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Windhager Biowin 260 Install w/ Pictures

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Dana B, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Guys:

    This morning I had a Windhager Biowin 260 pellet boiler delivered and the install began. The install will finish tomorrow and the boiler will be commissioned. Prior to purchasing the boiler I had done a great amount of research into most of the different brands of pellet boilers available in my area, New Hampshire. The Windhager seemed like the best value for the money by far. Prior to purchasing the unit I met with Marc Caluwe at his shop. He showed me the boiler and fired it up. It is a quality piece of equipment and the Windhager name is well known and respected in Europe. I look forward to sharing with all of you my experience with the boiler and answering any questions.



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  2. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Wow! Looks like trying to fit 10 pounds in a 5 pound sack going down into the basement!! That was nice work whoever did it.

    You will like that boiler. Very few heating products of any type have impressed me as much as that particular piece of equipment. It is as close to "fire and forget" as you can achieve with solid fuel.
  3. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    The plumber had a friend with a tow truck with a boom and he only charged me $55 dollars to drop it in even though it took over an hour. It was a very decent price as far as I'm concerned. He scraped it a little going in but it's just cosemetic. It was definitely a tight squeeze.

    Marc is coming out today to comission the boiler. When I woke up at 5:30 this morning it was still 65 degrees in my house even though we've not turned the heat on yet so I think it might be another week or two before the boiler starts getting used. It could be tomorrow though. Last week we had a day in the 90's and this week the temps been getting into the 40's during the night. That's New England weather for you.

    I'll be posting some more pictures tonight of the finished install. NH has a 30%/$6000 rebate for pellet boiler sytems but one of the requirements to qualify is a 3 ton or larger hopper. I've been thinking about doing this but don't know if the numbers will make it cost effective. I was considering building my own hopper as a few others on here have done. 3 tons would almost be a years worth of pellets for my home. It's pretty appealing to think that I could just fill the hopper once August or September and then not have to lug another bag of pellets into the basement for nine months. I looked into the pellet delivery trucks in my area but I think it would actually be more per ton than if I picked up a ton here and there myself at the local retailers.
  4. bdud

    bdud New Member

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    Very nice. It sounds like you will be turning your boiler on soon.
    I hope my hopper with a full load will last me almost a full year.
    I hated carrying the bags of pellet down into the basement, we then used a kid slide which was a lot better.
    I hope to not go back to bags at all.
    Are you keeping your old boiler or will the Windhager be the replacement?
  5. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    I am keeping the oil boiler in place. It's only 11 years old and it's nice to have a backup in case the pellet boiler ever goes down. I also wanted to keep it in the event that I sell the home. Some potential buyers may not like not having the oil heat as that's what we are accustomed to in New England. Also the oil boiler will be doing my DHW in the summer. I have an indrect tank.

    I did not get a bulk hopper. I have room for it and I'm aware of the state rebate program. I'm going to run the numbers and see if it makes sense. For now it's picking them up at the local stores with my brother's pickup truck and lugging them down the bulkhead stairs to put them on a pallet to feed the boiler once a week. I don't mind doing this. It provides a little extra excercise that I probably need anyway. Plus when my son gets a little older I'm hoping it becomes somewhat of a father/son bonding ritual, getting the pellets every August/September and bringing them into the basement together.


    It's been fairly warm lately so I imagine that I won't be needing heat for another week or two. The next challenege is determining what pellets to use. All my pellet stove friends and the stove people on here seem to believe that the brand/quality of the pellet makes a big difference in actual performance. Marc said that I should be able to use the cheaper big box pellets and get decent results. I sure hope so because the Fireside Ultra's at Home Depot are much cheaper than the brand name stuff the stove guys rave about.

    I will be posting some pics tonight.
  6. bdud

    bdud New Member

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    I replaced my boiler as it was older and had about 3 leaks, I was so happy trashing it at the local dump, I hated the ideal of oil heat.
    I understand your reservations if you were to sell your house.
    If your indirect water tank is ~80 gallons or over get a heat pump or a new new tank with a built in heat pump and hopefully never run your oil burner ever again.
    I bought the standalone Nyle heatpump and added it to a new Caleffi 80 gall solar tank.
    It has an indirect coil for heating the tank from the boiler and a 220v electric element (which I hope to never use).
    The Nyle is connected to bottom drain and this is all I have used to heat my hot water in a house with 5 adults.
    The Nyle is also 120v so I can run it from my smaller generator if we get a power cut.
    Have a look at my Windhager pictures I posted yesterday in another thread.

