Getting ready to purchase, Prepping the needed resources.

Dan P.

New Member
Sep 9, 2019
2
Wallingford CT
Good Afternoon All,

I have been reading a lot of really good posts on here and am truly noticing that I know nothing/close to nothing on how to install a wood boiler with storage and DHW.

My question is: I am in CT and i will need to contract a designer/ do'er to plumb everything in. Does anyone know who has any experience and is willing to travel to central CT to set up a new system this year?

This new system will be tied into my current oil fired baseboard heating. Also adding a loop or two in the in-law apt right above the system to replace or supplement the electric baseboard currently in use.

Thank you very much for your consideration and assistance.

Dan Piper
203-232-8642
Wallingford CT 06492
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,133
Northern NH
I cannot recommend a contractor but I would recommend that any system be designed to NYSERDA standards by a NYSERDA qualified installer. NYSERDA is obviously New York State not CT but NY pays some generous incentives for wood heat and they wanted to make sure that the money was well spent to assure a minimum standard installation to ensure that the money was not wasted. If you have the time it may be good idea to run the this free video course that NYSERDA contractors have to take. https://www.heatspring.com/courses/hydronics-for-high-efficiency-biomass-boilers-sponsored-by-nyserda/
Its free and is given by arguably the most qualified guy to give the course in the US. Yes some of it may go over your head but John S explains things real well.

You did not mention what brand of wood boiler you are considering but many of the distributors require a qualified contractor to install their equipment for the warranty to be valid. If for example you are considering a Froling or an Effecta give Tarm Biomass (the distributor in the US) a call and ask them. They may be able to direct you in the right direction.

An upfront FYI, properly designing a biomass system integrated with an existing heating system is fairly complex and most oil/gas heating companies are clueless. Unless the designer is working for free, the designer has to spend a lot of upfront time on the design. Most of us on this board figured it out ourselves, so its not rocket science and when it screws up we figure out how to fix it since we designed and built it. If you are buying a system from someone else you have not had to understand the design and therefore may be dependent forever on techs to maintain and fix your system, therefore you need to partner with a firm that is going to be around for a long time. They also need to supply you good documentation including a functional description on how everything works so when something stop working a technician unfamiliar with the system can read through it and use it for diagnostics. Most heating techs will generally refuse to work on wood systems.

Inevitably the best person qualified to design and install the system is not the cheapest. Unfortunately someone can not just sell you a design package unless they are a PE licensed in CT and CT is PITA to get a PE for an out of stater. Thus to avoid a PE you end up with a plumbing and heating firm that does the design on their own and install its then ends up with the liability for the whole system. Nothing wrong with that if they know what they are doing but as discussed few do.

The other standard caveat is unless you have a wood supply cut split and properly seasoned its going to be two years before you can run the system to its full potential. Unless you buy wood at a major premium from a wood supplier with a kiln for drying the wood, its highly likely that any wood you buy no matter how dry the firewood seller claims will need a minimum of another year of proper seasoning before its dry enough for the boiler to run as designed. In my area firewood sells for about $225 to 250 a cord while kiln dried is $375.
 
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Dan P.

New Member
Sep 9, 2019
2
Wallingford CT
I cannot recommend a contractor but I would recommend that any system be designed to NYSERDA standards by a NYSERDA qualified installer. NYSERDA is obviously New York State not CT but NY pays some generous incentives for wood heat and they wanted to make sure that the money was well spent to assure a minimum standard installation to ensure that the money was not wasted. If you have the time it may be good idea to run the this free video course that NYSERDA contractors have to take. https://www.heatspring.com/courses/hydronics-for-high-efficiency-biomass-boilers-sponsored-by-nyserda/
Its free and is given by arguably the most qualified guy to give the course in the US. Yes some of it may go over your head but John S explains things real well.

You did not mention what brand of wood boiler you are considering but many of the distributors require a qualified contractor to install their equipment for the warranty to be valid. If for example you are considering a Froling or an Effecta give Tarm Biomass (the distributor in the US) a call and ask them. They may be able to direct you in the right direction.

An upfront FYI, properly designing a biomass system integrated with an existing heating system is fairly complex and most oil/gas heating companies are clueless. Unless the designer is working for free, the designer has to spend a lot of upfront time on the design. Most of us on this board figured it out ourselves, so its not rocket science and when it screws up we figure out how to fix it since we designed and built it. If you are buying a system from someone else you have not had to understand the design and therefore may be dependent forever on techs to maintain and fix your system, therefore you need to partner with a firm that is going to be around for a long time. They also need to supply you good documentation including a functional description on how everything works so when something stop working a technician unfamiliar with the system can read through it and use it for diagnostics. Most heating techs will generally refuse to work on wood systems.

