Getting ready to upgrade

UPmqt

New Member
Oct 8, 2018
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Marquette
That's why I want to measure the flow to see if it just needs to move faster. Im afraid it's moving to slow and im just losing my heat at the start of the loop. Im just not sure how much faster I can go before I stop gaining.

As for supply temps there is nothing I can do with my current system. Yes I know that I can go to 180 and I'm set at 170 but it's 40 degrees outside so I try not to until it gets a little colder.
 

BoiledOver

Minister of Fire
Apr 14, 2013
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I know it's not working, I also don't plan on keeping the system that was the point of my original post, I'm upgrading my boiler and the outside lines, Im not looking to fix any of that, I was hoping for options that I may or may not have already known about.
I get that and have based my responses towards your stated goal. The easy way to determine how much wood and which appliance will suite your needs is to know what your needs are. That will be answered by an accurate heat loss analysis. If it's not up your alley to complete one, hire it out. None of us here can answer what is the best for you unless we know how many btu's are required. If we knew that it will take 70,000 btu's over 24 hours during the coldest part of the winter, then we could make suggestions. The size and design of your home requires some solid planning for a complete and efficient HVAC system.

If you change out your system and continue to heat with wood, it will be a big investment up front. Skimping on the design and engineering portion can cost you big headaches and more cash outlay further down the road. It may be that using wood will be the better option for you but how can you know without knowing? Once you know what the heat loss says, choose from the list of available fuels. Any appliance will have an output rating so you can easily size accordingly.

The image was snipped from this website: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/energy-content-d_868.html
02.JPG
 

UPmqt

New Member
Oct 8, 2018
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Marquette
I understand I need to do a heat loss analysis, I'm working on it. As for the other sources we are already set up for propane so if we can't make wood work then we would just remove the boiler and buy 5 or 6 1000lb propane tanks so we could stock up early in the spring and hope it lasts the winter. We aren't interested in any other fuel sources at this time. I know propane is just about the most expensive fuel but it's labor free and we don't really have access to a lot of other options other than fuel oil or pellets.
 

BoiledOver

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Apr 14, 2013
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Pellet boilers are awfully easy too.
Good idea! Here are 2 links, one is for a biomass boiler that uses chips, corn, coal or pellets. The other is for pellets from a place in Norway, MI. The boiler is rated at approximately 950,000 btu's and can be dialed down to 300,000. That should handle whatever you will be heating and then some.

Boiler brochure.

Pellets.

Still leaning towards firewood. The Garn 2000 claims to heat up to 10,000 sq ft with an 82% efficiency rating. No doubt with seasoned fuel wood..
 

gfirkus

Member
Nov 28, 2014
58
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central wisconsin
If you can’t be at least 2 years ahead in wood, you might as well give up the idea of heating your house with wood. It sounds like you want someone to tell you that you can burn fresh split logs. It’s Mother Nature, and guess who wins.
 
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UPmqt

New Member
Oct 8, 2018
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Marquette
To me I just want the best option. For our situation I don't have the room to store that much dry wood. If I could garn barn dry out ten over the summer then that is doable. As for burning green I would only do that with a whole log burner and only if I could keep it close to or less than 30 cord. I only would do that because it's zero labor.
As for the pellet stove that could be an option but every one keeps saying storage but that doesn't have a whole lot of storage does that mean I would just be pumping pellets into it constantly, or I still need additional storage. Also is the crown royal a good stove, does anyone have experience with them.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
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A pellet boiler is a completely different beast. Unlike a wood boiler, A pellet boiler only burns when you need the heat. The fire goes on and off as you need heat. It is much closer to a propane or oil burner. Even a pellet boiler needs some additional maintenance over a gas boiler but not much as long as you get a bulk feeder for pellets. For about 20 K you can get a bulk feed pellet boiler an then add in installation.

