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your opinion on OWB's

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Hanko, Oct 21, 2008.

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  1. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    just read a post on another site, concerning regulations on instalations on outside boilers. One other post last week some were braging about what they burn other than wood in them

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There are some OWBs that try to thoroughly combust the wood efficiently. Usually they have a tall stack on them and burn only dry wood. And then there are OWBs that are essentially trash burners. Everything goes into them including green wood. Which would you want as your neighbor?
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Burning anything other than wood, especially trash, is illegal many places and also very unwise. Trash burned, other than at ultra high temperatures far beyond that in an OWB, releases many highly toxic chemicals into the air, including PCB's and dioxin, as well as acids and other nasties no good for the OWB or other living things. Whatever your choice, do not burn trash.
  4. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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    Hanko, plenty of OWB's around here within a stone's throw that you can see how they operate and who burns what. From what i've seen of their operation and having talked to a few of the people that own them here's my take:

    1) I've talked to and know one guy very locally that burns dried wood. He splits his wood and he's the only one i've seen doing that...thus his unit seems to burn "fairly" smoke free compared to the others.

    2) those that don't "season" their wood or at least split it go through a TON of wood. A coworker of mine had one, he ordered a semi truck full of stick wood from Chris Muma. He burnt that entire load in a year (smoked like crazy too). That same load of wood lasts me 3 years.

    3) Some mfr's seem to have some material issues. One person i've talked to and am friends with is on his third OWB (under warranty, but still..) in five years due to a cracked boiler that couldn't be repaired.

    4) If the power goes out you are out of business. There is a blower motor on the unit plus a pump motor for circulating the hot liquid to the house (this guy uses radiant floor heating).

    I have not talked to anybody that admitted they burn trash but i'm sure some out in the sticks burn whatever they can get their hands on. I have not seen any local regulations in the works but i'm sure there will be in time.
  5. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    My brotherinlaw has one. He lives in a very rural area and burns green hardwood only, this is what the dealer told him to do. He burns roughly 12 cord of hardwood. Does not burn in the late spring, or summer. Just fired it up on Sunday as a matter of fact. His house is much bigger than mine but is also much newer and way better insulated. I burn dry hardwood and around 4-5 cord every year. he burns 2x that. He spends nothing on oil once that boiler is going. He does not have a tall stack at all. From what I have seen, other than initial startup, they really dont smoke much more than a regular stove, its just lower.
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    woodconvert, it sounds like we know some of the same people! Or at least some with the same problems. We have a neighbor on his third OWB in just a few years too. We know of others that have had to have theirs replaced. Yet, it seems most everyone who has one loves them, even though they smoke like crazy. What seems to be the biggest reason they love them is that they can put lots of wood in them and stoke them only once or twice per day and that they can also heat their water at the same time. Amazingly though, every home I've been inside that was using one has been a cold home! That I do not understand at all.

    We thought about one but seeing so many with terrible smoke problems kept us away from them. We have also compared our new install (in 2007) with our neighbor's OWB a few years ago. He burns much more wood. We burn much less wood....and we stay much, much warmer. He may stock his stove less often, but we stock ours with a bunch less wood.
  7. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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    Heh, yeah, i've yet to talk to one of them that doesn't like it but I think that's just them not knowing the workings of a free standing or insert stove. Sure, there's the potential for some mess....but just the shear difference in the amount of wood needed would make me think long and hard before purchasing an OWB.

    I've said before here many times that the smoke is not an issue for me BUT my nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile away. If I were right next to the guy I may have a different opinion. Also, having blowers and pumps on something is a loser for me from both the maintenance standpoint and loss of power standpoint. Call me crazy but I like my home toasty even when the power is out.

    I have talked to a fella that knows a fella that is building his own OWB but with a twist...and it's enough of a twist to peak my interest. It uses the principal of heating wood to the point where is gasses off, NOT BURNS, and it burns those gasses for the heat. From what i'm told this thing is almost unbelievable in efficiency (looks to be somewhat complex but cool none the less). It's basically a firebox under a bunk of wood. Lemme dig up a linky that's got a better explanation and some pics.
  8. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Back about 15 years ago the XO tried to convince me an OWB was the way we should go...almost had me convinced. But the thing that appeals to me most with an free standing stove is, believe it or not, the luxury of uneven heat.

    She likes it hot, I prefer it way cooler, with an OWB it would be cranked up so that I couldn't retreat to a cooler part of the house...

