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Thinking about getting a boiler

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Chris04626, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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    I currently have a Englander 25 pvc stove and would like to upgrade to a boiler eventually. I would still like to be able to use my oil furnace as well for back up.

    I have baseboard heating so would need to be able to heat my water with it as well. My house is roughly 2000sq foot but has no heat ran into the 2nd floor. and i am also working on a room in the basement. So i would need it capable of running different zones.

    Thoughts on what kind of boiler and what prices tend to run?

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    So many questions..... Gasifier? Conventional? Circulator based? Zone valve based? Supply / Return? Primary / Secondary?

    I went through this back in 2005 (I think) and wrote up a summary of the choices that we faced and why we made each decision the way we did:

    http://www.nofossil.org/index.php?choice=choices

    There are lots of answers and no one 'right' answer. Take time to read and ponder - there's not enough pondering done these days.
  3. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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    let me clarify i am talking about a pellet boiler not wood
  4. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    That narrows the choices considerably. Still plenty of options. In general, the ability to handle multiple zones is a function of the plumbing rather than the boiler itself. There are two stickies at the top of this forum that discuss different approaches to plumbing in a wood boiler alongside a fossil backup heat source - those would be a good place to start.

    I can't help with pellet boiler recommendations since I don't have one or know anyone who has one. I know that lack of first-hand knowledge doesn't exclude one from expressing opinions on forums, but I made a New Year's resolution to be good.
  5. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I've installed a Harmen PB105 for a family member, was impressed with the unit. But it does need cleaning like a pellet stove. There are more expensive units which are self cleaning, if that important to you.

    TS
  6. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    We installed the first Windhager BioWin Exclusive in North America the first part of December and the feedback from the customer has been nothing short of outstanding. He is heating an 80x80 workshop of which 3200 sq ft has a 16 foot ceiling. He keeps it at 65* night and day and his average daily pellet consumption has been roughly 2-1/2 bags of 40 pounds each. Some days less, some days more but on average he only has to fill the hopper every third day. The building is well insulated.
    I was thoroughly surprised by the performance of the burner/heat exchanger. I've never seen any kind of wood or pellet boiler perform the way this thing does. Measured efficiency will go just over 90% in most cases and I have never seen it lower than 87% when I tested the flue gas. I looked at it again last week just to see how the owner was doing with it and after almost 8 weeks of steady use the inside of the flue pipe is still shiny and bright.
    He pulled the ash container (automatic cleaning via an auger into the wheeled container) which he had not checked since New Years day. If there were maybe 5-6 cups of ashes in it that would be a stretch. It burns far cleaner than any other pellet boiler I have been around and a typical pellet stove is not even in the same league. Flue gas temperatures run under 240* at all times. You can lay your hand on the single wall pipe going to the chimney while it's firing at 100% output.
    The burner is fully modulating in that it fires up to near the water temp setpoint and then drops the firing rate back to match the actual load. This greatly reduces the number of on/off cycles. I have seen it run all the way down to only 30% output and it still burns clean with not even a trace of smoke on my smoke tester. Other than a little dust and ash in the burner box I have to say the thing acts more like a finely tuned gas burner than something that is using bio-mass for fuel.
    You would do yourself well to check one of them out.
    If I recall correctly, the guy importing them is currently installing on up your way that includes a bulk feed vacuum system from a large remote hopper.
    stayfitz likes this.
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    What's the ballpark retail on one of those puppies? Sounds like a great unit - if I didn't have the access to wood that I have I'd be checking out pellet units.
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    About $7-$9K depending on output.
  9. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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  10. Letsburnwoodnotoil

    Letsburnwoodnotoil New Member

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    They don't compare! Harmans are OK, but really do not deserve to be classed with the OkoFEN, (MeSys same thing but made in Maine). The only partial equal to the MeSys / OkoFEN is the Froling. Frolings are non ASME, and cost even more that the OkoFEN / MeSys. We put in the MeSys two years ago August. It has been cleaned once since then. Its due again, but I just can't believe this thing. Do yourself a favor, look no more, call MeSys and let them hook you up with a dealer! And I am not a dealer!!
  11. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    If you can make to the Fryeburg fair Ahona is there with a nice line of pellet boilers.
  12. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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    I went with the Harman Pb105
  13. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    What drove your decision on the PB105 if I may ask?