Given your insistence about burning unseasoned or poorly seasoned wood, the pellet boiler is far better fit for your use. Granted you are paying more for pellets and are dependent on a local supplier rather then your backyard but the premium paid for pellets offsets the very low heat output you would get from any wood burner burning poorly seasoned wood. It also is better for your families health and safety. Burning poorly seasoned wood puts a lot of pollution in your local air around the house. Carbon monoxide, various intermediate combustion products and high particulate are all in the cards burning green wood plus chimney fires are in your future unless you clean the chimney frequently (possibly a couple of times a winter).
 

UPmqt

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Marquette
But we can't keep comparing it to what we have now. We are getting rid of that so we need to compare everything to an alternate new boiler.. garn ... to pellet type or whatever other option someone suggests.

Im currently loading my boiler twice a day, I don't need a bulk feeder for a pellet stove, I was more concerned with how much I have to burn to maintain heat, not how many times I have to load. Storage is always mentioned, the pellet boiler I was linked to just doesn't have a lot so I was curious.

I am not insisting on burning green wood, I don't want to burn green wood. I'm just saying I don't have room to have 3 years of dry wood on hand. I did say I would burn green in a log boiler but only because it was zero labor. I also don't get the wood from my backyard, i have to buy the fuel no matter where it comes from.

All I was hoping for was people with real world experience with their type of system to give me options that I can look into. If you burn pellets but after using your system you wish you would have gotten the other one you were looking at then i want to know what the other one was and why you wish you would have. Whether it's gasification, or pellet or whatever, or whether it's just a different brand than you bought. There is a ton of misleading information on everything and a lot of numbers that aren't realistic. Or the information that is available is a one page brochure, although it at least gets me a name so I can try finding more.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
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Northern NH
A few last thoughts prior to hitting the ignore button

None of us are paid to give advice on a forum and at some point we decide the original poster is not worth the time to follow the thread and the thread withers away. I expect this point has been reached or will be soon. I do biomass for a living along with other fuels and have paid to take a course from arguably the best home/commercial heating engineer in the country, John Seigenthaler https://www.contractormag.com/hydronics-systems/john-siegenthaler-will-teach-you-how-apply-wood-boilers. I took a similar course from him on hydronics for heating. I have a PE and on occasion do EPA tune ups on large biomass boilers. If you want to pay me $150 an hour door to door and my expenses I will tell you the same thing many folks including myself are telling you. Maybe you will feel better after writing me a check but the advice will be just about the same except I will take the time to do the things that we are telling you to do.

One of things that John S teaches is do not throw good money after bad unless you understand the entire heating system before you try to fit in a heating source. Several posters have told you the same thing in different ways. You need to start with heat loss calculations and an energy audit to see what the current load is and what it could be. We all guess you have some serious heat losses that need fixing or some very bad habits . Next you need to look at the distribution in the house and see if its designed correctly and if its performing to its design. Once you have a handle on that, you then need to make the decision if you are going to spend the money to fix the issues with the home or the distribution as that is going to substantially impact the size of the heating unit required. Many folks in this thread have tired to point you in this direction as we cant give you good recommendations until you do so. We are not there so we need to make guesses but it sure looks like we all are at the same conclusion that there are fundamental issues with your system that are causing you to burn way more fuel than you should. Until you take care of that the decisions on fuel type, system type and location are going to be wild swings.

My wild swing is that given the square footage of the house and your current experience is that you probably aren't going to be a wood burner. Given your house size and climate I am guessing a well designed system with dry wood is going to be a 8 to 10 cords. Unless you have a very rare reliable source of cut and split kiln dried or well seasoned wood you will need to season it yourself and that means 24 to 30 cords on the ground so that the wood can season for 2 years. That is not dumped in pile with a tractor that is cut and split. I know families that do this volume of wood and have done so for years but most dont and one person trying to keep up with that sort of tonnage is rarely going to do it for the long haul. Its going to be darn close to full time job and I expect with a family you have plenty of better things to spend your spare time on.

