Help deciding on a wood boiler, indoor vs outdoor?

hellspcangel911 Posted By hellspcangel911, Jan 30, 2019 at 11:40 AM

  1. hellspcangel911

    hellspcangel911
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    Jul 27, 2013
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    Hi All,
    Ive been reading the forums for years trying to gather as much knowledge for when the time came to actually build our barn and switch from oil. I originally was going to go with a 'smoke dragon' seeing the appeal of burning wet wood, but you all have educated me to see the light and get a gasser unit.

    Right now we have a 2 story colonial with 2,400 sqft with 800 sqft in the basement heated with hydronic baseboards, oil fired, boilermate indirect water heater for the winter, electric HWH for the summer. This spring we will be building a 40'x60' steel workshop/barn with 17' side walls and a 40'20' mezzanine used as an office. (Office will have a miniduct system for heat and AC).

    I'm planning to do radiant in the barn, I'm not looking to have 65 degrees in the barn, but warm enough to work on equipment in a sweatshirt during the cold CT winters. We use quite a bit of water in the house (kids) and would like to have the inside temp at 72 degrees (wife).

    The barn will be just 4' from the house, and the previous owner had an OWB, (sold before we moved in), so I'll be running PEX through the 4" bore in the foundation and out to the gasser.

    What I'm struggling with is whether to get an indoor unit or an outdoor one.
    Outdoor ; PROS- out of the way, mess is outside, less work to feed, doesnt take up space in barn, no future insurance issues, easier to get a neighbor to feed it. CONS- more expensive (?), repairs in inclement weather

    The indoor is pretty much the opposite but the one big advantage I'm realizing is the unit would help dry the air in the barn. Since its a steel structure I assume there will be ample condensation. Ive read on various forums that during heating season, while running humidifiers in the house, they have to run dehumidifiers in the steel buildings.

    Any suggestions or recommendations? I've been looking at the Vedolux, Garn, EKO, Tarm...

    Many thanks for your continued guidance and this site!

    -George
     
  2. maple1

    maple1
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    Sep 15, 2011
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    I would put an indoor gasser and storage, in the barn. Maybe along with my entire winters wood.

    Not sure how much a boiler will dry the air though - suspect of that aspect. But standby heat loss can serve to help heat the barn.
     
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  3. salecker

    salecker
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    Aug 22, 2010
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    Hi
    I have my Econoburn with 1000 gallons of storage in a separate building that was built just to be a boiler building.
    If i had to do it again,i would not change the fact that i have a separate building for the boiler.I might look at other boilers or a Garn,but would never put on inside the house i live in.
    In your case i would look at putting it in your new workshop barn.
    The reasons i went with it in a separate building...
    -Fire we have no fire department here,it is volunteer
    -Carbon monoxide poisoning,will never happen in my home
    -My wife and daughter have asthma
    -No mess no smoke no ash in our home,or bugs
    -i always have a warm workshop 24/7 so no projects stop in the cold.
    -If i need someone to tend my boiler i don't have to worry about them inside my house,they can drive right to my boiler building.
    Eventually i will be tying the boiler building to my small shop with a enclosed walkway,then some of the extra heat in the boiler building will keep the shop above freezing.
    If you do underground piping... i assume you have been reading the horror stories about doing it wrong
    Anyhow enjoy your build,i did. I never built a hydronic heating system before so it was a learning experience,but i did all the plumbing,the only help i brought in was an electrician.I live on an industrial lot,regs say wiring has to be done by a licensed electrician.
     
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  4. SpaceBus

    SpaceBus
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    Nov 18, 2018
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    My town requires a permit for an Outdoor Wood Boiler, but does an indoor wood boiler in an out building qualify as an OWB? I am in the planning stage of a 30x40 pole bar with at least a 14' ceiling height, closed up, insulated, slab poured, etc. I was thinking of just putting a giant wood stove in there, but code prevents that. In floor or radiator hydronic heat sounds like a good option since I can keep the wood burner outside of the work space. Also I'd like to have wood fired hot tub eventually so being able to tie it into the shop heat would be nice. I'm medically retired and my wife works full time so I'll probably be in there a lot during the winter.
     
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  5. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell
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    Oct 26, 2007
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    As a aging lifelong wood burner, hands down inside gasification boiler with storage. This investment can be fun or tolerable or miserable. My garn boiler is in a dedicated building with wood stored inside, radiant in the floor, for this reason I look forward to it, sure I wish the building was attached to the house, but zoning rules wouldn’t allow it for setback reasons.
    Indoor for comfort, gasification to save your back, as it appears you have a decent heat load.
     
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  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    First thing check with your state to see if an OWB is legal, they aren't in some states or they need to be installed with significant clearances to neighbors. Now pick the coldest nastiness night and get up, put on all your clothes, go out to an imaginary wood pile and load the imaginary OWB and go back indoors, then repeat that every day for 3 or 4 months a year. Plus envision burning twice as much wood as a proper gasifier with storage. And throw in general air quality degradation around the house especially in shoulder seasons and possible pissed off neighbors if they live nearby.
     
