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  1. Bartman

    Bartman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    182
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    Hi All.
    I'm new to this forum and have never belonged to a wood burning forum. Currently I'm running a New Yorker WC-120, and have had it for 21 years. When I built my house (21yrs ago), fuel here in NY was expensive approx. $1.20/gal in 1985. Back then, I was looking into multi fuel boilers, but they were too expensive, around $2000+. Looking in my local newspaper, I found someone selling a 5yr old New Yorker for $200, so there we have it. My system consists of an oil fired boiler and is piped to my WC-120 in series with the wood boiler feeding the oil boiler's return. By closing 2 valves and opening 1, the wood boiler is taken out of the loop and the oil boiler is in the conventional hydronic loop. The wood boiler hasn't been used in the past years much because fuel prices haven't high enough to warrant my breaking my butt collecting firewood, this year has changed. This past July my steel New Yorker oil boiler's heat exchanger rusted through and sprung a leak forcing me to replace the boiler (I had been putting this job off for 2 yrs). While ripping the system apart I almost eliminated the wood boiler. Since it wasn't costing me anything to keep it, and the unstability of the oil market, I decided to keep it. When I installed my heating system 20+ yrs ago, I made it semi-automatic, so my wife could load it while I was at work. My only problem with this thing is that it's a wood hog, it burns wood like there is no tomorrow, I have to re-load every 2 1/2hrs max. The boiler is supposed to burn coal also, and it takes the large "stove" coal. During the day I would burn wood, and in the evening I would try to burn coal to last through the night. After loading the coal and having a nice "banked" fire I would retire to bed to only wake up the next morning and find all unburned coal. How much wood do these new gasification boilers use? Is the high price of these things worth changing over to?

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,109
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    That boiler is probably really inefficient. But the new stuff is expensive, no getting around that!

    Since it appears you are a person who appreciates a good bargain, it might pay to find something used on the market - not a gasifier, but something like an older Tarm - MB55 or other (depends on size that you need)...this will perform much better than your New Yorker.

    You should determine your BTU requirements, based on stuff like how much oil your boiler uses in a cold 24 hours period (% of time it is on)....that was you can look around for the proper size.

    Welcome to the Forum, and you'll find a wealth of info around here on this stuff.

    Hey, if you have the cash, the new boilers are A-1, but you have to use them a lot to really get the max. savings and payback.
  3. Bartman

    Bartman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    182
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks, my New Yorker is 120K btu, it is more than adequate for my needs, and yes cost is going to be quite a factor especially since I don't use it all the time. Currently I'm working on converting my relay logic based system to PLC control with digital temperature controllers monitoring oil and wood boiler water temps, stack temps, zone control and outside air temp. My system currently monitors outside air temp and wood boiler stack temp to determine boiler priority. Installing a new wood boiler is not only a monitary cosideration, but also a logistic consideration, (how to get the damn thing into the basement). When I installed the original WC-120, I lowered the boiler down into the basement before the steps were poured, and that boiler is much lighter than the new ones. Nevertheless, I'm still going to entertain the possibility of a replacement. It would be great to see one of the gasification boilers operating in person.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    If you ever get up near Utica, Bartman, let me know and I'll show you mine.

    You sound like the kind of person who would enjoy playing around with a gasifier.

    What's your wood supply look like?
  5. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    Sounds like you and I share some interests. I built a controller that I use for my wood / oil /solar / storage system. I documented it on my web site - link is in my signature below. Could you put a gasifier in an outbuilding? That would solve the problem of getting it into the basement. If a gasifier is out of the question, I've seen pretty good results from conventional boilers if you can modulate the heat load on them so that they run wide open. Helps to have heat storage or at least a lot of thermal mass in the house.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    The investment is a major obstacle for many of us. I thought about two ways:

    A really good gasifier is about half the cost of a cheap new car, or about the same price as a fair used one. One big difference between the two investments is that a gasifier starts saving you money immediately, and if you use it for domestic hot water, all year around. Any car, on the other hand, starts costing you money immediately, and never lets up for the life of the car, which is probably about 5 years, compared to 20 or more with the stove.

    As home major improvement costs go, $5,000 or $6,000 is a lot less than you'll spend on things like roofing, siding, windows, doors and other energy-related investments.

