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Woodgun Owners Only...Looking for first hand feedback, no knocking from others Pleeeeeease.

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by GS7, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. GS7

    GS7 Member

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    Can Woodgun owners please let me know:

    1. How many gallons of oil you're using after installing your unit compared to prior?
    2. Is smoke ever an issue when opening the door to refuel the fire?
    3. Does your unit provide all your hot water heating?
    4. Likes dislikes?
    5. How long have you used your Woodgun and which model do you have?
    6. Would you buy it again if you could do it over?
    7. Anything unique about your set up a newbie should know?

    Anything else you can tell someone who isn't familiar with the Woodgun looking for first hand feedback?
    Thanks

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  2. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    How about input from former owners with several years experience operating the Wood Gun?
  3. GS7

    GS7 Member

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    If you've used one I'm just looking for unbiased feedback as long as the unit was installed correctly, proper draft ect, what was it like?
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    A nightmare! I believe I have more experience operating the Wood Gun than anyone else on this site. I've been accused of bashing the unit when I only have been trying to warn prospective buyers of the problems I encountered.

    It was Ok in the beginning except for the lack of controls that came standard on the unit that I had to work around like the cycle timer that they now offer as an option or the low boiler temperature shutdown. The problem with charcoal fires in the short horizontal section of the flue pipe was also a problem early on as well a hot glowing embers flying out of the stack and landing on my asphalt shingles. Another early problem was the explosions within the firebox when the boiler short cycled as well as extreme smoking when the door was opened.

    Problems that started to occur in subsequent years included erosion of the refractory interior as well as continuous erosion of the door gaskets. I'm not sure but I think at least one door had a permanent bend in it from the years of explosion within. The boiler jacket was carbon steel and at about the sixth year it had developed leaks in the back wall of the firebox. I had it welded/patched three times in the next 2 years and I finally gave up and sent it to the junkyard. I understand that they now only make them in stainless but as someone stated on this forum, that's what you do if you can't figure out how to make a carbon steel one that will last. I'm wondering to this day if I had storage and less cycling, would it not have corroded so much.

    This is just a sampling of the problems I had. Things like condensation in the ash pan and frequent need for replacing center bricks are a couple more.

    Seems like every time a newbee posts on this site about getting a new gasser, posts pop up encouraging him to purchase a Wood Gun which gives me a sinking feeling of sympathy for the guy and hope that he looks at the wonderful array of good boilers that are available.
  5. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    1- 3300 sf house, 1100 gallons/ zero after wg install
    2- smoke hood piped to exterior so only the one time I didn't turn it on
    3 yes- no storage- and used for dhw until July 1
    4- all likes.
    5 140 just one year
    6 yes - my brother is getting one
    7 lots but the other owners on the site and the guys at ahs were very helpful. Lots of threads of me having issues last year and guys helping me out
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2013
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    really, guys, stop the personal stuff
  7. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    Keep editing my posts. This place is getting lame
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll do one better.

    Let me know when you want to start using the forums again....
    Please read the TOS, FAQ, etc.
  9. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    There is only one person that I know of that had the kind of issues with the Wood Gun. That should tell us all something. I have never, ever heard of a person's indoor wood gasification boiler rotting out in a matter of a few years, and then having the boiler fixed, and having it leak again in another few years. I am surprised that there has been no discussion of what could possibly have gone wrong with that set up by the other boiler experts in The Boiler Room. Was there boiler protection valve installed in system?

    First. No storage for said bad boiler.
    Second. No S.S. boiler model available at that time.
    Third. Did system have return water protection valve installed and installed correctly?
    Fourth. No storage in said bad boiler.
    Fourth. No S.S. boiler model available at that time.
    Fifth. Did system have return water protection valve installed and instlled correctly?

    Is it possible water quality in system was bad, or became bad for any reason? Is it possible bad experience was because of a bad piece of steel in that one particular unit. Again. How many guys have any of us heard of that have had there interior wood gasification boiler leak in a matter of a few years! And then leak again after being fixed in a matter of a few years. Something was obviously wrong.

    To the original poster of this thread. Draw your own conclusions. There is no one else in the boiler room on hearth.com, that I know of anyway, who has had their indoor wood gasification boiler become a leaking screen door and then have it welded (repaired) and then have it become and leaking screen door complete disaster and then have to discard it to the curb. And then blame it all on the boiler and take absolutely no responsibility or even consider the any responsibility may have some from some of the other possible problems in HIS system.

