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This thread is for those who've owned a gasifier for two seasons or less.

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by heaterman, Mar 22, 2008.

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  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,988
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    If you've had your boiler for two seasons, how would you compare this year to last as far as how you operate it.

    Did your boiler meet all your expectations?

    What would you do differently on your installation?

    Do you have storage?

    Do you need storage?

    What did you learn that was different fromn what you expected?

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  2. hkobus

    hkobus Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    175
    Loc:
    Ontario
    Well let's have a look at this, just the first season for me. I installed the Eko 40 as a trail setup intending to do the full install this year, with the following expectations: 1-It has to replace a $ 3000 (ann)gas bill. 2- No smoke or offensive odor. 3- reasonable wood consumption. 4- reasonable to operate.

    What did it meet and how: 1- Reduced the bill to about $400 (ann)fixed rate and a bit for DHW and a fireplace. A bit more to gain but I'm ok with this result. 2- When burning full out this is getting met, have to perfect cold start up and reduce idle. Bridging still causes some smoke and smell when early in the cycle, later in the cycle it is just loss of efficiency. 3- No rating for this season, most my good wood was used early on in "the learning curve" after that I had to resort to wet wood and scrap wood from a truss plant. The wet wood is by far from ideal, but no choice as I have no back up this year..! 4- With help from this forum I feel I got to meet this expectation, with the reservation" may not be for everyone"

    I have no storage.

    Yes I need storage. The reason is, to reduce the idling and make operation easier. I would run the unit weekend and evenings use the storage to fill the gaps. This will also help reduce my gas bill by getting the DHW.

    Different from expectations was that there are many improvements can and need to be made, like: draft fan, turbulators, and possibly flame and smoke "roll out" prevention. Lining of the fire box can help in better gasification. Better control is needed.

    Overall I am happy, none of the above is a major obstacle and can be adjusted.

    Henk.
  3. muleman51

    muleman51 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    231
    Loc:
    SE Minnesota
    I'm a one year guy to. No it has not met my expectations not even close . Probably my fault but then nobody told me it was a 24-7 babysitting job. Not like my old Aqua-therm. It has used way more wood than I expected.
    What would I do different, I would put in a Garn, all in one and simple to use. It will cost the same as all the extras I'm going to have to do or have done.
    I do not have storage, I am going to have to do this and build the room to hold it all, and the extra pumps, HX, etc.... Don't need any of that with the Garn.
    These gasifiers are just a whole nother breed of cat and hopefully I will survive it, they don't do your marriage any good either. If you are reading this you have at least a chance of doing it right. Just believe people when they tell you that you need all the extras.
    Hopefully I will get the bugs out of mine with help but it's slow going and expensive. Right now I am getting 8 hour burns, but it's been in the upper 20s to upper 30s, and I think I plugged the back of the boiler again, not a fun job to clean.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Not very many two-season burners here, though there are a few. I'm on my first season.

    My expectations were pretty high going in, and I'd say they were met or exceeded in most cases. I suspect a little more experience will just make things that much better. No storage yet, but that will obviously make a difference.

    Going in, my priorities (in order of importance) were: 1.) less smoke; 2.) more heat; 3.) longer burns; 4.) less wood consumption. The first three far exceeded my expectations. Wood consumption didn't drop as much as I had hoped, but that's a combination of 1.) keeping the house A LOT warmer, 2.) wasting a lot of wood early on learning how to operate the thing; 3.) Not having storage.

    I get my wood for free and I enjoy cutting and handling it, so the least of my worries is the least of my worries. Not having to worry about smoke while heating our house for free was the biggest benefit (psychological and financial). Getting 8-hour burns in below zero temps has certainly helped my disposition, since I hate getting up in the middle of the night to load a stove. Having no gas bill and a lower electric bill are both givens.

    Last night the temps were in the low teens. I loaded the firebox about 3/4 full around 11:00 and went to bed. It's a little after 9:00 a.m. now, and I'm thinking about going out to see if there are any coals left in the firebox. It's around 23 degrees outside now and 75 in the house and the radiators are still warm. And my 50-gallon hot water tank is full of very hot water.

    And that, my friends, is why I'm happy with my gasifier.

