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"Water" fired Clothes Dryer setup?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by wood-engineer, Jan 26, 2010.

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  1. wood-engineer

    wood-engineer Member

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    The last fossil load on my propane tank is the clothes dryer. I'm wondering if anyone in this group has successfully retro-fited a gas or electric dryer with an air over water heat exchanger? Seems like a good idea, I have a great wood boiler and 23 acre wood lot. Plus, I love cuttin' wood!

    I'm interested in the design, controls, heat exchanger size, ducting, and airflow requirements. And, of course, how it performs.

    My storage tanks usually run between 140-180.

    Your input is appreciated!

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  2. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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  3. wood-engineer

    wood-engineer Member

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    Thanks! I figured this topic was posted at some time in the past. Doesn't sound like anyone has actually done it.
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Far as I know that's correct... I still think it would work reasonably well if set up properly and one didn't mind possibly taking a little longer to dry the clothes... We just need a [del]sucker[/del] volunteer to be the first one to try it...

    Gooserider
  5. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    I heard of someone in my area actually having done it and it works. I have yet to tracked the person down. Perhaps I will and put an article about it up on my site...
  6. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    With four in the family my summer gas bill is 20 bucks with a 8.50 service fee for the meter. Although propane is a little more I don't think it is worth it. I hang them on the line 4 months a year too. so that helps.
  7. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    For the tinkerers around here I think it is the idea of actually pulling it off and not necessarily the cost effectiveness of it that is appealing. I have two clothes lines, a couple of indoor drying racks, and a brand new electric dryer... We only dry about 1 in 4 loads in the dryer though...
  8. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    I guess you got me on that one. Hey I know, put your clothes line in the basement, hook up a coil with a fan behind it and blow the hot air at the clothes. If you have a dry house this might also help.
  9. wood-engineer

    wood-engineer Member

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    I agree with the clothes line idea. If it were just me, that's how I'd roll. But the wife won't go for it, and we'd fight about it. So, if I hook it up to the wood boiler, then we both win. Plus, WoodNotOil hit it right on the head - it would be fun to try. And, if I do my homework - it should work well.

    I'm sure the payback will be lousy. But, I'm betting propane will not be $2.00/gallon 5 years from now.

    Here's what I'm thinking....

    1. Find the BTU input of the dryer, that shouldn't be to hard.
    2. Get a rough estimation of airflow. That shouldn't be to hard either.
    3. Purchase a unit heater to give me the BTU input I need, with a boiler temp of about 150F.
    4. Purchase a caged blower to get the airflow I need.
    5. Have a sheet metal shop make the ducting to put it all together, and route it to the dryer drum.
    6. Set up a relay to drive the circ pump when the dryer thermostat is calling for heat.

    Of course, I'll try this on a spare dryer until the wife approve me for install. And, I'll probably keep the propane dryer on line - just in case...

    I'll document this all and post when I'm done. Should be done by the end of the year!

    Thanks to everyone for their input.
  10. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    Invest in a new washer first. With the new high speed spin cycles the clothes come out with very little drying needed. And new washers use less water so the DHW load lessens also.

    I've heard front load washers trap some water and can smell musty after a few days unless you leave the door open a bit. So the Whirlpool salesman tells me :)

    I recently bought a Fisher Paykel (sp) washer from NZ. I'm very impressed with the machine. Sounds like a vacuum cleaner when it spins!

    hr
  11. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Never heard of that washer...how did you stumble upon it?
  12. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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  13. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Ditto on the Fisher Paykel, we've had one three years and I can assure you it is the type of machine I expect would appeal to boiler room forum members.

    It has the advantages of the horizontal drum machines without the disadvantages. The cantilevered drum of the horizontal machines is wrong to start with if you ask me, and the nasty/failed gasket problems just compound a fundamental design flaw.

