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Thinking Wood Gun...any advice or experience?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by avc8130, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I think I am burning more in line with you Mike. I was running 24 splits/day through my wood stove. That is ~18" length on average. If I can put that through the boiler, have the whole house 1 temp, not trip over fans, not worry about closing certain doors and not have to put a sweatshirt on just to go the bedroom before the t-stat kicked up for the night, I'd be THRILLED.

    ac

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    With the wood being split just this past July, maybe it's not as dry as it should be? I know that if I tried that here it wouldn't even be close - it started raining in early September & didn't really let up until the last week or two, which would have left maybe only two months of decent drying conditions. Right now I'm burning about 7cu.ft. per day (rough estimating based on specd firebox volume, it's actually less than that since the wood is a few inches shorter than the firebox), in the evening. That's keeping us lots warm. My wood was put in seasoned but wet (from the rain) in early October, it's still a bit damp in spots. 1500sq.ft. unfinished basement, 1500q.ft. first floor, 1200sq.ft. second floor.
  3. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    What is "warm" and what are outside temps?

    7 cu ft is .055 cord per day. Most seasoned wood is ~20 million btu/cord.

    Quick math: 20,000,000 * .055: 1.1 million btu daily.

    Efficiency? ~80%? Call it ~800,000 btu daily use.

    Maybe.

    I NAILED my load last night. Woke up in my warm bedroom, took my warm shower in my warm bathroom, walked through my warm hallway, passed the woodstove sitting idle in the warm wood room, through the warm kitchen and down the warm stairs into the warm basement. I found the boiler firing and opened her up. Beautiful bed of coals with just 2-3 pieces that resembled their original state as splits. They quickly broke to bits as I raked the coals over the nozzles and added ~10 splits for the day. Instant gassification and satisfaction.

    I'm pretty sure I put too much wood in for today, I didn't realize we were going back to summer with 50F.

    I hope to wire in my cycle timer tonight. Swapping expansion tanks took up all my "boiler" time last night.

    ac
  4. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Since I got the gasser on line, I've reduced the setbacks on our thermostats from what they were before, and upped the temps. Upstairs (bedrooms) it used to be up to 20c at 6pm, then down to 18c at 10pm, then down to 16c at 6am. Now it's up to 21c at 6pm, down to 19c at 11pm, and 18 at 6am. Downstairs kitchen zone (largest), used to be up to 20 at 5pm (now 21c at 4:30), down to 17c at 10pm (now 18c at 11pm), up to 20c at 6:30am (now 21c at 6:30), down to 17c for the day at 7:30am (now 18c). Other downstairs zone (living room/office), is a manual stat that I used to turn way down on the way to bed so heat wouldn't come on there at all during the night (now turn down to 18c), then up to 18c when I got up (now turn to 21c & leave it there until bedtime), then to 20c around supper time - depending if I'm home during the day. The basement, I've got one end of my storage tank insulation box cracked open to let some heat out to take the chill off. It hasn't been real cold yet, usually down to maybe -5c at night & +5c during the day - and the sun has been shining the past few days so we're getting good solar gain. I'm likely closer to 5 - 6 cu.ft. than 7, some of the wood I'm burning right now is quite short. I've also got a couple of my basement windows open for air to move thru for better wood drying, and to let combustion air in.

    Glad to see you're getting into the swing of it. I still get hypnotized by the window in my gassing chamber sometimes when I check on things & there's a good burn going. Last night I went down for a peek on the way to bed around 11pm, and didn't make it to bed until 11:30. All I did was watch.
  5. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Only WE understand this. If you say this at the water cooler.. you're GONNA get funny looks. :)

    Think of how much easier it would be with storage.

    Glad you're happy with your setup today.

