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Questions about using electric backup elements in Empire Elite?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by James Grizzard, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    I am looking at buying a Empire Elite 100 and adding the 18kw electric backup with a baseboard setup. My questions are how economical would it be to use the electric backup if I was gone for some time as compared to having a backup gas boiler in the system? And what do you think about using the electric backup for my hot water needs in the offseason? Would it be better to just buy a hotwater heater? I am buying a house from a buddy that is a contractor that bought the house and got a contruction loan to remodel it and he is totally against me using the wood boiler. I talked him into it, but can't add storage till after the inspection and I am also wondering if it would be practical at all to use the electric backup to keep the storage heated? Thanks guys I am trying to get my feet wet in this world and hopefully I can start pushing these setups to others cause they are awesome and it would bring prices down cause these boilers are way to simple to cost what they do.

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    What do you have in place now?
  3. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    Doing a remodel on a 100+ year old house, has a coal furnace in the crawl space and someone had added wall mounted gas heaters that are gone, so house has no heating source right now. I was looking at on demand electric boilers and for the same wattage(18kw) the backup unit on the Elite is a steal at 600 bucks. The only time it would really be used is in the summer for hot water and it wouldnt go through storage, I would use a heat exchanger into an existing water heater that has no power source or maybe just bite the bullet and buy an electric hot water heater. The back up would really be for inspection purposes you have to have a backup to wood around here. It doesn't really get cold enough here to freeze pipes maybe a week out of the year and I could just use a space heater in the crawl space if I was leaving during that time. I really want to stay away from gas cause they make you pay for half the town that gets it free(bullshit). I am wanting to run baseboard and also put heat exchangers with blowers in the cool original registers.
  4. __dan

    __dan Feeling the Heat

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    I would say electric elements in the boiler would be far less efficient compared to electric heat baseboard in the house. Could be a big number, and a big electric bill. Assuming you do not need the electric boiler heat for freeze protection, there will be large standby and distribution loss trying to get heat from the boiler to the space. The advantage is that distribution system is already in the space, if you want to pay the electric bill, you can heat it. Long term use could be expensive.
    BoilerMan and hobbyheater like this.
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you're going to want any "heat producing" hardware in your crawl space in the summer. I'm sure you already have enough of a cooling load there. There's a lot of heat loss in all that hardware.
    hobbyheater likes this.
  6. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I considered elements in mine when I was deciding on my system. I went with an 18kw electric boiler instead. I found a two year old one on Kijiji for $400 with a circ pump. In my case, backup heat will be rarely used (only one day last year), so I wasn't too concerned with operating expense. If it were to be used semi-regularly, it would be too hard on my electric bill. If I had gone with elements in the boiler, it would have been WAY too hard on my electric bill, given all the extra water it would have been heating (my separate electric boiler only heats the zones), and more stand-by losses. I'm not sure how you could have elements in the boiler & not send heat everywhere the boiler would normally send it (like storage). On DHW, I would put in a separate DHW electric hot water tank (well, I did) - keeping the boiler hot to heat your water with an exchanger is another recipe for wasted heat.

    EDIT: Also, if my backup heat was to be used on a semi-regular basis, I'd still likely be burning oil - as much as it pains me to say it. Although I would very thoroughly evaluate a mini-split heat pump first.
  7. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    Don't think they sell heating oil around here and I don't really want to pay the surcharge in gas so I am probally gonna have to bite the bullet and buy a ondemand electric boiler to use as backup how many BTU's do you think I will need for a 1200sqft house with baseboard heat? Don't want to spend a bunch of money where I don't need to.
  8. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    All I have to go by is the couple times I tried mine while setting it up. It's 18kw and seemed to handle our 2700 sq.ft. 18 year old two storey fine.

    That was only a brief snapshot though, and not on a cold winters day.

    My wood boiler is rated at 40kw, and it puts out quite a bit more heat than the house uses. In the coldest days of winter I was burning at the most 3 loads, or about 12 hours of burning time.

    Not sure how well all that translates, or how our climates compare.

    Do you know what your heat load is? Would you have any need or want for a/c in the summer? Have you thought about mini-splits? (Even though you have baseboards now). 1200 sq.ft. is not a very big house to heat - on the face of it at least.
    BoilerMan likes this.
  9. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    I'm in the process of installing an Elite 100 myself and contemplating the same desicions about the electric B/U kit.

