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Planning an Eko 40 installation

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by wolfcreek, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. wolfcreek

    wolfcreek New Member

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    I’ve decided to install an Eko 40 with 1000 gallons of storage to my place in Montana. Overall, my choice of an Eko boiler is based on the vast amount of information on their operation that is available. It seems all gasifiers require tweaking and ingenuity, having the information resource is vital. Additionally, the Eko appears to have a good track record. It reminds me of the small block Chevy.

    The load will be a 36 X 36 high ceiling shop adjacent to a two story 20 X 36 residence (ground floor utility room, art studio, entry + upstairs living area) with a DHW HX. I also want some potential for an expansion of a 24 X 36 guest cottage. The Eko 40 with storage will meet those needs with reasonable reload periods. Fuel is mostly pine and fir. Calculation fit the boiler size.

    I’ll install this myself, augmenting the current electric boiler supplying the residence with staple up hydronic that has worked very well. The shop will use a large Modine exchanger.

    A few puzzles I have are as follows:

    Currently I run an RV type glycol mix in the hydronic system. I’m not opposed to keeping to this in the new system, even at the added cost, for system and freeze protection but I wonder if this may cause issues I unaware of. I’m interested in other alternative suggestions.

    Since this is a new installation, I want to use the latest in valves and pumps. So, I’m looking for recommendations as to models, manufacturers and sources. Like anyone, I’m looking for simplicity and durability.

    I’d ask for input on one other issue. I‘m looking for suggestions on a good inverter for backup power. I’ll run a bank of 4 deep cycle batteries with solar/generator charging capability. But I’m not familiar as to how refined the system’s power supply is for pump motor operation and electronics. I have experienced that some motors perform poorly on conventional inverter power. Input welcome on this concern.

    I appreciate any and all input.

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  2. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Welcome!

    I cant comment on the Eko at all, but Ill take a swing at the other items.

    Glycol will impact your heat transfer numbers as opposed to straight water. It might be a non-issue, but if your calculations are very close, you might need to make sure you take this into account. Its also not going to be cheap with that much system volume, I wouldnt think.

    I have read lots here about Wilo pumps, some of the Grundfos Alpha pumps, and actually Bell & Gossett now has a new variable speed circ pump as well. They are definitely more expensive than a standard circulator, but use very little power. Others here can talk more to the pumps, as I havent used any of them myself.

    Good luck, and keep us posted on how things progress!
  3. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Good choice on a boiler (although I am a bit biased). And welcome to the board!

    Do you have an idea of what your actual heat load is (btu/hr)? It sounds like you feel the 40 is properly sized for your application but I'm curious what the details are that led to this belief.

    First thought - it's likely you will NOT see typical user output from an EKO burning exclusively soft woods. I can't tell you how much difference there will be but I do know the rated outputs for the EKO are based on hardwood (very dry hardwood). I personally burned some pine in my EKO for a few weeks and hated every second of it. I couldn't get a good bed of coals to save my life. That being said there are gasser users on this site that use exclusively soft woods and they perform quite nicely.

    Second thought - glycol will decrease your system efficiency. And I believe it may even be significant. Less efficient = more wood. The EKO has a built in freeze protection feature to trigger pumps but I'd also recommend a manual "pump on" setup for your system if you don't anticipate extended hard freezes. Glycol is just one big expensive mess.

    I have run Taco and Grundfos pumps. I vastly prefer the Grundfos, and they cost about the same.

    I use an APC UPS for my battery back up. Bought it off ebay for a steal. Depending on how much you're trying to power these computer UPS's can be quite an easy solution...
  4. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    I agree on the grundfos statement Stee
    -Easier and quicker to wire
    -built in threaded strain relief
    -quiet
    -3 speed

    I have 1 taco and 7 grundfos

    Huff

  5. Welcome, I guess everyone has car analogies on their mind this week.


    The eko is a great choice, but I went with BioMass Wood boiler -- guess I have the BMW of wood boilers?
  6. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    [The eko is a great choice, but I went with BioMass Wood boiler -- guess I have the BMW of wood boilers?[/quote]

