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Woodmaster Flex Fuel

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by GreenHam, Mar 5, 2011.

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  1. GreenHam

    GreenHam New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
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    Loc:
    New Hampshire
    I'm currently searching more info on personal experiences with the Woodmaster Flex Fuel furnaces. I'm trying to find a new way to heat my house other then my propane furnace. I have a 3400 sqft house with a 700 sqft heated garage. The house is heated with radiant floor heat, its about 5 years old. So far it costs about $6000 a year to heat and thats with the temp set to 65. I have five acres with lots of dead rock maple to cut and burn. I was about to buy a Central Boiler EC 1400, but then started looking at Woodmaster 4400, then I found a dealer for the Flex Fuel furnace. As for price they are very similar. I am leaning towards the Flex Fuel but can't find any info on it. Any help would be much appreciated!!!

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  2. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
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    626
    Loc:
    Sabattus Maine
    Thats a huge OUCH!!

    The most important component in wood heating is the fuel. I would be cutting and splitting and stacking like there's no tomorrow.
    One frequently discussed problem revolves around less than desirably seasoned wood.
    As far as a boiler goes make sure it is a gasser. I would ask the dealer for some previous customer names and call them for an opinion on the merits or not of the boiler in question. Someone may come along who has one on here.

    Will
  3. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Agreed, go start splitting wood. Wood needs to be seasoned 1 year, well preferred to be one year. While your at it plan on 2 years worth of wood ahead. And try to keep 2 yrs ahead. Trust me, makes a big difference in overall perfrmance, cleaning,etc.

    Now you need to figure out how much wood you'll need. I only know the rough estimate of wood vs oil. 1 cord of well seasoned wood=150 gals of oil, thats if you buy a gasser or Garn. I was burning 1000 gals of oil a year, now I'm using about 6.5 cords of well seasoned wood.

    Anyone know the rough figure for propane vs wood? You should do a heat load calc.

    When i looked at an OWB, it cost as much as my gassification boiler and storage tank. Add a few more thousand dollars for install and I had a unit that burned a lot less wood than an OWB. And when burning, there is no smoke. None.

    Also, you're in NH. Tarm boilers are set up in Lyme,NH. They got a couple of units set up for Demo on site, I think. BUT there are many very good units out there other than Tarm's. But it's local, to see what these gasser's are all about.

    Google GARN. These are impressive units also.

    My set up is a Tarm Innova 30 with 820 gals of storage. Located next door in my unattached garage, oops i mean wood storage facility. Tank is in basement of house. When i take my wood off of the splitter, it is stacked on pallets. Store pallets outside(hopefully after 2yrs of seasoning) till needed. Use my tractor to put pallets in garage, when needed. Cuts down on the handling of wood, and the need for a large area of storage for wood. I just put 1 cord of wood in my garage in under 15 minutes. And yes, I'm spoiled. Even got a heater and a radio.

    Now I start 1 fire a day(in the deep of winter). Takes about 10 minutes at most. If it's sub zero, I'll go back out and refill boiler. Just depends on the demand. I've got 3 teenagers. they all know how to start a fire and when to refill if needed. They are always coming and going, someones headed out the door. The new phrase in the house is "Check tank temps, if needed go start a fire. And don't stay out late! If you do, fill the damn boiler!" But majority of time, we do one fire a day. So it's 10 minutes tending time a day. You have radiant floors! Hooray. These perform very well with a system of some type, with storage. If you can't do storage now, no biggie. Can always add on later.

    Spring and fall times, i get 2 maybe 3 days out of storage. Summer we go 4 to 5 days for DHW. Thats on one fire. i run my oil furnace once in a while. If my tank gets too low on heat, the oil system will kick in automatically.

    Hopefully didn't confuse you too much. this is a great site to learn from. Good people.
    GS7 likes this.
  4. GreenHam

    GreenHam New Member

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    Loc:
    New Hampshire
    Thanks for the info! I have been cutting and stacking since fall. There were some huge dead trees to close for comfort. I have 1500 sqft basement, so I have plenty of room for a second boiler and storage tank. For wood storage I think my third bay would do nicely, heck I could even put the boiler out there, it a three car attached.

    I live about twenty minutes from Lyme, and did notice Tarm boilers. I haven't had a chance to stop in yet, but I do plan to. I want to say that the Flex Fuel is a brand new product and the dealer has never installed one. I did look at EKO to but it seems they are out of WV?? I couldn't find any dealers around here. I will look up Garn too.


    I have only been in this house for about 6 months. The 1000 gallon tank was filled prior to our moving in. Two weeks ago the heat mysteriously went off. I checked the gauge like do every week or so. It said 50% so thought it might have had to do with the power that had gone off the night before. The regulator was frosted up so i started to thaw it out. Long story short the tank was empty, the gauge was frozen I had to fill it with 950 gallons and a little bill of 2885. There went my new king bed. This fueled my fire to find a new source of heat!
  5. elroy

    elroy New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
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    Loc:
    MN
    Hello guys,

    I found out that there are 4 dealers in NH,VT that have the FlexFuel units in stock. The one I can think of is in Keene, NH. Goto the woodmaster website and go to dealer locator to find the name of the dealer. Cant remember it. sorry. As for the benefits of the FF, I like that it can burn wood, wood pellets, or wood chips and its solar compatible(solar connects to the i/o board on the FF) It also has ignition so you can have the unit restart on a new batch of wood set by water temp or time of day. pretty cool. proven european product built in the U.S.

