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One man's EKO 40 Illustrated Story - Start to Finish

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by stee6043, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I found this site in August of 2008 when I first started looking into an Englander add-on wood furnace for my home. Needless to say it didn't take but a few weeks of reading posts on this site to realize the Englander was not what I wanted. A gasifier was the only way to go for me since I'm young and plan to own my current house plenty long enough to get the payback. Below is a catalog of photos I've taken since my install started in September. One thousand thank you's to all of the members on this site. Because of your expertise my gas meter has been pretty well dormant for four days now. Here's to the next 20 years!

    A special thanks to Nofossil. While he and I did not communicate directly during my project his posts were by far the most helpful. Especially the posts on primary/secondary piping and the six minute start up. I couldn't have done it without your posts, Nofossil!
    EDIT - Thanks to Master of Sparks too! Sounds like he authored the primary/secondary thread...

    Basics:

    Heating 3200 square feet with a heat exchanger installed in a forced air furnace
    (2) 500 gallon propane tanks for storage
    All plumbing is black pipe, 1-1/4"
    Heat exchanger and expansion tanks were plumbed with 1" Pex-AL-Pex
    Install was done 100% by me, except for the hole cored in my concrete basement foundation (Best $175 I spent on this project). For anything requiring two people I had a brother-in-law and father to help.


    Bringing her home - This hog weighs 1400lbs and is not as easy to move around as some may think. I blew a tire on my brother-in-laws trailer coming home from Cozy Heat in Indian River, MI. Good times...

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    Yes, that's a Cub Cadet pulling 1400lbs....


    Tanks - The HOA called me to complain after only 6 hours of having these sitting beside my house, NICE. I was able to get two brand new 500 gallon propane tanks and not mess with cleaning due to a family member in the propane business.

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    Getting them through this slider proved to be a trick. I don't have a slider designed to be taken apart (read: made in China). Nothing a little caulk can't fix after the fact.


    Stacking the tanks - I purchased a 4'x7'x10' section of pallet rack for my tank stacking. This allowed me to stack the tanks with no welding. I purchased wide flange beams to support the feet of the tanks between the beams. I used two 5,000lb ratcheting tie down straps to lift the tanks. We supported the tanks every foot or so to unwind the straps. We only dropped the upper tank one time, from about 1 foot (one dolley was the victim).

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    Insert EKO 40 and begin pluming (everything prior to this happened in about 3 weeks. From here on out about 3 months elapsed. Plumbing with black pipe for the first time is time consuming. I used Rector Seal #5 and Teflon Rope on every joint. Not one single leak. The only leak I had was at a Pex compression fitting. Easy fix - tighten it more.

    [​IMG]

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    I had to go the non-preferred method for a chimney. I went outside the house, with a chase. It was not possible for me to go through the house from my utility room due to room placement (2-story house). As such I paid a professional $175 to core a 9" hole in my basement foundation wall for my 6" flue to pass through. From there I built a chase so the Home Owners Association didn't get on my case. I have 22' of chimney vertical.

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    Electrical - I have a generator panel in my home. So I pulled a circuit from the gen panel over and sent it back to the Eko. I also have a 24V relay in the smaller box on the right. From here I switch 24V from the second thermostat I added to run the 110V circ pump hooked up to my heat exchanger. I used the A/C circuit on my existing thermostat to run the second thermostat. I switched off the breaker for the A/C for the winter and presto - I only had to run a one foot of thermostat wire at the new thermostat and I had to run 10 feet or so to the relay. Very simple. I chose to run my main boiler circ directly to storage and have a second circ pump for my heat exchanger. Even though this is my only heat zone I wanted it on a separate circ. For whatever reason I just didn't want my hot water supply always running through my furnace HX.

    [​IMG]



    Let's light the fire already (well over 100 hours spent working on my EKO by this point) - After a first burn to bring the tanks up to 100 degrees for cleaning I drained the system, refilled and began insulating. I ended up using (11) rolls of R30 unfaced fiberglass insulation around the two tanks. After I had (8) rolls wrapped around the tanks and in the ceiling above I began enclosing the tanks with OSB. While enclosing the tanks I jammed the last (3) rolls of insulation in any open spaces available. The twins are tightly packed to say the least.

