Can't figure out what to do; advice needed

TuckerTerra2000

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
5
Maine
Hello all! I have hours and hours reading on here and other pages. I still don't feel any further ahead. Hopefully I can get a few things straight.

First off, introduction: I am building a house in Maine. I grew up running wood stoves and live 1 mile from my dad's 300 acre woodlot along with a skidder and equipment to handle the wood. Needless tol say, I am crazy to not burn wood.

My house is a 2600 sqft Ranch with a daylight basement. (Basement will be unfinished but used as a woodworking shop/storage/workout area)
I have installed radiant tubes in the basement floor. I am going to have a fireplace/stove in my livingroom of the first floor that I plan to use for supplemental heat and for ambiance.
I am installing an oil fired boiler to heat my house when I am away (gone north snowmobiling almost every weekend in the winter) as well as for my DHW in the summer.
I planned to run a wood boiler setup as well. I have an automatic standby generator so power outage with the woodboiler shouldn't be an issue.

I have not decided what I will do for main heat on my first floor....

So now for my questions/ where I need advice:

My first question is one that I have yet to find any info on:

1) I understand the concept of thermal storage. I also have plenty of room for it. My concern: I do not want my oil boiler to also be heating the thermal storage. That seems wastefull...? It would make sense to me to have a system where only the woodboiler heats the storage. With said it would have to work automatic. For example: it's 0°f out on Friday and my woodboiler is cranking. I leave Friday night for a week trip and it is supposed fridged cold all week. I would want the woodboiler to heat the thermal storage and the zones to use the heat from the storage as long as possible. Once woodboiler cools there will still be enough heat in the storage for a while (lets say 1 day). Once that thermal storage cools enough that it wont heat the house the oil boiler fires and only heats the zones calling for heat, and not the thermal storage. instead of the oil boiler firing to heat the thermal storage.
Also, how do I plumb it all so it would work as I want but also give me DHW. I plan to have an indirect water heater. The second piece to that puzzle is would it be easier to do that with a non-pressurized storage, or does that matter...?

2) Still can't figure out whether to build my own non-pressurized or to go pressurized. I want a storage system that doesnt have a liner that fails in 15-20 years or that rusts. I want a maintenance free setup that will last....forever?

3) I have radiant in my basement floor. I also thought about installing radiant under the tile on 1st floor (entry, kitchen, dinning, bathrooms) and then using wall panel radiator anywhere there is hardwood. Good idea, or dumb idea?


Any advice will help. Thanks so much!
 

chew72

Member
Oct 27, 2009
80
NS, Canada
I would say almost all the systems with wood boilers, Storage and backup work in the manner you describe. The boiler has cooled off, the thermal storage has cooled off, it switches over to the backup source and only supplies the zones. Just like a conventional system as if the boiler and storage were not there.

For me personally I would put radiant everywhere including the hardwood floors.

Edit: that is all done automatically as well
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
Do yourself a favor and layout the PEX tubing on the main floor and pour gypcrete over the whole thing. Of course you need to put double plates on all your walls to make up the 1.5 inch pour. All of my wood and tile floors are built just like this. Carpeted areas on the second floor are baseboard but I will change them to flat panels.
For central AC I have a stand alone fan coil unit.
I'm not a fan of DHW off the wood boiler and will change mine back to the LP boiler.
I'm not a fan of non pressurized storage. I also would not own an outdoor boiler but that's me.
Why oil fired? A standby genny is LP or diesel powered but diesel sets are a lot more money and there is always that fuel issue.

Most importantly is; Where do you ride?? Brraaappppp!!
 
Last edited:

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,151
NE Ohio
I am installing an oil fired boiler to heat my house when I am away (gone north snowmobiling almost every weekend in the winter) as well as for my DHW in the summer.
Not really your question, but oil for DHW is really inefficient...much better to just install a HPWH IMO
 
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TuckerTerra2000

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
5
Maine
I would say almost all the systems with wood boilers, Storage and backup work in the manner you describe. The boiler has cooled off, the thermal storage has cooled off, it switches over to the backup source and only supplies the zones. Just like a conventional system as if the boiler and storage were not there.

