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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. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Northern Maine
    Are you planning on a pour-over type slab(s) for the first and second floor? Or aluminum plates, or suspended pex? I'm not a fan of running pex under wood floors as it tends to be noisy, constant pumping will stop this but then you pay to run a pump 24/7 and inject hot water into the loop with yet another pump. Keep the surface area large (lots of plates and pex) and you can run low temp water and this will minimize expansion noise. You have to pay for the right stuff and usually lots of it the first time for it to work well and pay for higher efficiency. I wish I'd spaced my pex 9" O.C. instead of 12" O.C. Ah well, when you do the build yourself there is no one else to blame for all your mistakes....... LOL

    TS

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  2. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Joist Trak, extruded aluminum heat transfer panels. I'll keep your suggestions in mind when designing the system. Thanks for all the advice!:)
  3. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    WI
    As far as planting trees, what type of land are you going to plant them on? Meaning is it tillable land or waste land?

    Around here tillable ag land can be rented for $150/ acre. I am not sure how many acres of Black locust you would need to self sustain. I would think 5 plus, probably more until it matures. Any potential lost income from change of use should be considered.

    gg
  4. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    SW WI
    Before you plant trees, find out if they like their intended new soil. If not, find a species that does like that soil. Locust may be one that doesn't care, I don't know. Then try to find a local seed source and roundup is your friend to get trees established.
  5. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    I'm looking at land that is currently farmland. Alot of farms are being broken up and sold off in upstate NY. Tillable acreage can be found as cheaply as $3000/acre (larger plots). The trick is to find it in an area where you won't get crushed in property taxes. After building my house, I'm looking at $6000/year in taxes (2000sq ft house on 10+ acres).

    I will immediately plant 2+ acres of thornless honey locust and shagbark hickory. Many of the properties I've been looking at already have some mixed hardwoods. In addition to firewood, I'm thinking of harvesting some of the wood on the property (the best logs) for woodworking.
  6. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    The land I'm looking at is fertile farmland. Both honey locust and shagbark hickory will work for me. Thanks for the advice!:)
  7. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    WI
    Check how they tax ag land vs wooded. In Wisconsin ag land value for tax purposes is less thn $300/acre times the mill rate. It sells for as much as $4000/ acre by me. If they taxed the actual value, farmers would be crushed.

    Wooded land is considered recreational and the taxes are much higher.

    Point is, with lost ag rent and possible change of tax rate you might be better off to scrounge or even buy wood than to try and create a wood lot.


    gg
  8. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    From NY Agricultural assessment program: Land generally must consist of seven or more acres that were used in the preceding two years for the production for sale of crops, livestock, or livestock products. The annual gross sales of agricultural products generally must average $10,000 or more for the preceding two years. Land visibly associated with the owner's residence is ineligible.

    I won't be raising crops and even if I did, my house would be taxed on par with other homes in the area. If there is some loophole, I haven't found it yet (I hope there is one). If I was looking for a large amount of acreage I'd consider renting some of it, but I will probably settle for around 10 acres.

    I appreciate the feedback...you guys are making me think.
  9. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Can't believe the differences in tax situations in different places.

    Up here in the boonies, it's either residential or resource. Residential rates vary by municipality (usually between $1-2 per $100 of assessed value). Resource rates are close to zero.
  10. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    The taxes are crushing in NY state. 22 of the 25 highest tax US counties are in NY State. If I didn't have a great job here I would have moved years ago.

    I won't be retiring here.
  11. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Ed,

    What part of Upstate if I can ask? Im up in Washington County, so I feel your pain on the taxes issue....

    For your locust, you shouldnt have a problem finding any to start planting. They do grow like weeds, just get some good seedlings, and they will take off. You probably want to have them closer together than you think you should, to keep them growing straight. Thats the one nice thing, when you crowd them, they go up instead, and dont seem to mind. You can thin after just a few years, and they will keep on going.

    Good firewood, but they make great fenceposts, and if you ever sold one big enough that wasnt hollow already, a heck of a sill plate for a post and beam barn...
  12. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    You're up near Lake George then, that's a beautiful area.

    I currently live in Erie county (Western NY), but want to relocate to Madison county (Central NY).

    As far as the Locust wood, I might be using it for fenceposts as well. Unfortunately, the issues with wood borers and disease usually preclude them being used for large pieces of lumber. I was reading that they could be planted in a grid pattern, one every 8feet. I will have to read more on the density of planting.
  13. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Southwestern VA
    Black Locust, to me, is way more valuable as 50+year fence posts than it is for firewood and obviously it's fantastic firewood so... I have read that black locust is on par with a lot of the exotic($$$) rot resistant woods that come S.America. I have seen black locust flooring that is absolutely beautiful. Furniture too.