    :lol: :lol: :lol:
  7. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    The tweaking & ingenuity you speak of is not required with the real fine Lambda boilers like Froling & Effecta, Randy
  8. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    LOL

    Eko = Ford

    Bio = Chevy

    Froling = BMW
  9. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    Eyebrows,You forgot the Vigas it also is a lambda unit. I would not buy an eko. The company that imports them is very dishonest.They say they are tested by omni labs.Well guess what they are not.Just give omni a call and they will give you the low down on the importer.
  10. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    I shared the same EKO logic. It has a large user base and is proven. Went to pick up my EKO 60 and could not resist the design enhancements of the BioMass. The EKO and BioMass are kinda brother sister boilers (too complex to explain here). Definitely not the same market longevity but absolutely has features to make you life operating a gasser easier. As a 3 year BioMass user I would definitely make the same decision. I'll never bash the EKO which became a standard in the market. But when I opened the upper chamber door and my eyeballs where looking at the top plate I could not imagine how to avoid lots of smoke spillage. On our biomass the door opening is way below the ceiling of the upper chamber and I still get smoke, mostly because I operate without storage and reload with a fire still going. I believe you can't go wrong with the EKO, but the market has not stood still as far as products with design enhancements. Two years ago I predicted the next generation EKO would look a lot like the biomass. Hasn't happened yet. I'm guessing the EKO design is over 20-25 years old. Biomass is maybe 5-8. Tough call since we biomass users don't have anywhere near the history of the EKO but so far so good. As a design engineer I'm always improving our products at the risk of reliability simply because if you don't improve your products the market will pass you by. Best wishes and enjoy the research.
  11. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Henfruit, I put the Froling & Effecta in a class by themselves because they use Lambda feedback for control of primary & secondary air independantly. The Vigas just uses Lambda to control fan speed I'm told. I would love to have a Vigas Lambda though, I couldn't get my Atmos out fast enough as it requires lots of tinkering when the Samson flap is up. Randy
  12. nrford

    nrford Minister of Fire

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    Agree with Randy my Effecta is an ease to run. Start the fire and walk away!!
  13. wolfcreek

    wolfcreek New Member

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    All very amusing. My reference to a small block Chevy was to express my desire for a simple, durable system that I, alone, can optimize and maintain. I’ve spent a career servicing high end exotic cars with complex emission systems and electronic controls. I may be paranoid because I work in the “ER†but the last thing I want to worry about is having a lambda probe circuit fail during a week of -40F weather and trying to diagnose and acquire parts from a remote location. Hence KISS.

    The BioMass-40 units look attractive but I have yet to see them embraced by the larger community, possibly because they are a newer unit. As to who’s honest and who isn’t, there seems to be a lot of snake oil in the industry as a whole and I find a lot more credibility in this forum than any commercial website. Once again reinforcing self-reliance.

    I like to kid around as much as anyone and enjoy the banter, but I do need some input as I’m a bit particular about what I do and want to have this project planned out carefully with minimal surprises at install. Doing what I’ve done for a living, you might appreciate the value I place in learning from others trials and mistakes and doing it right the first time.

    Back to brass tacks, the question was raised about a heat load figure. I’m right at 75,000 BTU estimated (crudely calculated). Currently I heat the residential area, a 17,500 BTU load with a 31,000 electric boiler. I like a reserve factor of 2, so I believe a boiler with capacity around 150,000 BTU to be desirable. My wood is virtually free for the rest of my lifetime so my next consideration is the convenience factor of time between loads.

    To the issue of water treatment, I puzzle as to how effective a pressurized system is in corrosion resistance. Propane tanks are steel, yet I’m seeing many suggest copper or stainless dip tubes and diverters to avoid stratification in the tanks. I have a tubing bender and my thoughts were to “pigtail†steel inlet and outlet tubes in the same rotation to effect a good mixing in the tanks without creating restrictions. Would I be as concerned with these tubes being corrosive as I would the tanks themselves? Or will pressurization and simple water treatment without glycol control corrosion?

    Again I appreciate input. I make an effort to search out an answer before I ask a question, but as my design develops I’ll probably have two more questions for every question answered. Thanks all.

