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Pellet Burner Conversion

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by blackslax, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    I have been looking into doing a pellet burner conversion for some time. I have friends is Sweden and they say that they are no issue with the right boiler. So I have done some homework and found the ULMA pellet burner is now available in the U.S. Have they been available here for long? My Swedish friends say that they are highly rated over there, but is there any any expperince with them here? I know through the treads that the Pellergy and Pellx don't have issues, but is the Ulma out there?

    Here is the website www.pellet-pro.com

    Let me know what you think.

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  2. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    anyone care to opine in this?
  3. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    A little help please - does anyone have any experience with these? I contacted Pellet pro and they said that it is listed for conversions and that there are some in the field. Has anyone heard any good or bad news. Price seems right.

    Attached Files:

  4. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I know of no one who is running anything like these. I like the idea of them but I would also look at a add on pellet burner if it is pellets you want to burn. The reason for the add on would be that you would have the oil burner if there was ever a problem with the pellet stove. If the importer has some in the field, they will probably give you the contact information to talk directly to a user. Being a new item here in the states, it may be hard to find out any "real" information from the states yet.
  5. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    Thanks for the insight. Does anyone have experience with any burner conversions?
  6. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    I don't know anything about these but it is an interesting idea. If I had an old oil boiler I might think about using it for a backup to my cord wood boiler. I'm wondering how much it will clog the hx on some boilers. My pellet burner in my insert throws alittle fly ash up on the heat tubes and some oil boiler hx aren't easy to clean.
    leaddog
  7. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    My experience with them, or lack there of comes from friends in Sweden. I looked at some last fall when I was over and we talked about them with an installer. He said that for w Wood boiler they only need cleaning 1-2 times a years and that the biggest problem is stack temp. He said that most people make turbulators too slow the air flow down and get transfer. As for oil boilers, he said that steel boilers with verticle tubes are the standard in Europe. As for cast iron, I do know a guy running a Janfire in a Bedurus and he cleans about every 2-3 weeks. But, those systems cost 14-18k. The Pellet-pro guys said that they are running one in a Smith (pin style) and they clean about 3 weeks and siad than the pin style works good. They also said that the importer has worked with Biasi in their 3 pass with great results. I am just wondering if these are the real deal. They look it.
  8. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    I had a good talk with the Pellt Pro guys today. I think they have put my mind at ease. They indicated that there are other burners coming out of the eastern block these days taht are junk copies of the Scandinavians. The biggest difference is quality. He said that cheap burners will wholesale for $800 or so and that by contrast, the burn tube on the Ulma is made from some special steel and cost (believe it or not)$500 by itself!
    I really want to pull the trigger on this, I just wish there was information available.
    Any other experiences would be appreciated.
  9. maineheat

    maineheat New Member

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    I like the concept of having the ability to choose either pellets or oil in the same boiler block. I do question the ability to maintain system efficiency in a boiler block designed for heat transfer, based on an oil gun, which runs a lot cleaner. More advanced boilers designed for this have the capability to clean the heat exchanger without an invasive procedure, but then again they are also more invasive on the wallet! I've been watching the pellergy and pellx but feel that I'd be cleaning often in my 20 year old burnham v1 pin style boiler where the chamber won't allow for much ash buildup.

    As an aside. The pellet-pro.com website is lacking huge amounts of information. It always makes you wonder when you can't find a phone number for a company your looking to spend 3k with..... I did end up finding a PDF on the Sweedish website describing the burner. I guess I'd be a little cautious in this adventure.
  10. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    I guess I made up my mind. Talked to the Pellet-Pro guys again. We talked about all of the other burners and I was impressed that they did not tear down the other companies. No sales pitch at all, just a no BS appraisal of my system, their equipment and these guys REALLY know everyones burner on a technical level and how they all differ. They gave me a VERY high level of confidence in the product and how it will go.

    Wish me luck!
  11. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    Keep us posted and remember , no pic or it didn't happen.
    leaddog
  12. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    You guys and your technical pornography
  13. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    Its the only kind I'm supposed to look at without getting into trouble with the wife ;-)
  14. CK-1

    CK-1 Feeling the Heat

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    Interesting.. I'm hearing and reading that this could be the new wave to optionally replace the high price of heating oil. I have a power venter not a chimney for my oil furnace so that could be a issue from the start...
  15. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    Just received the unit today. Looks great. everything has a heavy gold-cad coating on it and the igniter is a really cool set up. Looks really straight forward. Only thing to do now is make an apointment with my local machine shop to plasma cut a larger hole in the door.
    I think I will get everything in place, calibrate the ignition charge, and test the burner before. Then when I i take the door out, I can come right back, mount the burner, and do the fine tuning with no suprises before the house gets cold. (hopefully)

    More to come
  16. jjmelt

    jjmelt Member

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    how did this turn out? found this will searching a conversion unit. Curious to hear how it went?
  17. blackslax

    blackslax New Member

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    Sorry, trying to get through year end at work. I have some pics of the unit, I can probably get them up later.
  18. Hoval