    The motor is a direct-drive high-torque ECM unit with no gearing, so they can reverse the thing at will and slosh the clothes as forcefully as needed. In the initial stages of the wash they circulate/spray a small amount water and work the sudsy clothes for a while with concentrated detergent, add a little more water and repeat.

    It will do large loads without losing effectiveness (on the order of nine pairs of jeans). And it spins 1000 rpm or so with computer-controlled self-balancing. It saves on drying energy a lot by spinning effectively.

    Sears and Lowes used to carry them but my understanding is that they only deal with independent dealers now.

    I lucked out because the horizontal drum machine I had settled on would not fit in my washer bay and I ended up with the FP unit and am delighted with it.

    --ewd
  14. joecool85

    joecool85 Minister of Fire

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    Interesting stuff, I've been thinking about doing this as well.
  15. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    I have envisioned this as well but just using the "air or no heat" setting on the dryer and ducting hot air into the intake on the dryer. This would allow use of the electric when not burning and not really require any mod to the dryer at all. I'm not sure whether I would want the HX behind the dryer or directly below in the basement utility room. It would be nice to access and clean from basement but require a bigger hole through the floor. One could even control the air temp by cycling the water through the HX although we almost always use the HI setting exclusively. Ditto on the newer style washers too. My wife wanted the front load types but the cost was insane especially just for those pedestals that they sit on. We settled on a GE profile that was vertical but without the agitator. They ended up being quite a bit less money and meters the water level based on the size of the load. Pretty neat to see it work and correct an unbalanced load on its own.

    I believe the wood fired dryer payback would take quite a while. My Dec 2 to Jan 5 electric bill was only $258 heating(and everything else) exclusively with the air heat pump. We have a very cold December too with several day at or below zero. Now I'm finding it hard to justify the wood boiler setup to the wife and she's probably right. The power company does give huge discounts if you heat with electricity here though because natural gas/propane have almost all of the market. I keep telling her that will probably change when the government goes after the power companies with new taxes.
  16. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    A large automobile heater core should suffice and not be too expensive.
  17. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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  18. joecool85

    joecool85 Minister of Fire

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    That's what I was planning on using, probably from an SUV or Van.
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Interesting - but can you say NO information? - All I see is two pictures of dryers, from the front, with nothing that would even suggest that they actually ARE hydronic, or any other info on them... Home page and many of the product pages say the site is still "under construction" but the pages have a "last modified" date of 2008 - is this guy even still in business??? Certainly makes me wonder about him if he can't keep his "store" up to date...

    Gooserider
  20. pdboilermaker

    pdboilermaker New Member

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    Seems like you could just use the water to air heat exchanger, put it into the dryer around the air intake and heat the ambiant air going into the dryer.

    By doing this, your dryer is sucking in 150 degree air as opposed to sucking in 70 degree air. Your coils would not fire as often to warm the air in the dryer.

    It is a similar situation to my dhw on demand water heater. In front of my on demand water heater, I have a plate type water to water heat exchanger so the cold water feeding into my Noritz is actaully 150 degrees rather than the 55 degrees that it should be straight from the ground.

    When I turn on the hot water, the Noritz fires for about 10 seconds then realizes, HEY this water is already over the 125 degree temprature I am supposed to heat it to, I will shut off now.
  21. mikeyny

    mikeyny Feeling the Heat

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    I put together a wood fired dryer a few yrs ago. I used an old A coil from a central air unit I pulled out of a house. I pumped hot water 170 ish thru the coils, built a wood and aluminum enclosure around it with a medium sized squirrel cage behind it and ran it thru a 4 inch duct to the old electric dryer intake. It was somewhat rigged together and could have used some fine tuning but it did work. ( divorced now, no wonder she left). Most dryers run well over 200 degrees and are really pretty efficient. By the time I ran the squirrel cage, 1 taco pump and 110 volt motor to turn the drum, it was probably a wash, uhh er dry. I would have to agree that the way to go is with the new high speed washers. Drying time is greatly reduced. It was a fun project though, and it got me some well deserved freedom, finaly.
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