    Tennman – Appreciate your comments. I’ll keep an open mind.
  14. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Typo? You want stratification in the tanks/tank. Has nothing to do with corrosion. Loading units work very well for tank charging although I should have bought the next size up Laddomat the 21-60. You might want to consider either a Laddomat or Termovar loading unit, Randy
  15. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Since you are planning for a simpler boiler suitable for owner optimization and maintenance, I would suggest that best feature to plan on adding would be end-of-burn draft fan shutdown with positive draft inlet port closure. This gives the ability to stop the burn when there is some charcoal left. This leftover charcoal placed over the gasifier nozzle ignites in literally a few seconds with a propane torch, then you pile on the fuel and walk away. The lambda-controlled units get this feature 'free' as a byproduct of being able to shut off both primary and secondary air flow when the flue temperature drops, but lambda control is not necessary to pull it off.

    As for glycol, for the cost of a thousand gallons of glycol, a simple freeze-prevention circulation scheme with some small amount of supplemental propane or electric heat should keep the house and system above freezing quite easily, especially if there's any solar gain during the day to work with.

    The latest in valves and pumps would definitely include the Wilo Stratos or Grunfos Alpha electronically commutated motor isobaric pumps that can maintain constant pressure to supply multiple zones as they turn on and off.

    If possible, it would be nice to have some significant percentage of storage above and adjacent to the boiler. This will allow use of a Laddomat or Termovar loading unit with integral low-resistance backflow preventer which acts as a power failure heat dump subsystem by allowing thermosiphon flow through the boiler to storage. But to do this you may need to put the tank on a stand and have a port added on the bottom.

    Another killer feature is having a DHW 'tankless' coil immersed in the top of storage through a 4 inch collared port added to the tank for this purpose.

    Maintaining proper water chemistry in a sealed pressurized system is well understood and easy to do.

    --ewd
  16. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    With a Paxo 40 (which in my opinion is a lot like a yellow Eko 40) I am very happy with the results. A freeze protection circuit to circulate the 1000 gallons of water would take a LONG time to freeze from 100F (or whatever). Sounds like you are off-grid (or considering it). Running a circulator for freeze protection is probably the lowest energy solution you can get. You can probably buy a basic automatic generator for the price of the gylcol.

    For inverters, Xantrex and Outback are good. I have a Trace (bought by Xantrex). Backwoodssolar.com is a GREAT source for information and equipment.

    And yes, I like the simplicity of my unit. I have a Taco main circulator to storage and Grundfoss circulators for three zones.
  17. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    Lol. Would of bought a Froling if I didnt need $10,000 worth of copper ,pumps,black iron,storage tanks etc.
  18. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    [quote author="wolfcreek" date="1325226742"]All very amusing. My reference to a small block Chevy was to express my desire for a simple, durable system that I, alone, can optimize and maintain. I’ve spent a career servicing high end exotic cars with complex emission systems and electronic controls. I may be paranoid because I work in the “ER†but the last thing I want to worry about is having a lambda probe circuit fail during a week of -40F weather and trying to diagnose and acquire parts from a remote location. Hence KISS.

    I agree ,I work on medium to large marine diesels. There is something to say about older more simple technoligy Murlees ,White Superior's, E.M.D.'s Paxtons. worked on several of these engines well into their 4th. decade of service. and still ticking.





    BackTo the issue of water treatment, I puzzle as to how effective a pressurized system is in corrosion resistance. Propane tanks are steel, yet I’m seeing many suggest copper or stainless dip tubes and diverters to avoid stratification in the tanks. I have a tubing bender and my thoughts were to “pigtail†steel inlet and outlet tubes in the same rotation to effect a good mixing in the tanks without creating restrictions. Would I be as concerned with these tubes being corrosive as I would the tanks themselves? Or will pressurization and simple water treatment without glycol control corrosion?