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    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    As for the burn, here is the story:

    For my first break-in burn I ran 1/2" open on the primary's and 6 turns out on the secondaries. The fan shutter was 100% open. Running with 57 degree water in a brand new boiler is pretty much a no-win situation regardless of your air settings (in my opinion). As stated above I ran about 3 loads of wood through the EKO to get my tanks up to 100 degrees so I could drain them and start over.

    Once I had the water replaced I began the process again with the same settings as above. The first day was "not bad", had three loads of wood, good gassification but not great boiler temps. I'd hit 190 every once in a while but primarily it was holding in the 160's. I convinced myself it was still the cold water in the tanks and the battle the Danfoss was waging to provide heat to the system. During this time I stopped the balancing valve on bypass down to about 1/6 open. This helped force some hot water into the tanks.

    After three days of burning, two of which I did heat the house to 70 degrees all day, I finally spent an hour and read the "Fine Tuning the EKO" thread. I adjusted my primaries to 9mm, secondaries to 5 turns out, fan shutter to 60% or so and the fan pressure to 80%. With these settings I was able to get some wicked heat. After two and a half loads of wood I'm at 181 at the top of the upper tank, 171 on the bottom of the bottom tank and the house is 71 degrees. My flue temps jumped from 380 with the previous settings to about 430. I think these may seem high since I measure it at about 12" from the outlet of the EKO.

    Here are the temp gauges I installed. Very slick...

    [​IMG]



    Here is my EKO all opened up. I notice there are several different configurations coming from Orlan these days.

    [​IMG]


    COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT:

    My one and only complaint after the countless hours spent on this project are the seals on the EKO. I used high temp sealant on the top door, twice, turned the hinges in to their max closed position and I still have a very apparent odor coming from the top door. The wife can smell it from three blocks away. For the time being I've installed a $10 shower fan with a home-made tin foil shroud vented outside through one of my vents in the basement utility room. This is working for now but I really need to either add more RTV sealant or do a complete overhaul on the upper door. For the money we spend on these things I would think they could give us a seal that does not leak. This is rather disappointing. But, alas, it may well be worth it to heat free.

    Thanks for listening. I hope the photos will help some folks just getting under way....
  3. BJ64

    BJ64 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    608
    Loc:
    NE Oklahoma
    What a post and what a project!

    This is cool!
  4. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,301
    Loc:
    Adamant, VT 05640
    Go, man, go!

    and BTW, H.O.A.'s seem to be the commies of the 21st century.

    look out, or they'll prohibit hanging out laundry to dry, too!
  5. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    Nice installation - congratulations!

    I'm glad if I've been of help, but the primary/secondary post is from Master Of Sparks, who is twice as knowledgeable as I'll ever be.
  6. timberr

    timberr Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2008
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Hill, NH
    stee6043

    Have you taken the front panel (grey w/ 4 screws) off, behind is 4 nuts, loosen the nuts and apply some High Temp sealant, and re-tighten.

    Nice job, This coming weekend I fire up Eko 25!
  7. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Hmmmmm...Timberr...you make an interesting suggestion. I've been focusing on the actual door seal. Thanks a million. I'll pull the gray panel when I get home tonight and seal away. Too bad I'm back to work today after a week and a half off. Tweaking on my EKO is now going to be a part time job instead of full time...
  8. Dave T

    Dave T New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    Messages:
    299
    Loc:
    Dansville NY
    Awsome pics good documentation the install looks like it will make you happy for a long time..EKO has definitly gone through some changes since they produced mine thats good to see..Thanks for sharing your saga...Dave
  9. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,031
    Loc:
    Fowlerville MI
    Also take a flashlight while the boiler is running and look at the hing side where the short welds are on the vertical mine was smoking there and I sealed them with high temp silicone. Mine would smell up a whole uninsulated pole barn.

    Also nice job on the install I would hate to drywall that house with all the bowed walls and celings. LOL!!!! I almost got sea sick looking at the pics


    Rob
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Very nice installation.

    Make sure the 12 screws holding the blower panel are screwed in tightly and uniformly. You can lose smoke from that seal if it's not uniform.
  11. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    912
    Loc:
    Hesperia, Michigan
    very nice and complete job. Watch out cause you will be getting offers to hire out. Just remember 100hr at $30 an hr look at what you saved. Maybe the HOA will be more tolerant of gasifiers now.
    leaddog
  12. Northwoodsman

    Northwoodsman New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    Very nice job on the install !!!!

    I fully understand what you've been through as I myself recently finished installing an EKO40 with (2) x 500 gallon tanks.