    Hoval Member

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    Well I don’t know if I am the first but I have converted my boiler to a pellet boiler with a PellX conversion unit. The unit includes a pellet burner, like an oil burner but with a larger hole (6â€) into the boiler. The unit and control panel operates on 110v 60hz electricity. The panel allows me to program the shut off temperature, a choice of 4 starts up temperatures, the amount of startup pellets, the amount of operating pellets, the air speed and max burn time. A 1.7m auger was included. This is a self start and shut off unit. I built a pellet storage bunker out of plywood that stores 1 ton of pellets ready to use. This heats my 5 zone (1700 sq ft) ranch house and domestic hot water just like the old oil unit. I had a machine shop provide me with two 1/16†steel plates, one foot square with four mounting holes in the same location so I could switch out the burners at any time. I have used just short of 8 tons of pellets this year since September and we are still cold outside, today 38 F High for the day. I will be burning all year as this does my hot water as well.

    I need to clean the burner every 1000# (takes about 15 minutes) and the boiler every 2000# (takes about 1 hour including the burner. Once I adjusted the burner I have not had a problem with the unit. I would have used about 1500 gal of fuel oil for the year at say $3.00 per Gal or $4,500. for the year. I have paid $250. per ton of pellets or $2,000. I paid $3250 for the PELLX unit and installed the unit myself. So my first year cost will be $4,500-2,000= $2,500 Then $2,500-3250=$750 to be paid off on the PELLX burner. This is a no brainer for those with the proper boiler and a bit of knowledge.

    What are your thoughts?

    Attached Files:

  19. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    What boiler did you convert? Is the domestic coil in boiler or do you use an indirect? How about some pics .

    Will
  20. Hoval

    Hoval Member

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    Last Fall I converted my Hoval ZKT to a pellet burner using a PellX 20KW burner conversion. The original Hoval was a 30 year old multi fuel boiler made by Gustav Ospelt Hovalwerk AG In Liechtenstein. When I bought it new I was told that I could heat with anything-Oil, Nat Gas, Liquid Propane, Wood, Electric or Coal. I don't think that Wood Pellets were even a gleam in the eye of the manufacture. I think it has a 150 gal of heating hot water and 50 gal of domestic hot water. Several of the years I used a mix of Coal in the late fall, after temperatures were below 35F, winter and early spring switching to Oil for the rest of the year as I used this for my hot water all year. I would usually go through 4 tons of coal (say $980) and 450 gal of oil (say $1,500).

    The Hoval that I have was a perfect unit for conversion. What I have found out is that I need to clean the burner every 1000# of pellets burned and clean the boiler every ton of pellets burned. This requires that you can gain access to the fire box and heat exchanger. My Hoval has a swing open door that opens up the front of the unit for cleaning. I then use a small shovel to clean the ash off the bottom of the boiler and a brush and vacuum to clean the heat exchanger (after it has cooled off). I spend about 10 to 15 minutes to clean the burner and half an hour to clean the boiler.

    The PellX unit comes complete with the control box that allows you to adjust several functions to get the proper burn. I can adjust the amount of pellets feed rate for start up, pellets feed rate to operate, fan speed and the temperature on the high limit as well as 4 start up temperature options based on the high temperature shut off. An auger is included that is about 1.7 meters feet long. The unit also includes a temperature sending unit that needs a well in the boiler for shut off temperature. I did need to buy a safety temperature shut off as a safety back up. (this has never been triggered) The burner has a high temperature shut off on the pellet inlet stack. (this has shut the unit down three times when I have not cleaned the burner often enough.) The PellX unit is self lighting, self shut off, self feeding and somewhat self cleaning of the burner.

    As I said this is a conversion unit so I do not have the attached bin like many units that holds what 100# of pellets? My bin 1 ton at a time. I built mine out of plywood on legs with tin for the bottom to help the pellets slide down to a 3†pvc toilet fitting that goes into a 3†pvc “Yâ€. I used a 45 degree “Y†unit that drops the pellets into the straight part of the “Yâ€. This allows me to remove and replace the auger if needed while the bin is loaded. (it comes out easy but need some fooling with to get back in)

    My plans are to make my own pellets starting this spring. I have found a supply of product and plan to process and produce about 600# every hour. But that is another story. Let me know if you are interested. I have included photo’s of the above. Let me know what you think.
  21. EcoHeat

    EcoHeat Member

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    Pellet burners alone can work fine on a wood boiler that you're not planning to use for heating wood anymore, but there are issues with using an oil boiler.

    1. Burners should be on a door for cleaning. If not on door, removing the burner for cleaning wears out the seal.
    2. There's no provision for ash in oil boilers.
    3. Oil boilers are not designed for regular cleaning of the heat exchange surfaces, which is an important requirement for burning any kind of biomass, including wood pellets.
    4. Combustion chambers are too small in oil boilers for efficient combustion.

    It's also a good idea to leave an oil boiler in place as a back-up, in the event you're called away and not able to refill the bin. Large homes can use the oil boiler for supplemental heating for when heat losses are at their greatest.

