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Wood Boiler System Advice Needed

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Ed Regan, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Hi! I'm new to the forums. I'm in the planning process of building a 2000sq ft Saltbox (FirstDay Cottage) with radiant heat in central NY (using R20 foamboard for roof and walls). I'm trying to determine what boiler system to purchase, the design, and where to locate it.

    I want a reliable wood gassification boiler that is simple, easy to fix, and easy to clean. In reviewing wood gassification boilers, I like the Econoburn (made in NY) and Vedolux30 (Sweden). It appears that the Vedolux is more efficient, complex, but easy to clean (and probably a bit more expensive). I'm leaning towards the Econoburn, but is the cleaning process that complex? Also, are there any other good US (preferably NE) manufacturers?

    I'm thinking the design will be like the NoFossil simplest pressurized storage system design using a refurbished 500gallon propane tank as a thermal storage tank. Solar thermal will provide DHW and a propane hot water tank will provide backup to the wood boiler and DHW.

    In choosing location, is there a reason why I couldn't locate the boiler and tanks in a large utility room in an attached 22 x 30 garage (R20 insulated and heated)? JP11 said in another thread "Gotta have NO door from there to real garage". Is that for insurance reasons? I like the idea of backing in a trailer of seasoned/split wood into the garage, and stacking it there.

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  2. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

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    If your in NY, do yourself a favor and give Mark from AHONA a call. Even if you don't buy one from him, it can't hurt.
  3. Here in Maine you can't have a boiler in a garage or in room that has a door that connects directly to the garage. You can get around that by having two doors with an airlock, basically what big box stores have at their entrances. Your local codes may be different.
  4. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Ah OK, I'll have to check local codes...thanks.
  5. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Thanks! I'll give them a call.
  6. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I THINK the only US manufacturers are Econoburn & AHS/Wood Gun - but don't quote me.

    Mine isn't a Vedolux 30, but I love my Varmebaronen - and I'm not sure that they are any more expensive? I thought when I was doing my researching the Varms weren't any more than others - save maybe the EKOs. So on that note, don't overlook Smokeless Heat. Both them & Ahona are site sponsors you can check out via their banner ads, and have read nothing but good things about both of them.

    I just wish this place & gassification were around here when I was planning my place 17 years ago....
    flyingcow likes this.
  7. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Southwestern VA
    Hello Ed and welcome!

    IMO, you need more insulation for your climate. In fact an r-20 roof shouldn't pass code in central NY.

    If it's not to late, start researching super insulated homes.

    I recommend http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/ . Martin Holladay's blogs are top quality and lots of good info in the q&a.

    Maybe get an energy modeling expert involved on your project.

    Think about high r-values, proper solar orientation, triple pane windows(high solar gain for south facing glass), continuous air barriers, heat recovery ventilation. Now your heating system needs are greatly simplified and you've guaranteed low energy usage for the life of the building. Achieving comfort is also a lot easier. Maybe a mini split heat pump for each level operating at of COP of 3 and a little wood stove in the basement. Simple and cost effective.

    For the record, I think the gassifier+storage+low temp heat distribution(+DHW) is a great heating system, it's just expensive and in new construction I think that money is better spent on the building envelope. Hope to have my Vedolux 37 heating my not so efficient house soon.

    Good luck with your project,
    Noah
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  8. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    I have a Econoburn, I do wish it was easier to clean the turbulator area but having storage makes it much easier. Some on the board use chains for Turbulators instead of the bars. I have not done that yet but I bet it could be cleaned in 15-20 minutes just by removing the one top cover.

    Positives, Built in the US, with all parts easily available. Built with thicker metal and over twice the stays as the Eastern European boilers.

    It would make me nervous to buy a boiler that is imported by one or two individuals, what happens if they quit selling the brand or stop importing. Who do you go to then.

    The other company with a network I would consider is Tarm Biomass. Either a Tarm or a Froling. They have a long track record in the US.

    Now if you want simple, US made, longevity, don't forget to look at the Garn.

    gg
  9. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Thanks for the info on AHS/Wood Gun, I'll check them out as well. I found the info about Vedolux on Smokeless Heat, and I have them bookmarked. I was just concerned with parts and service down the road, being a foreign built boiler.
  10. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    You're right, I think code is R49 for the roof. Like I said, I'm still in the planning phase and all the details will be worked out when I get closer to purchasing the land and finalizing a design. I have been considering solar orientation and other important factors. I wanted to build an ICF house (nice tight envelope), but I don't want a mortgage. I will be buying the land, foundation and house kit for cash. I'll be building the house myself (with help from friends and family). The profit from selling my current house will pay for the rest. I'll check out greenbuilding advisor, Thanks!
  11. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    An easy thing to say, but go with R-40 walls and R-60 ceilings. FWIW---I have R-19 walls and R-40 ceilings. 15 yrs ago, seemed like it was too expensive at the time.<>
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  12. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Have to agree with the above on insulation. #1 thing to plan for is reducing the load, easiest way to do that other than reducing the size of the structure is to insulate. Nothing else will give you as rapid an ROI as insulation. Dont care what kind of boiler you buy or what fuel you burn, nothing is as rapid an ROI as insulation.
    flyingcow likes this.
  13. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Thanks guys for refocusing me on the most important part of building an energy efficient house.

