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New controls for my old stoves

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Snowy Rivers, Oct 21, 2010.

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  1. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Last season we bought two used stoves, a 1994 Model whitfield Prodigy II and a Whitfield Advantage II

    Both of these stoves run ok for now

    My worries have been that the control boards will fail and the cost is $$$$$$$$$$$$

    Got on the phone this morning and ordered up two adjustable contollers from a company on the east coast.

    These are programable fully electronic controlers.
    The one unit has an adjustable off time from .1-10 seconds and the On time from .1 seconds to 5 seconds

    The other unit is a one shot (for start up only to bypass the low temp snap switch)

    The one shot is programable from .3-30 minutes

    These are industrial grade controls rated at 10 amps 120 volts

    The game plan is to use the existing safety equipment such as snap switches and the pressure switch along with the feed motor, exhaust fan and Blower inducer.

    Pretty simple and basic wiring 101 project.

    The beauty of this setup will be the ease at which these can be replaced if need be.
    The cost is about $45 each.

    They are rated at an infinite amount of cycles.

    Wanted to do this last winter but with the nasty weather, I will do these stoves one at a time.

    The Prodigy II uses the inducer fan also as the room air fan and just shunt a small amount to the fire pot via a small tube.

    The new contollers should be here in about two weeks. (must be assembled to order)

    I will post some pix as this progresses.

    Going to mock the whole thing up on a seperate plate and do some testing using a small lamp to sub as the feed motor.

    I will eliminate the pressure switch and the door interlock switch in the test equipment just to simplify the testing.

    I want to check this all out and then transfer the components to the stove and do the complete rewire using all new wire qand color code and number stuff.

    The original wiring is rather vague as far as color codes and routing.

    Both these stoves can stand to have this stuff cleaned up and simplified a lot.

    I am going to include a few extra lights in the control panel (all new) to allow easy diagnostics should the stove have a malfunction.

    The indicator lamps will show Main power, feed motor power, auger motor power while feeding and Blower motor power.

    The order went in about 1:30 PM pacifc time and they said about two weeks.

    Going to be nice to have this wrapped up.

    Once I get the Prodigy done, then it will be time to do the Advantage II

    The procedure can be used on most older pellet stoves that do not have an auto lighter.

    Hope this is useful or interesting to others.

    Snowy

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  2. WoodPorn

    WoodPorn Minister of Fire

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    Kudos for taking on such a project!

    I can't say I'd be inclined to replace the OEM boards just yet, too many variables that may wreak havoc. I think if I were diong it I would make harnesses to plug into the existing and let the OEM boards run their course 'till they go kaputzki, at lest then you know you have the back-ups ready to go.

    I am anxious to hear the progress none the less!
  3. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Thanks

    This project is a very basic wiring task.
    The only issues are, just using all the safety features that were designed into the stove originally.

    The controls on a pellet stove are very simple for the most part.

    When you get into the auto light stuff with photo eyes and such, it can be a tad more complex.

    These older units are of the manual lite type so its pretty simple to put this together.

    Will post pix and progress as things take shape.

    Snowy
  4. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you are a tinkerer like me. I see the VERY EXPENSIVE yet simple control boxes as a challenge to design a better box with more user adjustments (sometimes a problem!) and indicating lights for such things as the vacuum switch, feed motor, etc. I am looking at http://www.cubloc.com/ who have some very nice equipment that accepts both Basic AND ladder logic at the same time. Most of the controls on the quads are really just ladder logic except the analog input of the thermocouple, which can be handled quite nicely in Basic. Check it out if you are so inclined.
  5. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Interesting stuff for sure.

    I am not so much interested in the tinkering part as I am in the reliability part of having a stove that I can depend on.

    If I had another form of heat for the house (That was affordable) I would not be so concerned with the pellet stove.

    My house has full electric forced air system that will eat us out of house and home trying to heat 2300 ft

    We use the AC portion in the summer time.

    We have 3 Pellet stoves installed.

    One quadrafire that is set ready for the off chance that we have to go away for over a day and need an automatic to keep the heat taken care of.

