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What is the Ideal storage method in new construction?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Jags, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I had a question asked from a friend that I simply don't know the answer to, so I thought I would pose it to you hot water folks.

    In a new construction environment - money is no object - what is the best water storage that could be implemented or included in the house? Would you pour a concrete storage cistern? Drop in a couple of big tanks for stratification?? What?

    What would be the "perfect" config to be used with a gassifier?

    I really am looking to throw some ideas at my friend. The question was based off of a 2000sqft ranch.

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  2. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    If it were me, I'd designate a portion of the north wall of the house, basement and first floor, to be framed in as a storage room. I'd stand two (or maybe many more) 1000 gallon propane tanks on end. I'd plumb them, pressure test them, and insulate the heck out of them. Probably seal off the bottom, back, and top of them and blow in cellulose until it's pretty tight. At least 2' on the outside wall and 3' on the top surface. I'd leave some reasonable access for making plumbing changes, adding heat exchangers, and so on.

    I'd use solar panels to heat them (in sequence) during the summer. I'd also use them during the summer as a heat sink for my heat pump when it's acting as an air conditioner.

    During the winter, I'd draw heat from them as needed - to heat the house, to heat the DHW and hot tub, and as a last resort, to act as a heat source for my heat pump. I'd add heat as needed with occasional full-bore fires in my gasifier.

    My goal would be to have all of them topped off at 180 degrees from solar panel and heat pump (air conditioning) activity at the end of Fall, and to have most of them at 32.1 degrees at the end of the winter.
  4. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I would love a 1000 gallon propane tank standing upright. You would need a pretty deep sub-basement in the basement and watch the water level under the ground.
  5. Chris Hoskin

    Chris Hoskin TarmSalesGuy

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    yeah, love the idea of a 1000 gallon vertical pressurized tank. Not the best for making dhw as is, so I would want to fit it with an oversized dhw heat exchanger.
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    It would be interesting to see if it would be reasonable to design in enough storage (in a well insulated house) so that you could store an entire winter's worth of heat.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Good ideas with the propane tanks, but wouldn't two stacked on top of each other get the stratification needed. Keep in mind - that we are not talking OFF GRID. He doesn't have a problem with processing wood, but I think he would have a problem with stacking up a half dozen 1000 gal propane tanks.

    He is just looking at a real world install for a new construction home. I won't be changing his mind on home layout/floor plan at this point, but he was asking if while pouring a foundation, he should be considering some of this. In order to really consider this properly, a model of some sorts needs to be planned. That is where I am at.
  8. djblech

    djblech Feeling the Heat

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    I think Trevor is on to something. Simple is going to be the key to any future wood heating systems I install. I like my boiler, but it is anything but simple. I need to be here on a constant basis to stoke and maintain heat. If the power goes out, I am in a bad situation even if I have a back-up generator or batteries. I don't have storage, but that is just another system that could be problematic. Then there is the total cost of installation. I know that when my boiler dies, I will be considering a masonry or just a 1 or 2 wood stove solution to my heating problem.
    Doug
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I do to. I really like the whole masonry heater thing, but I don't think that has even crossed my friends mind.
  10. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    A new properly designed and built house of 2,000 sq ft would have a heat loss of less than 20,000 btu hr max.

    Properly sited most of that could be obtained passively. For hot water and back up you could use solar in floor with a small back up gas/propane boiler, demand would be so low that using a wood boiler would just not be worth it. I assume you would need gas/propane for cooking.

    Personally I would add a small wood stove for ambiance and as a booster, with its own outside makeup air supply.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Really?? I am not up to snuff on the new code and requirements, etc. Do you have any "favorite" place to sniff around at these designs? This is more on a personal level than with my friends question.

    Heck - I think my bedroom requires 20,000 btu an hour. :lol:
  12. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Take this where it comes from, but I'd want pressurized storage to allow DHW in the summer, as well as solar input for DHW.

    You could have a hydronic heated masonry heater with a shutoff valve- no need to heat it in the summer.
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Trying to get the big picture - do you mean a mass of stone that is being heated by hot water (pipes running through it)?
  14. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    It is a long term plan of mine. Might be very long term unless the economy picks up.

    My situation includes severe cold in the winter, no need for air con in the summer, nasty north winds but lots of solar gain. I started a blog. Maybe one day.

    http://comobermhouse.blogspot.com/2010/02/welcome-to-our-house-blog.html

    Building codes are usually a long way behind best practice.
  15. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Very interesting Como, and thanks for the link.

    So - foundation wise - anything that I should being thinking about for storage options??
  16. welderboyjk

    welderboyjk Member

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    My neighbors just built a new house with "extensions" off of the basement that were filled with sand and "capped" for a floor on a covered porch. I have often wondered about insulating such areas and running a bunch of pex through something like that and using it for storage.
  17. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    A walkout basement with at least one large French door, 6-0 x 6-8, preferably 6-0x8-0. That way you can bring the tanks in with a tractor/Bobcat. I stacked my tanks horizontally with the Bobcat forks in the doorway and moved them in the basement with a pallet jack. A below grade wall penetration for potential underground pipes in the future.
  18. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    The best place to store heat is in the fuel. You lose efficiency as soon as you light a match. Massive storage would mean massive losses, either stored in water or a concrete slab. I would start with passive solar (which doesn't have to be ugly), then super insulation keeping in mind a need to dehumidify because we people give off a ton of water. sSo after I knew where my house was going to be built, what direction it would face, I would look for the center and build a masonary heater.