Inevitably the best person qualified to design and install the system is not the cheapest. Unfortunately someone can not just sell you a design package unless they are a PE licensed in CT and CT is PITA to get a PE for an out of stater. Thus to avoid a PE you end up with a plumbing and heating firm that does the design on their own and install its then ends up with the liability for the whole system. Nothing wrong with that if they know what they are doing but as discussed few do.

The other standard caveat is unless you have a wood supply cut split and properly seasoned its going to be two years before you can run the system to its full potential. Unless you buy wood at a major premium from a wood supplier with a kiln for drying the wood, its highly likely that any wood you buy no matter how dry the firewood seller claims will need a minimum of another year of proper seasoning before its dry enough for the boiler to run as designed. In my area firewood sells for about $225 to 250 a cord while kiln dried is $375.

Well now, that is quite alot to think about and very much appreciated!

So, yes I understand almost everything mentioned, the one thing that im too sure on is codes and if i do it myself, do i need to get it inspected?

If I do it myself, and get it wrong, I cant afford to drain my oil tank when the wood runs out and the pre-existing oil fired furnace ties to keep the (hopefully) 1000+ gal of water hot.

If i am integral to the design process, working on it with the designer, are these systems straight forward enough to go through a pre determined checklist when something goes wrong / breaks?

I have the wood required already. Been stockpiling for a couple years now knowing that we were going in this direction. My wife is tired of paying $300+ in oil every 3-4 weeks during this past winter.

Thank you for the info and url above. I will review and learn as much as I can and now be able to ask more intelligent questions.

I will be putting in a Froling. The thought here is that my wife ("i will not have anything to do with wood heat") will see how easy it is and might be willing to build a fire if the house cools off when she sees no more oil bills.

Thank you again,
Dan Piper
 

hedge wood

Member
Mar 1, 2009
102
Eastern NE
Dan P Welcome to the forum.
The only things I would add is remember wood is not free and burning wood is a life style. These boiler systems can run into serious money. Ten years ago when I installed my Garn I did all the work other than some spray foaming and I still ending up with $30,000 in the system. Back then there were some tax saving and I also use it to heat my farm shop so that helped lower the bill some. I run year around as I heat my domestic. I burn 10-15 cord a year. I have pastures that need cleaned up so I have plenty of the {Free} wood but it takes a lot of time and equipment to get it ready and then you have to feed it. It does the job and keeps us warm and heats the water but like other pieces of equipment they have there problems. A few pumps over the years but last year the big one hit and a weld cracked and I started leaking water. By the time I got up and running again I spent $3,000 dollars which would have bought a lot of propane that has been around a dollar a gallon the last couple of years in my area. Run all your numbers twice and do your home work before you write the first check.
 
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TCaldwell

Minister of Fire
All kidding aside, while hedgweood’s experience was not normal, and a froling is a proven boiler, have you considered a garn?
It’s just as easy to operate and much less complex to install, I’d argue at the end of the day no more expensive either. I believe there are 5 installs currently in ct.
 

hedge wood

Member
Mar 1, 2009
102
Eastern NE
All kidding aside, while hedgweood’s experience was not normal, and a froling is a proven boiler, have you considered a garn?
It’s just as easy to operate and much less complex to install, I’d argue at the end of the day no more expensive either. I believe there are 5 installs currently in ct.
I agree that my experience with the weld that cracked wasn't normal but I don't know any other owners either. Yes I know the unit was out of warranty as it was nine years old but they like to talk about how long there units run. When I called up there to talk to them it took a week to call me back just to say I will have the owner call you. Three weeks later he called me and didn't even offer to give me some gaskets or even a discount on them. I emailed him the pictures of the crack that was about 12 inches long and never heard another word from him. Customer service at its best. I had to pay full price for the parts I needed to get back up and running.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,381
Nova Scotia
Well now, that is quite alot to think about and very much appreciated!

So, yes I understand almost everything mentioned, the one thing that im too sure on is codes and if i do it myself, do i need to get it inspected?

If I do it myself, and get it wrong, I cant afford to drain my oil tank when the wood runs out and the pre-existing oil fired furnace ties to keep the (hopefully) 1000+ gal of water hot.

If i am integral to the design process, working on it with the designer, are these systems straight forward enough to go through a pre determined checklist when something goes wrong / breaks?

I have the wood required already. Been stockpiling for a couple years now knowing that we were going in this direction. My wife is tired of paying $300+ in oil every 3-4 weeks during this past winter.

Thank you for the info and url above. I will review and learn as much as I can and now be able to ask more intelligent questions.

I will be putting in a Froling. The thought here is that my wife ("i will not have anything to do with wood heat") will see how easy it is and might be willing to build a fire if the house cools off when she sees no more oil bills.

Thank you again,
Dan Piper
You will also need storage for a Froling.
 
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