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Storage Benefits and Idling Concerns...

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by KenLockett, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    I think in a nutshell, if cost and space was not an issue I would have storage installed but still plumbed in such a way that I could run the unit in an 'on-demand' mode for those times when I'm not busy and want to be more pro-active with the daily operation of the unit. Kind of like operation of a traditional wood stove.

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  2. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Was doing a little research for 1000 Gallon hot water tanks. Oh my goodnes, $10,000 - $20,000 for the tank itself! As I like to do things myself to save money, I found the link below to a guy that has built some of his own tanks. Very interesting. The link is posted below:

    http://www.raycotechnologies.org/hot_water_storage_systems.htm
  3. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I've got my storage plumbed in this manner. It's quite simple. I can shut off the tanks and send water directly through my heat exchanger or primary loop and run just like a non-storage system if I need to. In 5 years, I have yet to run it this way though. Good to have the option I figured.
  4. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Good points.

    I decided after last winter that it would be my last 'tinkering' with my old boiler fire. I was literally almost exhausted when it was over from sleep deprivation in constantly keeping up with the heat demand - feeding every two hours during the day, last load in late at night, first load in early at morning, dealing with mountains of hot coals that wouldn't burn down. It was getting to be a huge ball & chain. Throw in a very close call on my second floor new steel roof while attempting to sweep the chimney - I was over the tinkering.

    Of course, I could have alleviated most of that by letting the oil burner having its way with me more - but I was too stubborn for that. A more efficient unit in the first place would also have made a big difference - just one of those decisions I made when I built this place that turned out later to not be a good one.

    EDIT: BTW, I don't think the storage part of my new system added more than $1200 to the total costs, for the tanks, fittings, piping, & framing/insulation done so far.
  5. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Where did you get your tanks?
  6. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

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    Contact Mark at AHONA. He sell refurbished propane tanks that already have the correct ports welded in for you to connect to.
  7. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    I assume you're discussion about high heat demand is in reference to the Benjamin CC500? I looked at one of those before deciding on the Tarm Gasification unit. Glad I went the route I did. Remember reading about drafting issues with the Benjamin units and lower than stated efficiencies.
  8. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Thanks, I'll have to check them out.
  9. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Ken, wish I had my real keyboard then I'd give more details but too slow from my tablet. It will become apparent when and if storage is desirable as you gain experience with your gasser boiler. To give you some perspective one boiler tool I use more than any is a 6' pole to tap loose my damper flap which sticks shut from creosote. OFTEN. Being at much lower latitude for the last month nites in the 20's and days in the mid-50's have been common. Not unusual for me to have a heavy buildup of creosote around my upper chamber door even using very dry wood. At least the best I've ever burned! It's clear the boiler is its happiest running wide open with the upper chamber hot. So during the day we need heat, but not any where near the capacity of our boiler... Consequently lots of idling and some creosote even with ideal wood. So basically here I am in December operating like the shoulder season. Other than doors and damper getting sticky I've never seen any consequence from creosote. Inevitably lots of idling leads to burn complications like bridging and issues with lots or charcoal which if left unattended some times shuts down the boiler. Bottom line, just enjoy your first season and don't sweat the creosote. I make more than anyone and see it less of a risk to my boiler and more an indicator of inefficient use of my capacity. When my boiler is working hard and hot is when she's the happiest. Soon yours will begin to talk to you. Only way to run wide open on mild days is to dump energy to storage...... And use it later. So don't sweat the creosote, enjoy what ya got, and time will tell. She'll start to talk to you about storage..... Someday.
    KenLockett likes this.
  10. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Ken,

    You mentioned you had a tight time getting your boiler in, and might not have much space for tanks. I am using 220 gallon expansion tanks, but I think that Tarm sells the same size to fit through a doorway if you needed to go that route. Or you could try Tom and American Solartechnics if you wanted to build an indirect tank. That way the pieces knock down and can be built back up if you have the space. That is, if you decide you wanted to go the storage route.
  11. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Can you provide specifics on how you did the storage portion for that price?

    ac
  12. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Many folks around here have found used 500g propane (salvage) tanks for $100-250 each. I paid $1300 each for my tanks brand new from a dealer. I did this to avoid the cleaning required of used tanks.

    Even my "new" pricing for propane tanks had me sub-$4,000 complete including the rack, plumbing, expansion, insulation and box material. Was it worth it? For me I couldn't heat with wood without storage. So it was not a decision I had to make. It was a part of my system design from day one.
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Just dug out the invoice from my tank purchase. The 334 gallon tanks were $350 each.

