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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. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Phil, the first place to start is knowing what your heat loss actually is. If a person doesn't have a good handle on that, all decisions that follow are just a shot in the dark.
    From that you can determine if you have excess heat producing capacity from your baseboard and get a solid handle on what water temperature you actually need to heat your place.

    Concerning storage.....if you go with a good gasser that is sized appropriately you can get by with less storage capacity. A common error is to oversize thinking that a larger firebox will "hold a fire" longer. In reality all it does is hold more wood which then smolders during shutdown periods. Something to be avoided as much as possible if you want minimal maintenance, clean burning and long life from your boiler.
    Many of the gassers in european systems are only working with a couple hundred gallons which could easily be done with something as inexpensive as a pair of old water heater tanks. Not ideal but we all have to work within the constraints of circumstances present on a given job.
    The flip side of no storage is more time involved rekindling/starting fires, more maintenance and more frequent cleaning. Idling in any wood burner will develop more creosote regardless of what brand it is.

    So....my humble advice would be to do a heat loss, select the best equipment you can afford and then try very hard to engineer at least a little storage into your system.
    Those are the three major things you want to prioritize for a functional system with a high WAF. :)

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  2. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi thanks for the advice, I think for now Ill keep my ear to the 'forum' and keep listening in on peoples experiences with different boilers. I know running a gasser without storage is not the best solution but neither is a water jacket boiler like I have now and my wife would rather stick with this hunk of iron than go with something complexed and that takes up space with storage. Id like the ability to do a try then buy with a boiler but Im not looking at a car so....

    Thanks

    ~ Phil
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'd try to visit some different boiler setups & check them out in operation - there might be some on here you could see that are not that far away? If you're ever to NS, you can look at mine - boiler operation doesn't get much simpler than this thing, gassifier or not (but it does need storage).
    BoilerMan likes this.
  4. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Same here Phil, if your ever in the northern part of the state (Aroostook County) I can show mine off. But I'm not burning in the summer.

    There are several users on here in your area as well, not sure how many are still burning though.
    TS
  5. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    I'm amazed that there have been no questions about your current system. Yes, New Yorker is a well-known dog, and the subject of numerous wild-eyed rants. And all here would agree that every boiler discussed would be better than what you have now. However, when you write that you need to clean your chimney once a week, well that jumps off the page at me. I'd expect to do better than that burning well-seasoned wood in a beer keg.

    You didn't mention anything about getting smoked-out while reloading, so I'm going to assume that your draft is ok. But that may also be subject to further consideration. Other than a horrible rep, I don't know anything about a New Yorker, and if there are fire tubes (or anything else) that may be gumming up the works and needs to be cleaned. Aside from those two considerations, the only thing left is the wood that you're burning (which is where it usually ends up anyway).

    You may be a long-time wood burner, and the following questions are not meant to offend. But "seasoned" is one of those words that has more than one meaning. The seasoned that firewood guys sell is not the same seasoned that I burn in my boiler. So can you describe: the typical dimensions (H x W) of your splits; which species of wood you primarily use; exactly how you season (open air, shed, combo); and finally what's the average seasoning time (i.e. between splitting/stacking and burning). Moisture meter readings of resplit wood is helpful information, if you use one. Before seeing your answers, I'm going to go out on a limb (or is it lame), and say I think you can use less wood and produce less creosote in your New Yorker by burning smaller, drier wood. Not trying to imply with any of this that you shouldn't get a new boiler, but it seems that a level set of your existing system should be done first.
  6. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Good points ww4w! I've owned a NewYorker prior to installing my Attack. Just as water-jacketed box with a removable steel plate in the back/. I never had creosote issues, I did run with storage and ran stack temps at 350-400F without execption.

    TS
  7. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi I don't have to clean the chimney weekly but I have seen the starting of blockage after a month. I cut off my own land and season it for a year. The wood is mainly maple but is mixed with some oak, birch, poplar, pine and fir. The boiler is a barrel style with a water jacket around the firebox. We are long time wood burners, migrating from a wood stove to this boiler. The flue is small 6" inch but I honestly did not have creosote issues when the chimney was shared with the oil boiler. I think the exhaust form the oil boiler reacted with the scalings of creosote on the flue walls and would flake off and just be a pile at the cleanout but now it clings to the flue walls. We burn a mix of size as well, I cut wood right down to 1 inch in diameter and only split wood bigger than 5-6 inches. I know the boiler does idle a lot during the shoulder seasons and is a good reason for creosote buildup. Another change I made to the system which may also be a cause of the system idling more is I changed it from being in series with the oil boiler and now its in parallel. Ive only had one wood boiler so to me this is normal, maybe its not but if im going to make a change i would change to a gassifier. My problem is space and simplicity, is water jacket is as close to as simple as a wood stove is and thats what my wife wants and she is a equal user of the boiler and I want her to be able to run it when Im not around.

