiler that creates a lot of soot and TONs of creasote. I had to make an install a custom chimney cleaner as in the winter it needs to be cleaned once a week. We burn about 10-12 cord a year and we burn year round (heat DHW and hot tub). We are not getting any younger and Id like to be able to run something more efficient and not have to cut as much wood.

    Thanks ~ Phil
  4. leon

    leon Member

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    Have you looked at the Harman SF360? Granted its a non gasser
    but It is rated for up to 180,000 BTU with wood or coal.

    It can heat 2,900-7,600 square feet based on climate and
    home efficiency.

    It can be equiped with a domestic hot water coil and it also has a
    firebox reducer for spring and summer useage.

    The SF360 can burn wood up to 27 inches long or Pea, Nut, or
    Stove sized coal.

    The boiler has a 42 gallon water capacity and will create 4 gallons per
    minute of hot water.
  5. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Phil, if you are not using storage do some research on the Wood Gun. Most any boiler is going to have advantages and shortcomings and the WG is no exception, but after 4 seasons runing mine w/o storage I am fairly happy with the boiler. With that said, if I had the room and $$ I would have storage in my basement.
  6. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Just wondering - is storage out because you can't get it into the basement (say a narrow doorway or the like), or is it out because of lack of space down there to start with?

    Storage can be made to get into & fit into confined spaces if getting it there is the issue.

    If I was buying a new boiler & storage was absolutely out of the question, my short list would contain Woodgun & Empyre Elite. Maybe also Attack, Eko & Biomass. There may be others - simply put there aren't a whole lot of boilers that absolutely require it (mine does) - but they all function much better with it. I would not consider the ones you mentioned, or a Harman. And depending on your fuel situation, I might also consider a pellet boiler such as a Windhager.
    BoilerMan likes this.
  7. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    HI Thanks for the opinion, Im not familiar with a Wood Gun, Ill do some reading on them, thanks

    ~ PHil
  8. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi storage is out for several reasons:
    - Room, dont have much of it in the basement
    - Cost I cannot justify a new boiler as it is other than I want to eliminate some work, cut down on the wood we burn
    - Safety, eliminate the creosote we have to deal with.

    My wife is active in heating the house and she wants it to be simple, paper, kindling and some wood and walk away, she doesn't want to have to mess with a fancy system and I dont blame her.

    Another reason I've heard storage works best with radiant heat, I have HWB, pumping 150 deg water doesn't work as well as 180.

    As for fuel we have 50+ acres and cut from tree to stove length, buy anything other than the gas to power my saw including pellets is against my religion :)

    So what reason would you not consider the Thermo-Control unit?

    Thanks for your input.

    ~ Phil
  9. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Leon I have a conventional wood boiler now, I have indirect DHW and I heat our hot tub with it as well. Its a good working simple system just burns a lot of wood. THanks

    ~ Phil
  10. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    I wonder if you considered storage in the garage and boiler in the basement. Loss of power should thermosiphon up to storage not requiring any fancy controls. Does 180 water struggle to heat your home? Are you sure 150 or less wouldn't still get the job done on all but the worst days? Certainly the summer months would allow you to drop down much more. A Wood Gun might be a good fit for you. The downdraft gassers like mine can somewhat allow you burn a little slower too by turning down the fan speed if that 180 water was really necessary on some days. If something like this would work for you I believe you would burn half the wood, clean the chimney once, and maybe the turbs twice in a year. Its all about avoiding the idling from my experience.
  11. leon

    leon Member

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    Hi Phil,

    It sounds like you could use a coal stoker for sure have you ever considered them?
  12. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Did you see the BlockBuster booth? Dave (saleman) was telling me that they were down in Bangor for the show.
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I guess simply that I don't think it's a 'real' gassifier - alhough will also admit that I haven't seen one personally. I did check out their 'how it works' info on their website - the first thing that came to my mind is how do you change the refractory? It looks kind of buried, and refractory should be considered a service item. (It does look like it could be quite easy to clean). And, for the price of it, you could get a downdraft gassifier and storage - although sounds like storage is not an option for you. But could you do storage in the garage as suggested above? It really is a game changer, I think at least as big an impact as going to a gassifier - and would also cut down on the creosote as storage allows you to burn hot for longer periods. I also have hot water baseboard, and do not need 180 water to keep the house warm - my storage was usually down to 140 or so before I burned, and the house was never warmer than it was this past winter.