    I have had a pellet stove for a few years now and stored my pellets in the basement. The enjoyment of unloading ~100 40lb bags and then stacking them soon fades.
    My 2 teenage/adult sons had the knack of not being around when we did get them home or had been delivered.
    Its like getting the kids to cut the grass, they soon lose interest.
    I have a silo / hopper and I hope more local firms to me offer bulk delivery, I hope to not touch a bag again.
    I have no reservations or concerns about the reliability of the Windhager boiler, it looks a fine piece of equipment.
    It is the manual labor required to load bags of pellets is one of the factors that will ultimately limit pellet boiler acceptance within the general public.

    I always used the super premium pellets in my Harman insert stove as they greatly reduced how much soot and how quickly the glass door got dirty.
    Interesting how this works on a pellet boiler.
  7. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Yes the labor involved with pellets is a major factor in deterring some from pellets but another factor is cost. If pellet boilers were much closer in cost to what your average oil boiler currently costs then they would most likely be better positioned to cut into the market share of oil in the New England heating market. There are other factors that draw some to the biofuel though. I'm not much of an environmentalist but it's nice to know that it's doing less harm to the environment. I really like the fact that if I purchase pellets being made from wood harvested and processed in Maine or Vermont then I am actually helping to create jobs for my neighbors to some extent.

    My indirect tank is a 40 something gallon Superstor so I still need the oil for that among the other reasons I listed.

    I got a price of $249 for the Maine Woods blend with a flat rate delivery fee of $10 at Benson's Lumber in Londonderry, NH. That seems like the best deal out there right now and I have called just about everyone within a 50 mile radius of my home. I think I'm going to order a ton or two this weekend and have it delivered next week. I've generally heard good things about the Maine Woods product. I hope I don't get sick of lugging the pellets into the basement too quickly. My wife said she'd help. We'll see how that works out.
  8. bdud

    bdud New Member

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    Yes it is that vicious circle, more sales / competition to drive the initial cost down and help with greater acceptance vs is it just a fad.
    There are many factors as you say on how well pellet boilers catch on.

    Get one of those plastic outdoor slides, it is great for putting on the steps down to your basement.
    Sliding the bags down is much easier than walking up and down the steps.
    Though if you do need the exercise...
  9. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    You'll find that the Windhager is much less "fussy" about pellets than practically any pellet stove. It's an entirely different piece of equipment. The combustion process is actually controlled in the boiler as opposed to a stove which has a fixed air setting.
    The Windhager control looks at flue gas temperatures at a couple points, set point temperature and actual water temperature to arrive at a firing rate and adjusts accordingly, constantly in real time. This allows optimum combustion under pretty much any conditions. The variable I found to have the biggest measurable (with a combustion analyzer) effect on the burn characteristics and efficiency was draft. It's important to keep the flue pressure within the range called out in the manual.

    I tried a few different brands of pellets last winter in mine and could see no difference in the operation of the boiler. There was a little more ash buildup with one of the hardwood pellets but that was at the tail end of the season with the boiler cycling on/off more frequently so I don't know if it was the pellets or the cycling that caused that.
    Now.....when I say "a little more ash", bear in mind that I had less than a 10 quart pail of ashes accumulated after burning 3.2 tons of pellets. I actually removed the ashes only once in nearly 1100 hours of operation.[/quote]
  10. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    [/quote]


    Thanks for the input heaterman. Home Depot carries a brand that goes for $219 a ton and sometimes it's on sale for $199 a ton. I don't know what pricing in Michigan is like but for southern NH that's pretty good. I bought a few bags of thier pellet to try. I'm going to have to ask them if they store them outside or inside. The ones I picked up were on a pallet outside in the garden center but I think they may keep thier tons inside. New England winters are pretty dry and the pellets are going in my basement for storage where there are always two dehumidifers running. I'm hoping that this will go a long way to minimize the moisture content of the pellets that I will be using. If it's true that I can obtain decent results with the boiler without having to purchase the more expensive pellets then my savings on heating should be substantial.

    How does one maintain the flue pressure listed in manual for the Biowin? Marc pretty much said all of that is automatic and I'd just have to clean it every 3 tons or so. I'm sure my draft will be efficient. I have a roughly 40 stack with a brand new 6" SS flexible, smooth wall liner that has been insulated as well.

    Less than a 10 quart pail of ashes sounds remarkably low compared to all of the talk regarding ash content from the pellet stove crowd. Most of what I know about heating with pellets either anecdotally or from online reasearch comes from the stove mindset. The more I'm able to discuss the pellet boilers, especially the Biowin, with those of you that have experience with them, the more it appears that it's actually very much an apples and oranges situation despite the common fuel source.