    Wood boilers are great for homes that were built around fossil fuel but if you're starting from scratch I would definately go with the masonary heater. It all depends on why you're building a house.
  19. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I understand the "best case" scenario for energy efficiency, but it ain't my house and he ain't gonna go redesigning it for me. The floor plan is done. A basic - open - 2000 sqft ranch. That is what I am working with. He is looking into gassers with storage. That is the other piece of the puzzle. Since there has been no "glaringly" obvious suggestions on the foundation work (other than access - good idea, but it won't have a ground level basement access), I will assume at this point that no special attention is needed for the foundation.
  20. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    For a hydronic system, water may still be the best storage media. Well insulated tanks, I'd like a removable HX in the tank via a top manhole.

    A floor drain is a must have in a basement or near any finished area. Leaks happen.

    hr
  21. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    I have been going round and round on this subject for the last year or so. Currently in the design phase of a house for my folks and obviously the heating system controls a lot of design aspects.

    Construction will be 2x6 with sprayed in cellulose in voids. Then 2-3 inches of recycled 4x8 Poly Iso (sealing all gaps, cracks) then 1x strapping (vertical) 2ft o.c. then lap siding. Similar detail on vaulted ceilings and close attention to foundation insulating and this should be a house in the 10 to 12 btu/sq ft at design(0 deg F for us). R-3 Windows really stand out now in the heat loss calc but it gets hard to justify jumping up to triple panes when it means lots more money to burn a tiny bit less wood a year.

    Solar thermal heating is the ultimate but when you start crunching the numbers(btus and $$$)it can get out of hand real quick.

    Wood is the fuel source for us as we live on 72 acres of mostly wooded land and have always heated with wood. Now, to do it with maximum efficiency, comfort and convenience.

    Masonry heaters are very appealing in a lot of ways. No power needed, High aesthetic value, efficient, comfy radiant heat, convenience of one or maybe two fires a day. From discussions with a couple of friends with MH they get a bit harder to control in the shoulder season as you are building fires based on conditions that are 12 to 24 hours away. This makes overshooting or undershooting a reality at times. Still they like the MH a lot but might do things different if starting over. Also parts of the houses that just don't get as much heat as they want and these are open house layouts.

    Masonry boilers were discussed earlier. Check this out if you haven't seen it, its pretty cool:

    http://heatkit.com/html/lopezs.htm

    Of course now your adding electrical requirements and negating one of the big advantages of the masonry heater. But now you can get more heat to the extremities of the house(Bathrooms!).

    IMO the gassifyer+storage+low temp emitters comes out ahead in the end for efficiency, comfort and convenience. Like a masonry heater it is a high mass heating system but one where you can put the heat where you want it, when you want it. Plus DHW year round.

    Man, I can't wait to get my Varmebaronen and storage set up. Probably about the spring time :)

    Noah
  22. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    The link I have above suggest about 10,000 btu peak, really cold night. At that level a gasser becomes hard to justify. Even where I am you would be burning a cord or so a year. (10,500 HDD) At current prices $300 a year for Propane, less for NG and you have to have the gas anyway for cooking. A couple of solar panels would cover a lot of that. Or a small wood stove.

    If it is a much bigger house and/or with other buildings, then the numbers start becoming more interesting.

    Sounds like you are building your parents house on the same lot? Could you use just one boiler?

    I think with windows, location is king, make sure they all pretty much face south.

    I was thinking why there are no Garn type boilers in Euroland.

    They are physically very big.

    Average house is smaller/better insulated.

    Far fewer people have access to free or low cost wood.

    Emissions, Garn is not bad but probably would not pass the German regs for example.
  23. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hi David,

    I agree, gassers can become hard to justify cost wise but I think comfort is also really hard to put a price on. My payback on this system is probably longer than most members here(a little less than 10 years counting DHW vs propane and electric) but I am pretty tired of the wood stove routine and I think propane and electric prices have only one direction to go.

    As far as one boiler to heat two houses this is exactly what I was originally hoping to do. A Garn located between two houses (about 400' apart) but after many Boiler Room hours I decided against it for several reasons. Way to much underground piping for my liking, standby heat loss in a place a cant really take advantage of it, and having to build a structure I don't otherwise need. We can actually save a bit of money by installing a boiler+storage in each house and this makes all standby losses usable. I sure do love the Garn though.

    I hear you on the windows but I am just not willing to give up the beautiful views of the scenery around us to eliminate too many windows. We also get a wonderful cross draft through our house (as will my folks house) that eliminates the need for any AC needs.
    I find there to be many trade offs no matter how I look at this whole heating situation.

    Noah
  24. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    We can all agree on that!
  25. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    I think that if you are talking about a relatively low heat load like 10k btus, a gasifier still makes very good sense. With proper sized storage,
    you can fire the unit every other day.
    My heat load is 6,000 btus/hr at design temp of -10F. This week I have fired our unit every other day or every two days, depending on how cold it was.
    This is for heat and hot water for two people
    If there was a solar input and it was not December in Maine (only 40% sunny days), you can really stretch out the use of a wood boiler.

    If the backup ever comes on (fuel oil) I feel really uncomfortable, even though I probably used about five gallons last year and the 75 or so gallons in the tank has been there over two years. I do need to use it up before it becomes sludge.

    The investment in wood is then an ethical investment. Do you really want to buy oil or gas or use wood? I like the idea of getting the fuel that I grew or my neighbor grew.

    My 2 cents worth about storage. An unpressurized tank with a plate or coil hx is going to be less expensive if you factor in all the actual costs.
    Installing pressurized systems with its logistical cost, big expansion vessels, proper insulation and plumbing is a significant investment.
    An unpressurized system is simpler to service. Yes, I am in the business, but an objective analysis of the systems might be worthwhile.

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