    JP
    infinitymike likes this.
  6. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Mike, keep in mind that currently we are firing the boiler 1st thing in the morning(6am) to about 70*(usually the house is at 66* then) and she's "on" until apprx. 10am. House maintains comfortable level(68*+) all day(even warmer if sunny) until about 3pm when the Mrs. will fire up again and use a fair amount of dhw for bath, laundry, etc. Boiler will be active then until I retire for the day at about 10pm. This routine is somewhat new to us this year. In the past I have been using the cycle timer and left the boiler on all day. For now and until the nights get colder this routine allows for quick recovery in the morning(takes about 15 minutes to get heat/dhw) from a cold start. We heat about 2200 sq.ft. living space and the basement is toasty due to residual heat loss from the WG. About 1/2 of the 2200 ft is very well insulated as this is a fairly new addition that I put in a few years ago and was sure to seal up as well as I could afford at the time. Once we leave the WG running all day I'm sure we'll be in your ballpark for wood usage.

    ac, glad to see your tank arrived and appears you are on your way to resolving the issues you had. From what I've seen, it's rare to install a new wood boiler and not have some bumps in the road until you get smooth sailing. One thing for sure that is common to all of us is the satisfaction of avoiding large heating bills and the feeling of self sufficiency...nothing like it!
  7. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I would love to have a view window on the WG but then I guess I would need a comfy chair in front of the boiler too.
  8. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Storage isn't out of the question just yet. However, with my baseboards I would need a LARGE quantity to store enough BTUs with my limited temperature differential.

    I'm not finding this "difficult". I just have no experience, once I have experience I'll know what the boiler needs and everything should be "easier".

    ac
  9. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I am debating switching to this method now. I don't think I have much heat demand at all during the day when it is ~45F outside. I know I need heat from ~sundown to 10AM. I might start burning strong from when I get home for work and then reload real small in the morning before I leave. Then let the boiler bottom out at 150F where the low temp cutoff will shut off the fan and 140F where the circ will stop running.

    I will also be wiring in the cycle timer tonight hopefully.

    Darren's advice for my flue gas condensing is to use larger splits to cause the boiler to fire longer to achieve the same btu output due to the decreased surface area of burn. This should reduce the down time.

    Trust me, I never expected the entire install to go perfectly smooth. The FREEDOM of being able to walk around the house unobstructed is just amazing. Something only a former stove user could understand. No fans. No doors. All 1 comfy temp. Feeling a little chilly? Hit the button on the t-stat up a bit. We can split another round next year, it's worth it.

    ac
  10. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Got home and sure enough the fire was out. It looks like it failed early on in the day. Not much destruction was done to the fuel load. It did hit 50F today here.

    So I guess it was perfect timing that I installed my cycle timer tonight. My initial setting is 10 mins every 2 hours. Sound like a good place to start?

    Re-starting the fire was super easy. I took the torch to the splits and they INSTANTLY went red and glowing. Full on engulfed fire within a minute.

    ac
  11. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Actually remeasured house: 1550 sq ft basement only 550 finished. 1550 sq ft 1st fl 600 sq ft 2nd fl
    Total heated living space 2700 sq ft.
    plus 500 sq ft garage stays at 60* from residual heat from unit.( and its not even insulated):cool:

    Basically thats what is happening here. The unit stays off (but ready to fire) from around 8;30 am to 4:30ish.
    Then the house starts to call and will take 30-45 minutes to heat up. Then it sits until 10pm before it calls again and I load up for overnight.
    But Im still using about 15-20 splits.

    I re-split 6 pieces of The stuff I split in July and its 22-24% mc. remember its ash and cherry
    Can a few % really make such a drastic difference that I would reduce my quantity by 5-10 splits?
    I have a clip board hanging on the wall next to the boiler and log in the outside air temp, the date, time and the amount of splits I add and any other info I may think my be important.
    I also count how many pieces I load into the wood rack.
    Went through last years notes and was burning an average of 18-22 splits per day for most of the heating season.

    One thing I know will help is I need to add insulation in the attic over the first floor.
  12. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Thats interesting. My circulator that pushes hot water from the WG to the primary loop only runs when the house is calling for heat and a zone circ pump will also be running. Why is your circ pump running after the WG shut down? Does your circ pump run continuously? If so what is it pumping?