    I am still adjusting my settings but will try the ones that you've settled on and see how they work.

    Where did you get the digital temp gages at and approx. what did they cost-I'm impressed with these? I'm assuming the thermocouple itself is attached to the outside of the tank via. adhesive.
    I have been looking for these type of gages have have not found any that looked good and didn't cost an arm and a leg.

    I actually wrapped both tanks with R19 fiberglass and boxed them in with R10 x 2" foam but noticed that when I removed the top lid it was quite warm (much warmer than 100 F). Thus, this past weekend I removed the pink fiberglass from the top tank and sprayed in 3 bags of loose fiberglass insulation. I didn't record the previous temperatures just underneath the lid prior to the blow in insulation but now when both tanks are at 170-180 F the temperature just under the top cover is 96 F (this is without having the room that houses the entire system insulated and dry walled).

    Finally, the biggest issue I had in getting my tanks up to temp after consuming 3-4 loads of wood turned out to be that my Taco 010 -3 speed pump operating on HIGH was providing too much flow through the boiler. After a month or so of operation I recalculated my gpm/head figures and discovered that I should be running the circ. pump on the low speed setting (4' of head and 13.6 GPM). Once I made this change I immediately doubled my BTU input into the tank (from approx. 50K BTU/HR to 103K BTU/HR).

    I would also like to thank everybody on the forum for their assistance and expertise in guiding me through the project (from concept to finished project). A really big thanks goes out ot nofossil for reviewing my layout several times before getting it 100% correct.

    BC

    Attached Files:

  13. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Thanks for all the compliments. If anyone can appreciate the work put into these things it's you folks. My friends and family think I'm moderately insane for spending this kind of time and money on wood heat.

    Northwoods - I picked up the digital thermometers from Dave at Cozy Heat for $38 each plus shipping. Those are the cheapest I've seen by far. And they work great. I simply duct taped the probes to the tanks. I used enough tape to secure a small child so hopefully they'll stay put for a few decades.
  14. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
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    76
    Loc:
    west central MN
    You've accomplished a lot in a few months. Great looking installation. Thanks for sharing.
  15. Kipstr

    Kipstr New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    central Vermont
    Very nice! Would you care to post the price tag. Just to give people that are thinking about going something like that. I would think $16,000 or more.
  16. 88rxn/a

    88rxn/a Member

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    Loc:
    northeast PA
    EPIC thread!
  17. markpee

    markpee New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Messages:
    151
    Loc:
    Huson Valley New York
    Nice job on the install...really nice. $175 is a bargain to have a 9" hole core drilled. Believe me! I had to drill a 6" for my pex to come through. It was $85 to rent the drill and 4 hours of aggravation! I would have paid $175 in a second! My only advice to you would be to burn well seasoned wood - this is probably the most important factor in burning the 40 (in my opinion). I've learned that you can't get above 140 with wood that is marginal, but with nice seasoned wood, 195 is Nooooo problem. Good luck!
  18. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    619
    Loc:
    Sabattus Maine
    Excellent documentation of install. Clean neat job for the first time. My only question is where will the HOA allow your wood to be stored as well as processed ? I can't visualize a load of long length wood being delivered if they reported you over a couple of new propane tanks.
    Will
  19. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Thanks, Willman. I have 60 acres of common area behind my house (all wooded) so stacking the wood is no problem. In fact, all of my wood for the next few years will come from cleaning up the common areas and getting rid of the deadwood! Burns great, nice and dry. I think they were concerned that I was trying to go propane in a neighborhood that has NG. That would be crazy, but they called me anyway. Apparently they have a bylaw specifically prohibiting outside fuel storage. I told them they were going inside and being filled with water and they were fine with it....
  20. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
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    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    While I did my best to try to forget how much it was costing me I would say it came in just south of 14k. I did my best to save cash when possible. With current natural gas prices and a cozy 72 degrees inside my payback will be about 5 years. Less if natural gas goes up in the next five years....for a unit with a 20 year warranty I feel this was a very good investment. Especially since my wood should be free for many years to come.
  21. Sizzler

    Sizzler New Member

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    Loc:
    Peaceful Valley, Wi
    Wow... Great job. You should be very proud.
  22. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Update - Well I'm into my second week of burning now. There is much to be learned about how and when to load the EKO. So far what I am experiencing is that the EKO doesn't really want to heat the return water much more than 20 degrees. I think I might start screwing around with throttling my pumps a little but when my return temps are 140 (which is most of the time for me with 1000 gallons of storage) my boiler likes to run in the low to mid 160's and will rarely break into the 170's. If I keep the fire going all day I can get the return temps up to 160 (meaning my lower tank is finally up to 160 on the bottom) and the EKO really starts screaming and can hit 180-190 easily. I see 400 degree flue temps quite consistently.