    1. How many gallons of oil you're using after installing your unit compared to prior? I use about 30-40 gallons first year. This year I have used somewhere around 75-100 because I went a longer time using oil it for hot water in the summer. (Not exactly sure of the number there)

    2. Is smoke ever an issue when opening the door to refuel the fire? Yes. Smoke was an issue and I bought the smoke hood and vented it outside and that solved the problem. Get the smoke hood if you get the Wood Gun.

    3. Does your unit provide all your hot water heating? Yes. I use and indirect hot water heater on it's own zone(loop) and the Wood Gun heats all our hot water for showers, dishes, laundry etc. for our family of five. I do not know if the coil option would heat that much water, plus you would have to have the unit going in order to get hot water. I have a 400 gallon insulated storage tank (heat bank of boiler water) to coast off.

    4. Likes dislikes? I did not like the seal of the Ash Pan so I modified mine and sealed it with a rope gasket like on a wood stove. Works great.
    I do not have the low temp shut down, which you can now get as an option I believe. That would be nice.


    5. How long have you used your Woodgun and which model do you have? I have used it for two full seasons and burned through one summer heating my domestic hot water. It provides all the hot water and heat I need for 4200 sq.ft. house, 900sq.ft. garage and DHW. I have the E100 Stainless Steel model.

    6. Would you buy it again if you could do it over? Yes, but I would install it outside in it's own building or in garage with separated room and install plenty of storage. With the E100 I would install at least 1200 gallons

    7. Anything unique about your set up a newbie should know? Yes. I get a lot of heat that radiates off my boiler and helps to heat my home and like it. But if I were to have installed it outside I would have needed the next size larger. Do your research. Do a heat loss calculation. Make sure you properly size your boiler.
    Anything else you can tell someone who isn't familiar with the Woodgun looking for first hand feedback? Look at several boilers, read and research. Try to do storage when you install. Storage, storage, storage. You need dry wood. If you do not have properly seasoned wood you will regret that with a gasification boiler. It is the best way to burn wood in any wood heating appliance. Seasoned at least one full year outside. Don't let anyone tell you any different. It is the most efficient and cleanest way to burn.
    GS7 likes this.
  10. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    We'll said Gas
  11. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Lets all be real here for a minute. How many people have operated more than 1 unit to make a fair analysis of any other unit.
    As far as I have seen, there is only one who has operated two units.
    Maybe if a person who operated a garn switched to a vedolux or a person who has an attack dp switched to a frolieg they could make a fair analysis
    BoilerMan likes this.
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    This is very true and why I always suggest people read as much as possible and take everything into account.
    I think the info is out there. High quality and proper setups cost money - sometimes big money! You can also spend a lot of money and get a poor setup, or less and get a decent one (if a DIY'er).

    If I were buying, price would be an issue. Of course, that depends on the exact deal - if I were building a new house and wrapping it all into the mortgage I'd feel differently than adding on a unit later (for cash, etc.).

    It almost goes without saying that such an investment should mean you intend to stay in the home for a decade or more!

    If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When I imported and sold Tarm high efficiency units, we also claimed they could be used without storage. We were wrong, but frankly most Americans simply didn't want to hear anything else. As it was, we were selling against OWB's and pretty much lost that battle! They sold 10 to 1 against our gasification - maybe more!

    Wood Gun was around back then. We, of course, liked our Tarms better. ::-)

    I think the company, though, would be better served by truth in advertising. Claiming storage is not needed and that their unit is better than similar units is overkill. Why not just sell on the merits?
  13. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    I heated a 3200 sf house without storage this year.
  14. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    I'm very happy with mine, but it is all I know. That is no other wood boiler experience. My (radiant) heating sys. was professionally designed with the Wood Gun being part of the design from the start. All of my domestic h/w & heat is from wood during the winter! My heating oil is now put into the tractor. As far as recommending anything to anybody, I only tell what I like and my reasons for making this decision. For me I like the "low tech" stuff, the simpler the better. The WG is just about as simple as it can be and all the control stuff is on the shelf at prolly every plumbing supply house in your town, not on another continent in some distant whateverslavia. But that's just me, I don't have a gps or a smart phone either.:)
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Right, and we sold hundreds which did the same. The pinholes in the steel reports starting coming in pretty heavily about 6 years into it. Never heard a word until then.