    I normally dread the coming of winter because of the high heating bills but I find myself actually chomping at the bit for mother nature to "bring it on" as it were this go round.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  11. pbvermont

    pbvermont Member

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    Two de-humidifiers running all the time? Why wouldn't you then consider running a DHW heat-pump? It is like an "air-conditioner" running in reverse. It recovers heat AND humidity from the basement air, to make domestic hot water. Why not dry your pellets and make hot water with all that electricity?
    BoilerMan likes this.
  12. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    New England winters are pretty dry and the pellets are going in my basement for storage where there are always two dehumidifers running. [/quote]

    As I listen to my HPWH hum away, I can tell you that it takes a lot of moisture out of our New England summers. You can look at it two ways, pay for the dehumidification and get free hot water, or pay for hot water and get free dehumidification. I have the Nyletherm and 115 gal indirect works very well in the summer, winters are wood only and the HPWH is turned off.

    TS
  13. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the input heaterman. Home Depot carries a brand that goes for $219 a ton and sometimes it's on sale for $199 a ton. I don't know what pricing in Michigan is like but for southern NH that's pretty good. I bought a few bags of thier pellet to try. I'm going to have to ask them if they store them outside or inside. The ones I picked up were on a pallet outside in the garden center but I think they may keep thier tons inside. New England winters are pretty dry and the pellets are going in my basement for storage where there are always two dehumidifers running. I'm hoping that this will go a long way to minimize the moisture content of the pellets that I will be using. If it's true that I can obtain decent results with the boiler without having to purchase the more expensive pellets then my savings on heating should be substantial.

    How does one maintain the flue pressure listed in manual for the Biowin? Marc pretty much said all of that is automatic and I'd just have to clean it every 3 tons or so. I'm sure my draft will be efficient. I have a roughly 40 stack with a brand new 6" SS flexible, smooth wall liner that has been insulated as well.

    Less than a 10 quart pail of ashes sounds remarkably low compared to all of the talk regarding ash content from the pellet stove crowd. Most of what I know about heating with pellets either anecdotally or from online reasearch comes from the stove mindset. The more I'm able to discuss the pellet boilers, especially the Biowin, with those of you that have experience with them, the more it appears that it's actually very much an apples and oranges situation despite the common fuel source.

    I normally dread the coming of winter because of the high heating bills but I find myself actually chomping at the bit for mother nature to "bring it on" as it were this go round.[/quote]


    I'm looking forward to doing a full winter with mine also.==c It worked so well for the part of last heating season I had it fired up I can't wait to see how it does for a whole seasons worth of heat and hot water.
    I've been calling around on pellet pricing here and there is a wide variety of prices ranging from around $180/ton up to nearly $400/ton for a product called Golden Fire which is 100% Douglas Fir from out west. Supposedly it's all processed from standing dead stuff that is beetle killed. Ash content is reported to be less than .1%...that's 1/10th of a percent! After seeing how little accumulated from 3 Tons last season in mine, I don't see that they would be a big advantage.
    I'm going with the $180 stuff to see how the Windhager handles normal premium pellets. I really doubt I'll see any need to change.

    Regarding flue pressure........What I mean by that is the draft created by the chimney. It needs to be in the .02 to.06 negative range for good performance. That's measured in water column inches or W.C." I found that at negative pressure above the .06 range the flue temp would start to go higher than normal and the burn was obviously affected because CO2 would drop and CO and efficiency would rise. Just make sure the barometric damper in your stack is adjusted correctly and it should take care of maintaining the correct amount of "pull" on your boiler.
    I'm thinking that it's a good thing a stack as tall as yours is insulated because the flue temps from these things is so incredibly low. There is next to nothing going up the chimney. It would surely present condensation problems if the stack was uninsulated and flue gas cooled off too much on the way out.
  14. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    As I listen to my HPWH hum away, I can tell you that it takes a lot of moisture out of our New England summers. You can look at it two ways, pay for the dehumidification and get free hot water, or pay for hot water and get free dehumidification. I have the Nyletherm and 115 gal indirect works very well in the summer, winters are wood only and the HPWH is turned off.

    TS[/quote]


    I'm not sure if a heat pump would make sense for me. My basement is not heated and I had planne don using the pellet boiler for DHW in the winter and the oil boiler for the DHW in the summer. Would a heat pump make more sense and I could cut out the oil entirely? Does a heat pump not have to consume electricity 24-7? What is the cost of the Nyle therm or another decent heat pump? Would it make more sense to invest in a heat pump for use with my Superstor?
  15. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    A heat pump water heater would be way ahead of oil cost-wise in heating your hot water. It would cycle on & off as the water needed heating, same as a regular electric heater (but maybe run more as it would heat slower).

    Throw in the fact that one would also very likely do your dehumdification too, while heating your DHW, and you get a win-win in my books.