For me personally I would put radiant everywhere including the hardwood floors.

Edit: that is all done automatically as well
So is it my misunderstanding that I thought the way most systems work is the wood boiler technically heats the water Within the oil boiler? Basically the two systems are connected in a fashion that if the wood boiler cools down the oil boiler would automatically fire and heat up all the water that is in the system as well? The reason I say that is that is how my grandparents system works, although they have an old system and have no thermal storage. But I do know if they don't close their wood boiler valves then the oil boiler Heats all the water contained in the wood boiler as well.

Do yourself a favor and layout the PEX tubing on the main floor and pour gypcrete over the whole thing. Of course you need to put double plates on all your walls to make up the 1.5 inch pour. All of my wood and tile floors are built just like this. Carpeted areas on the second floor are baseboard but I will change them to flat panels.
For central AC I have a stand alone fan coil unit.
I'm not a fan of DHW off the wood boiler and will change mine back to the LP boiler.
I'm not a fan of non pressurized storage. I also would not own an outdoor boiler but that's me.
Why oil fired? A standby genny is LP or diesel powered but diesel sets are a lot more money and there is always that fuel issue.

Most importantly is; Where do you ride?? Brraaappppp!!
I have had a couple people recommend that, unfortunately at this point most of my interior walls have already been built so I would have to go backwards to do that. I also have a friend who has a ton of the radiant floor track panels that go under the subfloor that he is willing to give me.
I have not put much thought into Central AC. I know a lot of people are wound up over those mini splits but with my experience of them it is an awful lot of money to pay for Central AC when there's only a handful of days per year I would really care about that. I can install and run window AC units for a long time before I pay for a mini split to run my whole house.
I would love to hear you express your reason for not liking the DHW off the wood boiler. I am open to all views...
I do understand that a wall hung gas boiler is more efficient, that is what I have in my current house. The reason I was planning on going with oil is for the longevity. I have been told many times that an oil boiler last a lot longer than a gas boiler. Not to mention I do hate LP for the simple reason I can't shop around or just fill the tanks as easy myself. With oil, if all hell breaks loose I can always get K1 myself as well as shop around for prices.
The standby generator is LP, I am an electrician and was lucky enough to score one from a job that someone was taking out. I will also be having a gas cooktop. I know it is really stupid to have both oil and LP, but I just feel the oil boiler will be better long-term even though it is less efficient.
I certainly agree with an outdoor boiler. My father-in-law has an outdoor boiler and since it runs his entire Farm facility with multiple buildings it makes sense for him. But with my setup it will be more convenient to have inside. I have a 9 foot garage door for my daylight basement so I plan to stack my wood on pallets and put them inside one by one with my skid steer and use a pallet jack to move them around. It should be pretty slick.

Now for the important subject! My parents have a camp in the west Forks so I spend a ton of time up there of course! My father-in-law also has a camp in Portage so I spend time up there as well. So basically everywhere between the forks and Sinclair, although I have done several trips from Southern Maine all the way to Sinclair. What area are you located!?

Not really your question, but oil for DHW is really inefficient...much better to just install a HPWH IMO
I do know that boil for dhw is inefficient, but for longevity and being able to shop around and get my own fuel I feel the oil will be better. I thought about putting in a wall hung boiler just for my domestic hot water, but unfortunately I don't have an endless supply of money and when I start putting in all these different setups is going to get costly.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
So is it my misunderstanding that I thought the way most systems work is the wood boiler technically heats the water Within the oil boiler? Basically the two systems are connected in a fashion that if the wood boiler cools down the oil boiler would automatically fire and heat up all the water that is in the system as well? The reason I say that is that is how my grandparents system works, although they have an old system and have no thermal storage. But I do know if they don't close their wood boiler valves then the oil boiler Heats all the water contained in the wood boiler as well.