    Swebo burners haven't been mentioned in this thread. They are also Swedish technology, and run on high and low limits. A back-up oil boiler would have high and low limits below the high and low limits of the pellet boiler. This keeps the pellet boiler running as much as possible. Power levels can also be adjusted so that in spring and fall, the burner can run at lower power and so with longer run times which increases the efficiency. Adjustments can also be made to all four phases of combustion, and to fan speeds at every power level. As with all the Swedish burners, they are very well made.

    Attached Files:

  22. Hoval

    Hoval Member

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    Thank you for your input. You sound very knowledgeable about the Swebo Boiler, you must be a dealer or sales person. I tried to find a Swebo pellet burner replacement but I did not notice one on any of the web sites. You made several excellent notations about boilers but in general it seems that you did not even read my input.

    The issues that you are pointing out like a door for cleaning—as you will notice from my pictures my front of the boiler 3’ X 2’ opens all the way up to expose the heat exchanger as well as the ash pit. My boiler has a 16†x 22†pit 4†below the burner for ash. I am able to burn 1 ton of pellets with only 3“of ash or 4 gallons before I need to clean it.

    My heat exchanger has chambers that I can get a 2 foot brush from the front to the back as well as enough width to get my vacuum cleaning attachment that is also 2 feet long from the front to the back. The pellets that I burn have burned off the deposits from years of oil burning and all I have now is some ash powder that falls off with a brush or the vacuum.

    My combustion chamber is 16†X 22†X 15†this provides me enough space to burn the original 225,000 BTU with oil so I guess that it can take 22kw of heat. (what that 66,000 BTU)

    As I mentioned I have a two sets of plates that attach my burners to the boiler that use 4 bolts. With this set up I can change back to oil in 10 Minutes. I live in upstate NY and we have just had a very cold and snowy winter in which my 22KW unit never fell behind.

    You seem familiar with the Swebo units. I mentioned that my cost was $3250 but you failed to mention the cost of the Swebo (even without instillation). I looked for specks on the Swebo but I could not find any. Does it run on 110V 60 Hz or is it the 220/240V European unit? When hooked up with an oil burner do you need a separate chimney or do you put it through the same one? My PELLX unit has a separate controller that hangs on the wall to minimizes the vibrations to protect the electronics, where is your controller? I have a compressed air line from my controller to the burner that is the self cleaning portion of the burner, is yours self cleaning and how does it work? How about some information on your unit?
  23. EcoHeat

    EcoHeat Member

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    Yes I am. We stock Swebo burners here in New England.

    You've got good access to the combustion chamber, and a good spot for collecting the ash. Not many are as fortunate when looking to retrofit an oil boiler.

    This is a good size combustion chamber. Because the boiler is designed for much higher (4x) the pellet burner output, I would worry about there being not enough flue gasses to make turbulent flow through the tubes. That can reduce the heat transfer. But what really counts is how it's working for you, and it seems that it's working fine. Making adjustments to lower power levels in the spring and fall may not work so well, but you can try. Perhaps with more aggressive turbulators.

    That's very good. The ideal for most people would be to have the oil boiler set up in parallel, so that if you aren't able to feed pellets to the bin for any reason before it empties out, the oil boiler takes over automatically.

    The cost for Swebo burners is similar to what you quote. The burners run on 120V/60Hz. You do need a separate chimney if there is the possibility of running both at once. The controller is included with the burner, but is mounted separately, like yours. Swebo burners must be cleaned manually. That's very simple and quick to do. Although we can sell burners separately, we also have a whole package of equipment that go together: EcoBoiler, Swebo burner, controller, auger and storage. Feel free to contact me for an exact quote, or for other specifications, sample schematics, payback info, etc.

    Attached Files:

  24. Hoval

    Hoval Member

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    Just curious Geo! You mentioned that your burner and controller is about the same cost as mine, then went on to say that you could work up a package price with the burner, control box and auger, mine comes complete with the burner,control box, temperature probe, wires and auger at the price I quoted. Does this mean that we have a difference in price for this package and what would you charge for yours?

    This is a great forum to get your prices and information out to a select group of pellet burners. I hope I am asking the right questions for comparison of like products.

    I do like the photo that shows that our burners are alike in that they blow over and through the flame chamber and are not a suction unit like most of the pellet stoves.

    Is that the only door to clean your unit? It what 10" X 10"? Do you have a unit in you house as well or just the photo's from Swebo?
  25. EcoHeat

    EcoHeat Member

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    Our pricing is similar to what you paid. We include the same things. I may be mistaken, but it's my understanding that manufacturers, distributors and retailers are not supposed to be posting prices on this forum. I am happy to share other information here on this forum, and pricing separately.

    The photos you see are ours. The door you see in the photos is on our EcoBoiler here in East Walpole, Massachusetts. This is our own American-made ASME certified boiler, not a Swebo product. The dimensions on the door are 12" x 12". There's another door below to access the ash bin, and another door above for cleaning the flue tubes.

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