    TS
  14. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    I'm also curious about your decision. What other brands did you look into and what made you choose the Harman? Have you installed it and begun using it yet? If so how is it working out for you?
  15. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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    More affordable as well as the dealer is alot closer than the other brands
  16. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Have you started usingit yet?
  17. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I sincerely hope that proves to be true in the long run for you.
  18. Chris04626

    Chris04626 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, been using it since monday just for Hot wster as it hasnt been cold enough for the use of heat yet
  19. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    I am in the same boat here in NH. I had a Biowin boiler installed a few weeks back but have not turned the heat on yet because it's been so warm.

    Do you plan on using your PB105 for DHW year round? What kind of pellets are yuou going to be burning? I've spent a great amount of time checking on pellet pricing over the past few weeks and saw that the MWP blend pellets can be picked up for $195 per ton at certain places in Maine. I'd love to be able to get that price but I think the transportation costs of bringing it down to NH gets factored into the price I pay.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  20. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Heaterman do you know what output setting your customer was running the Biowin at? I believe Marc set mine at the lowest setting when he did the commissioning and he and the plumber told me that if it wasn't enough I could change the dip switch to bump it up. It's my understanding that the Biowin will actually gain efficiency when the output is set at a lower setting. If I can achieve an efficiency of roughly 90% most of the time I will be extremely happy. The oil boiler I will no longer be heating with was lucky to hit 80%. I looked at cards the boilers guys leave when they do the annual maintenance and they ranged over the past 5 years between 78 - 82% I would expect going from a range of 78 -80% to 87 - 90% combined with the price of the fuel being cheaper and the added attic insulation will translate into some noticeably lower heating bills in the coming years.


    I don't have the tools of the trade to test the flue gas myself unfortunately. I'd love to be able to test it at different points during the coming winter but from what I understand the analyzers those of you in the field use are quite costly.


    Another step I was considering to make my home more energy efficient was installing the foam insulation over the copper piping in my unfnished, unheated basement. What's your take on that heaterman, worth it? I think the local plumping supply warheouse has the black foam insulation 1/2 thickness 6 foot lengths for like 7 dollars It seems a little expensive to me if it's not going to be paying for itself rather quickly.
  21. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The ones we have out in the field vary. Some we left at 26KW and a couple we dialed back to 21KW (approx 71,000btu). In my own home I found that it easily heated everything at the 21 setting and it seemed to reduce pellet use. It most definetly reduced start stop cycles on the constant demand heating system in my house. I would leave it at the 21KW setting and see what happens although I don't know exactly what your system configuration is. It really just depends on what it is connected too and each job is different. It's nice to have that flexibility built into the boiler though.

    Two schools of thought on insulating stuff in the basement.......1st is that the heat from the pipes is not actually lost because it's all within the "envelope" so to speak. If you basement is warmer, less heat will flow from the warm space upstairs to below.
    One of the laws of thermodynamics is that "heat" always goes to "cold", so if your basement is warmer it reduces the heat loss on the main level.
    2nd is that insulating the pipes reduces total heat output from the system and let's you move it only to the spaces you want warmed. This is true also.

    I would say that if your basement ceiling was insulated, it would make sense to insulate the pipes too and keep that space a cool as possible (within reason). If the basement ceiling is not insulated then it doesn't make as much sense.
    One thing that would help with total heat loss more than insulating the pipes would be to make sure the rim joist area in the basement is insulated and sealed a well as possible. That will do more for you than anything else.
  22. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    My basement cieling is insulated. The rim joist is not but getting that insulated is on the list of things to do. Some people have told me to use the insulation board and others have told me to use the spray foam insulation. Which do you think would work best? I was kind of leaning torward the spray.
  23. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Are your basement walls insulated?
  24. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    No.
  25. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Just seems a bit odd that the basement ceiling would be insulated but not the walls or joist area.

    Don't know how your insulated ceiling meets up with your wall/rim joist area, but I would want to insulate the whole wall from the basement floor right up past the joist area to the bottom of your above floor. Not sure the best way to do that. You could just get some sheets of foam board & trim to fit at the top joist area (maybe stuff that cavity with some batting?) & go around it that way - or stud the walls then get a foamer in. Maybe something else too. Either way, you're seeing some pretty big heat loss in the joist area & above-ground portion of the walls.

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