    Another great deal w the FF is that NH residents qualify for $6000 off a FF and VT residents that have to replace an OWB can qualify up to $6000 for a FF too! LUCKY
    GS7 likes this.
  6. GreenHam

    GreenHam New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
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    3
    Loc:
    New Hampshire
    Thanks for more info! I located a local dealer and got quotes on the two models. No also had a chance to stop in at Tarm Biomass and see two furnaces then see them light and use both. It seems that both company are similar in price. The FF seems to have more options for the price compared to the Solo Plus. The Froling seems super nice but a bit more then I would like to spend. My problem is not being able to the FF prior to purchase. I would feel foolish shelling out 20k on a furnace I can't find user inputs on or atleast see it in person.

    Right now I am exploring the use of Geothermal heating.
  7. flyerstill

    flyerstill New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    missouri
    I bought the flex fuel furnace; factory support was almost non existent during installation. Parts missing from the installation kit, waited months and had to pay for the missing parts that should have been included in the kit. They sold me to small a water tank (probably to make the stove cheaper). Can't fill the furnace with wood because of not enough water for storing the heat and leads to frequent firing when it gets cold. The worst part; they have a goofy hair dryer type of igniter to ignite the wood. It's time consuming to have to wad and place paper, card board and kindling before putting the wood in. The igniter is unreliable and not consistent in lighting fires. I wait a reasonable amount of time and if the igniter doesn't ignite the material I open the ash door, insert a propane torch underneath the grate to light the fire. Works EVERY time... To there credit; the furnace is efficient and doesn't require a lot of wood over the winter. IF only they'd put a decent igniter in the furnace it would great, providing you have enough water storage.
  8. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    These boilers have had some mixed reviews. You must talk to people who have them before taking the plunge.
    They appear to be fairly sophisticated. There is an impressive control system that the US manufacturer did not seem to understand very well.
    Hopefully they have sorted that out.
  9. flyerstill

    flyerstill New Member

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    Loc:
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    I purchased one of the early ones and not much information out on them. Plus I fell hook line and sinker for there claims on the igniter. It just kinda works. I've contacted the factory multiple times and they have no interest in fixing the problem. The control system is impressive and will be expensive to fix when it quits. And when it quits this whole thing is going to the ditch.
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    The cut-away diagram/picture of it looks pretty complicated - I couldn't tell where air & wood went in, exhaust came out, or where it travelled in between. Looked like it might not be easy to clean also?
  11. flyerstill

    flyerstill New Member

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  12. Pologuy9906

    Pologuy9906 Member

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    Loc:
    Connecticut
    I recently took the plunge and could be happier. I've had numerous questions and Lynn and Warren have been there to hold my hand through every step of the install. What sold me on the unit was the ability to burn pellets and cord wood. I have 855 gallons of storage. The install has been tough but manageable Thx to Lynn and Warren and the hearth community. I also was sent wrong parts which were sent to me.
  13. flyerstill

    flyerstill New Member

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    Did some reading on efficiency of the outdoor units. None of them say what the efficiency is. Found a site that had independent research and the best was 40%; no brands listed. That's just little better than a bonfire. I'd really thought by now they would have done better. I'm liking my Flexfuel much better now. Except for there hair dyer igniter, that just almost works. I've finally come up with a method of getting it to work reliably. If you have trouble getting a fire started let me know and I'll pass on what I've found that is working for me.

    Found out neighbor some distance has a Woodmaster 4400 outdoor furnace. Haven't had a chance to talk with him yet. Appears he burns of lot of wood..

    Got a 500 gallon propane tank modified, insulated and set in a built on lean to which will give me 800 gallon. Waiting on heating & cooling guys to come hook it up and redo the plumbing. Going to run all the hot water threw the 300 gallon tank in the basement and then out to the 500 gallon tank.

    Warren has been a great help. Although I had them so pissed over the igniter issue that they wouldn't talk to me. Told me to go though the dealer for any further communication. The manual (unless they've finally updated it) is little more than a quick reference for the guys at the factory. To many things in it that aren't explained. Never have received promised better manual or dealer manual.

    Kind of an odd way of doing business the way they do it. Never had that experience before. They call it a dual fuel furnace because it will burn pellets. But you gotta be there to switch it over. And that's another $1300 or so to burn pellets. Gas burner would give a way lighting the fire and providing back up heat when the wood runs out or you're gone. Not something they want to consider from prior communications.

    Let me know if I can help out running it with what I've found out thru trial and error, on my own. It's going to be a self learning experience..
  14. GS7

    GS7 Member

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    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Self install of the flex fuel is progressing nicely. It's been a great experience this far. The Garn and Flex Fuel were the only units for me. Couldn't fit the Garn, love the flexibility of the flex fuel especially with the high price of pellets in CT if you can even find any.

    Attached Files:

  15. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Looking at the amount of floor space taken up by the storage tanks and the boiler itself, I'm curious as to what exactly about the Garn wouldn't fit.??
    GS7 likes this.
  16. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    He probably couldn't get it IN.

    Why are pellets so pricey in CT? NJ is flooded with them. Maybe I should load the trailer and go scalp them in CT!

    ac
  17. GS7

    GS7 Member

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    LOLOLOL could never get the Garn inside and even if I could didn't have the ceiling clearance in the boiler room. Was able to fit the flex fuel wood pellet boiler, the pellet hopper which holds 320 lbs of pellets, four 220 gallon water storage tanks and 2 twenty gallon expansion tanks all in the boiler room and all through a 36 inch doorway with the door removed for a couple hours.
  18. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I hear you. A Garn will not go through a 36" door without a visit to the crusher at the scrap yard first......;)
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