    Whichever way to you decide to go, I think you're in the right place to find out. Good luck.
  14. pelletdude

    pelletdude Feeling the Heat

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    Empyre Elite Indoor and Empyre XT Outdoor by Pro Fab. Do not require Storage. Many dealers in Maine. Check Uncle Henry's
  15. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    No we have 50 acres and cut our own wood....
  16. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi yes I think I saw it though I did not stop and look at them specifically, I still process wood the manual way and dont see a fancy rig lilke that in my future. They are a cool machine though!
  17. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    My statement on BHW needing 180 water is based on talking with my local heating contractor I sometime use. Also in the coldest of days with my WB cranking it barely keeps the house warm though its rated at 70K btu.

    I did some reading on the Wood Gun so how easy are they to clean and how difficult are they to run? I am interesting in something that manages itself and just requires the user to know how much to fill it based on the load, IE shoulder season just 1/2 load needed.... My wife will not want to have to turn dials and flip switches to set it up for the needed amount of heat, she would rather go back to a standard wood stove than do that.
  18. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi I did some reading on them, sounds interesting except it states they are non-pressurized systems. I dont know the pros/cons of a non pressurized system. Also My existing oil system is pressurized which I want to keep in tact as a backup. Can you explain how that is done and what the pros/cons are?

    Thanks ~ Phil
  19. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    That is correct. A local dealer has the Empyre line, and has shown me a few in the area that were operating.
    You need a heat exchanger to tie in the open system with your current system.

    The open system will need the water sampled and boiler chemical treatment added occasionally to scavenge oxygen and adjust pH. This dealer told me the owners are doing this on an annual basis, when they add water.
  20. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    My WG boiler is very basic to operate and very easy to clean(clean mine weekly, about a 10-15 minute job). But, running any boiler w/o storage is going to have a bit of a learning curve esp. in the shoulder seasons. It's more of an issue to learn how the fire will reiginte after a period of being idle than it is on the size of the wood load.
  21. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Im not too concern about the reigniting capability as long as its straight forward to start a fire. I am concerned about the ability of the gassifier to idle down and not generate a lot of creosote during shoulder season. Ive also read a few people experiencing issues with wood bridging over the nozzle into the secondary chamber.

    THanks ~ Phil

  22. A downdraft gasser with storage will eliminate all your concerns.
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  23. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Some contradiction about storage here.

    -You are correct storage does need room, it can, however be a homemade square tank, several old propane tanks stacked so as to use less floor space. Depending on where you store your wood, the space that two 500 gal LP tanks would take up may eliminate that much wood you need to consume on a yearly basis.

    - Cost, well storage does certainly add cost, all depends on what and where you use for tank(s). And storage would actually eliminate alot of work, as you need to process less wood, and build fewer fires especially in the summer for DHW production.

    - A gasser will produce no creosote at all if connected to storage and run flat out as it's designed to do, there are many on Hearth that will attest to this, myself included.


    Any properly designed and the correct controls applied will make and wood boiler with storage a light and walk aways system.

    The only to know if you actually need 180 degree water is to do a heal loss calculation of you house and measure that against the number of feet of baseboard you have in your house. If the origional installer installed the minimum for the heatloss of your structure, then you will need 180 (or whatever he designed it for) water on the coldest day of the year. Some designers install a generous amount of BB and you can use much less than 180 degree water for the majority of the winter, some were cheap and designed for 200 degree and got away with less BB and you pay for it in fuel.

    Your contractor's comment on storage and radiant is based on the fact that radiant is a low temp emitter so you can run storage down to a lower temp before having to light another fire and charge it back up (this is called useable heat). Low temp emitters are not just radiant, but can be panel radiators (think Europe), oversized cast iron radiators (old school Heavy American Iron) or extensive amounts of BB either cast iron or fintube. The larger the heating surface the lower the temp the water needs to be to get the job done.

    Hope this clears things up a bit for you, and you are in the right plcae with many heating nerds here to help no matter what you choose in the end.

    TS
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  24. Downeast Farmer

    Downeast Farmer New Member

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    What's a V-gun(L)?

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