    The house could actually not be calling for heat and therefore no pumps will be on and yet just due to natural cooling have the WG lose enough temperature that it will try to re-ignite to bring itself back up to temp. If it doesn't re-light it will continue to cool until it hits 140* and shuts off. I just changed the low temp cut off from 150* to 140* because it seems to help give it a little more time for the unit to re-light.
  13. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I have one circ and it is powered by an ice cube relay triggered by ANY zone valve end switch. The power from the relay first travels through the circ aquastat. If the aquastat is happy that the WG has hot water, power passes to the pump and away she pumps until the thermostat closes the zone valve and un-trips the relay.

    Since the WG doesn't run on a typical "call for heat" like a fossil boiler, I set my circlators (both heat and DHW) up to run completely on their own.

    The WG definitely loses a LOT of heat to the basement. There seems to be virtually NO insulation on the front of the unit. I have been considering lowering my low temp limit, but I really want the unit to stay above the 130F condensation mark. The draft fan really speeds up the unit from cooling. Stopping it at 150F might buy more time before the unit goes "cold".

    If you want to provide more time for a possible relight, why not reduce the differential on the operating aquastat? Rather than 15 drop, set it to 10.

    ac
  14. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Hmmm... I don't have a differential on my aquastat it's a Honeywell L4006. Just a low cut off setting (set for 140*) and a high cut off setting (set for 200*)

    Then I have a low limit stat set for 140* which trip the relay and activate the oil burner. I also have an operating limit stat which is set for 190*
  15. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    That double aquastat should provide over temp protection and low temp cutoff. There should be another aquastat (on the back on mine) that is the "operating". This one controls when the damper/fan operate to fire the boiler. On mine, this aquastat has an adjustable differential. You have to remove the cover to see it/change it. Reducing that differential would cause the WG to fire more often, although for a shorter period of time.

    ac
  16. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    ac, the timer was a trial & error situation for us to get to where we are now. Initially I had the settings set that caused over firing and the WG would shut down due to high limit. The sweet spot for us is to cycle once(1 clip) every hour. This seems to give it just enough draft to keep the coals hot but not actually burn long enough to increase water temp.
  17. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Wow, that is only ~2-3 mins/hour. I guess since it occurs so frequently, it is sufficient.

    ac
  18. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Since I know everyone loves pics, here are 2 of the mods I have made:

    This is my circulator control aquastat (the one on the left). It is a "make on rise" model. It is set to connect the circuit and allow the circulator pump to run after the boiler hits 160F. This GREATLY speeds up the boilers recover from cold as it lets the full btu go to the 80 gallons in the water before the baseboards get a chance to steal any. The differential is set to 15F, so it will cut the circulator off at 145F if the boiler either loses fire or runs out of wood.

    [​IMG]

    Here is my cycle timer. It is the standard Intermatic C8845 that Wood Gun would supply. As you can see, I have it set to fire for 10 mins every 2 hours. I have no clue if this is a good setting or not. You can also see that I didn't have the proper color wire to match WG's convention, so I broke out my label maker and labeled them accordingly.

    [​IMG]

    Today I decided not to run the boiler during the day. The day time temp was 55F and that just seemed silly. It will be cold again tonight, so I will run it to heat the house and charge the DHW indirect for tomorrow's showers.

    ac
  19. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Very nice. Did you get the timer from AHS or somewhere else. What did it cost you? I think I've seen them online for $100 or may be more I don't remember.
    I need to get one and hook it up.

    What happens if the unit is running and brings it to full temp then shuts down and a minute later the timer goes off and turns the unit back on?
    Do you think it will over heat and blow the TP valve? Or will the hi limit aqua stat shut down first?

    Thats some control box. I don't have anything like that. I guess because you got the oil option they gave you a bigger box to fit all the other switches.
    Did you add that power strip to connect the wires or did it come with it?

    Looks like next week we will need to heating most of the day. Highs in low 40's and lows in mid 30"s.
  20. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I ordered it from a supplier online. Used Google Shopping to find cheap price. It was a bit less than $100.

    The high limit aquastat is the over-arching control on the boiler. That remains unchanged. 200F and the boiler is shutting off no matter what.

    I think the oil option is what gets the bigger box. When I looked at them at the factory, anything without just had the on/off and purge in a small box. Can you take a pic inside yours?

    The power strip was there. I was very impressed with AHS's wiring setup.

