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Shoulder heating without storage

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by SteveJ, Jan 28, 2008.

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  1. SteveJ

    SteveJ Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Messages:
    213
    Loc:
    CO 9000ft
    So, it was about 50F today and has been around zero for the previous two weeks.

    The Seton W-130 loves the cold weather (as long as you have alot of wood).

    During the cold weather the refractory was always bright white and the HX tubes were relatively ash free.

    Today the Seton cycled maybe three or four times being idle for about 80% of the 24 hour period.

    So, when the Seton cycles now, I have the coked wood smell and the HX tubes are creosoting and collecting ash as shown in the attached picture.

    Fred Seton told me the charcoal starter fluid trick for the HX tubes - get a hot fire going and leave the door open and then squirt charcoal starter on the HX tubes to really burn the creosote off - great fun too - especially after a few beers!

    The charcoal starter fluid burns somewhat slowly and it did really lower my exhaust temps and increase efficiency.

    Now, to the questions (while the storage tank HX funds are waiting to accrue):
    1. With no storage and relatively light heat load, is it best to burn small pieces or large?
    2. Is it better to burn down to almost nothing before adding more fuel?

    Thanks,
    Steve

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  2. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Probably depends on your system . . . My GW goes into a 20-plate HX which heats my oil boiler. There isn't much shoulder season here, cause I like a cool house until winter sets in. But during this past fall I did heat my DHW by building a small hot fire. This way it ran pretty much full out till the DHW was maxed, then I let the fire go out till the next evening.

    I think my observations on the GW could probably be echoed by the other naturally aspirated refractory mass hydronic unit users here AND the forced induction downdraft gassifiers also. That is . . . smoke (aka inefficiency) comes during idle, and the more fuel and the greater the moisture, the worse the smoke.

    If it really is 50, I would think you want a small fire, with small wood. Though the GW does best on larger rounds, you want the fire to burn off all the water DURING THE FIRST CYCLE. The dry, small load will produce the lowest amount of smoke when it does idle.

    I also think you ALWAYS want the coals to burn down. I had been operating under the premise that when it is very cold out, I needed to add fuel every few hours so that I wasn't introducing a full load of cold wood. I finally realized I was just building up ash/unburned charcoal, and starving the fire by blocking off the air inlets. I have finally gotten the bed way down below the air tubes, and the GW has been STELLAR for a week straight. My current operating technique is to always let it burn down, then give it an 8-hour load, and don't open the door until it drops below 170.

    Oh, BTW . . . I reset my aquastat to 190 . . . intuitivly, I assumed this would burn more wood while giving me better response time during the recent cold snap. I will say, the whole heat situation had never been as good as it has been with the higher setting, and I doesn't look to me like I am using any more fuel than when the aquastat was set on 180. Back in the fall, I set the aquastat at 170. I am pretty sure that AUTOMATIC temp control based on outside temperature would be the way to go.
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