    One Whitfield Prodigy II that handles the shoulder seasons and also helps out when it gets Blistering ^&*( cold outside

    One Whitfield Advantage II that does the task during the colder weather and is more centrally located in the house.


    Sadly the whitfields are of the early to mid 90's vintage and the electronics were never really updated much.

    What I see available, I am not really willing to pay near $400 for a control baord that has all the original design flaws.


    I want off the shelf industrial stuff that can be replaced easily.

    The timers I have ordered are so simple and yet cheap too.

    $45 each. The rest of the stuff is basic hardware store stuff such as wire, switches and a light dimmer to control the fan speed.


    The Little Prodigy uses one fan to act as room air blower as well as combustion inducer/blower.

    I dont like this design much but it seems to work ok.

    The original Prodigy did not use an inducer but instead relied on the exhaust fan only to pull air into the fire pot.

    The change was made in the mid production runs and they added a shunt tube to pipe air from the plenum into the battom of the firepot.

    The fan speed is changed in relationship to the heat selection, ie more fuel = more air to the pot.

    I will change the controls to a fan speed controler that is seperate from the timers.

    Simply select the heat setting and then set the fan speed to match.

    This will also allow me to custom set the blower for the best burn with the given fuel.

    Snowy
  6. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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  7. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Hah! From the guy who hacked his burnpot all to h@!! and back. Burns sawdust and blows the door glass out of the stove even! You oughta talk brother! >:-(
  8. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    no biggie here, no ins. anyway + I KNOW WHAT IM DOING, ithinx
  9. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    If you really look at Snowy's sig you would already understand that the listing was voided some time ago as hazelnut shells aren't an approved fuel for those stoves.

    I do believe that Snowy does know what she is doing.

    What you are doing though ~*~vvv~*~ appears to be looking for singed body parts.
  10. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    not yet, still trying 4fun & profit
  11. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Missy here has been breakin g all the bloody rules since the day my Mother slapped me on the Butt and tuned me loose on the world ;-)

    I have been running nut shells since the 92-93 season. The first stove I fed these too was an Earth stove traditions.

    The next stove that got introduced to the shells was an Earthstove WP50. I ran that thing for many years on shells and never had any issues.

    The only thing thats different is the need to clean the fire pot more often (weekly or biweekly under full bore 24-7 running.

    The Little prodigy has to have the pot and the interior cleaned twice weekly of ash
    The vents must be sucked out about every other month depending on the amount of running.

    The stove temps stay right in the sweet spot. Have never ever had one trip the over temp snap switches.

    The Earth stoves had issues with the start cycle that I did not like. I did not matter what you burned, took 20-30 minutes to get the thing hot and up on the step (Low temp snap switch locked in)

    The Prodigy and the Advantage both burn the shells very well.

    I did have to add a "scatter bar" ( A little 5/8" diameter rod that sticks out into fire pot right below the drop tube)

    This was needed to scatter the shell pieces over the fire area and keep from having a pile right under the drop tube.

    This took a few test burns to sort out was all.


    As far as a rewire goes, from my experience in wiring and such, as long as the safety features are not removed or altered so as to make them ineffective there really should not be an issue.

    The two Whitfileds had some wiring that I believe was factory and it was downright scarry.

    I have since cleaned all that stuff up, added a good ground in a couple places and mounted the wiring such that it was not rubbing on the auger shaft and a few other places that was NOT real cool.


    My stoves are currently safer than they ever were out of the Box.


    As far as insurance companies go, its anyones guess as to what they will or will not allow.

    I really dont want to burn my house down and go to great lengths to make sure that these stoves are safe.

    Snowy
  12. timjk69

    timjk69 Member

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    i have an old Treager with a bad control. I plan on using a router speed control from Harbor Freight for the auger and combustion motors. Should work simple just turning the dial up or down as needed. Someone mentioned a dimmer control earlier, I haven't had good results with those for AC motor control.
    Tim
  13. Wi Thundercat

    Wi Thundercat Feeling the Heat

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    Need to use a variable fan speed control. Looks like a dimmer but made for use with a/c fan motors. Just my .02
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