    I know I'm a bit cynical, but I was in the biz back when my competition was advertising the the Buckstove would heat for 14 hours on two logs - AND, that you could put frozen milk jugs full of water in it and air condition in the summer. True!

    The point is that you cannot magically erase chemistry. Certain conditions will cause excessive buildup of strong acids which eat through plate steel.

    Some people's boilers didn't leak. No study was ever done of exactly the conditions required for max. damage. But the engineers in Denmark were pretty straight about it. They used the top grade of German-made boilerplate steel and had incredibly high welding and other standards. The same boilers in a non-condensing (non-gasifier) setup have lasted for 40+ years now. Almost NO failures due to leaks. Why?

    If it walks like a duck...is my guess.

    The SS probably solves some of that, but maybe at other costs. I honestly don't know.
    BoilerMan and Fred61 like this.
  16. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    How many wood gun owners on the forum? How many woodguns are there in operation in the USA. There is a good chance that there are plenty of customers out there that have problems but do not belong here so we would never know.
  17. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    A dozen that I know of. I don't know how many in operation in the USA. There is also a good chance that there are plenty of customers out there that do not have problems but do not belong here so we would never know.

    I suppose your points also apply to any boiler out there. So just replace Wood Gun in these sentences with any other boiler and you will be good to go there as well.
  18. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Post mortem suggested that my boiler rotted out from the fire/creosote side. No oxidation apparent on water side. Several repairs were made because we chased the leaks around the back wall and welded plates over just the leaking areas each time. It's not easy to get a welder and his equipment in the firebox of a 140.
  19. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    GS7: I have had personal experience operating, monitoring and reporting on the Wood Gun E500, Garn WHS 3200 and Tarm Solo 40. All are good wood boilers, none are perfect within all operating scenarios or expectations, and all require periodic maintenance and are subject to wear and tear of their high temperature burn components and other wearable parts, just like any other machine.

    1. How many gallons of oil you're using after installing your unit compared to prior?
    My experience is not relevant to your situation. The WG replaced prior use of LP, is installed in a large institutional setting, and provides hot water heat and dhw for a 56,000 sq ft facility.

    2. Is smoke ever an issue when opening the door to refuel the fire?
    Yes and no. When the WG is operated "properly," smoke is not an issue. "Proper" operation IMO is allowing the wood load to burn down to coals before reloading and not let the WG idle during the burn process. This means that with adequate additional storage the WG can be a stellar performer; without storage idling, puffing to fairly violent explosions within the firebox, and other issues related to idling surfaced in the installation with which I am familiar.

    3. Does your unit provide all your hot water heating?
    No, but the situation with which I have experience is not like yours.

    4. Likes dislikes?
    Wood Gun E500 pros: easy to operate; operates at high efficiency; relatively small physical dimensions; may be used without an additional tank to store hot water; integrated ash collection system which allows for continuous burn operation; well suited for systems which require hot water supplies up to 185F; nearly smoke free; simple control system.

    Wood Gun E500 cons: physical location of firebox where wood is loaded requires a step-up platform for the user to load wood; requires additional plumbing to provide boiler with hot return water; subject to “puffing” (loud, annoying, sometimes explosive, and release of combustion gases in the room in which the boiler is located) between periods when the boiler control system idles the boiler due to unneeded hot water and then restarts the boiler when hot water is again needed; requires a separate tank for external storage of hot water to maximize usefulness and eliminate “puffing.”

    Refractory wear is based on hours of use, and the E500 is a prime heat source for the facility, is in operation under high output circumstances for extended periods of time during the long cold season of northern MN, and refractory does need to be replaced as needed.

    5. How long have you used your Woodgun and which model do you have?
    E500, If I remember correctly, it was put in operation the winter of 2009-10.

    6. Would you buy it again if you could do it over?
    I'm not the decision-maker, but I believe the institution would buy it again but if so would include additional storage from the get-go as opposed to adding it later.

    7. Anything unique about your set up a newbie should know?
    The large unit and institutional setting likely is not like a residential installation. The set-up now includes hot water storage with the WG operating solely to charge storage, and then the system drawing from storage through a primary-secondary loop to supply system hot water.

