Coal winter close to end update

ddahlgren Posted By ddahlgren, Mar 28, 2015 at 5:08 PM

  1. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren
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    Apr 18, 2011
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    Here is the deal for me switched over to coal for this year with an old Crane 404 coal stove fairly small but a bit bigger than the Avalon Pendleton wood stove I used. Here are the differences I found.

    They both make dust and dirt just different kinds both similar in work required to keep cleaned up.

    Wood gets very hot then tapers off coal plugs and chugs with the same output over a long period of time.

    If you have to buy wood like me coal is about 30% more money but comes ready to use as 300 million years old more or less Wood bought is never seasoned no matter what is claimed.

    During cold weather the Pendleton would get 4 to 5 hours a load so at least once during the night get up load relight coal burns 8 to 24 hours with no help depending on temps outside and wind.

    Coal makes more ash than wood by far and has to be dealt with every 12 to 24 hours.

    Coal has no bugs or creatures that crawl out from under the bark when thawed wood does at times.

    They both have a place and a lot depends on age physical ability age etc. that allows you to perform tasks needed.

    Coal like wood has variants just like different types of wood coal from different mines have different burn rates and willingness to burn.

    I like the long burn time and hate the daily ash detail to empty the pan but sleeping a full 8 is a winner for my life.

    At the end of the day lots similar lots different but my take on it. For my situation and life challenges coal wins by a bit. And yes this is all about anthracite coal not bituminous. That is a whole different world.

    Dave
     
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  2. Hardtopseadan

    Hardtopseadan
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  3. tarzan

    tarzan
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    Probably not the place to post but I would have switched to coal this season if not for a couple problems. Not the least of which, I am surrounded by bit coal and no Anthracite to be had.

    Instead, I got a Blaze King and now get the burn times I was after. I can no longer process my own fire wood and that also played into wanting to switch to coal but I found a reasonable wood supplier and use less wood now so all in all I'm happy with my choice.
     
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  4. Phoenix Hatchling

    Phoenix Hatchling
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    Confusing post given the title.
     
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  5. begreen

    begreen
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    Added Coal to the title.
     
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  6. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon
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    Dec 25, 2007
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    Thanks for the info. I was curious about this. The ag supply store down my road has a large coal heater right in the main room, they love it, and are trying to sell them, so I'd sort of vaguely thought of at least looking into it. You've saved me the trouble. Just esthetically, I don't like coal, and I adore cordwood, so coal would need to have major advantages for me to seriously consider it. Thanks to you, I know it doesn't, though I can see how it might for some.

    Very good of you to post such a thoughtful list. Much appreciated!
     
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  7. Wisneaky

    Wisneaky
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    Feb 8, 2015
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    Thanks for the info. I'm looking into burning coal next season.
     
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  8. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren
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    I started for a couple of reasons first being I am in my 60's with a worn out back and knees from working too hard for too long but both kids got through college and soon to be a grandfather and starting to feel like one. This makes cutting and splitting wood something out of my reach so have to buy wood. Wood in SE CT is around 225 for a 'seasoned' cord that needs at least 18 moths to 2 years more. I enjoyed burning wood but it was getting difficult to do is all and rarely slept through the night so a full 8 hours not going to happen with what I have to work with. Zoning (historical district) told me no on the thought of having 10 cords of wood in a residential neighborhood.

    I would be very wary of stoves sold by Tractor Supply or Agway if US stove or Hotblast and the others like it. They are fragile and difficult to run at times and very easy to over fire. If going to buy new and would wonder why think Hitzer DS Machine and a few others but they are currently among the best new. A good condition 50 to 100 year old coal stove witll serve you just fine though spare parts problematic and sometimes need to be recast using a broken original as a pattern. The peak of coal burning high tech was around 1909-1925 and an old Glenwood or Crawford base burner or parlor stove among the very best. They are the pinnacle of converting coal into heat economically. They usually have nickel plated trim mica windows and a work of art, just be prepared to dig very deep to own one. 2500 to 3500 for a retstored one is not uncommon. I have an inexpensive stove that is around 45 years old and does a fine job and have 250 tied up in it including changing a cracked window new gasket and stove paint.