    Update: The boiler temp was 66 (150 F), the fan was going and there was a bed of coals. Obviously, my long burn times and wood usage are related to idling, which you would expect with a big boiler and no storage. But I really can't complain about the results.
  5. hkobus

    hkobus Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    175
    Loc:
    Ontario
    Muleman51, sorry to hear about your experience. What is the unit you are working with?
    And for anyone else posting to this forum, it makes it more interesting to have some of this info in the signature area, it also relieves one from repeating all info in the postings.
    That said, I need to update my sig aswell :red:
  6. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    912
    Loc:
    Hesperia, Michigan
    I put in my eko80 this fall and I'm happy with it. It took a learning curve to learn how to operate it as I was used to the OWB thing. I had done alot of reasearch and thought I knew how but I had to learn again. first I had to learn how to start a fire, sounds easy but you can't just throw some paper and fill it up and walk away. You need a coal bed. Easy once I learned how. Second, I had to learn how to adjust the air, more isn't better. Third, they say dry wood and they will diffently burn better with dry wood.
    I had a OWB wood boiler before and I have seen at least a 40% drop in wood usage and I hope to be able to improve on that as I learn more.
    I knew that with burning it year around that I need storage and I build my own (1200gal) and if I had it to do over I would put in more and I probably will. I have baseboard heat and need higher temp so I caqn't draw down and use alot of the btu's. I'm putting in staple up radiant to supplement and that will help. My goal is to have enough storage to only fire every couple days in the winter so if I go away for a week end I will have enough btu's stored so I don't have to fire my propane or have someone come in.
    There are alot of options for more storage and I'm keep my eyes open for cheap tanks. I would like to go underground but we'll see. By going larger on storage you lower the insulation cost per gal and if you insulate GOOD you don't lose much.
    I live on 80 acres with a large wood lot so wood is free just manageing the timber value and I enjoy doing it. I also like making and expermenting with things so this is fun.
    If I had it to do over I would have tried to get one of those chip boilers imported as I really believe that that would be an easier fuel to use as I get older and with a tractor and chipper the supply is unlimited. I didn't realize they had them but if there is a dealer out there that wants someone to try one, Hint Hint
    I think that the most important ideas that new customers need to know and learn is:
    You need DRY wood
    Storage is better and More is good
    You operate them different as you start fires different and burn them hot
    Burn time isn't important as they are made to burn there load hot and store it there fore the size of boiler only means how much wood you need to burn to heat your storage for the btu's you need for a given time. A smaller boiler will heat 2000gal but will take more times loading than a larger one
    If you cycle you will lose efficency and smoke some but some will work that way.
    leaddog
  7. ebbci05

    ebbci05 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Loc:
    Northern Mi.
    First season with my boiler. Din't even come close to meeting my expectations and my expectations aren't as high as some of these guys are getting with their boilers. The boiler itself had many problems and it also wouldn't put out the heat I thought it would. Looking back, I wish that I would have put in a garn. Didn't because it looked like more money, but now I will have about the same amount tied into mine and not near the output or ease of use. I put in 512 gallon STSS system which wasn't cheap. I thought that sounded like a ton of water, but finding out it is not. So if I bought as much storage as a garn I would be way above the price of a garn. Haven't been able to get my tank up to temp this winter so I don't know how long it would last with the boiler out. Boiler has been running 24/7 since Jan 08. I expected to be able to fill it in the morning and last until after work. Now my wife comes home at noon and has to mess with it. Not such a good idea as it isn't very user friendly. I had to come home from work because it was out a few times. I expected to have a top of the line system that would do what it advertised. They are full of %$#@, it don't burn green wood and you need so much storage, and burn times are not what they say. Unless you have a huge basement or want tanks in your yard where are you supposed to put it.(and pay for it?) I could have put a high effieciecy furnace in for 1/6 of the cost and saved money that way. But paying over 10,000 for a system that you have to keep adding to (storage, HX, pumps) and dealing with having to get up each day and think about how it isn't working, buying more wood than should be, upset wife are all things that I didn't expect. SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A GARN AND BEEN DONE WITH IT. I have seen how they work and that is how i expected mine to work.
  8. eekster

    eekster New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    51
    Loc:
    southeast michigan
    I"m on my second year with my EKO 40 no storage or DWH ...yet. First year took about a month or so to figure it out
    mainly wood size was the issue. This year was a breez, no more time spent with my "mistress" as my wife called it.
    Wood size and dry is the key.I filled it last night around 11:00 p.m. it was 26 degrees, just added wood about 3 split sizes and one 8" log, it"s 36 out right now so it doesn"t require much, Found logs work well on warmer days. So, yes, my wife and I are very happy with our investment. Wood is not an issue for me either, we have the ash bore bad here so I get ALOT of free wood close to home. I also bring back beech from my woods up north, the harder the wood the longer the burn. Gas bills are next to nothing and the house has never been kept this warm.
    Keith
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