    Thanks

    ~ Phil
  8. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    I suggest that you buy an inexpensive moisture meter (~$20), and start taking readings of your wood (you didn't mention it, so I'm assuming you don't use one). Split these year old, 5-6" rounds down the middle and check the center of the inside surface with the MM. I expect you will find that the Maple and Birch are well over 25% MC, and the Oak around 35%. If so, this is the major contributor to your creosote and high wood usage. The solution to this is to split everything small. Your first reaction to splitting small is likely that it's more work. But on the plus side, you will burn less wood, so the work will basically be a wash. What's small? Some folks use the term "playing card size". That's around 2.5"x 3.5" and is the approximate split size that I use, along with 2 year seasoning.
    The other contributor to creosote is idling. Idling can't be eliminated (if running without storage), but it can be significantly reduced by burning smaller, fires via more frequent lighter loads. AKA right-sizing the fire.
    Now you may not be especially wild about either of these two ideas, which is something I can understand. But I will tell you with 100% certainty that they have been highly effective for me. Yes, you can buy a Wood Gun, which is a great non-storage boiler, and will handle year old, 6" rounds without producing creosote (and the same lower efficiency). But if it were me, I would try to solve the problem for 0 dollars, rather than 12K+. Very much, JMHO.
    BoilerMan and BoilerBob like this.
  9. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi thanks for the suggestions, I will get a moisture meter and see where the wood is but I think its mainly due to idling as we burn 1 year seasoned wood as we did when we had a wood stove and we didnt have a creosote problem then. Also the other thing that changed with the wood boiler was the oil boiler got its own power vent. Before the oil boiler was sharing the chimney with the wood stove. I wouldn't think the device the wood is in would make a difference other than if it was allowed to idle more which I think is the case. I agree the oak is probable not seasoned enough in one year but burning 10-12 cord a year there isn't a chance Id ever get two seasons ahead, though we could split more but again that takes more time which we spend a lot of time gathering our wood now.

    ~ Phil
  10. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hello again so I got a cheapo moisture meter and went out and split some wood and took measurements. Note the wood Im testing I cut down, chopped up and stacked last summer/fall not sure when but I do this from April to October, basically before and after bug season. All tests were done after a fresh split in the middle of the piece.

    Maple
    2 1/2" Round - 19.1
    4" Round - 25.2
    6" Split - 24.2

    Oak
    4" Round - 27.7
    6" Split - 27.0

    Fir 4" Round - 18.6

    I also burn Birch, Beech, Pine and Popular, hornbeam and a few other oddballs my wife could name them. Again this wood still has this summer to dry so I would think the numbers would drop alittle, also I this meter did not come with a conversion chart which Ive read most have to adjust for different wood types and temperature. It was 86 outside when I did the tests and other meter descriptions stated the meter is ment for use at 70F deg so not sure how this affects the numbers.

    Im thinking we probably should split down smaller but the six inch split number is pretty close to the 4 inch rounds... So I agree moisture could be part of the problem but we are doing the same as we did with our wood stove and we never had a creosote problem with it.

    Thanks

    ~ Phil
  11. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I would argue that wood stoves are less likly to produce creosote that boilers due to the hotter surfaces inside them. When you simply have free air cooling iron or steel the temps are much hotter than water cooled steel. This is why stoves are fundemantally less efficient than boilers at transferring heat to the living space (or water). This is a GENERAL rule, stoves with simmilar air and wood have higher stack temps and higher internal surface temps, so smoke is less likly to condense and form creosote. Boilers are limited by the boiling point of water but are much better at transferring heat with a given surface area, this is why gasification boilers are WORLDS ahead of conventional water-jacked boilers, they burn the fire hot and cleanly, then pull the heat out of the flue gasses with an efficient fire-tube HX, giving a clean burn and really low stack temps high 200s to low 300s are what I see all winter, with nothing but grey fly ash in the flue from a whole season of burning. When I has a conventional boiler I had to run the stack temps much higher to avoid creosote, smoke and increased wood consumption were the result.

    TS
  12. Clg

    Clg New Member

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    Hi, I am thinking of installing an owb and am looking at the eko 25. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience dealing with the distributor New Horizon. Warrenty issues or problems getting parts? I am also looking at econo burn but the price is much higher. I appreciate any thoughts. Thanks, clg.
  13. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    You seem to be willing to consider suggestions and I can see you are evaluating the alternatives, which is a good thing. The better you can do at burning 20% and less (with the emphasis on less), the better off you would be, both for creosote reduction and also wood usage. If you couple that with right-sizing the fire whenever possible, I'm certain you would see a big improvement. Now of course the flip-side is the extra work required for this, at least until you could get to 2 years ahead. Everyone's situation is different. My kids are grown and out of the house, so I can fit this wood processing into my schedule very easily without it being any big deal. For many others however, putting that much time into firewood results in ever building resentment for that hunk of steel that's taking so much of their time. So splitting smaller and trying to get 2 years ahead will be up to you.
    But just one other caution is that many gassers (mine included) do not work effectively (sans storage) with the MC that you're currently burning. Higher MC doesn't cause creosote in the flue, but it does accumulate and drip from the loading door, and can also clog up the fire tubes. So if you decide that you just can't afford the extra time involved with splitting smaller, and have the funds to buy a better boiler, the Wood Gun is the only basement-installed unit that I personally know can burn higher MC without having a creosote problem (again presuming no storage). But there may be others that I'm not aware of which can also do this, so research carefully. Good luck, regardless what you decide to do!
  14. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi thanks, Ill be re-checking the MC this fall after summer to see what it truly ends up before the heating season and I will start splitting more this year. As for getting two full years ahead I don't know if we can do that. We cut 10-12 cord a year now, we did the push several years to get a full year ahead and it was a challenge. Ill look further into the wood gun as well, thanks