I have had a couple people recommend that, unfortunately at this point most of my interior walls have already been built so I would have to go backwards to do that. I also have a friend who has a ton of the radiant floor track panels that go under the subfloor that he is willing to give me.
I have not put much thought into Central AC. I know a lot of people are wound up over those mini splits but with my experience of them it is an awful lot of money to pay for Central AC when there's only a handful of days per year I would really care about that. I can install and run window AC units for a long time before I pay for a mini split to run my whole house.
I would love to hear you express your reason for not liking the DHW off the wood boiler. I am open to all views...
I do understand that a wall hung gas boiler is more efficient, that is what I have in my current house. The reason I was planning on going with oil is for the longevity. I have been told many times that an oil boiler last a lot longer than a gas boiler. Not to mention I do hate LP for the simple reason I can't shop around or just fill the tanks as easy myself. With oil, if all hell breaks loose I can always get K1 myself as well as shop around for prices.
The standby generator is LP, I am an electrician and was lucky enough to score one from a job that someone was taking out. I will also be having a gas cooktop. I know it is really stupid to have both oil and LP, but I just feel the oil boiler will be better long-term even though it is less efficient.
I certainly agree with an outdoor boiler. My father-in-law has an outdoor boiler and since it runs his entire Farm facility with multiple buildings it makes sense for him. But with my setup it will be more convenient to have inside. I have a 9 foot garage door for my daylight basement so I plan to stack my wood on pallets and put them inside one by one with my skid steer and use a pallet jack to move them around. It should be pretty slick.

Now for the important subject! My parents have a camp in the west Forks so I spend a ton of time up there of course! My father-in-law also has a camp in Portage so I spend time up there as well. So basically everywhere between the forks and Sinclair, although I have done several trips from Southern Maine all the way to Sinclair. What area are you located!?



I do know that boil for dhw is inefficient, but for longevity and being able to shop around and get my own fuel I feel the oil will be better. I thought about putting in a wall hung boiler just for my domestic hot water, but unfortunately I don't have an endless supply of money and when I start putting in all these different setups is going to get costly.
Im at Moosehead. Have had a home there for 26 years that my wife and I will retire to. I've run around Rangley, Forks, Mhead, Chesuncook, Allagash, Ft. Kent, Baxter, Van Buren and everything in between at one time or another. Had a friend who lived in FT Kent so that was a major go to place for a very long time. We run out to Hawk's Nest all the time in the warmer weather seasons via the Brocha Rd then explore all over Misery Ridge, William's Mountain, Adams Dam, Somerset ect with a cooler of road sodas and sometimes my boat grill looking for moose and other wildlife as well as fishing and bird hunting. Do the same warmer weather running up to The Trains as well. I'll never live long enough to see it all or get tired of it.

I have an oil fired System 2000 down in MA for over 30 years and it's been very reliable so I did a LP fired one up north that has been equally the same. I learned early on that a low mass boiler like the 2000 and RFH didn't like each other. RFH really likes mass or volume so the way to fix it was to add a 40 gallon water heater into the boiler loop for those zones. We are only using it for mass and they are very cheap as everyone knows. It stopped the rapid cycling of the boiler that was driving me insane. On/off/on/off all damn day long.

I'll put my DHW back on the boiler because physics. I've noticed that when getting to the end of my useable storage when hot water is calling (150degree set point) the storage is down below that so I'm now trying to make 150 degree water with a sub 150 water temp and all it does is use the DHW as another storage tank.

The System 2000 only has a gallon or so of "tank' inside so it's not a long burn time to get it up to temp and start making HW again. I think it's a good boiler with a solid track record.

I will never get into buying those wall hung, control nightmare, new fangled boilers. Just no for me no matter what anyone says. Too complicated, too much PM and too much money.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,367
Northern Canada
I kept my electric DHW for different reasons...
I have my own septic system in clay,lots of clay 300 ft deep.
I had 2 womens living in the house,they like long hot showers.
With the electric heater there is a definitive amount of time you can have a hot shower.
The septic system is happier when showers don't go on for hours.
 

