Choosing a reliable indoor epa certified wood boiler- HELP!

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
I have been researching wood gasification boilers for months now. As soon as I narrow down a unit to purchase I find an article or feedback from someone that gives me doubts about my choice. I live in Connecticut and my town will only allow indoor boilers. My house is a combination of radiant and forced air heat. The plan is to put the unit in an external garage and run 165+ft of insulated PEX to my house. I spoke to my HVAC installer and he gave me a rough idea on how many BTU's I would need (160K-200K). He is not familiar with wood boilers and cannot answer all of my questions. I am looking for a system I can load 1-2 times a day without major headaches. Do all gasification boilers batch burn and require 800-1000 gallons of storage? Do they smolder if the water temp is met so I do not waste wood? I am trying to heat a 5500 sq/ft house well insulated house and a 650-1200sq/ft of external garage. any suggestions would be appreciated!
 

cumminstinkerer

Burning Hunk
Feb 2, 2016
162
central iowa
@Joncombat smoldering is the biggest waste of wood/energy, storage is by by far the best option, I have an Econoburn 100 with 1500 gallon of storage heating 2600 total sq ft of shady insulation 1930s farm house, it works but is a bit small, in that real cold snap a month ago it took all the little boiler could handle to keep up with the house and carry me through til midday on storage, I think I may have found some wetter than ideal wood during that stretch too, I personally wouldn't want to run without storage however @Case1030 does and gets along fine, different setups work different.
 
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Case1030

Feeling the Heat
Dec 12, 2017
352
Manitoba
If you don't want to do storage try a Polar G-class or Heatmaster. I have owned both and had a good experience.

Just recently upgraded to a Polar G2+Plus and loving it (installed in my Garage). When idling unlike conventional units, it doesn't smoke or smolder. Best of both worlds I load 2x per day and never have to light a match. After the first fire a nice cold bed develops which helps prevent bridging of logs aswell.

Indoor smoke extraction works great, very quiet, easy to clean, no electronics to go bad. The Polar Furnace/P&M owner was very helpful and answered any questions pertaining to the boiler and recommendations. By the sounds of it a Polar G3 would work for you and is EPA 2020 and 26% Tax credit approved.
 
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E Yoder

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2017
523
Floyd, VA
As was said with the right draft system a boiler can shut down tight enough to not smolder while idling. That bring said, storage is great if you have the space and cash.
The G series works quite well without additional storage, I'm sure the Polar does too. They have several hundred gallons built into the unit too help have longer burn cycles.
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
What ones were you looking at then got dissuaded?
I was looking at the S3 Turbo 50 (BTU's are on the low side for my needs), Econoburn (yearly maintenance requires you to cut through insulation, scrape caulking to clean heat exchanger). Looking into the Polar G3 and vedolux lambda 650.
Storage tanks are expensive. Any recommendations on manufacturers/models. I have seen many low cost propane tank conversions.
 
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Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
@Joncombat smoldering is the biggest waste of wood/energy, storage is by by far the best option, I have an Econoburn 100 with 1500 gallon of storage heating 2600 total sq ft of shady insulation 1930s farm house, it works but is a bit small, in that real cold snap a month ago it took all the little boiler could handle to keep up with the house and carry me through til midday on storage, I think I may have found some wetter than ideal wood during that stretch too, I personally wouldn't want to run without storage however @Case1030 does and gets along fine, different setups work different.
When I said smolder I meant damper closes, fan shuts off, coals are still lit, when heat is called it will fire up again.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
I was looking at the S3 Turbo 50 (BTU's are on the low side for my needs), Econoburn (yearly maintenance requires you to cut through insulation, scrape caulking to clean heat exchanger). Looking into the Polar G3 and vedolux lambda 650.
Storage tanks are expensive. Any recommendations on manufacturers/models. I have seen many low cost propane tank conversions.
Looking at your list I'd be going with the Vedolux without question. A smaller version was on my final short list of two boilers.
I'll never forget how helpful and nice they were on the phone when I talked to them. They never tried to push their boiler against the others on my list. Didn't talk trash about anybody else's stuff and explained the reason why they were telling me "stuff"
Total class act is what I experienced.