Thus we moved to wood pellets. Putting a boiler of any type in a remote building introduces losses and trade offs. Given your wood volume based on poorly seasoned wood it makes sense to put a boiler in a garage but inherently that introduces heat losses into the system. Ideally you want the heat source in the heated space so when heat is lost, its lost into the space. A pellet boiler is then a option to put in a basement or even on the main floor in a utility room. That will probably buy you a 10% increase in efficiency on the low end and if you have typical issues with buried pipes if could be 20 to 30%. You are paying a premium to a factory to dry the pellets to bone dry and increase its density so that means less storage space. You will gain significant efficiency up front compared to burning unseasoned wood. You also dont need to worry about standby losses as the pellet boiler most likely only fires when there is heat demand. Given your current heat load I guessed that you will probably get sick of lugging bags down to a hopper so I assumed that bulk feeder is better option. A bulk feeder also allows the possibility of bulk pellet deliveries and more importantly the opportunity to go away for a few days. If you stick with standard hopper boiler, you or someone has to be at the house once or twice a day in cold weather to feed the darn pellets or use a backup heating source. Putting a bulk feeder in a side building keeps the sawdust and empty bags out of the house and buys you days/weeks before you need to fill the hopper.

Good luck and maybe some other folks have time to "push on this rope". I personally am done with it.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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But we can't keep comparing it to what we have now. We are getting rid of that so we need to compare everything to an alternate new boiler.. garn ... to pellet type or whatever other option someone suggests.

Im currently loading my boiler twice a day, I don't need a bulk feeder for a pellet stove, I was more concerned with how much I have to burn to maintain heat, not how many times I have to load. Storage is always mentioned, the pellet boiler I was linked to just doesn't have a lot so I was curious.

I am not insisting on burning green wood, I don't want to burn green wood. I'm just saying I don't have room to have 3 years of dry wood on hand. I did say I would burn green in a log boiler but only because it was zero labor. I also don't get the wood from my backyard, i have to buy the fuel no matter where it comes from.

All I was hoping for was people with real world experience with their type of system to give me options that I can look into. If you burn pellets but after using your system you wish you would have gotten the other one you were looking at then i want to know what the other one was and why you wish you would have. Whether it's gasification, or pellet or whatever, or whether it's just a different brand than you bought. There is a ton of misleading information on everything and a lot of numbers that aren't realistic. Or the information that is available is a one page brochure, although it at least gets me a name so I can try finding more.
If you have room for 30 cords of green wood, then you should have room for 30 of dry. Which would be 2 years supply rather than one - you don't really need room for 3 years worth. After a couple of years you would only be working half the wood per year you are now.

Also, trying to estimate fuel costs using a chart like the above combined with your experience with green wood will be hard to do - IMO with a cord of wood green BTUs can be around half of dry BTUs.

If you do have a good reliable source of pellets you should definitely check that option out. I don't here, so I didn't. There are quite a few on here with pellet boilers but you don't see them very often - mainly because they are just steaming happily along year after year with not much to talk about. Windhager is at our around top of the line - search that and you should find info. If you go pellet you might even be able to have the boiler in your basement, which would change a lot of things up for your thinking (like doing away with undergound) - they really are very close in operation to a fossil burner.

About your house system there is not a lot more to be offered I don't think without some more info, like accurate design sketch of the whole thing plus temp info everywhere. I don't think I am a big fan of zoning by circs though. I am zoned by zone vales, with only one circ, a Grundfoss Alpha. It is variable speed, varying by pressure. So you can tune flows in by adjusting the circ setting along with throttling flow with valves if needed. Once you get a better handle on what you have now and how it is or isn't working, one thing to consider that should be fairly easy to do might be to swap your circs for Alphas - then you can tune in the flow of your zones and if some need more or less than others it is simple to do. Plus they use less electricity. As it is now with the same circ on each of your zones, each zone would be flowing the same or at least trying to whether it needs that much flow or more or whatever.

Do you know if your system was professionally designed or not?
 

BoiledOver

Minister of Fire
Apr 14, 2013
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This pellet boiler may suit your needs very well, the largest output model (P4 105) is rated at 85,000 to 360,000 btu. You will see in the literature that they are rating by the Kw. A calculator here, to convert to btu's. Much less labor involved in the operation than a firewood boiler and this Froling is top shelf equipment. It has lamda controls which ramps the fire up and down as needed. This type of appliance is super efficient and as eco friendly as they come. Pretty sure @heaterman installed a couple of these units for one of his customers. I believe it was to warm the milking barn but am not exactly sure, there is a thread in here somewhere about the install.
 