TuckerTerra2000

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
5
Maine
I kept my electric DHW for different reasons...
I have my own septic system in clay,lots of clay 300 ft deep.
I had 2 womens living in the house,they like long hot showers.
With the electric heater there is a definitive amount of time you can have a hot shower.
The septic system is happier when showers don't go on for hours.
Haha I hear you there! That is a good point. We have a 60 gallon tub going in so that will be rough on the hot water end of it.
 

TuckerTerra2000

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
5
Maine
Im at Moosehead. Have had a home there for 26 years that my wife and I will retire to. I've run around Rangley, Forks, Mhead, Chesuncook, Allagash, Ft. Kent, Baxter, Van Buren and everything in between at one time or another. Had a friend who lived in FT Kent so that was a major go to place for a very long time. We run out to Hawk's Nest all the time in the warmer weather seasons via the Brocha Rd then explore all over Misery Ridge, William's Mountain, Adams Dam, Somerset ect with a cooler of road sodas and sometimes my boat grill looking for moose and other wildlife as well as fishing and bird hunting. Do the same warmer weather running up to The Trains as well. I'll never live long enough to see it all or get tired of it.

I have an oil fired System 2000 down in MA for over 30 years and it's been very reliable so I did a LP fired one up north that has been equally the same. I learned early on that a low mass boiler like the 2000 and RFH didn't like each other. RFH really likes mass or volume so the way to fix it was to add a 40 gallon water heater into the boiler loop for those zones. We are only using it for mass and they are very cheap as everyone knows. It stopped the rapid cycling of the boiler that was driving me insane. On/off/on/off all damn day long.

I'll put my DHW back on the boiler because physics. I've noticed that when getting to the end of my useable storage when hot water is calling (150degree set point) the storage is down below that so I'm now trying to make 150 degree water with a sub 150 water temp and all it does is use the DHW as another storage tank.

The System 2000 only has a gallon or so of "tank' inside so it's not a long burn time to get it up to temp and start making HW again. I think it's a good boiler with a solid track record.

I will never get into buying those wall hung, control nightmare, new fangled boilers. Just no for me no matter what anyone says. Too complicated, too much PM and too much money.
Oh yeah, that is definitely in my neck of the woods! Spend a ton of time up in williams and wilson mt area. The Hawks nest has great food! My dad's company (who I now work for) actually wired the hawks nest when it was built.

So do you have any other storage other than the 40 gallons? I am numb to the whole setup but I would think you could make it so when the DHW gets that low the boiler would fire.


I am debating to only putting radiant floor heat in areas that have tile and use low temp radiators in the areas of hardwood. I assume this would cut costs down...
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
With the tile options available today if I did it again I’d tile the whole house and heat all floors.
With RFH you can get a dumb boiler and use smarter floor controls.
Only the S2000 and 40 gallon tank. I’d go with a CI boiler if I had to do it again. My only fear would be warm season hot water. My shower flows a lot of water.
 

hyfire

Minister of Fire
Aug 3, 2013
718
Ont, Canada
You need pressurized storage nothing will last more than a few years with being open to oxygen and nothing is maintenance free with anything!
 
Last edited:

JohnDolz

Minister of Fire
Dec 29, 2015
550
Burlington, CT
Hello all! I have hours and hours reading on here and other pages. I still don't feel any further ahead. Hopefully I can get a few things straight.

First off, introduction: I am building a house in Maine. I grew up running wood stoves and live 1 mile from my dad's 300 acre woodlot along with a skidder and equipment to handle the wood. Needless tol say, I am crazy to not burn wood.

My house is a 2600 sqft Ranch with a daylight basement. (Basement will be unfinished but used as a woodworking shop/storage/workout area)
I have installed radiant tubes in the basement floor. I am going to have a fireplace/stove in my livingroom of the first floor that I plan to use for supplemental heat and for ambiance.
I am installing an oil fired boiler to heat my house when I am away (gone north snowmobiling almost every weekend in the winter) as well as for my DHW in the summer.
I planned to run a wood boiler setup as well. I have an automatic standby generator so power outage with the woodboiler shouldn't be an issue.