ASME rated tanks are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination if that's your direction. I lumped it into do it once and never worry about going back. I know plenty of fabrication guys (one welds broken booms on cranes if that tells you anything) but the time to acquire the 2 tanks, get them to the shop, refit the bungs, pressure test and then drive them another 270 miles to the job.
Sure I could have done it myself with my own welder but then I'm not using rated tanks IF something went south.
 

Case1030

Feeling the Heat
Dec 12, 2017
352
Manitoba
Looking at your list I'd be going with the Vedolux without question. A smaller version was on my final short list of two boilers.
I'll never forget how helpful and nice they were on the phone when I talked to them. They never tried to push their boiler against the others on my list. Didn't talk trash about anybody else's stuff and explained the reason why they were telling me "stuff"
Total class act is what I experienced.

ASME rated tanks are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination if that's your direction. I lumped it into do it once and never worry about going back. I know plenty of fabrication guys (one welds broken booms on cranes if that tells you anything) but the time to acquire the 2 tanks, get them to the shop, refit the bungs, pressure test and then drive them another 270 miles to the job.
Sure I could have done it myself with my own welder but then I'm not using rated tanks IF something went south.
Looks like only the Vedolux 450 is approved for the tax credit according to the EPA database. Is the 450 much smaller than the 650?
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,510
Northern Maine
Looks like only the Vedolux 450 is approved for the tax credit according to the EPA database. Is the 450 much smaller than the 650?
I have zero idea on that smaller unit in your application. I’ll say that I knew my boiler was at the bottom of what was useable BTU and I really should have up sized. I burn longer times needing live burn reloads.
 

Case1030

Feeling the Heat
Dec 12, 2017
352
Manitoba
I have zero idea on that smaller unit in your application. I’ll say that I knew my boiler was at the bottom of what was useable BTU and I really should have up sized. I burn longer times needing live burn reloads.
That's another factor. How many times does the OP want to batch burn per day?

When sizing a non-storage boiler, it common to size for 2x loads per day. (Am and pm)

Being that the G3 is nearly double the firebox of the Vedolux 650 size in a similar batch burn storage application you might be loading equivalent of 4x per day. (Also down draft burners work best when their is a coal bed left over.)

So everyone is aware I'm not getting into a debate about batch burn vs non-storage... just letting Jon know the differences to expect. Also will you have a dedicated space indoors to house a 1500gallon+ storage room?

And you might need to over size rads/heat exchangers to stretch storage times when the storage temperature drops.
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
I have zero idea on that smaller unit in your application. I’ll say that I knew my boiler was at the bottom of what was useable BTU and I really should have up sized. I burn longer times needing live burn reloads.
The EPA wood furnace database has the Vedolux 650 listed but I see the efficiency for the 650 is 73%. The firebox is smaller than the Polar. I do not see many reviews/info on the Polar G3. The pricing I received for the 650 is 12,558.00 vs 12,900 for the Polar. The Polar has 250 gallons of water storage while the Vedolux is <37 gallons. I am also trying to determine if it is better to keep additional water storage in the house or keep it in the external garage. My concern is antifreeze and keeping pumps on to continuously pump water (165ft, one way) 330Ft round trip from the boiler to the house.
 

hobbyheater

Minister of Fire
Nov 14, 2011
1,179
t. The plan is to put the unit in an external garage and run 165+ft of insulated PEX to my house. d house and a 650-1200sq/ft of external garage. any suggestions would be appreciated!
Have you considered Garn lots of horsepower and storage !
 

chew72

Member
Oct 27, 2009
80
NS, Canada
Am I correct in assuming it's easier to have the storage in the garage for you? If it's similar to my setup it's nice having the storage right beside the boiler.

I'm also running my system without antifreeze. If your storage was in the garage and you use a good insulated pipe buried deep enough freezing should not be an issue especially since you have radiant heat that will probably be a constant draw on the system so you're always going to have water flow in the pipe connecting to the house. If I were to go away and leave my system I do have a 1000 watt electric baseboard just to keep everything above 0. As for the piping if it's below zero and I don't have hot water for heating the smallest radiant zone will still run continuously just so I have flow in the system. I only did it this way because my insulated pipe comes up external to the building. I do plan on adding an addition that will put that insulated pipe coming through the floor inside the heated space.
 

chew72

Member
Oct 27, 2009
80
NS, Canada
Oh ant just my 2cents I like the specs of the Polar G3 better