    ~ Phil
  15. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hi TS your comment about the difference between wood stoves and water jack wood boilers makes sense. But as for running higher stack temps Im not sure how I would do that with my boiler. It has a bi-metal temp controller that monitors the water jacket temp to control the draft door. I set it to close the draft door at 180 degs. I also have a second electronic control that monitors the flue stack temp and when it gets up to 750 deg it starts to close the draft door as well and attempts to keep it at 500. The motorized electronic control is basically just to keep the boiler from racing away when its starting up completely cold. Once the water jacket is up to temp and cycling between 180 and 140 then its just the bi-metal lever that moves the draft door. Bottom line is I don't know how to set it to run a hotter stack temp and still have it shut down at 180 deg. When its sub zero temps out, I crank it up so it wont shut fully at 180 to get it to cycle the hot water more often but I cant do that during the shoulder season or during the summer for heating water.

    Thanks

    ~ Phil
  16. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Ok, that makes sense! Storgae is the only solution to your problem then.

    TS
  17. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Well storage probably wont happen, I don't have room in my basement and my wife doesn't want some weird (as my wife said) out building or box outside the house. Ill try splitting down smaller sizes and get a lower MC and if possible try to cute more so we get further ahead maybe a few years we can get 2 seasons ahead.

    THanks

    ~ Phil
  18. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    In your first post, you mentioned the possibility of a boiler in your garage (but wanting it in your basement). Someone else mentioned keeping a boiler in the basement & putting storage in the garage - is that at all a possibility? Storage tanks can also make great radiators - you would be sure to have a nice heated garage out of the deal too.
  19. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Since storage is out, I highly recommend the Wood Gun.
    I too am slightly hard pressed for room to put storage, that is why I bought the WG in the first place.
    Although with every thing I have read here over the last 2 years, I would like to try and squeeze storage in somewhere.
    Not because I have any problems with out it, just because it sounds like it might make burning even easier.
    And let me tell you, if your wife doesn't want any fancy gizmos, then the WG is for her.
    It's so easy, even a caveman like me can do it.
    I will say that I had a few issues in the beginning, but thats because other then a campfire, I never burned before.
    Along with soaking wet red oak that was c/s/s only 4 months before I started burning.
    With your long term experience and the wood supply you already have, you'll be just fine, and getting a couple three years ahead shouldn't take much time at all.

    The only creosote I have is in the firebox.
    Everything else is clean as whistle.
    Mine is in the garage which really makes it easy to get firewood next to it.
    I have my existing oil burner( which is in the basement 70' away) hooked up as back up.
    The first summer I used oil to heat the DHW but now that I have the indirect hooked up I am heating the DHW with wood and the oil burner hasn't been on since last year.

    If you go to youtube and search Mike Tuto you'll find a bunch of videos I have posted about the wood gun.
    Scroll to the bottom of the videos and you'll find the first one I shot. Sorry that is so narrow, its my first video that I ever shot and I shot it with my phone in the vertical position;em
    Hopefully they will help you in your decision.
    And if you decide to buy a WG you can join our supercool Wood Gun Club..... but don't tell anyone it exists, its a secret.;)
  20. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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    Why the WG does not require thermal storage?
  21. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    I hadn't thought of that, the concern Id have is the feed between the garage and the house if It is just water how would that hold up in the middle of winter if we were away for a week. Ill have to think about it.

    THanks ~ Phil
  22. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    Hello Mike thanks, Ill look for your videos, so Im curious how long do you season your wood and have you ever checked it for moisture content? How log of a burn do you get out of your wood gun and in the shoulder seasons does it do much idling?

    THanks

    ~ Phil
  23. Because the marketing people at AHS say so.
  24. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Phil, we season our wood min 1 yr but try to get 2 unless it's oak and then it's 3+. My 1st year I had a mixture of well seasoned and not so well and the results were less than optimal. Now we are well stocked with seasoned wood and it makes a BIG difference.

    The WG w/o storage will cycle a fair amount in shoulder season just like any boiler would if you don't have storage. The boiler can come with(or you can add) a cycle timer that brings in air at intervals to keep the coals hot. As Mike and others have said, the boiler itself is fairly simple to operate and maintain. With that said, it will have it's own learning curve initially but I suspect most units would.
  25. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Yes, they also say it can burn wood with 30% mc. I think anything can burn it but the results will be less than ideal.
    There are a number of boilers that you are advised to NOT run w/o storage, WG is not one of them but just like any other boiler out there it would benefit from storage.

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