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Why is everyone against (garn)

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by steelejones, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    I need a woodboiler in the next two months, im looking very hard at the garn 1500. I have a 1 story ranch with a large basement thats 39x75. I hear everyone talking about not putting the wood and boiler in your basement?? Why not its been done for decades, why would you want to go outside to load your boiler when its -40F outside? Now you have to build a new building to house your unit it, you have to insulate it and you have to plow to it each snow storm to get to it.

    Is there something im missing? I have this HUGE basement ready to be used, why not store my wood inside of it, my boiler it in so i can get the full benefits of having my water stored in a conditioned space, where i dont have to go outside to start it and fill it ?

    Any thoughts outside of the 'mess' involved?

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps you should search a little harder on this site. I'd guess that somewhere between 60-80% of the users on this website have their boilers installed inside their homes (or shops, garages, etc). I'd be shocked if we weren't in the majority here.

    Having the boiler in the house and having your wood in the house are two very different issues. Wood in the house, in my not so humble opinion, brings far too many insects and far too much moisture into the house to even be worth considering. But that's just me. I stack my wood under cover near my walk-out slider. Easy access and the mess stays outside.
  3. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    Hi Stee, I was specifically referring to the Garn WHS units, sorry. I understand about the insects and moisture...
  4. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Gotcha. The Garn unit is big as I'm sure you've discovered. It's physical size may be one of the reasons you might see fewer basement installations. I've seen some very impressive threads on this website showing what it takes to move one. Most indoor wood boilers will fit through a standard door opening. Not so with the Garn...
  5. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    Yeah besides having tons of room in the basement for the boiler and the wood I have a 6' entry door.....
  6. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    It just seems to be that not many people talk about them in their basement and maybe because its difficult to get them in. I in fact wonder about the smallest Garn full of fluid weighing 15,500lbs and what that would do to a 6" slab sitting on 4" of rigid foam and how to build enough strength to hold it for the long term.

    I also am unsure what else I need for pumps, circulators etc for a 4 zone home with radiant tubing in the floor.
  7. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I love the Garn design and if I was building a new place I'd probably put it in during the construction. I don't have the measurements, but I don't think you could get one through a 6' door.
  8. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    right now its a rough opening so my door is a bit over 6' It says on garn.com that the WHS 1500 is 6' wide...would be very TIGHT for sure.
  9. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you'll find many here who have anything negative to say about a Garn based on actual experience (or, for that matter, anything negative to say even if not based on direct experience).

    Garn owners seem, as far as I can tell, to be happy with their units, and many of us admire the elegant simplicity of the design.

    If I were working from a clean slate, I'd look seriously at one, but there's no way it'd have fit down my Bilco basement hatch, and I in fact wanted my heating appliance in my cellar-- and did not want to build a new outbuilding for it.

    Some people shudder at the initial purchase price of a Garn-- but if you look at the cost of a heat storage tank, plus multiple pumps and controls and heat exchangers that often come into play when someone installs an efficient wood boiler and separate storage (which the Garn, in large measure, incorporates in a simple way in a single unit), I am not sure that the Garn costs more on a full-system basis-- and it may cost less (of course you still need a heat exchanger if the heat zones are to be above the Garn).

    If you are going to put a Garn in a cellar, you do have to make sure you have appropriate arrangements for exhaust.

    It's all about what fits each person's needs/ preferences/ configuration.
  10. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    Exactly, ive compared the costs somewhat myself...

    Your calculations dont figure into the fact id have to spend about $3500 on a chimney that I currently dont have as well. Plus storage, plus the boiler, etc. The costs get to be alot closer than alot of people realize.
  11. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    I would say the Garn is cheaper, it depends on your circumstances. It would be tight through a 6ft opening.
  12. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    I say go for it. As you know, you may have to allow for access from the top, but you thought it was do-able. Weight is a concern, but I would hazard to guess you're all right, "6 is a good thickness. But few more dollars might be spent for extra support. Good luck with your endeavor. We all love pics of projects.
    Oh yeah, you may have to plan for making your door a little higher. Whatever you move this in with(i.e. steel pipes, etc) will ad more hight than you might figure. With the length, and if you are not completely level, from the outside to all the way in, it'll grow. I used to do a little rigging years ago, if you think it's going to be a tight fit, chances are it won't fit the first time( use an old chain on the saw :p ). Good Luck.
  13. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    problem is FlyingCow is that its an ICF home, all concrete :( What part of Maine are you in ?
  14. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    The very southern end of "The County". Where about are you?
    ICF--Well you'll need to get your measuring right, or use a demo saw and a 8lb sledge.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    steee - no disrespect intended, but your question sounds like a straw man question. Put your Garn wherever you want. Just do it safely, pay attention to insurance and code requirements, if apply, and enjoy. Your Garn, your house, your choice.
  16. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Hi there Mr Jones

    I'm a Garn rep in Michigan (wish you were here but....) here's my thoughts.

    All Garn's are installed inside and they are UL listed for indoor use. No problem there.

    You don't need anything more than normal concrete under a Garn. The weight per sq foot is not any more than a regular gasser when you figure it out. We typically set them om 2" of foam board.

    If your house is all ICF construction it is going to be VERY tight with extremely low air infiltration. You will most definitely have to supply some mechanical ventilation in the basement in order to prevent mold and fungi from growing rampantly on the wood pile.

    Getting a Garn in place is probably the part of the project that intimidates most people. After that, it is a very straighforward piece of equipment to pipe up. Very simple.

    Venting is very simple if you have access to an exposed exterior wall. Use the 1500H horizontal vent unit and go straight out. If you have to go vertical with your vent you can start with the 1500V vertical exhaust but from there you will have some issues that you may or may not be able to surmount. I'd need to know what layout you have to work with in that case. There are pretty restrictive strict limits on how many bends you can put in any Class A chimney. That more than anything else is what will put a crimp on your plans.


