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Too many decisions

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by trehugr, Dec 16, 2007.

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  1. trehugr

    trehugr New Member

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    Dec 16, 2007
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    Loc:
    Greenwood, Maine
    After 2 weeks of reading, I am now a member. I have already learned a great deal. However, I am also no closer to deciding which system is the the best for my application. Sitting here watching a noreaster take hold, 7 degrees outside, listening to the furnace run and down to an eighth of a tank of oil, I know only one thing, I'm sick of giving all my money to the oil company. 9 days before christmas and another 600+ bucks to some fat oil baron somewhere. There. I got that off my chest.
    We live in a log home built 2 years ago. 1800 square feet, Baseboard heat, tankless dhw, Half of the basement is finished, so there is no room for storage. Built a small 8X10 shed this summer. Only allowed 1 outbuilding as far as the covenants are concerned. Thats not to say I cant add on to the shed or park a boiler next to it (ie Gasifire) Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Central NYS
    Welcome to the Boiler Room, trehugr. I get to western Maine on business from time to time. Took my teenage daughter up to Jackman last winter and we almost hit a moose on a woods road. Big thrill all around. That drive from Skowhegan to Jackman is really spectacular.

    Anyway, I would always recommend a gasifier over any alternatives, although there are a number of other good options out there. I'm sure other members will be happy to share their ideas.

    But I have a couple of questions that might get the ball rolling:

    What's your firewood supply?
    You mentioned a furnace, but I assume you mean an oil-fired boiler. What kind and how big is it?
    If your basement is half finished, does that mean you might have room for hot water storage in the future?
    If not, would you consider an underground tank of some sort?
    What's your chimney situation? Do you have more than one flue?
  3. Jim Post

    Jim Post Member

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    Loc:
    Southern WI
    Sounds like you have a nice potentially wood heated home but you didn't say if you've had any previous experience with wood heat. I think the first thing to ask yourself is: Are you ready for a long term commitment to the wood heating lifestyle? All the info can be a little overwhelming but it really comes down to your ability to acquire wood. Even if you have a ready source of firewood it can be more expensive to heat with wood when you figure your time cutting, splitting, stacking, hauling, re-stacking, stoking, cleaning and thinking about wood. Once you decide that wood heat makes sense to you, then evaluate your situation...is there someone around your home most of the time to attend to fire related issues if they come up? If you go with a boiler, storage can always be added later...that was our approach and we've found that we are doing fine w/o storage. We went with a tarm solo plus 30 and had a local company set the boiler in place and run the chimney...I did all the plumbing and wiring and learned quite a bit in the process. As I said in another thread, it is best home improvement project we've done to date.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Good points, olp--especially the part about dedication to firewood. I don't know how else to put it. In a lot of ways, it's more like a hobby that pays a dividend, or a health club membership that pays you back. Over the years I've just incorporated getting and using firewood into my weekly routine. If I'm not cutting, stacking, hauling and splitting it, I'm burning it.
  5. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Great info here you will find, Apprentice ;-)

    Ask yourself a couple of questions to get the ball rolling.

    1) If price is the only reason for thinking about wood, am I ready to spend money I may not get back if other forms of heat become available or oil goes back down?
    2) Since you can't get this project in place before the spring, are you committed to spending big bucks on oil all winter, then more big bucks this summer on the move to wood?
    3) what wood will I be getting for say 3 to 5 years during the payback period? (the answer to this will also be important to your choice of hydronic unit)
    4) What is your family's tolerance to the time/work/'mess'/smell of moving to wood, especially if you have not done the wood thing before?

    Have I scared you enough yet?? :roll:
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Lots of good questions, folks. I'm going to keep an eye on this thread...

    Joe
  7. trehugr

    trehugr New Member

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    Loc:
    Greenwood, Maine
    Ok, wow, you people are great. So quick to respond. Now for the gory details
    The furnace is a New Yorker CLW-3-PT with a Beckett Burner.
    BTU'S Unsure I think the manual said 77,000 - 450,000 Don't quite understand
    Firewood supply? No, I don't have my own woodlot, But I am considering it. Otherwise, buying tree length is not a problem. All my friends are loggers, and Im a former tree worker. We have always heated with wood (woodstoves). As far as chimneys go,
    thats not gonna happen anytime soon. We have a powervent for the furnace, and a direct vent for the Harmon P68 pellet stove that heats the new room in the basement. There's not one square inch of sheetrock in the house. All tongue and groove pine and logs. Its beautiful, but its combustible. I want the fire outside.
    There is really no room for a tank downstairs. But if one can be buried outside? Tell me more.
    Wood is not new to us, We are used to it. In fact, I sort of miss it. What I don't miss is the mess and dust it creates in the house. And the fear of the house burning down ( 20 years ago I woke to flames in my face, candle run amuck, operator error)
    A far as installing there's nothing that Im afraid to do myself. However I do know when to say no to a mission, (pilot in me)
    Well, thats it for me now , need to go check the oil level.... :mad:
  8. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    CLW-3 is rated for somewhere between 77kbtu and 114kbtu, depending on nozzle size and rating method.

    I'm going to be selling install "kits" in the near future. The control piping and wiring are pre-assembled in a cabinet, which you mount to the wall near the oil boiler, then connect to the existing boiler and to the (outdoor, in your case) wood boiler. The major controls will be pre-wired, or there will be simple instructions on how to tie into the controls on the other boiler, if needed. The piping and circulator pump sizing will be pre-done, so the system will work properly.

    The goal is to allow do-it-yourselfers to install systems, while achieving safe, efficient, and reliable results.

    Joe
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds like there's hope for you, trehugr.

    Based on what you've said, I'm thinking a gasifier in an outbuilding or addition to an outbuilding. That's basically what I do. A few others around here, too. My boiler room is a 4x7x8 cinderblock enclosure in my barn, vented from outside, with 1" and 3/4" pex lines piping the hot water into my basement. I have enough room for a winter's worth of wood in there, so it's a nice, cozy place to get the central heating job done with all the mess, etc. outside the house.

    You can bury a tank, but you want to insulate it really well, since any heat loss is going to be completely wasted, unlike tanks in basements, where at least some benefit comes from any lost btus.

    Tree length by the load is a great way to get firewood. I did that for about 10 years and enjoyed every minute of it. My guy wouldn't sell muddy wood, so once or twice he just flat out refused to bring me any wood because of the conditions. So that was a bummer, but if you've got friends who log, you're probably all set.

    I say go for it.
  10. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I'll second that. With (it seems like) strict covenants, the nearly smoke-free operation of a gasifier would be ideal to avoid annoying your neighbors.

    I'd recommend taking a look at Econoburn. They will be releasing an outdoor version in the next month or so.

    Joe
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