    An add-on such as the Nyletherm (I think that is an older model), or the newer Geyser, can be added to any existing hot water heater and should work very well with your new boiler & existing Superstor. I think they run just over $1k new, before any incentives that might be available.

    I realize oil is a hard chain to break (I only broke mine last summer after 17 years with oil - something I never even considered until researching my new wood side of things), but I would get rid of the oil boiler. You would gain space and free up a chimney - and could also put something new back in if you ever found yourself in a selling position. New modern tech would also be appealing to a prospective home buyer at that time - add the 11 years that it has aged so far, onto how far down the road you might sell, and your current oil boiler might end up being a liability at that point.
  16. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Here are some more pics of the finished install:

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  17. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Hi Dana.
    I'm thinking about the smoke pipe. How is your arrangement working out? Two nineties have more resistance than two 45s, and Windhager likes 45s, but the nineties would provide more accesss room and room for chimney brushing.
  18. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Mine has been working out fine. You can adjust the resistance with the damper. I've not yet had the flue cleaned after my first season with the Biowin. I'll probably get around to it sometime before the fall.
  19. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Velvetfoot......We have most of the BioWins installed just like Dana's using 90* elbows. A couple elbow straight up to the chimney but most have a pair of 90's.
    After going through the "Polar Vortex" last winter I have been going around checking with the owners to see how they did and how their units performed during this past winter's worst case scenario.
    To date I have looked at 11 out of the 17 units we have out in the field and have found very little ash/dust in the flue or at the first elbow. There is virtually nothing in the flue past the first elbow/tee, whichever was used for that particular install. These things are in a completely different league than a wood burner when it comes to creosote and soot in the flue. There is basically none, just some dust and that is it.

    The Euro's like to see a Tee with a cleanout on the bottom of the stack right out of the boiler and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. It makes for easier cleaning in some circumstances. Being the fussy old codger that I am, I like to pull the whole thing off anyhow to get a good look in the back of whatever I'm checking out so to me it really doesn't make much difference. It's coming off regardless of whether it's a T or a 90.
    Using as few 90* bends as possible however is always advisable for any chimney connector regardless of what type of fuel is being burned.
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Heaterman! Could I ask a couple of follow-up questions?

    Could you explain that? I have a straight up metal chimney with liner in a chase that goes into the basement. Are you saying the Euros like to see a Tee at the bottom of that? I would do that too. You threw in there "right out of the boiler" and that confuses me. Do you mean a Tee right out of the boiler flue exhaust? That would be in place of an elbow to change direction to vertical and then you could brush up. Not possible with 45s though.

    You like to take the stove pipe to look at things, so, do I assume right that you prefer high temp metal tape to seal?

    Chances are, my boiler will get pretty cool between firings (with buffer tank) because I'll still be using the wood insert. That's why I'm concerned about the downdraft and 45s vs 90s. But maybe I shouldn't be, because if it's going to downdraft, it won't make a difference whether there are 45s or 90s. Once things get going, (hopefully not too long a time), I'd think the ~40' stack would provide plenty draft. I do plan on used DVL (air insulated) stove pipe. What do you think?

    The choice of which way to go affects the entire installation, since it affects where the boiler will be placed, so I probably should be as sure as I can. Having a couple of 90s instead of 45s would definitely save some space though, although I have a couple of tanks in the chase bump out that I'm not going to move, so will need some access.

    Sorry for the rambling post and derailing Dana's thread.
  21. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Look at Dana's picture of the stove pipe on the back of his boiler.

    Now visualize a T in the place of that first elbow. The T would have a cap on the bottom which would allow removal for easy cleaning of the vertical section of pipe.

    Concerning choice of chimney.........In cases where we are dealing with an exterior flue on our installations, we always use an insulated pipe rather than air cooled to maintain as much heat as possible in the chimney. Boilers like you have there develop very low flue temps. I'm running mine as a 210 and rarely see above 230*. It often stays right around 190-205* when running at less than full output.

    We have not had to seal the joints on any of the installs we have done but on one chimney we had to use a downdraft proof cap due to location and height of the flue as well as surrounding obstruction that really messed with draft.
  22. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Awesome. Thanks much for the info.
  23. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    I had to have a liner dropped down the flue when I had the boiler installed. It was a round, smooth wall 6" stainless liner and I had it insulated the entire length of the exterior flue. As heaterman said you'll want to insulate the liner if it's an exterior flue for proper drafting and to prevent condensation.
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    My chimney is good. I don't know if you remember, but I was originally going to go with a wood boiler, and had an 8" duratech metal chimney put in. Then...duh...I changed my mind and went with pellet and had an insulated 6" corregated duraliner put inside that! So, I should be good. :) The close clearance stove pipe that duratech puts out is called DVL and that is air cooled. Not sure why not insulated.

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