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Where to install the boiler indoors or outdoors

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by easternbob, Jan 7, 2008.

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  1. easternbob

    easternbob Member

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    Was hoping to get some opinions. We are building a new house and trying to decide where to put the boiler either in the basement or outside (about 50' away in a new woodshed/boiler room). At our current house we heat with a woodstove in the familyroom so we know all about dust and bark in the house. It would be nice to get away from that mess but concerned about heat loss, in the underground pipes and from the sides of the unit. Thinking of either the EKO or the Econoburn. Also what about the cost comparison between running insulated flue pipe for three stories as to the cost of insulated underground pipes?
    Thanks

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    If you want opinions, you've come to the right place ;-)

    I can't help with the cost comparison part, but there are several threads about problems with buried lines. I think the conclusion is that you don't want to scrimp on materials.

    I have an EKO 25 in my basement. I have outside access to the boiler room so that dust and bark stays in the boiler room. It's nice to tend the boiler in PJs and slippers.

    Another consideration is that to maintain the house at an even temperature, there are basically two options:

    1) Get a large boiler, fill it with a bunch of wood, and let it idle when there's no demand.
    2) Add heat storage. Use a smaller boiler and build a series of fires that burn flat out, heating the tank and the house. Live off heat from the tank between fires.

    Option 2 is more efficient, but requires the cost and complexity of a storage tank. The other implication of option 2 is that you will build more fires 'from scratch'. Not a big deal if the boiler is in the basement, but perhaps aggravating on a cold winter night outside.

    I'm firmly in the option 2 camp. I've documented my setup - link is in my signature below.
  3. Jim Post

    Jim Post Member

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    I would add an option 1.5 :) ...Do the heat loss calculation for your house....get a boiler that is sized for the heat loss. Load the boiler based on your ability to predict the heat needed for the next 8 hours. That's what I did/do.

    As for installation location...I wish I would have put mine in a boiler/wood storage room attached to our attached garage....keeps the debris out of the house, yet lets you load and check things out w/o going outside. That's where I'd put it if I was doing it again.

    FWIW...
  4. easternbob

    easternbob Member

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    Nofossil,
    Thanks for the reply. Took a quick look at your website, I'm guessing you are a engineer or some sort of technician because that is very through! I'll pour thru the info when I'm not at work. Thinking about the storage but that will have to wait for a year or two (money and time thing). But on the other hand I like the idea of loading the stove up a twice a day and letting it burn on it's own, starting a fire from scratch could get old. With the woodstove we use now I can get a fire going again with just the coals and that is nice.
  5. easternbob

    easternbob Member

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    Olpotosi,
    How long have you heating with your Tarm? And am I correct in assuming that it is in your basement? Do you get much heat off the side side of the unit, enough to heat that part of the basement??
    Since I'm building new I want to do it right (or atleast correct for this time in my life).
    Thanks
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome to the Boiler Room to a fellow Central New Yorker. If you want to see an EKO in action, let me know and I'll be happy to give you the nickel tour. I'm always pleased to see people considering one of these fine gasifiers. Both the Econoburn and the EKO would be an excellent choice for most applications.

    I've got mine in an attached barn inside its own little concrete block boiler room. My wood storage is around the boiler. I like having all the mess out there. I suspect I would operate it differently if it was in the basement or other living space. Noise might be a consideration. I have a relatively big boiler with two blowers, and while not loud, they do send out a steady hum that might get on your nerves in the house. Of course, you can do a lot with a few strategically placed acoustic tiles or panels.

    The amazing thing to me (still) with these gasifiers is the lack of smoke and the amount of heat they put out compared to a conventional wood-fired boiler. I live in the village, so both are considerations.