    I would suggest anyone interested and like me like wood but physically a challenge to deal with it and getting too old to easily cut and split it or have to buy unseasoned wood do a search for coal burning forums before diving in. It costs a good deal more than wood even if you have to buy the wood at 225 a cord but way less than fuel oil or propane or God forbid electric. It is a tool and has it's place and if young and strong have access to a wood lot switching is going to cost a fortune compared to burning wood you cut and split. The whole point of the post was and is what it is like to burn coal from one wood burners perspective, certainly not a recruiting drive to switch over as it has plenty of pitfalls as well starting with a coal stove is a lousy wood burner no matter what anyone says it is basically a smoke dragon that has to be run hot and fast or a creosote factory so the small fire in the shoulder months to take the chill off probably not a great idea unless cut up pallets for an hour. So that versatility is gone but a good one will idle along at 175 stove top for days on end. 24 hours is easy and some have gotten up to 53 hours but they are better at this than me too.
     
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  9. bholler

    bholler
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    There are allot of good new coal stoves out both hand fired and stoker. And ds machine is not one of them their engineering is absolutely horrible . Hitzlers are good as well as harmans and alaskas and the cost of coal will vary allot depending on location here it is right around 200 a ton or less if you drive up and pick it up at a cracker
     
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  10. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren
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    I have been told by other the DS runs fairly well is all never burned one a friend has a Hitzer and loves it and last I heard Harman is getting out of the coal stove biz. I do know the US Stove and some others sold at bargain prices are junk.
     
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  11. bholler

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    The ds stoves i have worked on all have had a goofy back or side wall that is just firebrick with no support behind them the smoke path goes up then down behind that wall then up again which does help extract more heat but those bricks are not going to last like that more than a year or 2. And no harman is not getting out of coal stoves Hitzlers seem to be pretty good stoves
     
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  12. iamlucky13

    iamlucky13
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    Out of curiosity, what do you do with your ash?

    I spread my wood ash on my property. I've heard of concerns about doing so with coal on the large scale with power plant ash on farm fields due to the mercury, arsenic, etc in it, but I'm not sure it matters on the small scale, because I'm not sure coal ash has any more of those minerals than wood ash.
     
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  13. 3650

    3650
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    May 8, 2011
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    would love to burn coal, but the coal mine 10 miles away wont sell to consumers
     
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  14. tarzan

    tarzan
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    May be just as well. All coal is not the same. Steam coal (used in power plants) usually makes poor house coal, metallurgy coal is better but even then some burns better than others and still produces a lot of yellow smoke. Anthracite is what you want for home heating and as far as I know, only found in Pa.
     
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  15. 3650

    3650
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    yeh it's bituminous here so not a good choice.
     
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  16. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic
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    Just wondering, when you burn coal to you get to watch it burn like wood or does it just glow like at the tail end of a wood burn?
     
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  17. tarzan

    tarzan
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    Sorta like charcoal at night. Maybe some flickering blue to orange flames but nothing to watch.
     
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  18. Stelcom66

    Stelcom66
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    What are the major design differences of wood and coal stoves? The previous owner of this house burned coal, I only found out after asking why I saw small pieces in the garage. I didn't ask how he liked it - that was 30 years ago and didn't consider it back then. The stove I had previous to the Vermont Castings I have now was designed for
    both wood and coal, never burned coal. I wish I could burn coal as an alternative. Lately if you search for 'Firewood' on Craigslist, here in Conn. about half to two thirds have results with the word 'Wanted'.
     
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  19. bholler

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    Coal needs air to come in from the bottom so coal stoves have grates and the air is introduced below those grates. Wood works best when the air flows over the fire so wood stoves have the air inlets in the front or side so air washes over the fire. Not to mention new wood stoves all have some sort of secondary combustion system. Some better coal stoves also introduce a little fresh air in at the top of the fire box to burn off gasses as well. Also most combination units really dont work that well. They are usually a decent wood stove or a decent coal stove that you can sort of burn the other one in. There are a few exceptions that work ok for both but very few. And many of those require changing out parts to change fuels
     
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  20. BIGDADDY

    BIGDADDY
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    Thanks for sharing.

    My first house I had installed an EFM stoker boiler with hot water baseboard. I burned 3 tons of coal a year.
     
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  21. Stelcom66

    Stelcom66
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    Good information - thanks.
     
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  22. xman23

    xman23
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    Thanks Dave for taking the time to educate us. This year I was in a house with a huge coal stove. The house was a large colonial, and the room it was in was large, but did that thing cranked out some heat.
     