    PS: I'm working with a company that custom fabricates all types of insulation and we are in the process of coming up with a premade kit for the Garn. Look's like it's going to be pretty slick.
  17. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    I've always had my wood burners and my wood storage inside. I'm at least 3rd generation for thinking this way. Seasoned wood has little moisture to put into the house, and I've never had any issue with bugs. (Yes, a few spiders, a cricket once, and one piece of wood that had about 100 tiny ants that thought that my warm basement meant Spring had come early.) I'm very happy to not have to go outside for my wood or to stoke a fire.
    I'm installing my Econoburn into my basement this weekend (I hope). The old boiler comes out tonight (again, I hope). The plumber comes next week (I ho... you know...).
    And right after that, I'll be tightly stacking about 8.5 cord of seasoned Maple into my basement woodroom, and will start feeding the beast!
    Happy burning.
    PS - I'm in New Brunswick, just a bit NE of you. Same weather, I suspect.
  18. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    I think you posed a question about getting a GARN in your basement a few weeks ago. As long as you have a grade level entrance, you should be able to get it indoors. I can tell you from experience that it will JUUUUUUST fit inside a 72" wide opening. The tank ends are sligjhtly wider than the tank wall, and you can jockey it past them if you need to. The thing you want to make sure of is that you have adequate ceiling height. You need access to the top hatch, and a full 8' high ceiling is the minimum you should have. 9' would be better.

    Other than that, no reason not to have the GARN itself indoors. The standby losses will keep the basement comfortable.

    As for storing the fuel in the basement, I would not keep more than the next 1-3 burns worth of wood inside. Hibernating bugs will wake up in a few days, so I would not keep more than that much worth stored in your basement.

    As to the "mess", the GARN is fairly clean, but you will get some fine dust from cleaning out the fire boxe every couple of weeks.



    Steve, you are SUCH a tease . . . ;-P
  19. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Steeljones...this is good advice.
  20. fabguy01

    fabguy01 New Member

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    [quote author="heaterman" date="1253033104
    PS: I'm working with a company that custom fabricates all types of insulation and we are in the process of coming up with a premade kit for the Garn. Look's like it's going to be pretty slick.[/quote]probably the Garn Deluxe guy huh
  21. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    SteelJones, is your icf home already built/backfilled? Are you building it yourself? I could kick myself for not making a dedicated room for a GARN. I just didn't know that much about them at the time. I could have easily put a 12 x 23 ft room under my back enclosed porch with an external exposed wall. Would have only cost about $1000 more and probably would have been less work. Oh well, good luck. And by the way, I wonder if you could have some sort of passive air exchanger or vent in the basement for fressh air needs. We do have moisture concerns especially in the winter if we do not run our HRV's.
  22. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I don't think anyone on the forum is really "against" Garn as such - except maybe some of the dealers for the competition :lol: We each may have reasons why we prefer different boilers for our own systems, and tend to talk about those reasons, but we all pretty much acknowledge that different folks have different priorities... From where I see it, the only possible "problem" with a Garn is I'm a bit worried about the amount of juice drawn by that big blower motor, but I'm open to arguments that it isn't that much worse than a generic gasifier along with the pumps and such needed for storage...

    However in the right application I'm sure they would do an excellent job, and I wouldn't hesitate to suggest one if I thought it would be a good approach. But as other posters have pointed out, there are also "problems" inherrent to the Garn design that make it not work for a lot of people, including myself... The biggest is obviously the "BIG" problem - a Garn is big, and needs top access, which means a lot of us can't readily put one in our basements, where a standard gasser will fit through a normal door or a bulkhead stair (albeit w/ difficulty)... Another is that a Garn has a bit different venting requirements, which can be a problem for some installs (and an advantage in others)

    Bottom line is that while I would never consider a Garn for my system, it isn't because I'm "against" them, but simply because they wouldn't work for my situation...

    Gooserider
  23. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    Hey guys, a few comments back at you all. First, I appreciate all your help and comments its helping me work through this process. I really have only a month or so to get my mind made up etc.

    Today I got an estimate from a local company on installing it, it came to 28k...OUCH! And that was me putting up the radiant tubing under the floor myself.

    Second, I went and measured the door opening for the basement and its 77 inches wide if i remember.

    Third, I was actually considering keeping the Garn indoors and the wood outdoors, however that sounds like a pain in the butt in Northern Maine, but I may go that route.

    I wish I really had a list of items that I actually need to hook to the garn to make it all work. Im a DIY's in most areas of my home, i do my own electric and basic plumbing I just dont have much experience in heating.

    I know If i do go the direction of the Garn, ill have to buy my first years wood all seasoned for me and that will be costly, but would let me work on cutting, splitting and storing next years wood etc.

    Cost of 28k is going to be prohibitive for sure.
  24. steelejones

    steelejones Member

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    Heaterman, what do you customers do when installing in basements if the basement ceiling is 8" high, however the floor trusses are another 12+" in height to the bottom of the floor above that.

    Im pretty sure i can get the Garn inside myself, with renting a forklift , i have direct access in that 77" basement door. I may have to put rollers or something on the floor to get it into place once inside, but I can figure that out later.

    As far as access outside, I was wondering if its possible to go verticle for roughly 3-5ft then horizontal with no issues ?
  25. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    Lawdy lawdy, I sure hope that $28k price INCLUDES the GARN unit. IF not, it sounds like this contractor is unfamiliar with what needs to be done to set up a GARN. I can see $10-$12k for a moderately complex setup, but not twice(+) that.

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