    ...when it comes to heat it all about her. Other than that I don't have an opinion on OWB's, lots of folks have 'em so they must have there advantages.
  9. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Savage- I agree. I need to escape to cooler temps on occasion.

    Many of the old style OWB's regulate heat by just closing a damper. With already wet wood, this is a serious recipe for smoke. You'll see OWB's run clean, then smoke up partially because of this.
  11. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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    I GOTTA have cool/cold temps to sleep. I just shut the bedroom door and even thought he stove is right next to the bedroom it stays very cool (helps that I insulated my interior par walls).
  12. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I've heard of these too - similar to the efficiency of an indoor wood furnace.

    I think it's like comparing the old smoke dragons to the new EPA wood stoves, but even to greater extremes due to the larger scale of your burn in a furnace. I've read that the best outdoor (and indoor) wood furnaces can get virtually complete combustion, working at near perfect efficiencies, burning dry wood. As you'd expect, a lot pricier. The more common, cheaper models are horribly inefficient - the water that you're trying to heat is surrounding the firebox and serving to cool the fire to the point of a slow, dirty burn.

    That said, guys around here love 'em: you get a long , no-maintenece burn of whatever size of junk wood, however green, by loading it to the gills and walking away. It's much more wood, but actually less work, like taking care of a dog instead of a kid. A guy can get a cheap load of green slab or free pallets or use his own crap. I know two guys who got 'em this year due to oil costs, plus they're afraid the things will soon be outlawed and they'll be gradfathered in. These guys got big trees, big saws and big arms - to them it's a no-brainer.

    If you own a hundred acres in the middle of nowhere and can't be bothered with a woodstove and want cheap hot water, I guess it makes sense. No splitting, no stacking, no seasoning, no going indoors to load - no worries, unless you care about the fact you're throwing the smoke of about a hundred diesel semis.
  13. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    There are many different makers and designs. I considered the Central Boiler E-Classic which is a gasification unit and approved by the EPA through 2010 standards and then some. My neighbor has the CB Classic and burned green wood all last year. I never saw or smelled smoke and better yet - he didn't spend a dime on oil. He was lucky to get his in. The township has sought to ban them and they disapproved my permit - so I am going with an inside woodstove.

    Some of the OWB are crude prehistoric old school designs and others are well made and efficient. I don't think you can paint them all with the same brush. Shop around and do some research. The central boilers are impressive.
  14. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely. My comment trailed off with the downside of the dinosaurs, but I would definitely consider the newer units. My woodstove was an essential purchase this year to supplement a dying oil burner. What I'm waiting for is an OWB to come on the market that will let me generate electricity.
    Put in cordwood from the back 40, get out 100% of my heat, hot water and electricity. Who can tell me how (and how soon) I can make that happen with a single boiler?
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I don't know about a commercial unit, but there's been a lot of discussion aboutwood gas fired engines. With one central gasifier, I do not see why one could not run a generator, plus a water heater. I guess that the gasifier would have to be outside, to reduce potential CO poisoning. Run it off of waste wood chips.
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    It may work, but need a way to pull the gases out of the firebox rather than shoot them through the nozzle, plus need to filter and cool the gases before they can go to the engine, and a way to collect and store the filtered gas for use when the gasifier is not running.
  17. Dill

    Dill Feeling the Heat

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    My aunt and uncle have been burning one for 17 years now. They live up in Derby line Vt where it gets a bit cold.
    It does the heat and hot water for the house and the hot water for the barn. And keeps the house toasty.
    They burn mostly green sugar maple.
    I looked into one, but the cost was too high for me. So I got a new woodstove instead.
    When I buy a bigger farm, I'll probably get one.
  18. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I mean- a completely different "just gasification" unit, as was found on wood powered cars during WW2. You then have a central "fuel converter" that supplies combustible gas to a converted propane heater (hooked to say 1000 gal storage) as well as a generator.

    You could also use it to drive a steam generator, and heat water with the waste heat, but the pressures involved, etc may make that dangerous. I dunno.

    It would be possible to recover waste heat from a generator as well- a coolant liquid recirculoated into a storage tank. You couldn't have that running all the time- there would be too much wear on the generator motor.
  19. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I think gasification to fuel an LP heater for hot water tank storage would be quite inefficient, as compared to a gasification boiler feeding the storage tank directly.
  20. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    It bet it would be inefficient. Just thinking out loud how to do it in one unit.
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