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Whats A Better Heater For Domestic Hot Water????

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by drizler, Jun 8, 2006.

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  1. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    I am lovin heating the house with my corn stove but now am looking into a better way to heat my hot water. I have a Peerless boiler which I use now only for backup and hot water. Electric is out since I have the Pleasure of being ***** continually by NYSEG ( NY Extortion & Graft) ,which is about the highest electric rates in the country. I will build a couple solar collectors when / if I can locate some scrap copper pipe ($14 / 10' 3/4" pipe is just plain nuts).
    There is no nat gas in my area and propane is no bargain either this being NY. I looked into the outdoor boiler rigs which would be nice if they worked well but I see most don', smoke like crazy or cost around $10K which is way too much. I would like to be able to wood fire the baseboards but not at that cost. So whats the options out there? There's 3 of us and I have a 30 gallon Thermocell tank on a boiler zone. I do turn it off and on manually during much of the year. I guess we have gone through 400 gallons since last October with very little use of the baseboards themselves. Its a 4 section Peerless rated at 150K but throttled down from a 1.25 to 1.10 GPH. Can cutting down the nozzle size do any good or is the 1.10 about it for that size boiler.
    Since I have never shut if down for any extended period of time what is involved in shutting down that boiler anyways? I notice that if I let it get cold it tends to weep so I can only assume it would have to be drained. My big question is would shutting it off like that affect its future ability to seal back up fully again? Any great inspirational ideas welcome.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    If you want to get into a wood-fired boiler, Driz, I would recommend an indoor unit. There are plenty of used boilers around--check Ebay and online classifieds for your area. You takes your chances with a used wood boiler and there are installation and insurance considerations, but it's a great way to provide hot water for hydronic heat, in my experience. I've heated exclusively with indoor wood-fired boilers for more than 15 years (including DHW), and I live in NY (Adirondacks).

    Anyway, I'm no expert on boiler systems, but I wouldn't drain the one you have. I don't think condensation outside the boiler hurts anything, but you're right about the thing maybe leaking when you fill it back up after sitting empty for months, and it's not a good idea to allow oxygen into the system if you can avoid it. If it has glycol, forgetaboutit! You can go down to a .75 gph nozzle with some oil guns, but my understanding is that they tend to clog up a lot easier than the ones 1.00 and bigger. Depends somewhat on the quality of your fuel and the condition of your filter, I suspect. Plus, you want to stay within the mfg. spec.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Changing the nozzle; also changes the BTU output. It you are into changing gaskets and seals then drain it down. Ob-course it will be a real pain getting rusted fittings and bolts off. Like hitting a bees nest probably not worth the effort. One thing you can do is lower the hot water setting temp. Use water restricters in your shower head called wiggets. Install an automatic damper on your boiler to hold heat in longer. Some claim a fire retention-er saves fuel. That helps flame intensity and patterns. Make sure you nozzle and electrode are clean. Replace your oil filter to burn cleaner oil. Look into a biofuel, it burns cleaner and reduces the mentioned maintenance necessity's. You can easily burn up to 30% biofuel in your boiler. Insulate you transmission pipes both hot water
    and heating. Programmable set back thermostats help allowing up to 4 degrees set back. Hot air systems the magic number is 8 degrees. If you set it back more than that, you will use most of the oil you think you are saving bringing it back to temps.
  4. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Casper Wyoming
    Enviro was heating water with a pellet stove at the show this year. I also saw a corn unit that was heating water. I don't know if it would run the base boards though.
  5. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I have to think that's a misconception. There have been countless tests and studies done and found repeatedly to the contrary the cooler and longer you keep your house the more savings you'll get but don't use them with heat pumps. The misconception is energy is wasted making your boiler work hard to try to get your house up to temp, on the contrary making your boiler work hard is more efficient than making it work light so better off setting your thermostat further back so your boiler has to run longer. Here's a link saying the same, 6th paragraph.

    The programmable thermostats work on two principles. The longer your boiler stays on the more efficient. The most efficient and properly sized boiler for your house is one that on the coldest days runs 24 hours and still keeps the house warm. So, programmable thermostats use that as one of their principles to save you fuel, as when it's time to reheat the place the boiler/furnace has to run longer and cycles on/off less so it's at a higher efficiency. The second is that every degree cooler your house is, causes less heat loss. The difference being very noticeable. If I kept my house at 70 while there and 66 while away (for an average of 68 degrees), vs. 70 while there and 60 while away (for an average of 66 degrees) amounts to at least 82 gallons of oil saved/year or $245/year and that's just savings in heat loss through my ceiling alone let alone floors and walls. The worse your house is insulated the more beneficial a programmable thermostat. If my attic was insulated to R35, the savings of a programmable thermostat between having it be 70 while there and 65 away vs. 70 there and 60 away would amount to 35 gallons, or $105.06 savings per year in just my ceilings. Still, very noticeable.

    Unfortunately all the above is really neither here nor there because the poster is only wondering about domestic hot water and how to cut back.
  6. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    My thoughts are, get a solar hot water heater. It will save you 50-75% of your hot water use and even if it saves you 200 gallons/oil that's $600 a year if oil gets to the $3.00+ they're expecting. Plus, federal incentives are 30% in tax credits and looks like your state offers 25% credit, no sales tax on solar, and solar can't increase property taxes, and your state offers a low interest loan for purchasing solar in your state. So, if you pay $3000 for the system, with no tax it's $3000. You'll get $900 back from the federal and $750 back from the state, and reap a savings of $600+ /year and they last 25-30 years. You can read about your states incentives here. I'm not an expert at figuring out what NY has or understanding/reading that site but from things looks like your state has an excellent solar incentive program going on. If it is $3000 to get solar hot water, looks like in just one year after all the rebates and savings in your state you'll be only $750 behind and probably make that in savings the next year. So, I'd do some homework on solar, and the incentives your state appears to offer would be a very wise choice for further investigation.

    If you do want to research this further, some things to find out are local and state codes. Your state may require a licensed solar installer to get their credit, or city codes may prohibit homeowners from installing their own. I know the kit I'm planning on installing (and my state has no benefits) I can only apply certain pieces towards the federal tax credit since doing it myself. Granted, they're the most expensive pieces so that's good, but I can't claim the copper, insulation, motor, wiring, but can claim the cost for the panels themselves and I think the special solar water storage tank.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's not easy information to get, but my understanding after checking around is that the net fed/NYS tax credit is 53%. Applicable to '06 and '07. NY Soapstone has all the dope, I believe. He posted some very useful links around here somewhere.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm no expert, but could the weeping be condensation?

    Not that it's relevant, but I backfit an outdoor reset device on my unit. I understand the idea is that you don't need superhot water to circulate in your baseboards on non-cold days. Saves some they say. Domestic hot water zone is overridden, I believe.
  9. stovepipe?

    stovepipe? New Member

    Joined:
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    hey rhonemas-

    where are you getting your kit? Have you found good sources of info/kits on the web? I'm interested in doing this as well but haven't yet found an understandable source or vendor.

    thanks
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    We have to do more research on the savings. I saved a bunch with my old system, but that replaced electric hot water, which is really expensice.

    If this guy was right the other night, and solar provides only 5 million BTU per year, then that only replaces 50 gallons of oil instead of 200. The truth may lie in between, but let's see if we can find out. Saving 500 a year is good, but saving 125 is not going to pay for the panels over either the long or short run when replacement parts, service and other things are factored in.

    Let's see if we can find some data.....they usually have tables on this stuff.
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