    On the ship I work on our closed system heating has a capacity of around 3000 gal of fresh water media . We also do not treat the media. And over the last 5 years corrosion has been minimal. I have only had my EKO 40 firing now for a couple of weeks so I can't give you an honest opinion about corrosion yet.
    But there are many here that could.
    I chose the EKO for the same reason as you . It seemed like it was the most widely used boiler here on this site and haven't seen many serious complaints about them.
  19. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    Vigas= Rolls royce Paxo is made by eko.There is along story about all the boiler makers from poland and slovakia that is not known by this fourm.
  20. Do tell.
  21. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Burning softwood: I have burned nearly exclusively pine and some aspen, now in my 5th heating season; both burn fine. Burn what you have. All wood has about the same btu output per pound.

    Boiler rated output: Based on my experience estimate effective boiler output over a burn load at about 70-75% of rated maximum output.

    Heat load: sounds like you don't have in-floor radiant or low temperature radiant panels in either the shop or the house. Those are so sweet compared to moving hot air or using high temperature radiant. My shop is 32 x 48 x 14; well insulated, in-floor radiant. Average maximum btuh load winter of 2010-2011, with low temps in the mid -30'sF, was around 18,000 btuh; typical was 14,000 btuh with temps -5 to 15F. Calculated load was 35,000 btuh at -35F.

    Storage capacity: if the intent is to heat from storage for any length of time between burns, then realizing this goal is very dependent on what water temp you need to meet your needs. if you need 160F water, and if your actual load is 30,000 btuh, and if you can heat storage to 190F, then you have about 8 hours of heat storage capacity in 1000 gal of water before you need to burn again. If you can use water down to 130F, add another 8 hours; and if down to 100F, then add another 8 hours.

    Burn times (with pine): based on my Tarm Solo 40 (140,000 btuh rated), a full load is about 2.5 - 4 hours.

    Corrosion: in a pressurized, closed system, with initial water treatment, about 0. Use proper connections (typically brass) between steel and copper to eliminate galvanic corrosion.

    Backup power for heating system: I think the most economical and simple is an inverter generator, although a non-inverter may also work just fine. Honda and Yamaha are top brands, but I just bought a Champion 2000 at about 1/2 the price. The Champion will power my system on the eco engine setting, and fuel use is very low. If you keep your heating system components on a separate circuit(s), then switch-over is very easy with a transfer switch, although I installed my system with plugs to a power strip to an outlet, so an extension cord to the generator from the power strip is my switch-over.

    Other: pay close attention to pipe size, gpm flow rate, pump head, and btuh requirements and make sure you size pipe and circulators to provide the needed gpm's to meet btuh requirements. Making mistakes here are expensive to fix.

    I wish you first class success in your venture. I could not be more satisfied with mine. And my Solo 40 is about as low-tech as you will find for a quality wood gasification boiler.
  22. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    In theory, and according to what I have observed from working on forty year old systems with direct copper to cast and/or black iron connections, it can be true there is no need for brass between copper and iron in a sealed pressurized hydronic system.

    Likewise galvanized pipe is A-OK in sealed pressurized hydronic systems, except for systems filled with antifreeze.

    --ewd
  23. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    When I burned pine and spruce in my EKO I would get a lot of charcoal "blow by" in the secondary chamber but then my unit idled a lot. I believe Nofossil burned pine a lot , for at least one year think, and I don't recall him mentioning any difficulty with blow by and he ran with storage. So if you are running flat out without idling because of storage you should not have trouble with high ash and charcoal build up in the secdondary. Other low density hard wood would produce blow by but not like pine or spruce but they did produce quite a bit more ash than high density hardwoods.
  24. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Yes Henfruit the Vigas looks like a nice boiler & I'm at least partially wrong as you pointed out in a PM. The secondary is servo flapped & controlled with Lambda feedback. If the fan speed is also under the Lambda then you would have independant primary & secondary air control. I would hope that someone who actually knows these boilers would clarify this. Either way, irregardless, these look like very nice boilers, Randy
  25. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    As mentioned, nearly exclusive pine for 4 years and now in the 5th year of burning. Pine does not produce much ash at all, aspen does produce fine fly ash, about 1-2 cups after 6 hours of burning. No blow-by of charcoal of any significance at all with either pine or aspen. No experience to any extent with other hardwoods.

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