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Varmebaronen doesn't like oak

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by colcarlmiss, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. colcarlmiss

    colcarlmiss New Member

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    Smokelessheat.com is selling Varmebaronen in the US and I was almost to buy the Vedolux 37 boiler but when I read the installation, operation and maintenance manual and found to my surpriset it don't like oak and I changed my mind.

    Because of the high acidity of oak wood, it should not be used
    as a fuel for extended periods. Oak should be seasoned for
    more than three years before it is burned.


    In my area read oak and white oak are the predominant firewood species and three years is a long time.
    Is this oak precaution valid for all gasification boilers or is it unique for Varmebaronen.
    I like their design a lot but they do not give any warranty.

    Arne

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  2. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Arne; If it fits through the door on my Atmos it will burn it. There is no exclusion for oak or any other wood, Randy
  3. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Out of curiosity, what wood species do they recommend? I'll agree that oak is more acidic than some types of wood but I have never heard of a manufacturer warning against its use.
  4. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Ok, I'll bite . . . does MS stand for Mississippi? You need central heat down there? Or does this unit you are thinking of buying also cool & dry the air?

    I'll trade ya all the Hemlock and Aspen ya want for your Oak. Cause I'm a nice guy that way :)
  5. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    This oak burning issue will be big. I'll bet you see more manufacturers limit oak burning in their warranties. The high acid content will shorten the steel life expectancy as well as drastically increase the breakdown rate of the combustion area refractory.
    I think here in America, with all the oaks used for firewood, this factor will hurt the wood/boiler industry.
  6. dzook

    dzook Member

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    The point is not to burn unseasoned oak. During our training in Sweden that particular point in the manual was discussed. They are not opposed to burning oak, in fact they do burn oak. Oak may not take 3 years in every case to season but it generally takes much longer that some other species. Just make sure its 20% or better. If someone gives a steady diet of unseasoned oak there can be more problems and they want the customer to be aware. If they are given a steady diet of seasoned oak you shouldn't expect any problems. I find two years is about the right amount of time that my oak wood gets to proper moisture content, but we all know its very dependent on where its stored, how its split, and when it was cut, etc. etc.

    The problems they noticed in their experience with the oak issue was not so much a breakdown of the boiler exchange tubes but the flues/chimneys of those burning steady diets of oak had more problems with the corrosiveness of the exhaust making flue failures or breakdown of mortar in traditional masonry chimneys and metal roofs had corrosive issues. With those problems they saw had one thing in common usually and it was burning unseasoned oak.

    Almost exclusively in their experience what caused their boiler failures was anyone not giving proper return water protection. All their systems must be used with storage as per their burn design. Some premature ceramic failures seen were common with burning wood other than standard firewood like 2x6 cutoffs that may have chemical treatment.

    I personally burn oak in the one I use, although I don't give it a steady diet of oak only because I don't have enough of oak.
  7. twitch

    twitch Member

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    My Tarm (Scandtec) 30 manual also says not to burn oak for extended periods of time. It doesn't give an explanation, but I've heard about the acidity thing before. I was assuming it was causing problems with the boiler steel, never thought about connector pipe and chimney problems.

    I have 10 acres and it's about 75% red oak, so I'm burning it, just mixing in some beech and maple with it.
  8. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    What a nice lot of wood!!! If it were me I would burn the oak and beech and make furniture out of the maple...

    I would suspet these Swedish units are very well made. That country as a whole has a great reputation for producing quality products. I like that it has specific tanks designed as part of the system. While we have had a variety of Euro gassers available here, the storage tanks they use over there haven't always been available with them. I will be very interested to see feedback on these from anyone using them.
  9. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    My Tarm (Baxi) Solo Innova says in the manual "Oak should not be burned as the only source of wood for long periods because of its high acid content". They do not specify what type of damage to what parts of the boiler may be incurred, or how long an "extended period" may be. A few weeks prior to getting the boiler and manual, I purchased several cords of oak logs, which I had already cut and split. I'm planning on mixing the oak in with some locust and other miscellaneous species and hoping for the best. I'm going to try and obtain locust logs instead next time around. Wish I had known.

    I wonder if anyone else with any brand of boiler has had any problems they could attribute to burning too much oak. And what the problems were, to what parts of the boiler, so anyone burning oak could check those parts for any signs of corrosion. Or if you burn lots of oak, or a steady diet of oak, and have had no issues, that would be pertinent to know too.