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  23. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren
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    Apr 18, 2011
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    If you live in NE in general there are 2 basic coal mines you can get coal from at a dealer. Kimmel from Tractor Supply if they carry it again and Blaschack that is sold by several dealers. It is generally in 40 to 50 pound bags depending on deal and varies from 250 to 320 a ton so you have to shop around. Kimmel is easier to learn with as it lights easily and reacts fast for coal but still slow compared to wood.. It also has very large blue flames initially maybe 8 to 12 inches tall. and still 4 to 6 for the next few hours. It does burn hot so you have to be careful to not let it get away from you until it settles down after reloading.. The safety device is to open pipe damper and top loading door to kill draft and flush heat up the chimney and cools back down quickly. Blaschack burns slower and cooler but longer by far. It also takes longer to change after a different air settings made. I burned about 3 tons in a 1400 sq.ft. house and had to reload about every 12-14 in cruising above idle about 250 on stove top. 10-12 at 400 to 500 and a few times I ran it up to 700 on -17F nights with a very stiff wind maybe 25 gusting to 45.that is every 6 to 7 hours. Best bet is to start your first fire when you can take a day or so off work and be around it and better if anyone in you area burns coal invite them over for beer and pizza for a first coal fire party to show you the ropes as nothing like wood other than the first fire for a half hour burning wood to start the coal. A lot of coal guys burn wood in the shoulder moths and switch to coal when it gets cold enough to do it for 24 hours without the need for a 'window stat'. Hope this helps.
     
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  24. Wisneaky

    Wisneaky
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    Feb 8, 2015
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    I bought some anthracite coal from an Amish guy. I believe its reading coal. It is in 50lb bags. There is definitely a learning curve to burning coal. I found the best way to start it is to use some charcoal to get it going. My first fire didn't work out the best because I was afraid to put too much on. I did some reading about it and the coal bed needs to be deep and it isn't like wood where it will get real hot in the house real quick. So once I got over my fear that it would cook me out of the house I pilled it on. I'm still used to messing with my wood fire and coal is the complete opposite that it does not like to be messed with. Took me a little bit to get the draft set up for it, but I think I have it now. When you change the draft setting it takes a little bit for the coal to respond to it. My last fill up I got about 24 hours before I had to refill, but I think I was shaking it a little too often. This time I'm going to try to wait 12 hours before shaking it down. Does anyone know is there a certain way the coal looks or flue temp I should look for before shaking it back down?
     
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  25. FionaD

    FionaD
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    This has been interesting reading for me. Here in the UK coal has been the main source of fuel for open fires (rather than stoves, generally) in most parts of the country for over a century - wood stoves are fairly new in most people's homes over here, so the hesitation and newness some of you are describing here over coal mirrors what many Brits are more recently going through with regard to wood burning :)

    I have never burned call in the wood stove I've now had for two winters (although I belive the F3 will tolerate a little coal every now and then, even though it's not a dedicated multi fuel stove) but I burned coal previous to that in open fires for thirty years and there are several differences...

    - Coal, as someone has already said here, requires a draft from below.
    - To light a coal fire, lay lots of crumpled newspaper, then lots of cross-cross kindling, then enough coal to cover the top of the kindling and then a few bits more...(it can sit like that as long as you like this it's ready to light). Then light the newspaper in several places, where it sticks out from under the kindling. It will take about five minutes for the coal to begin to ignite from the kindling
    - coal will burn with a strong flame for about an hour before the flames will die back, leaving glowing coals. The coaling stage of a coal fire lasts the longest.... Longer than wood.
    - when to add more coal depends on your set up.. But generally speaking you will need to add more coal well before the existing coals stop glowing red. If there are enough red coals, you can pretty much just tip a bucket load of coal on the top and it will take fine - LOTS of smoke at this stage though!

    coal fires can be 'smoored' or put to sleep, by covering a good bed of glowing coals with ashes, then in the morning scrape the ashes to one side, give the coal a good rake and you should see a glowing heart of coal inside the pile, ready to add more fuel. In the Highlands peat has been the main fuel for centuries... Smooring was always traditionally done to a peat fire, there are many beautiful Gaelic prayers that are traditionally spoken when the fire is smoored and when it is awoken again in the morning..

    But I digress... Coal gives out way more heat than wood and of course way more pollution too, generally. I can't speak much for the smokeless coal that folk burn in the cities in the UK, which are smokeless zones, I've only lived in the country and burned ordinary house coal or peat, till I became a woody person!
     
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