    You buy insulated stainless steel chimney by the foot. It's easy to install and pretty much foolproof if installed correctly. Underground piping is a great way to go, but as we've all learned in recent days on this board, keeping it watertight is absolutely critical.
  7. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    The whole storage thing is quite a topic. Some people claim dramatic efficiency improvements, and that may be true if the alternative is idling a big boiler most of the time. IMHO, the best solution is to size the wood boiler so it's just barely big enough (as the previous post suggests) so that it burns as much of the time as possible. Then if you can, use storage to allow you to space your fires according to the weather. Here in Vermont we're having a warm spell. I've skipped two days in the past week. I did run for a year without storage, but life is better with than without.

    Basically, I needed my small boiler to burn flat out for about 8 hours out of the last 48. I did that with three 'chained' fires during the day on the 6th. Each fire ran flat out, then died. I restarted from the coals each time. By the end of the third fire, my tank was hot enough to carry me through the entire day on the 6th. It's now the morning of the 7th, and my storage tank just ran out of usable heat. I'll probably build another fire this afternoon.

    The alternative would have been a lot of smoldering or much wider temperature fluctuations in the house. This would be more of a problem when it's not bitter cold outside - when the heat load from the house is way less than the boiler's capacity.

    I've attached a graph of the last 48 hours showing boiler output and storage tank top temps. The lower black line shows the storage tank circulator pump cycling to heat the house. At the end, it's running flat out and can't keep up, since the water in the tank is too cold to provide enough heat.

    Attached Files:

  8. Jim Post

    Jim Post Member

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    My basement had existing baseboard radiators from the original lp boiler. I wedged the tarm into an alcove in my attached garage....Standby heat loss from the wood boiler keeps the garage over 50 most of the winter. In many states it is against code to put a solid fuel burning appliance in your attached garage...So, I would build a boiler/wood storage area that you can access from inside (tending boiler) or outside (maintaining wood supply). In new construction, I would consider putting the boiler on the lower level so you could have some gravity fed heat circulation if you anticipate occasional power outages...
  9. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm assuming that people put boilers outside for three reasons:

    1) Mess - dust, bark, ashes
    2) Safety - Fire hazard
    3) Smoke (from loading or leakage)

    The safety concerns that lead people to put boilers outside may apply less to gasifiers. Gasifiers have much lower stack temps and virtually no creosote if operated properly. I would assume that as enough of them go into service, we should see that they pose a much smaller fire risk than conventional boilers, furnaces, and woodstoves.

    I would agree with the mess. If you have it inside, in the basement with direct outside access is the way to go.

    Smoke isn't much of an issue if operated properly and with sufficient draft. The only times I get smoke is if I open it when it's really cranking, which I don't really need to do.

    My bottom line: I'll tolerate a little mess in my boiler room in exchange for not having to go outside.
  10. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Nofossil,
    I did not realize you needed to fire 3 times to get your storage charged. Would it be benificial to be big enough to have the ability to get completely charged on one burn
    for the size of the storage? The black line on your graph that is really wild- is this the pump? Your pump is different speeds, or it would be just an on/off line?

    Im glad my wood boiler is outside. I need to fix my draft, but could not imagine the dirt that would be in my house... also if I want to heat DHW during the summer, the boiler will not radiate unwanted heat in my house-or garage.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I agree on the low fire hazard. I don't even think about it anymore. Makes my expensive Duratech chimney seem like a major extravagance. If I had to walk outside to load my boiler, I might be a little less sanguine about the prospect of having it in an outbuilding.

    Having operated wood-fired appliances in various basements over the past 25 years or so, it's just a matter of developing good habits. In my last house, I rigged up an ash/chimney vacuum system made out of 2" pvc and piped into little hoods above the chimney cleanout door and the ash cleanout for the boiler. When cleaning either one, I just plugged a shopvac into the piping, plugged off the hood I wasn't using, and let 'er rip. I had the fine particle filter in my vac, and was able to keep the dust and soot to a bare minimum. Good thing, too, because the boiler room doubled as the laundry room, so the WAF was a huge motivator.

    The nice thing about a gasifier is that you can sweep the floor and dump the contents into the boiler without worrying about excess smoke from all the bark. It just eats it all up. Plus, you get the advantage of the radiant heat from the boiler and chimney when it's in your house.