    Mike
  10. dzook

    dzook Member

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    To clarify a bit on this quote...




    This is a partial copy of the current warranty statement.

    -------

    WARRANTY

    Smokeless Heat, LLC warrants all the parts your Varmebaronen boiler to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of 2 years from the original date of purchase. Smokeless Heat, LLC also provides a warranty for your Varmebaronen boiler’s steel body to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of 10 years.

    If you discover a defect in a product covered by this warranty, we will repair, or if repair is not possible, replace the item.

    EXCLUSIONS

    This warranty covers defects in manufacturing discovered while using the product as recommended by the manufacturer as specified in the manual. The warranty does not cover loss or theft, nor does coverage extend to damage caused by misuse, abuse, unauthorized modification, improper storage conditions, lightening, or natural disasters. The warranty does not cover consumable parts after the second years that are subject to normal wear and tear replacement, such as the ceramics grate or the removable combustion tunnel parts.

    LIMITS OF LIABILITY

    Should the product(s) fail, your sole recourse shall be repair or replacement, as described in the preceding paragraphs. We will not be held liable to you or any other party for any damages that result from the failure of this product. Damages excluded, are, but are not limited to the following: lost profits, lost savings, lost data, damage to other equipment, and incidental or consequential damages arising from the use, or inability to use this product. In no event will Smokeless Heat, LLC be liable for more than the amount of your purchase price, and excluding tax, shipping and handling charges.

    Smokeless Heat, LLC disclaims any other warranties express or implied. By installing or using the product, the user accepts all terms described herein.


    ---------



    The history of claims as relayed by the manufacturer in almost every case that if something doesn't happen in 1-2 years that all will be well for 10 or more. The ceramic parts are know to last 10-15 years but can fail earlier depending on what is being burned and other factors. They are a couple of hundred dollars in most cases and are simple to change and takes hour or so.

    The operation and care part of the manual show how to increase the service life of the consumable parts.
  11. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    From what I saw of the Varmebaronen, it looks like a very well made boiler. Given the Swede's reputation for high quality steel, I'd be amazed if there is anything about the Varmebaronen that makes it more vulnerable to acid damage from oak than any other gasifier. I suspect that the lower flue temps in gasifiers make them more vulnerable to condensation if you burn wood with high MC, and if that wood is oak then the condensate will be quite acidic. I remember pictures of an EKO that had been idling a lot and lived on a diet of pretty green wood. It had condensate streaks all over the front, and I suspect at all the flue joints as well. If that condensate had been acidic, I'm sure it would shorten the life of the boiler.

    I'm personally modifying my standard warning to prospective gasifier owners. Where I used to just say "They really like dry wood" I think I'll add "Especially, don't burn wet oak".
  12. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    My GW lives on a diet of 95% oak. Not greatly seasoned (unsplit)

    'Course . . . my skin did corrode through the iron nipple . . . you don't suppose . . .?
  13. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Where do you think damage from too much oak burning would be most evident, or likely to occur in a gassifier, including the flue? I'd like to be checking for early warning signs. How long is is taking any of you to get your oak splits down to 20% moisture content? I was planning on this happening by next fall, for wood cut last summer, 2009.

    Mike
  14. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm going to speculate that if there's a problem, it will be at places where flue gas hits cold steel. That would be in the area near the cold water inlet and flue joints, especially higher in the chimney where the flue gas might have cooled enough to condense.

    I also suspect that it's not likely to be much of a problem unless you do all of the following:

    1) Burn a lot of oak

    2) Burn oak with a high moisture content

    3) Idle a lot

    I suppose if you built a condensing gasifier (like my brother's, with a 120 degree stack temperature) you might have a problem even without idling with wet oak.
  15. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    I will be burning a lot of oak, unless my wood source can sell me locust. I've yet to buy my manufactured chimney. Do you think getting triple instead of double wall pipe might keep the flue gasses hotter, longer, before they condense? There should hopefully be no idling with 1000 gallons storage. Hopefully the oak splits are small enough, averaging 4'' maybe, that the oak won't still be wet by this coming Fall.

