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My trip to Smokelessheat

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by CurtisStetka, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. CurtisStetka

    CurtisStetka New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
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    Loc:
    Barto, PA 129504
    At the advice of many respondants to my first post on hearth.com I contacted Dean Zook, the proprietor of smokelessheat.com. This past Saturday my friend Duddy! and I made an early morning road trip to Lebanon to meet up with Dean at his warehouse.

    I'd like to first say that Dean could teach a clinic to any small business owner on exceptional customer service. He took 2 1/2 hours out of his Saturday because he believes in his product that much.

    He showed us what he had in the warehouse and answered dozens of questions from me. Then we drove to his brother's house nearby and lit up his boiler to see it in operation. Then we drove to Dean's house and lit up a different model boiler to see it in operation.

    I'm sold. Dean recommended an installer in my area and I left a message with them yesterday. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do the whole shebang this season. At the very least, I just want the installer to look at my situation and put together a spec and cost estimate. I may go ahead with replacing my 50+ year old oil-burning boiler with a new HE oil boiler this year. I'm thinking my setup will ultimately entail the oil boiler as backup and the wood boiler with storage as the main heating source.

    Thanks again to all of you who helped me out and recommended smokelessheat.

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    2,384
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Good customer service, while hard to find sometimes, is still out there. And sharing those experiences is almost just as important! Glad to hear you were taken care of.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Sep 15, 2011
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    4,254
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I've only communicated by email & snail mail - but it still ended up costing me a whole pile of money. :)

    I am very happy with the service, it can be a hard thing to get right especially being this far away from the customer - but nothing but A+ from me. Have you narrowed it down? Check out my project thread in my sig for my Smokeless boiler. I'm still tweaking & doing finishing details on my system, but the boiler has been excellent and we're as warm as all getout.

    I haven't added everything up (I'm still spending money on the finishing details), but I think I'm at about 2.5 times the cost of the boiler for everything I've done, all in.

    Maybe. _g
  4. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    1,291
    Loc:
    WI
    Did he have any of the new Vedolux Lambda boilers?

    Those Are the ones I would like to see in person.

    gg
  5. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Messages:
    438
    Loc:
    Southwestern VA
    That's great Curtis! Sounds a lot like my experience with Dean. But I'm kinda jealous knowing you got to see his lamba boiler in operation.

    Good luck with your boiler selection and what are you thinking for storage?

    Noah
  6. CurtisStetka

    CurtisStetka New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    Barto, PA 129504
    Yes, the boiler Dean has at his house is a Lambda. It's an impressive feat of engineering. Watching it in operation isn't actually all that thrilling because it's just a big black box. :) The Vedolux 37 at his brother's house is cooler to watch because you can see the lower burn chamber as the gases are burned.

    Both Dean and his brother used heavily insulated old propane tanks for storage. I don't know what route I'll take for storage. The old propane tank route certainly seems more affordable. I'm not sure what advantage the retail storage tanks offer that's worth the price difference.

    And while I acknowledge I don't have the skill to properly install the boiler itself, I think I can manage to put together a couple of big tanks in some racks in my basement.

    I believe the Vedolux 37 would do the trick for my house. I've got a 2,600 sq ft 200 year old stone farmhouse with cast iron radiators. Hopefully I can swing the expense for this system by next winter. This winter we're still going to have to be a bit cold. :)
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    If you've got the chimney for it, keep the natural draft models in mind too. I think it's a pretty understated or undersold advantage/feature if the situation would accomodate one.
  8. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    Glad you had a good tour. And glad to see you are thinking storage right away. I am sooooo glad I have a 400 gallon buffer tank. It works great with my wood gun. That was what I could afford at the time. I am now keeping my eyes open for a tank the exact same size or a couple of 220 gallon tanks. That would be easier to get into the basement. Twice the heat storage would be nice. Hopefully you can put lots of storage in the first time. That will mean the longer you can go between burns, and better efficiency of that hard earned wood supply. Keep us up to date as you go along.
  9. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Northern Maine
    What he said ^

    TS
  10. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    Glad you had a good trip Curtis. Dean was top notch when I dealt with him, and very patient in answering all of my other questions after the fact too (there were only a few million....)

    He should be able to set you up with propane tanks if you need some, or at least when I was there two years ago he had a pile of them out back cleaned and with fittings on them already. Tom from Maine (American Solartechnics) has great tanks also if you cant get a big propane tank into your basement/boiler area. He was great at helping me when I looked at going that route. I stumbled onto some free tanks for my install, so I ended up not needing to use his, but its a great resource.

    Maple is right, if you can go natural draft, its a pretty handy feature, and one less thing to break. If not, I have the 37 and its worked out well for me once I got the hang of the learning curve.

    If you are looking to go HE oil, go ahead and search around on CL some. I have found several nice Buderus boilers on my local listings where people have pulled out two or three year old units since they upgraded and went to gas. Since this will be your backup, you may not need to have something thats super efficient, unless you need to sidewall vent it...

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