    So I wouldn't rule anything out.
  12. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    My GW is about 75' from my residence. I am kinda' with 'Option 1.5' . . . if I had it to do over, I would have built a block boiler room at grade attached to the back of my residence (seperated by block firewall) This room would have had enough storage for 1/2 the winter. The access to the house would have been via the basement (under the boiler room and a steel door into the residence basement. Oh, and the boiler probably would have been a Viessmann too.

    That sucking noise you hear is not the draft. . .it's my wallet :eek:hh:
  13. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    The three firings were not full loads - I was trying to spread the heat out over the day, and we were out for a bit longer than I expected so it almost went out the first time. I usually burn one single fire, an initial 3/4 fill followed by a full load, about 7 hours burn time.

    The squiggly black line is the boiler outlet temp. It jumps around based on heat load (whether I'm heating the storage tank, for instance).

    The horizontal black line nearer the bottom is the tank circulator.

    I've got a writeup on the control system logic here.
  14. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Nofossil,
    Thats really informative stuff. You must have gauges everywhere.
    How does your circulator try to gain heat by working harder? How many GPM should flow through the wood boiler- yours different than mine?
    I believe my 60 holds 47 gallons, how much is too fast or too slow through it? Should it or is it better to be able to change speeds?

    Did not mean to stray so far of the thread. Im pretty sure too that insurance rates change if you burn in your house.
  15. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah, we've pretty much hijacked this poor guy's thread. Sorry.....

    My circulator doesn't try to gain heat. I open or close zone valves to try and keep the heat load stable. I ise a Taco 007, and by my calcualtion it averages about 8-10 gpm. That works out to about a 20 degree rise for water going through the boiler at peak output. The volume of the boiler makes no difference.

    I'm going to upgrade to a Grundfos 3 speed pump so that I can vary the speed to better match the boiler output at different parts of the burn cycle.

    My insurance didn't change at all. Permanently installed boilers are in a different class than woodstoves, I think.

    Apropos to the original thread topic, indoor installations are easier to tinker with if one is so inclined. All the plumbing and controls can be in one place. I already had an extra flue in my chimney and I had designed the house with a spot for the boiler.
  16. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    One additional reason for me is -easier access to wood supply
    I can drive a truck, trailer right up to the shed to unload wood and with my basement layout would have to carry wood about 10' to the back door then downstairs and another 20' to boiler furnace area.
    Too bad I didn't know a few years ago before I built an addition and covered up the old coal door that went down to the coal room that would have worked great for getting wood downstairs.
  17. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Excellent point - don't know how I missed that. I vote for that as reason #1 and demote the others.

    I started a thread in the 'Gear' section on 'More wood, less handling' a while back, exploring ideas on cutting down the nine (!) times that I touch each piece of wood. Having the boiler outdoors would likely reduce handling for most folks.

    I'm still an indoors guy, though. I like to tend the boiler in my skivvies, even if that decreases the WAF.
  18. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    the WAF can reduce the 90 times we handle the wood. Lend a hand.
    Keep it outside. If mine was inside, I may spend days in here, and it forces me to fresh air.
    It does stink though if I forget a valve or curious of a temp and have to run out there and shrivel it.
  19. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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  20. julien

    julien Member

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  21. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    [quote author="julien" date="1199782535"]@ nofosil,
    Code:
    I’m going to upgrade to a Grundfos 3 speed pump so that I can vary the speed to better match the boiler output at different parts of the burn cycle. 

    Steca, same brand use by termite, can have pump variable speed control. Best way i think.

    Check Tr 0603mc or Sundra

    So - what brands / models of pumps can be controlled with this unit? I've got a controller already - I'm just looking for a pump that is designed for variable speed operation (and a circuit that will let me set the speed).

    The Taco is a PSC (permanent split capacitor) motor, and I haven't been able to find a circuit that I can use to vary the speed. Comes from not being an electronics guy, maybe.
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