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  7. Bad LP

    Bad LP
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    Nov 28, 2014
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    In the basement of the home. I don't need to bundle up and fight the snow and winds to go feed it however, your's sounds like a much larger boiler is needed and that could sway my choice over placing it into the out building. It would have to have enough storage space to hold a full seasons worth of wood.

    Of course you are committed into never letting it go out in freezing weather and no way would I look at any glycol system.
     
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  8. maple1

    maple1
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    Mine is also in my basement, along with storage & winters wood. Wouldn't change a thing on a do-over. It's nasty out right now, and I'm about to re-load - just have to slip into my 'basement slippers' (old sneakers) and go do it.
     
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  9. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    The biggest mess I make is I rarely put aside enough kindling and need a lot for my indoor boiler as it doesn't retain coals between runs. Therefore I just use a hand ax and split up a few days worth. That makes a mess. My firewood goes into attached bulkhead that used to have bilco door that I replaced with "doghouse" with a full height door. There is solid core door between the bulkhead and the basement with a threshold. I remove the stairs I the bulkhead in the fall an use a wheelbarrel to load it up level with the bottom of the exterior door. All sort of dirt and bark falls on the bulehad floor but the threshold keeps most of it in the bulkhead. Unless its the depth of the heating season, I run the pile down to almost empty once or twice during the winter and then clean up the floor and burn it in the boiler. My boiler holds a lot of ash. I can be messy when I shovel it out but by putting my ash bucket near the opening it keeps it contained and I have whisk broom and shovel to clean it up.

    If I wanted to improve my operation I would prepare kindling in advance and store it in cardboard boxes. I had access to red cedar clapboards for a couple of years and I boxed them in the fall and it really cleaned up the place. I don't really care as I live solo but expect with some modifications to my routine I could reduce the amount of dirt from running the boiler. It would be heck of lot less of an impact than going out in the snow to feed the boiler and coming back inside.

    Heating a barn on the other hand can really suck up the heat. They rarely are tight so infiltration is high and unless you keep it warm all the time the initial deadload of heating up the mass eats up a lot of BTUs. When I do need my garage I do the initial heat up with jet heater and then switch to wood furnace that I only run when I am present. It moves a lot of warm air around quickly.
     
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  10. maple1

    maple1
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    I just split enough kindling for the current fire I'm making. I'd like to have a bunch ahead too but, oh well. Don't find it's really that messy - I get enough clear softwood in my stacks to make for good easy to make kindling. Still a bit of an aggravation doing it every day, but no way would I go back to just making a fire once a year & keeping it going all winter. Ash bucket sits right at the bottom of my secondary cleanout - no mess with a small ash scoop, any that gets airborne gets sucked in the cleanout & up the chimney.
     
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  11. gfirkus

    gfirkus
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    Add Switzer boiler to your list. Take an in depth look at every option and work your way down to the best for your application. Everyone’s needs and wants are different. Take your time.
     
  12. ALL4GLH

    ALL4GLH
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    My state allows for an OWB, but my town does not allow it in the area that I live in. Had an OWB due to contractor not checking. Then I went with an indoor unit from AHS, mainly to spite the town for making me take out the OWB, and haven’t looked back. Mine is in an insulated room in my pole shed.

    Maybe do the same with yours? Have a separate boiler room inside the footprint of your barn, probably in a corner or a mechanical room. If you can, build a lean-to off the same side without prevailing wind to store wood under and put an entry door there. Easy entry without having to go through the main shop door and it’s easy to get the wood without creating any mess inside the main areas. So you don’t have to worry about open flame and whatever chemicals you have in the barn.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  13. hellspcangel911

    hellspcangel911
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    Jul 27, 2013
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    Thank you for chiming in and sharing your knowledge. A lot of good info here and an indoor wood boiler seems to be a clear winner. I cant do the basement of the house, there just isnt space and logistically it wouldnt work.
    Gfirkus, you piqued my interest with the Switzer. I did some searching and it seems to be a great option. I have to look into the difference between the Garn/Switzer batch burn style and the tradtional gasser.
     
  14. maple1

    maple1
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    There is no real difference operationally between a Garn/Switzer, and a separate gasser with storage. They both batch burn - you burn until everything is hot, then don't burn again until you need the heat again. I only have a fire going 6 hours a day. One thing though is the Garn isn't pressurized. Which means heat exchangers & regular water testing & treatment. But also means no expansion tanks needed.

    Have heard nothing but good about Switzers.
     
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  15. Marshy

    Marshy
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    If you haven't done so yet I would encourage you to consider Froling for indoor cord wood boiler. I am highly impressed with the ease of use and efficiency. The primary difference comes down to thermal storage. Some of them you reference would operate ok without stand alone thermal storage however, the Froling will need a thermal storage. I wouldn't consider running a froling without it. Based on your square footage I would estimate you will need 1000 gal just for your house. I have 820 gal storage with my froling and my house is almost 1900 sqft and I wish I had the 1000 gal... our climates may be differed so keep that in mind. Also, how well your barn gets insulated will have a dramatic impact to your heating needs.

    I built a small boiler room so that I can keep the wood and everything else outside my living space. The froling has very good smoke spillage control, to the point where I wouldnt hesitate having it in a basement.
     
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