    You still have to come up with the cash, but I think it's important to put it into perspective.
  7. Bartman

    Bartman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    182
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    Having my boiler run full bore would really eat up wood, although I dont't stuff the firebox as much as it could take, I probably fill it with half it's capacity. A storage tank is out of the question because I have a finished basement and certainly not enough room in my boiler room. The only possibility is one built underground and super insulated. There are future plans to eliminate my Bilco doors and existing entrance with a replacement staircase and large entry area below grade for 2 doorways, 1 for the boiler room, and 1 for an apartment entrance. I'll take some pictures and post them of my system. Running totally on wood is not of interest to me, I would run on wood on only the coldest heating days. My oil unit is a small cast iron triple pass Italian unit with a high performance positive pressure head developed by a neighbor of mine. In off heating season use, I don't use much fuel anyway. Another goal was to use electric water heaters with a PV solar system for daytime use. Now that's where the big bucks come in. How much wood does a gasification unit use on a typical 30 degree day, say a 100Kbtu unit?
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Let me put it this way: A modern gasifier is anywhere from 85 to 90 percent efficient, when you combine combustion efficiency with heat transfer efficiency. An old-style wood-fired boiler or a modern OWB would be lucky to get 50 percent overall efficiency. Some OWBs reportedly check in at around 30 percent. I'm not familiar with a New Yorker, but I gather from Craig's comparison to the older Tarm, that it would be on the lower end of the old-tech scale.

    So, with that in mind, I think a gasifier would burn about half as much wood as your current boiler, and maybe less.

    But of course, there's a caveat. Those efficiency numbers (the ones for the gasifiers) are probably only achievable with the help of a storage tank. Gasifiers are most efficient when running full-bore. When they go into idle mode or are otherwise throttled back, they tend to become less efficient. How much is open to debate. There is a thread around here discussing some theories on that, but to summarize my own view, the efficiency loss is most acute with a boiler that is oversized vs. one that is undersized, mainly because the smaller boiler will spend less time idling. So my thought is that if you wanted to see the most benefit from gasification without using storage, you would want to undersize it. Then you'd probably see a 50% drop in your wood consumption compared to what you have now.

    Somebody else may have a different opinion on that.

    If storage is involved, I think, then boiler sizing becomes a less critical issue, because the tank gives you the flexibility to cater to the boiler's needs.
  9. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    185
    Loc:
    Hoosier
    Assume 7,000BTU/lb of wood (20% moisture) 100,000 Btu/hr @100% efficient is approx. 14.25 lb/hr., @85% approx 16.75 lb/hr. Feel free to correct any errors. Photovoltaics for heating doesn't sound like a winning proposition. Best of luck
  10. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Messages:
    314
    Loc:
    Northern Vermont
    Here's how I look at it. I bought a Tarm Solo 40, built a 750 gallon concrete storage tank, and paid my plumber to do a lot of the work. My total investment is going to be around $12-13,000 when it's done.

    My house is 4000 sq. ft, brand new and super insulated. It would cost $2-3,000 to heat with gas or oil per year at today's cost. No telling what the cost will be in 8 or 10 years. So I'm looking at getting my money out of my wood boiler in 5-6 years. Maybe 7 years if I buy some firewood here and there.

    To me that's a no brainer. Plus I enjoy heating with wood. When it's 25 below and my house is 75 degrees I love that it's not costing me any money.

    Reggie
  11. Bartman

    Bartman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    182
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    Undersizing the boiler is the best way for maintaining the higher efficiencies of any boiler regardless of the fuel used, I agree with that line of thinking. The total square footage of my house, including garage, and basement which are all heated is about 3250 sq. ft., my oil fired boiler has a net rating of 89.6k btu substantially less than what a heating contractor or plumber would size for my house. With my present setup I could heat another 500-1000 sq. ft without a problem. My New Yorker has a gross rating of 120k btu, I would certainly go for the smallest wood unit, I believe they're something in the 100k range. Currently New Yorker still makes my unit but it now has a 130k rating and by illustrations they are near identical, (my owner's manual is for a 130). When I load the box, max fill is 40lbs., it will run for 2 1/2hrs, which equates to about 16lbs./hr. The New Yorker utilizes a vertical fire tube design with turbulators, similar to a dry base steel oil fired boiler. The turbulators have been removed because they would just plug up. If I ran this full bore, I wouldn't have had to remove the tubulators because I would have had a nice hot fire, but then I would have to heat the neighbor's house too. :) When using a storage tank, what temperature do you maintain the water at?

    As far as solar goes, I was going to install a substantial size system on my roof, it faces south. To date I have completed 1 install funded by United Way, and have been looking into changing the focus on my electrical contracting business to primarily solar PV systems. LIPA, our local electrical utility company, gives a $3.75/watt rebate to residential customers who install PV grid tie systems, that's the cost of the panels. Although the utility co. "buys" the electricity back, it's at a very reduced rate, so it pays to use as much of the produced electric as possible. Just another angle toward fuel independance.
  12. Bartman

    Bartman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    182
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    I forgot to mention, I signed up for an online seminar on Thursday night with Greenwood about their gasification units. Anybody hear of that seminar (webinar)?
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    EKO makes a 25KW boiler, which I believe is around 80K btu. Nofossil has one. Tarm makes a 30. I know he gets A LOT LONGER BURN than a couple of hours on a full load of wood going full blast. People try to keep their storage tanks at between 160 and 190 at the top end, and 120 to 130 on the low end, depending on what kind of radiant they're using. And there's no creosote with a gasifier.
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