Edit: It has higher efficiency rating. Also as long as you have storage to support it, the larger loading chamber means you'll be making far fewer trips out to feed it.
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,367
Northern Canada
I was looking at the S3 Turbo 50 (BTU's are on the low side for my needs), Econoburn (yearly maintenance requires you to cut through insulation, scrape caulking to clean heat exchanger). Looking into the Polar G3 and vedolux lambda 650.
Storage tanks are expensive. Any recommendations on manufacturers/models. I have seen many low cost propane tank conversions.
The matinace of the Econoburn is nothing like you have seen or describe.
I have a thread on how the real world can do it.
I have the 200 model,it takes me 2 hours to clean the flue tubes,no cutting of insulation,no sealer.
 
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cumminstinkerer

Burning Hunk
Feb 2, 2016
162
central iowa
I agree with @salecker I have the 100, I have the turbulator linkage removed on mine and it takes maybe 30 minutes to clean the tubes start to finish, mine is the older style with a U block target, clean the tubes, pull U block, stick shop vac in and vacuum lower chamber and below tubes, put blocks back and go, maybe 45 minutes total
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
Have you considered Garn lots of horsepower and storage !
The issue with Garn is the size unit I would need. My garage has 8' ceilings. I believe there is an access hatch on the top of the unit. I would have to install the unit in an area where I would need to cut into the 2nd floor joists to have an access hatch in the 2nd floor of the garage to access the unit.
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
The matinace of the Econoburn is nothing like you have seen or describe.
I have a thread on how the real world can do it.
I have the 200 model,it takes me 2 hours to clean the flue tubes,no cutting of insulation,no sealer.
Here is a snippet from the manual
The boiler Heat Exchanger must be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year. This consists of cleaning the Heat Exchanger tubes of accumulated soot and ash with a wire brush (Figs. 13 & 14) TO CLEAN THE HEAT EXCHANGER FOLLOW THIS PROCEDURE:
1. REMOVE BACK AND TOP PANEL OF THE BOILER.
2. CUT INSULATION TO EXPOSE TOP CLEAN OUT.
3. REMOVE 1/4” STEEL TOP COVER PLATE.AND REAR FLUE PLATE.
4. DISCONNECT THE TURBULATOR ROD BY REMOVING THE NUT AND BOLT WHICH AFFIXES IT TO THE TURBULATOR SHAFT.
5. REMOVE THE TURBULATOR ARMS BY GRASPING THE TURBULATOR CONNECTING ROD AND LIFTING THEM OUT OF THE HEAT EXCHANGER.
6. USING A STEEL BRUSH, REMOVE ANY SOOT AND ASH BUILDUP FROM THE TURBULATOR ARMS AND BRUSH OUT ANY SOOT & ASH FROM THE HEAT EXCHANGER SHAFTS.
7. BRUSH OUT THE SOOT AND ASH FROM THE ASH CHAMBER.
8. REPLACE 1/4” STEEL TOP COVER PLATE AND REAR FLUE PLATE MAKING SURE ALL CONNECTIONS ARE TIGHT, SEALED WITH A HIGH TEMPERATURE SILICONE.
 

Case1030

Feeling the Heat
Dec 12, 2017
352
Manitoba
165ft with a good quality underground pipe like Logstor you will have nothing to worry about. I have my circulator running 24/7, I use a zone valve for the floor heating and the radiator in the furnace I let the fan turn on and off as needed.
Also the benefit to having a continuous flow you don't need to wait for heat and always have the heat plate exchanger running for DHW.

I also keep an electric heater in the garage for backup when I go away for a few days. The water will never freeze with backup in my case because everything is indoors including the boiler and the circulator stays running.

Personally I was planning on installing storage last fall. Then decided the extra space/cost it would consume wasn't worth it for me...

But I always have the option of storage down the road if I wanted. Thats the benefit, you have a choice down the road if you decide storage is beneficial.
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
165ft with a good quality underground pipe like Logstor you will have nothing to worry about. I have my circulator running 24/7, I use a zone valve for the floor heating and the radiator in the furnace I let the fan turn on and off as needed.
Also the benefit to having a continuous flow you don't need to wait for heat and always have the heat plate exchanger running for DHW.