    Honey Locust does not have the rot resistance of Black Locust, but still good for firewood. I believe both species would work well in a coppice stand, which could be a good option for a small wood lot.

    Noah
  14. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    That's what I've read, Black Locust is on par with IPE for being very rot resistant (high density wood). The Honey Locust is still a rot resistant wood, and they grow in a thornless variety. I will probably grow both, along with Shagbark Hickory. A cord of shagbark hickory is equivalent to 20,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 223 gallons of LP or 4994 kilowatts of electricity. That's alot of energy.

    Exceptionally resistant: black locust, red mulberry, osage orange, and Pacific yew.

    Resistant or very resistant: old-growth bald cypress, catalpa, cedar (either eastern or western red cedar), black cherry, chestnut, junipers, honey locust, white oak, old-growth redwood, sassafras, and black walnut.

    Moderately Resistant: second-growth bald cypress, Douglas fir, eastern larch, western larch, old-growth eastern white pine, old-growth longleaf pine, old-growth slash pine, and second-growth redwood.

    "Unfortunately, the most resistant woods are not widely available. Hardly anybody raises black locust as a timber crop, and some sawmills are loathe to mill it, fearing it will dull the saw blades. While black locust trees often grow straight and tall, lumber from this species tends to twist and check as it dries. It is not an easy wood to work with."
  15. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Western ME
    Locust post story.
    About 18 years ago I hung a gate on a locust post and set a RR tie in for a gate latch. Last year the RR tie fell over and the gate sitll hangs on the locust!

    +1 on the insulation, and pay attention to the dew point of your wall. Not sure if this is the same as Taylor mentioned but http://www.greenbuildingtalk.com/Forums.aspx is anothe great forum and there is a radiant and a ICF section along with solar, SIPS, geotherm, etc. I'm with you on the no mortgage, but planning is key to both satisfaction and budgeting. If you budget allows, I'd recomend a radiant design Co. I used one of the guys on that forum and believe me, I'm not one to hire things out! At my place there were only 2 items "sub'd out" the concrete and the radiant design, I did the rest. Their very complete drawings allowed me to do all of my boiler/radiant install and I'm not in that trade (but I can read drawings and sweat a pipe). I am convinced that their design fees were more than "paid for" by allowing me to do the install, and be completely satisfied with the (heating) results.
  16. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    North central Alberta, Canada
    Check out the thread about designing a small energy eff. home in the boiler room. Some good articles linked there by Bob Rohr. Bottom line 10 btu/sq.ft./hr is doable with todays tech & info even for a DIY in my neck of the woods. That means that you can rethink your heating system, as in smaller. Plenty of small possibilities that allow you to use wood if you choose. Tiny load = tiny heater. Just my 2 cents, you may want to think how small can I make the load first, given your circumstances, then think heater & distribution system that will satisfy that load.
  17. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Exactly! Eliminating complex, expensive heat distribution is one of the big advantages of super insulating and with a heat load of 10 btus/sq.ft/hr a radiant floor will hardly feel warm. That's a lot of expense to raise the temp of your floor a few degrees. IMO, Panel rads w/ TRV's, sized for lows temps would would be a better fit if your set on a hydronic system.

    These folks http://www.hydro-to-heat-convertor.com/index.html offer some interesting wood/hydronic options.


    With a 2000 sq. ft. super insulated house with a compact shape and proper passive solar design, I bet it wouldn't take much more than a cord of Shagbark in a nice little efficient woods stove to keep you comfy. Or maybe a few hundred dollars a year with a couple mini split heat pumps. Or a combination of mini splits and a wood stove-This is exactly what I'll be installing in the super insulated house I am currently building for my folks. Early in the design phase the plan was a gassifer+storage+low temp dist. system, etc. , but the more I crunched the numbers and researched super insulating, the less sense this system made me.

    Ed, you clearly do your research and no doubt you'll figure out what is best for your situation.

    Good luck,
    Noah
  18. Ed Regan

    Ed Regan New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I think with the super-insulation, I'm coming to the same conclusion. I will be building a sunroom with concrete thermal mass in the floor (and possibly wall) on the southern side of the saltbox house (should work like a trombe wall). I may go with a Progress Hybrid wood stove (soapstone) and solar DHW with electric backup instead of a boiler/hydronic system. The more complex the system was becoming, the more concerned I am with failures (and initial cost). I will be putting up a wind turbine and solar panels, so I may need to spend more money on those components anyways (batteries being a huge cost).

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