I have not decided what I will do for main heat on my first floor....

So now for my questions/ where I need advice:

My first question is one that I have yet to find any info on:

1) I understand the concept of thermal storage. I also have plenty of room for it. My concern: I do not want my oil boiler to also be heating the thermal storage. That seems wastefull...? It would make sense to me to have a system where only the woodboiler heats the storage. With said it would have to work automatic. For example: it's 0°f out on Friday and my woodboiler is cranking. I leave Friday night for a week trip and it is supposed fridged cold all week. I would want the woodboiler to heat the thermal storage and the zones to use the heat from the storage as long as possible. Once woodboiler cools there will still be enough heat in the storage for a while (lets say 1 day). Once that thermal storage cools enough that it wont heat the house the oil boiler fires and only heats the zones calling for heat, and not the thermal storage. instead of the oil boiler firing to heat the thermal storage.
Also, how do I plumb it all so it would work as I want but also give me DHW. I plan to have an indirect water heater. The second piece to that puzzle is would it be easier to do that with a non-pressurized storage, or does that matter...?

2) Still can't figure out whether to build my own non-pressurized or to go pressurized. I want a storage system that doesnt have a liner that fails in 15-20 years or that rusts. I want a maintenance free setup that will last....forever?

3) I have radiant in my basement floor. I also thought about installing radiant under the tile on 1st floor (entry, kitchen, dinning, bathrooms) and then using wall panel radiator anywhere there is hardwood. Good idea, or dumb idea?


Any advice will help. Thanks so much!
You have already gotten some good advice, here are a few comments to add to the list:

1. Historically I have been out of the house for weekends but with Covid I have been heading north for 3-5 days at a time. I drop the temp to 50F and depending on outdoor temps I can get 3 - 5 days out of storage. Often I have enough energy left in storage to start heating the house before I get there and start a fire (wifi thermostats).

2. I use a propane boiler and don't like it heating storage as you mention. It doesn't "really" do this but I would see some flow going through my return to storage and could see the top of the tank heating a bit. In order to stop this I leverage an electric check valve which isolates storage. Thinking about what someone mentioned, using a 40 gallon tank to avoid short cycling, I might consider eliminating this check valve to help reduce short cycle.

3. If you purchase your propane tank you can shop around for your supply - assuming there is competition in your area.

4. I'm a fan of a closed system.

5. I do heat my DHW with wood/storage - I was quite surprised to see how much energy it takes. If I had to do it over I would invest time researching a On-demand water heater. The reasoning is that lots of energy is used just to keep water in the Indirect hot. This is especially obvious when I return from being away and take a look at the flow temp graph (this allows me to see when DHW calls) I was surprised to see how many times there is a call. One could argue that any heat loss is into the envelope of my house......you can argue this one forever and never get everyone to agree. I would say that it was a lot of work/$ and I would guess that the savings will never pay for itself - more of a gut feel, no data to support this.

6. Agree with radiant and/or low temp radiator panels wherever possible. If you leverage Outdoor reset you will be amazed at how low you can go with flow temps.

7. Not sure if you have your boiler yet but many of the European gasification boilers have built in Outdoor Reset Controls as well as the ability to control flow temps for different zones (mine can manage 2 mixing valves (zones) as well a 3rd for DHW).

Good luck!
 

S.Whiplash

Member
Oct 28, 2012
110
You need pressurized storage nothing will last more than a few years with being open to oxygen and nothing is maintenance free with anything!

This is a really inaccurate statement, I'm surprised no one has taken the time to correct you. There are plenty of open system wood burners that have lasted 20+ years and quite a few of the Garn units are still in service from the early 80's.
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
995
South Central Minnesota
This is a really inaccurate statement, I'm surprised no one has taken the time to correct you. There are plenty of open system wood burners that have lasted 20+ years and quite a few of the Garn units are still in service from the early 80's.
That and you can set a system up so the water in the boiler/piping is a pressurized /closed system and your storage is open via a drop in heat exchanger like I'm running in my shop system using a 550 gallon SS vented product tote I acquired from my work after someone damaged it by not opening the vent when pumping product out of it. (not only is it not made for pressure, it can't take much vacuum either ;-) It was quite interesting on the production floor when a 48" x 48" x 60" stainless steel tank collapsed like a partially crushed pop can.
 