I also keep an electric heater in the garage for backup when I go away for a few days. The water will never freeze with backup in my case because everything is indoors including the boiler and the circulator stays running.

Personally I was planning on installing storage last fall. Then decided the extra space/cost it would consume wasn't worth it for me...

But I always have the option of storage down the road if I wanted. Thats the benefit, you have a choice down the road if you decide storage is beneficial.
how much power does a circulator use per year? What is the lifespan? I like the electric heater idea. Is it possible to bypass the heat exchanger that connects the wood boiler to the home furnace so my propane does not heat up the water from the wood boiler?
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
995
South Central Minnesota
The EPA wood furnace database has the Vedolux 650 listed but I see the efficiency for the 650 is 73%. The firebox is smaller than the Polar. I do not see many reviews/info on the Polar G3. The pricing I received for the 650 is 12,558.00 vs 12,900 for the Polar. The Polar has 250 gallons of water storage while the Vedolux is <37 gallons. I am also trying to determine if it is better to keep additional water storage in the house or keep it in the external garage. My concern is antifreeze and keeping pumps on to continuously pump water (165ft, one way) 330Ft round trip from the boiler to the house.
The Vedolux is designed for a closed system (pressurized). Less water treatment costs and ongoing maintenance to maintain water quality. There is a Garn owner here who probably wishes he went with a closed system vs open. Some will say closed systems are more expensive and that is true if local codes require rated tank(s). I converted a couple scrap propane tanks and that ended up being less expensive than an open storage tank at the expense of my time to clean and prep them. Just another point to consider. Also the P3 is pushing 3000lbs vs probably 1200lb for the Vedolux - a consideration if you need to place the boiler in a basement or other space limited destination.
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
995
South Central Minnesota
how much power does a circulator use per year? What is the lifespan? I like the electric heater idea. Is it possible to bypass the heat exchanger that connects the wood boiler to the home furnace so my propane does not heat up the water from the wood boiler?
My Grundfos alpha 2 ECM circulators are very efficient, about 8 watts on low, 25 watts on medium and have not needed high speed for anything yet. In a closed (pressurized system) they should last a long time. In a open system you might have shorter life or need to purchase the stainless steel version. They have a summer mode where they run a very short time every day to prevent the rotor from locking up from non-use.
 
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Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
The Vedolux is designed for a closed system (pressurized). Less water treatment costs and ongoing maintenance to maintain water quality. There is a Garn owner here who probably wishes he went with a closed system vs open. Some will say closed systems are more expensive and that is true if local codes require rated tank(s). I converted a couple scrap propane tanks and that ended up being less expensive than an open storage tank at the expense of my time to clean and prep them. Just another point to consider. Also the P3 is pushing 3000lbs vs probably 1200lb for the Vedolux - a consideration if you need to place the boiler in a basement or other space limited destination.
I have the space in my external 2.5 car garage. whatever unit I decide with I will need some thermal storage. I might be able to get old propane tanks locally but do not know of anyone who can reliably modify them into water storage tanks. The G3 is heavy because of the 250 gallons of onboard water storage. I do not know if the Vedolux 650 will get my the 26% tax credit for the install since it is 73% efficient. Here are some specs I found online for the tax credit:
What is this new tax credit?
  • Effective Dates: The new tax credit under Sec. 25(D) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (“IRC” or “tax code”) came into effect on January 1, 2021 for qualifying purchases and installations completed on or after that date, through December 31, 2023
  • Credit Amount: Creates a new tax credit of 26 percent of the purchase and installation costs (with no cap or lifetime limit) for tax years 2021 and 2022; moves down to 22 percent of purchase and installation costs in 2023 (under Sec. 25D of the U.S. tax code)
  • Qualifying Products: Require qualifying products (any biomass-fueled heater) must have a thermal efficiency of at least 75 percent efficient per the higher heating value (HHV)of the fuel
 

Joncombat

Member
Dec 28, 2018
30
Danbury ct
Oh ant just my 2cents I like the specs of the Polar G3 better

Edit: It has higher efficiency rating. Also as long as you have storage to support it, the larger loading chamber means you'll be making far fewer trips out to feed it.
How long has the G3 model been out. How reliable is it? what is the company support like or do they dump your over to the local place where you purchased the unit?