    Canadians are experts in many things, and hockey, beer and insulation have to be at the top of the list ;)
  14. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    If I were building new right now the any whole house wood heating system would be more than twice as much as is needed. Super insulation, low E glass, orientation, etc. only need to be purchased once. Fuel is purchased every year. Try to stay away from fiberglass insulation as it looses R value over the years. I would use a small wood stove or a Russian fireplace for heat along with a small propane furnace for automation to satisfy insurance or for times when you cannot be there to tend the biofuel appliances.
    .I've worked with these guys before: http://www.winterpanel.com/
  15. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    +1 on the F/G insulation, if I ever get a do over on building a house, it will be with foam.
  16. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    I'm looking at acreage with hard wood timber, and will be planting black locust immediately to start harvesting after 4-5 yrs. Fuel cost will amount to the cost of gas for my chainsaw and 4 wheeler (and I can use an axe and foot power if required). Subbing out a masonry fireplace (Russian) is more expensive than a wood boiler (I can build with wood, but I'm a poor mason). The firstdaycottage kit I'm going to use insulates in a way similar to the PERSIST approach (foam over sheathing). I'll need to upgrade the kit to R49 (or higher) on the ceiling and possibly the same for the walls.
  17. BravoWhiskey

    BravoWhiskey New Member

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    Can I sidetrack a little and ask what recommendations you might have for establishing a black locust stand?
  18. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    As someone who built his own (clearing land to trim work) super insulated house in 2009. It's well worth the investment. Look into foam (sheet good) and Roxul. I have triple-pane windows, and at the very least they and the R36 walls make for one quiet house. It has been below freezing all day, and the last time I had a fire was yesturday. I built on an 8" thick heated slab with the tubing 6" into the concrete. This is my storage and allows me to inject higher temp (115F-125F) water (for the short duration of a fire in boiler) into the slab without any surface discomfort or overheating. It's basically a hydraulically linked Russian fireplace.

    Someday when I can't/unable to burn wood I'll hang a condensing LP boiler in the boiler room and heat for pennies a day due to the solar gain and super-insulated envelope. Proper envelope construction and vapor barrior (not vapor retardant) placement are critical for a healthy indoor enviroment. There are lots of horror stories about moldy wet wall cavities in super-insulated homes that had internal wall leakage and the warm moist air condensed somewhere in the wall and couldn't escape. METAL is the only vapor barrior, plastic is a vapor retardant. Like pex vs. copper pipeing. I used Dow Tuff-R and taped all joints on the inside or all my wall studs and ceilings, then strapped and hung drywall/pine. All wireing was done in this airspace as well, no penitrations in the aluminum other than windows and doors.

    TS
  19. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Impressive build Taylor
  20. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Thank you, now I need to figure out how to finish my ground work w/o borrowing $$$$. It drives my only neighbor nuts......... LOL

    I hope it is an encouragement, that it can be done, and the proper details pay huge dividneds year after year. I did alot or reading in our 20x24 apartment on greenbuilding.com

    TS
  21. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    I haven't started one before, this is new to me as well. Locusts, once established, grow like weeds (so be careful where you plant them). I can't find a good price for Black Locusts online, but the Honey Locust is available for $4.98 if you're an Arbor Day member. The Honey Locust looks like it's on par with the Black Locust as firewood, and this one is thornless as well.

    Some links for Black Locust:
    Black Locust: A Multi-purpose Tree Species
    Robinia pseudoacacia
  22. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Sounds like a great house you have there. My current house is almost 100yrs old and leaky, too much work to retrofit. The new build will be using radiant heat similar to your setup. I'm planning on running pex in the basement slab, and both floors of house.
  23. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Well the first 2 for sure.;lol
    Ed Regan likes this.
  24. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Insulation to keep the beer from freezing
    Ed Regan likes this.
  25. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Nope just drink it faster, same reason you drink cold beer fast in the deep south. Not too hot, not too cold. Beer has to exist in the goldilocks zone.;lol

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