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hyfire

Minister of Fire
Aug 3, 2013
718
Ont, Canada
Ok my statement was pretty rough, sorry about that, . Many boiler manufactures cut warranty time 50% when used as an open system.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,736
Nova Scotia
Ok my statement was pretty rough, sorry about that, . Many boiler manufactures cut warranty time 50% when used as an open system.
Boiler is just one part of the whole system tho. You can have pressurized closed boiler and distribution and open unpressurized storage in the same system.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
Boiler is just one part of the whole system tho. You can have pressurized closed boiler and distribution and open unpressurized storage in the same system.
And it still requires water testing and treatment. No???
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
995
South Central Minnesota
And it still requires water testing and treatment. No???
In my system the open portion (storage) never leaves the storage tank. I have Tom's (american solartechnics) heat exchanger in there and he recommended no treatment for the tank water and the temp of the water is enough. None of this water is distributed or runs through a circulator. The closed / pressurized portion might require a minimal treatment, I used Rectorseals 8 in 1 boiler treatment and spent about $35 total on the treatment chemicals.
 

S.Whiplash

Member
Oct 28, 2012
110
In my system the open portion (storage) never leaves the storage tank. I have Tom's (american solartechnics) heat exchanger in there and he recommended no treatment for the tank water and the temp of the water is enough. None of this water is distributed or runs through a circulator. The closed / pressurized portion might require a minimal treatment, I used Rectorseals 8 in 1 boiler treatment and spent about $35 total on the treatment chemicals.
That is probably so the boiler treatment chemical does not degrade the liner of the open storage tank, what material is your tank lined with? In most cases with an open metal storage tank the boiler treatment would be a positive addition to limit rusting.
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
995
South Central Minnesota

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,730
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA

TuckerTerra2000

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
5
Maine
Thanka for all the discussion folks. I am reading each one, but still not sure which route Ill go with storage because it seems like there are many pros and cons to each way. I was thinking an open storage tank would be fine but I didn't think about the oxygen problem. Maybe I should go with and open system with a closed loop heat exchanger in it would be best but I'm not sure that I wouldnt loose efficiency. What are the major pros to a pressure system...
 
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hobbyheater

Minister of Fire
Nov 14, 2011
1,179
Thanka for all the discussion folks. I am reading each one, but still not sure which route Ill go with storage because it seems like there are many pros and cons to each way. I was thinking an open storage tank would be fine but I didn't think about the oxygen problem. Maybe I should go with and open system with a closed loop heat exchanger in it would be best but I'm not sure that I wouldnt loose efficiency. What are the major pros to a pressure system...
I have run an open system since 1982 and with it, I have worn out 2 boilers but corrosion was not the reason for their failure. The boiler and storage share the same water ( 1,400 gallons) with an open-to-atmosphere expansion tank a storey above the storage tank. There are 2 copper heat exchangers in the storage; one for DHW and the other feeds the baseboards for heat. There are three metals in the system; black steel, the 2 copper heat exchangers, and a little stainless steel in some of the valving.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,736
Nova Scotia
And it still requires water testing and treatment. No???
Don't think. Necessarily. Might depend what you use for a storage tank. My entire system is closed and I did no testing/treatment. Aside from some ph balancing before filling.
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
Don't think. Necessarily. Might depend what you use for a storage tank. My entire system is closed and I did no testing/treatment. Aside from some ph balancing before filling.
Kinda what I’ve learned hanging around here. Evaporation requires refills that then needs more chemicals to get water back into proper range. Just like a swimming pool.
Im 100% confident that I could shut off my make up water supply and suffer no ill effects.