UPmqt

New Member
Oct 8, 2018
25
0
1
Marquette
I have temporary storage for 30 cord that goes away when the snow flies . I have permanent storage room for maybe 15 cut and split, but not until the pile is cut.. it needs to be in the same space. Making it difficult to get ahead when until I stop burning green wood I need 30 cord but don't have the room to cut extra to get dry wood so I can quit burning 30 cord.

Thanks for the suggestions on boiler options. I am aware there is footwork to be done in other areas of the system. I work for a test and balancing firm so we are currently working through the issues. Didn't realize that simply asking if there were suggestions on types of boilers I could look into to see if there was anything that could possibly be an option would cause this much friction. I never said I was just buying, or that I was insisting on burning green wood I just wanted some info or experience from other users. I understand that your time is important and never suggested otherwise. I have stated repeatedly that I was working on getting the heat loss done and that I'm trying to get my zones figured out. I understand that recommendations are going to be based off heat loads and losses. But a simple look into the crown royal boiler and see what you think provides me with something to work with while im doing the rest of the stuff. I will look into the crown royal, garn, lopper and windhagen and see what they have something that could work for my situation. Thanks everyone for your help.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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Nova Scotia
No friction here. :)

There's a very wide range of asks in this place and a maybe even wider range of responses. Mainly due to the internet being in between - nothing replaces a first hand hands on look & see. Which all leads to a lot of weeding being needed on both sides.

Keep us posted & don't be shy about posting more questions & info.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
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Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
We have pretty cheap high quality pellets in my state so I’ve always wanted a pellet boiler. The pellet boilers do not need storage, have pretty huge onboard hoppers (or bulk feed options), modulate output to match your demand, burn a manufactured fuel that is very compact to store and comes delivered ready to burn, and are at least as efficient as firewood boilers. The Europeans have really been doing the wood pellet boiler thing for a long time and have it figured out.

The drawback is cost. Not that pellet boilers are much more than firewood boilers but both are very expensive.

Oh and the exhaust pipe from a pellet boiler is smaller and easier to deal with than firewood.

Windhager is a great brand. Search the forum for “pellet boiler” look at the installation threads for lots of pictures and peoples reasoning for choosing pellets.

Oh and you can stack multiple pellet boilers together for big output or just get one boiler that’s big enough.
 

BoiledOver

Minister of Fire
Apr 14, 2013
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@UPmqt There is good information in the thread I linked in the previous post. Take a look at post #56 for some cost comparisons with propane.
 

nhtreehouse

Member
Feb 11, 2017
64
14
38
New Hampshire
Since you were asking for boiler opinions, I'll chime in. I have both a wood boiler and a pellet boiler. Both are fantastic machines. The pellet boiler is a Windhager and is very simple and is extremely well thought out. It feeds itself, cleans itself, etc. Pretty sweet. The wood boiler is the Froling FHG shown in my profile picture. Also an amazing machine. Since storage was mentioned, I'm heating a portion of my wood boiler tank with the pellet boiler. Opinions vary on if pellet boilers need/want/desire/run better with or without storage. I find my burn times are about 2.5 hours with the pellet boiler and storage. Pellet boilers can also modulate and indeed a number of full euro systems do just that. I've got my pellet boiler setup to batch burn like a wood boiler.

In the end of the day, I believe the choice of fuel and storage is just a discussion on how to store energy, both in it's "native" form, and in the form of hot water. It's easier to scale pellets because the fuel is coming to you in a very low moisture content state. And you can get resupplies all winter. There is a commercial building near me with a dual pellet boiler setup and I think they chew through 60 tons a winter. That said, I believe there's a link in Siggy's pdf in the sticky section where a place in Quebec is burning hundreds of cords in two massive boilers. But those machines are loaded with overhead machinery. Pretty amazing stuff. Found the link, love the scale of it. 350 cords a year! 42" logs!