    Mike
  16. Rory

    Rory Member

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    I finally have a reason to be glad that my woodlot is almost completely devoid of oak! :lol:
  17. colcarlmiss

    colcarlmiss New Member

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  18. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    That's a great link on corrosion of gasification boilers colcarlmiss. Thanks. It shows how important less idling is. Very interesting how it points out that the tar (creosote I presume) that is deposited on the inside of the firebox walls, actually protects the walls against corrosion.
  19. Birdman

    Birdman New Member

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    I am not real happy to hear about this oak thing. Last year I cut and slit 3 solid cords of oak. I thought it would be great to have wood like oak because it has more BTU's. What do you think is a good mix rate for this wood? When i fill up Tarm... half maple... half oak? Quarter oak.... three quarters maple?
  20. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    I'll trade ya stright up my aspen for your oak, cord-for-cord :cheese:
  21. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    I'm loaded with oak too. Gypsy moth killed trees. "If you got em, smoke em"
  22. Birdman

    Birdman New Member

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    Think i will keep the oak. Split it smaller... and use a few pieces upon fill up with maple I have already cut it 19-20 inches long. Most people around here use 16-18 for woodstove.
  23. Wallyworld

    Wallyworld Member

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    My Father and I burned more than 100 cords of red oak in our Dumont gasifier with no ill effects. It was over 20 yrs old when it got retired
  24. colcarlmiss

    colcarlmiss New Member

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    I am the new newbie, but I am very careful in evaluating options and therefore will be studying all the manuals and specifications in detail before I decide what I want. We are going to replace our 10+ year old Hardy Heater. We do not need to talk about this particular OWB, more than it has been very reliable despite continuous oak burning, all stainless, and it has literally produced a couple of tons of smoke to the detriment of the environment and my neighbor south of me.

    Now when I stumbled upon Varmebaronen's instruction statement about restricted oak burning I became curious why. I need to tell you that I at the same time as I posted this new thread I sent a mail copy to smokelessheat.com and varmebaronen.se in Sweden as a heads-up to be prepared.

    We have seen smokelessheat.com's response in the thread and I am very sorry I missed the warranty statement. I didn't see it on the website and then for me to assume you have no warranty is stupid from my side. It is probably there somewhere and I am only confused. Again I apologize. Now when I have seen it and read your response I suppose oak burning is not regarded to be misuse and will not void the warranty.

    From Varmebaronen.se I have no conclusive reply yet, more than they will check with their R&D and come back with an reply.

    My aim is to be as objective as possible in my not so insignificant investment decision.

    To my surprise the empty weight of boilers are very different. I suppose if you have some oak burning corrosion more steel is better than less. Garn's case is special, because it includes a large integrated hot water storage volume.

    Brand Model BTU/hr Lbs

    Varmebaronen Vedolux 30 112,000 639
    Varmebaronen Vedolux 37 143,000 650

    HS Tarm Solo Innova 30 102,000 1,113
    HS Tarm Solo Innova 50 171,000 1,213

    Scandtec Solo Plus 40 140,000 1,180

    Orlan Ekoline 40 137,000 1,390

    Biomass 40 140,000 1,480

    Econoburn EBW-150 150,000 1,670

    Garn WHS 1500 350,000 3,550

    I have gathered this information from different websites, but I do guarantee they are accurate. Pls do your own checking. Obviously some of the weight differences is caused by differences in the weight of the ceramics.

    I tried to get the table straight and it looks beautiful on the preview, but it did not translate to the post.
  25. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    colcarlmiss - some of the weight differences could be result of design and mechanical differences. Some units might count the jacket and all components while other might not. The size of the fireboxes and overall boiler dimensions vary and will result in different weights.

    Some of the manuf. will tell you the guage of steel used. However, if you watch the video linked above it explains the tar buildup on the inside and how it protects the firebox from corrosion. So, unless your unit idles for most of the heating season, the corrosion issue should not be a problem...

    I am very confident that my Tarm will last a very LONG time given the track record of the brand and quality of the welding that is used to produce them. A Swedish made product I would think would use quality material and welding as well. I know the Econoburn has been described as being very rugged and being all there!

    I think that some important factors in narrowing the list would be:
    1. Cost!
    2. BTU output (make sure it is sized and the system is designed to be convenient for you to operate)
    3. Installer/Retailer (who will you get it from, who is installing it, and who will service it) If it is a self install, then any brand can be shipped to you...
    4. Storage (do you want a brand that has storage built in (Garn), storage made specifically for it (Varmebaronen), commercial tanks (several choices there), or are you going to DIY a pressurized (propane tank?) or un-press. (pond in a box?)

    I think you would be pleased with any of the brands you listed... they are all quality boilers!

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