    Are you are running just the wood boiler (for now) to a HX and distributing that VIA baseboard? What are you doing for DHW? Indirect?

    IMO, the way to go would be:
    - Install the 18 KW B/U kit on the Empyre, inexpensive, easy system integration, easy automatic or manual control of the B/U. It can kick in if your wood dies out, bridges, etc. You can connect 1,2,3 or all 4 4500 W elements and cap the remaining wiring. You may qualify as an electric heating customer and get discounted electric rates.
    - Bypass your storage when not burning wood, eliminate the unnecessary hot tank during A/C season.
    - Install a damper or disconnect your chimney connector when running the electric B/U for any extended periods of time, no ambient losses up the flue. You have to clean & inspect the chimney in the spring & fall anyway, perfect time to connect / disconnect and leave it that way, but this is assuming you are doing something different for DHW in the summer.

    Why waste $$$ on a seperate electric boiler or separate electric DHW tank, wiring, piping, etc when it can all be incorperated into the Empyre? Keeping it warm during off season (non fire) periods will eliminate any condensation and corrosion concerns, let the HX and pumps distribute that heat to your loads & DHW (indirect tank).

    18 KW is 18 KW. If you can eliminate any losses up the flue, any remaining losses will radiate into the living space. Who cares if it's radiating from the wood boiler, standard water heater, etc.

    If I was in a warmer climate, I would go this route and rip out the oil boiler. I am keeping the oil boiler for now because it work fine & has no issues, but we usually go away several times in the cold months either visiting family or heading to Maine to play in the snow so keeping the oil is more cost effective at this point. I can also power my oil burner, most of the house and well pump with my 5500 W generator.
    hobbyheater likes this.
  10. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    I live in a very temperate climate so I wouldnt have to use it much and for the price you cant beat it. I just need to install the boiler outside the house so I can light fires year round and have lots of storage.
  11. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    Can you guys give me some diagrams and parts lists of what I need right now to run 1 zone with a side arm at the water heater to get this thing up and running? I would like to use a Alpha pump if possible. I am trying to get into this house with a small a loan as possible and I will add all the goodies later (storage, hot tub, water to air heat exchanger in the guest house). Also I probally need to run two circuits so I don't short the baseboards hot water right? House is about 25x35 single story. I have been studying this stuff for a few weeks and its got my head spinning on parts and options and i need to just get it hooked up and running for now till I get comfortable with it all.
  12. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    See the primary secondary piping at the top of the boiler room page.
    Here's how I am doing mine, with more ball valves to isolate each secondary loop though.
    Wood boiler pump is a bumblebee the remainder are alphas.

    Attached Files:

  13. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    Are the triangles pumps? Thats alot of pumps I thought I could do it with one Alpha?
  14. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    The circled triangles are pumps.

    If you are not going to use a heat exchanger you can probably do it with one pump and careful design.

    You need to carefully calculate the gallons per minute you need to pump and the head loss through your piping and heat emitters. Then ensure you have a correctly sized pump. The 15-55 Alpha may or may not be up to the task.

    Wirsbo and Zurn have good pdf manuals available for download that detail hydronic design and contain the pressure loss per foot information you need to be able to properly select a pump.
  15. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    On the electric elements ... I'm not sure if Menards is in your area, but they have wall mounted electric boilers for not much more than the element kit available for the Empyre Elite. Otherwise check them out online.
  16. James Grizzard

    James Grizzard New Member

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    I gave the info for the amperage load to the electrician today and he said well you only have a 150amp service so if you want electric backup you will have to redo your service so looks like I am going to use a natural gas boiler as backup. I serched on the local craigslist and found two units for sale by the same person and I am gonna buy one of them, so I thought I would ask you guys. First one is a Laars Teledyne JVT 125k btu unit for 300 bucks and the second is a Raypack Raytherm H3 wich is also around 125k btu and its 400 bucks. Which unit would be a better backup? Probally never get used so I don't want to spend more then 500 bucks on one. Also probally have to ditch the Empire if I go with the Laars cause its a closed system boiler, but the same dude selling the Empyre has a Eko 40 for about the same price. So

    Laars/Eko
    Raypack/Empire

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