http://nebiomassheat.com/pdfs/2012/keyPrinciples/albrecht_boiler.pdf

I, too have taken Siggy's course and it is excellent. And I did a very comprehensive heat loss calculation on my place before I spent any money on the system. And, like yourself, I was dealing with a poorly designed and installed heating system. In my case, a 100k BTU propane hot air furnace with the heating duct on the exterior of the building. I would hazard a guess that there was some loss there! My heat load is way less than that and it ran about 50% of the time when the weather was in the 30's. Not a great design. If you have a lot of underground loss then you've got a big unknown in the equation - similar to my exterior heating duct. I recognized that early on and started to nail down just what heat load I had. Everything else follows, fuel choice, boiler type, distribution type, etc.

Everyone's advice has been excellent in that you need to get a better idea of the heat loss and your climate. The engineer who wrote the pdf linked to above did just that and is advocating for undersizing the boilers.

Good luck.
 

Sparky978

Member
Jan 18, 2015
43
8
38
Ma
Since you were asking for boiler opinions, I'll chime in. I have both a wood boiler and a pellet boiler. Both are fantastic machines. The pellet boiler is a Windhager and is very simple and is extremely well thought out. It feeds itself, cleans itself, etc. Pretty sweet. The wood boiler is the Froling FHG shown in my profile picture. Also an amazing machine. Since storage was mentioned, I'm heating a portion of my wood boiler tank with the pellet boiler. Opinions vary on if pellet boilers need/want/desire/run better with or without storage. I find my burn times are about 2.5 hours with the pellet boiler and storage. Pellet boilers can also modulate and indeed a number of full euro systems do just that. I've got my pellet boiler setup to batch burn like a wood boiler.

In the end of the day, I believe the choice of fuel and storage is just a discussion on how to store energy, both in it's "native" form, and in the form of hot water. It's easier to scale pellets because the fuel is coming to you in a very low moisture content state. And you can get resupplies all winter. There is a commercial building near me with a dual pellet boiler setup and I think they chew through 60 tons a winter. That said, I believe there's a link in Siggy's pdf in the sticky section where a place in Quebec is burning hundreds of cords in two massive boilers. But those machines are loaded with overhead machinery. Pretty amazing stuff. Found the link, love the scale of it. 350 cords a year! 42" logs!

http://nebiomassheat.com/pdfs/2012/keyPrinciples/albrecht_boiler.pdf

I, too have taken Siggy's course and it is excellent. And I did a very comprehensive heat loss calculation on my place before I spent any money on the system. And, like yourself, I was dealing with a poorly designed and installed heating system. In my case, a 100k BTU propane hot air furnace with the heating duct on the exterior of the building. I would hazard a guess that there was some loss there! My heat load is way less than that and it ran about 50% of the time when the weather was in the 30's. Not a great design. If you have a lot of underground loss then you've got a big unknown in the equation - similar to my exterior heating duct. I recognized that early on and started to nail down just what heat load I had. Everything else follows, fuel choice, boiler type, distribution type, etc.

Everyone's advice has been excellent in that you need to get a better idea of the heat loss and your climate. The engineer who wrote the pdf linked to above did just that and is advocating for undersizing the boilers.

Good luck.
I also have a Windhager Biowin. Can you explain what a "batch burn" is and how you set it up?
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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Nova Scotia
Batch burning is simply lighting a new fire when heat is needed and it burning wide open until it burns out about the time your heat has been fully replenished. I.e., not one constant fire that spends a lot of time smoldering.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
934
296
803
Northern Canada
Batch burning is simply lighting a new fire when heat is needed and it burning wide open until it burns out about the time your heat has been fully replenished. I.e., not one constant fire that spends a lot of time smoldering.
Batch burning is more efficient if you have storage as part of you system
 

Sparky978

Member
Jan 18, 2015
43
8
38
Ma
Batch burning is more efficient if you have storage as part of you system
I've got my pellet boiler setup to batch burn like a wood boiler.
Ok,
I now understand the batch burning concept. I was also wondering how "nhtreehouse" set his Windhager for batch burning? My install relies on my storage to send a start and stop signal to the pellet boiler when needed.