    I added the ice cube relay at the top to power the circulator. I also added knockouts for the power feed, circulator and timer feeds, as well as the grommet for the thermostat signal. I plan to bring my smoke hood power source from the control box. I intend to wire it inline with the purge timer. That way whenever the purge timer is run to reload, the exhaust fan will come on without another switch.

    That should be a good week. I've been monitoring every load to determine how well I can correlate heat load to splits. 40s is still pretty warm. These 20s at night take some wood.

    ac
  21. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Just ordered the timer from Zorotools.com.
    $83 plus $7 tax free shipping.
    I hate taking business away from the local suppliers but if I remember correctly the local electrical supply house want close to $180.
  22. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Screw the electric and plumbing supply houses. They don't WANT OUR business. I needed the larger expansion tank so I called the local plumbing supply house figuring I could have it that day. They wanted $180! pexsupply.com had it for $105 SHIPPED. I had it the NEXT DAY. The supply houses only work if you have a $100k annual account. If you don't, they just **** you.

    You ready to wire that in?
    White:Clock
    Red: Switch/Common
    Blue: Normal Open

    If that doesn't make sense, open the cover panel. Basically Switch/Normal parallels the purge circuit and Clock is neutral.

    ac
  23. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    AC, How are things going for ya?

    Good to see you are making progress with the Gun. Sorry to read about your issues with getting things sealed up. I just got through reading the rest of the thread. I did not have to use caulk on the joints of the insulated pipe. I used a high temp tape. Good stuff. I say high temp. It is only rated for 210 degrees. But on the outside of the insulated pipe it works just fine. I have seen no deterioration. It is silver in color and here is a link to it. I know I bought it locally at one of the box stores. Probably Lowe's.

    http://www.shurtape.com/Default.aspx?Tabid=79&MLevel1=73&MLevel2=86&MLevel3=87&ProductID=30

    I have had no leaks after I taped it up. I did have to use high temp caulk on the single wall just above the ash cyclone for the 16 inches or so until it converts to the insulated pipe. Remember to keep an I on the high temp. caulk because depending on brand it will dry out and crack and you can eventually get a leak down the road. This is why I went to the tape. There is higher temp. tape out there but with the pipe being insulated I do not believe it is necessary.

    How is the cycle timer working out for you? I think I am going to order one of those now as well, if it is working for you. I see Mike already has. That is a good price for those for the convenience of them. Temps are going down to 17::Fhere tonight. Great wood burning weather! ;lol Love it.
  24. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I think I have it all sealed up. I still get an odor while running the boiler, but I am becoming accustomed to it I think. LOL

    So far, so good running the boiler. The house is definitely WARM. Hot water is plentiful. So far I am very happy.

    I'm going to poke around Lowes for the high temp tape today, just to have on the shelf. I don't like the hokey setup right now since it will be tough to clean. I think once Spring rolls around and I shut the boiler off for the summer I might but Schedule 10 SS pipe and an elbow and weld up a solid flue connector for it. I'll get a length of 8" and make my own reducing flange at the masonry thimble. Then I can flue cement that in permanently and use a flange connection with rope or silicone gasket to make that seal. Then I will only battle the cyclone seal...unless I flange that too!

    I've burned about 2/3 of 1/4 cord through the boiler and just pulled ~1 gallon of ash from the cyclone and front door. I know the rear door has more in it, but it can stay.

    I have no report on the cycle timer yet. I haven't tried filling the boiler and letting it cycle just yet. I have no clue where to set the timer trips either.

    I think I had an "out" boiler this morning, but that is because I think it essentially ran out of wood. I am still trying to get an idea just how much wood needs to go in this thing overnight. I think tonight I will be putting 20 splits in.

    ac
  25. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I made some adjustments to the cycle timer. Now I have it set for 2 trips (~4 mins) every hour. I lost fire yesterday at some point so I made the adjustment.

    Overslept a bit this morning and woke up to a cold boiler. Started a fire and warmed it up. Apparently on the next automatic restart attempt we had a pretty good puff back. Got the smoke detectors going and the dog freaked out.

    Has anyone piped their intake outside? Do I have to come DOWN 24" on the intake before heading outside? Ideally I would be able to stay up high and run along the ceiling outside.

    ac

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