    I do want to adjust the air a bit more. I've got mostly blue in my flame but I think I can cut the primaries even more than 9mm and improve slightly. I just wish I could keep the tank bottoms at 160 but it just won't work for me right now. Fortunately, my water-to-air heat exchanger seems to do a pretty okay job right down to 120-130 supply temps depending on outside temps.

    All in all I'm quite pleased. Storage is working. This week I've been back to work and only burn the fire after work when I'm home. We had a rather cold morning here yesterday so I burned two full loads last night. Monday night I ran one and a half loads due to some nice sunshine we were having. All is well in the world...
  23. Northwoodsman

    Northwoodsman New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
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    99
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    Thanks for the info on the gages!

    I contacted Dave and he said the wires on these probes are 10' long and cannot be cut or extended (I would like to have a temperture gage next to my thermostat inside my house).

    Thus, after some searching, I found a dual temp readout gage made by Azel in Canada (Model DS-60P) and they tell me I can run up to 200' of regular 2 wire thermostat wire on the probes.

    These are actually designed for monitoring supply/return temps in one unit and are powered by 24volt or lithium batteries.

    I will let everyone know how they work as I'm hoping to have them by the weekend.

    By the way, the cost on the dual readout gage with 2 probes included is $60.00 each (there is no sales tax and the UPS freight free!!)

    I purchased mine from accentshopping.com.


    Regarding your EKO40, how long does it burn when you fill it full of wood and what is the approx. temp rise in both tanks during the complete burn.

    I'm still struggling with my system and just read a post that talked about keeping the firewood no more than 3"x5" in size when looking at it from the end.

    Thus, the more finely split the wood is the better/hotter it will burn and the more BTU's it will put out.

    Thanks,

    BC

    Attached Files:

  24. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Loc:
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    A 20 degree rise is a pretty common design target. There's some evidence that lower outlet temps translate to higher efficiency, all other things being equal. However, you sometimes need high outlet temps to provide usable heat. If you want higher outlet temps, you have three choices:

    1) Use a mixing valve or other inlet temp protection to mix more outlet water into the inlet and raise the inlet temp
    2) Use a smaller / slower circulator
    3) Manage your heat loads so that there is less cold water coming from storage when you want hotter water for the zones

    I use all three techniques. If my space heating zones are calling for heat, I really want the boiler outlet to be around 175. If it's not hot enough, the first thing I'll do is to stop heating storage and other low-priority loads. If that doesn't do it, I'll open a recirc zone valve to allow some of the boiler outlet to return directly to the inlet. If that doesn't do it, I'll slow down my circulator.
  25. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    2,293
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I'm actually planning to try the "smaller splits" method starting today. My splits have been decent in size, but no more than 6" for sure. I think I'll split those in half now and go in with nothing bigger than 3" wide to see what it does to my temps. Maybe that's the key!

    Currently I'm getting no more than a 4 hour burn on a full load. At 4 hours I'm left with a good bed of coals but no wood. Makes it easy to toss in the next load (full or partial) and keep it running.

    My tank charging is a challenge. I have the thermostat keeping my house cooler when nobody is home during the day (63 degrees). It kicks up to 72 just before I get home from work. I build my fire at about this time. So right when the tanks are really pushing a lot of heat out I'm just getting the fire started again. So far this week the tanks are usually at about 150 on the top/upper when I get up in the morning. The bottom/lower is usually 125ish. When I get home from work the top/upper has been in the 120's and the bottom/lower at 110ish. After my first full load the top/upper is usually in the mid 140's and the bottom tank has not received any heat yet (plumbed in series) but it is on the verge. So I load it up again (full load again last night) and go to bed shortly after. The tanks never really get close to full temp this way. But it is working to keep the house heated to where I want it. I'd like to be able to get the tanks to 180 with two loads but I can't just yet. I can't have it all in the first week, right!!!

    Nice work on the gauges. Those would be handy, I might need one!

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