    So $700 for two tanks. Welding was $225. Timber, strapping & screws for stacking was $50. Breaking pipe & fittings out for just storage from all the rest is kind of fuzzy, but it was black iron so didn't cost much to start with. Ball valves at $25 each - likely 4 on storage. My laddomat is storage related but also required, so factor in maybe another couple hundred for a 15-58 circ & a danfoss, if needed - but some costs are situation dependant, most storage-less boilers already have those (return temp protections) that could just be re-plumbed. Insulation wise, I had foam board & fibreglass left over from other house projects, spent maybe $30 on 2x4's, and another $50 on one bundle of Roxul that I'm not sure I needed - half of it is now a project left-over.

    Ball park figures - YYMV of course. ==c
    KenLockett likes this.
  14. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Tennman, this is actually the start of my second season. I remember a post you made last year regarding the 6' pole you used for loosening the damper. I too had issues early on with a sticking damper and/or firebox door and believe I posted questions on here pertaining to this. What I have found this past year though is that this is more a function of having softer wood or believe it or not super dry wood (kiln dried and 6% MC or less). For about a week at the beginning of this season I had the damper sticking a little and a lot of crusties around the firebox door. At that time was burning some soft and punky wood. For the past 3-4 weeks have been burning good dry hardwood (roughly 15-16% MC) and am having absolutely no sticking parts. Trial and experience has shown me that 15-25% MC hardwood is what the boiler likes. Furthermore, I find that the boiler does best when I allow the currently load to burn completely down to coals before reloading. The PLC controller with low alarm buzzer is working wonderfully to notify me of this. The dryer hardwood makes all the difference. As you stated above your boiler absolutely starts to talk to you and you understand instinctively when things are going well and when they aren't. Thanks for your feedback.
  15. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Thanks for the breakdown Maple1. Based upon your feedback and others it would appear that the cost of storage is not as prohibitive as I thought. Definitely something to consider and would make a great summer project.
  16. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    And when you fire up next Fall you won't be able to stop thanking these guys:)
  17. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    I paid $550 for my 1000 gallon tank with fittings welded in and my 120 gallon tank that I added for expansion.

    Since then I have found 500 gallon tanks for $50 and 1000 gallon for $100.

    gg
  18. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    The start up after an idle period can be pretty dirty, so you are wasting a little fuel and polluting. The real benefit is the convenience factor though. I build one fire a day in the winter. if it's really cold I might have to burn a load and a half. Don't have to worry about messing with it at inconvenient times.
  19. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    A reminder that American Solartechnics makes several sizes of modular unpressurized storage tanks. They are made out of Isoboard foam with sheetmetal structure, so no need to insulate the tank afterwards. I installed a 550 gallon tank completely solo. All of the components fit through a door and they can be carried by one person.

    I have almost entirely replaced oil with wood due to storage. Once you get it, you will never look back.
    KenLockett likes this.
  20. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    What about expansion? When I start pricing out storage, expansion always seems to be the cost driver.

    On a non-pressurized storage setup, copper seems to drive the cost.

    ac
  21. Hansson

    Hansson Feeling the Heat

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    Over her is the law that you have to have a tank to your boiler. We got laws for everything <>
  22. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Having a wonderful Christmas Day with a house full of guests. It's amazing how much heat having people in the house contributes. Christmas Day and it's low 50's and lots of bodies in the house.... Lots of idling again. You know Ken maybe that punky stuff picks up humidity like a sponge. I've had to "tap" my damper every time I opened today. And yes lots of crusty stuff on my door. For me the biggest savings on installing storage is having 6-7 months to watch Craigslist for a cheap propane tank. If your patient they can be found cheap.

    Getting back to your topic.... For several years when I struggled to keep up with demand didn't see the value of storage. Now after 4 years looks like I'm getting this beast sorted and need to put energy somewhere. I know I can add 1000 gal for under 1500 doing it myself. I should have bought those cheap tanks I've seen over the years on craigslist. Merry Christmas!
  23. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Ok, forgot that one.

    110 gallon propane tank = $80. Maybe another $20 for fittings for it. So far so good with no bladder.
  24. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Merry Christmas to you as well Tennman. Don't run my wood boiler unless temps are roughly 43 DegF or less. Installed a small woodburning fireplace insert for those type of days. Actually have the wood boiler shutdown at the moment to see how well the insert will heat when temps dip down into the 20s in the evening. As far as I can tell it actually kept the house warm last night, until it burned out, then the oil beast took over! Argh.
  25. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    How does that work? I've never seen an expansion tank without a bladder.

    ac

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