    [Edit: substituted E500 for all references to E250.]
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    WireNut, webbie and heaterman like this.
  20. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I'm entering year #5 with the E100. The only time we use oil now is if we are gone over a weekend so I would guess that my usage is somewhere around 20-30 gal./yr. The unit comes with a "smoke flap" which was OK and did contain most of the smoke trying to escape but limited the amount of wood you could load and was in general a PITA. Eventually I installed the smoke hood and problem solved. All our DHW is from the WG. We see a drop in our electric bill of about $20/mo. in the winter....2 years of that savings pays for the smoke hood. I like the simplicity and not "needing" storage. With that said we do plan on one day installing storage for the convenience factor. Due to space constraints my short list of boilers was limited at time of purchase. Would I buy the WG if space was not an issue???...I'm not sure. For sure there is a learning curve with these things. Took me 2 seasons to really get it down and understand how to operate. So far the issues I have experienced have either been easy to resolve or were operator error/ignorance :(
  21. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Jebatty,

    I see in your response you mention the E 250 and the E 500. I'm not following that. The institution has the E500. Is that correct?
  22. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Fred,

    Just out of curiosity, di

    Oh look, a Vigas dealer in yet another Wood Gun thread trashing on the competition...

    I wonder how many Vigas owners are on the forum. How many Vigas are there in operation in the USA? There are a good chance that there are plenty of customers out there that have problems but do not belong here so we would never know.

    You know what is funny, generally on car/motorcycle/tractor/anything forums the OPPOSITE is true. Usually people WITH problems go looking for forums to vent and find solutions. We always say on the car forums that "epidemic" on the forum MIGHT mean 1% of owners. Most people don't go on forums to talk about how awesome there product is...unless they are trying to sell it.

    ac
    BoilerMan, hobbyheater and webbie like this.
  23. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    I like what you said AC...

    Most people come to a forum looking for help with an issue and therefore that can be construed as the unit is a piece of junk.
    Ive been on dieselforum 3 times all for an issue with my silverado, does that mean its a piece of junk?

    I know I posted many threads here with issues about the WG. Some are still held against me. You gotta have thick skin in this big boys forum.
    If people looked through all of my threads they would probably run away from a WG but in the end they were just user ignorance and lack of experience.

    I now have a smooth operation with plenty of heat and hot water, because of the knowledge gained here and also the field experience.
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Most all are good points!

    That's why reading everything everywhere with a keen eye toward sales pitches is the best advice!

    As far as comparison to trucks and other things, it's sad to say but the failure rate of "insert name here" gasification boilers in the early days which were used without storage was very high. If trucks or tractors failed at the same rate, there would definitely be a recall and refunds. I'm somewhat of a numbers guy and you have to take other things into account:

    1. How many users didn't use their boilers - or not heavily?
    2. How many users used them only in the very cold months with a high load? (would not rot as fast, IMHO).
    3. How many people used them a few years and moved? Boiler was out of warranty or at least far down the line in terms of what the factories would do. We had a 20 year warranty on Tarms, but after year 5 it was just parts at 50% off. Want a piece of steel at 1/2 price? >>

    The amazing thing about the internet is that now the consumer, at least the smart consumer, can be more educated and empowered. In fact, that the ideal mission of this site!

    On the other hand, people have opinions - some are accurate, some are not.

    IMHO, the "storage" question is not an opinion but a statement of fact. In theory you could use any of these machines without storage. They still have 40-70 gallons inside them and 1000-2000 lbs of steel, etc.
    We always suggested mixing valves - and even opening the check valve so some gravity heat might flow.

    In a situation like that, the house water and some of the pipes and radiation is added to the storage.

    So, yeah, I suspect most any brand - used in the wrong way - could fail prematurely. Maybe not as quick, maybe quicker...depends on many factors.
  25. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Let's bring up another point...

    The Wood Gun is made in USA and sold in USA ONLY.

    EVERY other boiler is from Europe. Do we have ANY idea how they did in the "early days"? Probably not. Those early days were dealt with in Europe by Europeans.

    How is a company supposed to design something and test it for 20 years before they sell the first unit? Tough business model.

    I have no idea how the "early" days of WG were...and frankly they don't even matter. The company long sold and the CURRENT guys at WG are awesome.

    Storage? Would be nice for convenience. Maybe one day...but for now, I'll keep the $2k in my pocket.

    ac

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