Need help deciding

Dmiller2945 Posted By Dmiller2945, Sep 21, 2018 at 10:19 PM

  1. Dmiller2945

    Dmiller2945
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    Sep 21, 2018
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    Hey all. Sorry in advance if this is a long post. Looking for help as to what equipment might work best for heating my home.
    Just bought a Victorian style home, built in 1990. Decent insulation, doors, and windows. It is 2 floors, plus a finished basement. It has 2 seperate heat pumps. One located in the basement that feeds the basement and first floor, and another in the attic for the upper level. Currently has a wood stove insert in the family room and an unused thimble in the basement, opposite end from the furnace.

    So, all this to say I want heat my house and detached garage with wood, as effeciently as possible.
    I like the idea of the outdoor wood boiler, and am ready to pull the trigger on a central boiler 750. (Being in MD, my options are pretty limited). My biggest issue with this is I can't figure out how to pump hot water to the attic (30' vertical) for the upper air handler. Also haven't found anyone that will come design a system for me. I do not want to invest 15k+ on something that won't do the job.
    I'm not opposed to a gassifier indoor unit, but I don't know much about them. From what I read, seems like you burn them long enough to heat your stored water, then let them go out? I don't want to have to restart a fire every other day, and I would still have the issue of getting water to the attic.
    Indoor wood furnace would be my next option, and I may be able to pipe it into the plenum from the basement near the thimble, but it still leaves the upper floor unheated.
    There is a buckstove insert in the family room, but I really don't want the mess in the main living area, and it wouldn't heat the whole house.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to heat the house completly? Any HVAC or plumbers out there have suggestions on how to pump to the attic? Thanks in advance for your input.
     
  2. estepracing

    estepracing
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    Dec 7, 2017
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    Since I burn wood and talk to many people who do as far as my suggestions it really depends on hassle Factor, basically what kind of hassle do you want... Starting with the most efficient indoor wood burner as in a insert or a free-standing wood stove would use for cord of wood or less a year, and add on wood burner you're looking at 6 cord of wood a year, and outdoor wood boiler you're looking at 8 cord of wood a year.... Natural convection of heat can do quite a bit for a house, I have a 4300 square foot house that heats with one Blaze King King polar wood stove (it's a free standing type) and absolutely no duct work, and only four chord a year... so it really comes down to your house all factor of how much would you want to cut and stack and move each year if your house is already setup for heat pumps and depending on how old they are if you're just looking to offset your heating cost and upgrade maybe an order they have came a long way in the way of good heat pumps... if you put in any kind of heat source as far as free-standing insert or whatever you would like and just use the heat pump upstairs to regulate it a little bit better for you I think you'd be more than pleased, if you're trying to go totally off grid well then wood is the only way to go and freestanding and inserts is about your only choice to use with no electricity.... If you look online for HVAC third-party designers you should be able to find someone to design a ductwork system for you as that is kind of the next step on my list. I found a few different companies it's about $300 to $600 to get a design made. And if you're looking for hot water heat I just talked to a guy the other day that uses a hot water heater special type I may add that is highly efficient and he hates house the same size as mine for maybe 300 gallons of propane a year, and if you're in more interested in that I could ask him more questions about it.... Good luck if you have anymore questions just ask, this is some of the information I found in research as I've talked to people and ask them since I've been kind of working with a blank slate on my house...

    Blaze King King Parlor Wood Stove
     
  3. Dmiller2945

    Dmiller2945
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    Sep 21, 2018
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    Thank you for all the info. My main goal is to heat the house with wood, unless I am out of town and use the heat pumps as a backup. I have heated my last home with a free standing stove for about 8 years, but am tired of the uneven heat, cracked drywall, and dried out kids! Wood is not the issue, it's more of what will work best for my style house. This 3rd party design company you speak of...is that an all online deal or do I look for someone local to come out and design? I don't mind paying the money if it's done right. If it is online, do you have a link by any chance? Heating my other water would be an added bonus, but not required.
     
  4. salecker

    salecker
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    Aug 22, 2010
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    My system is a gasifier boiler with storage.
    Starting a fire once a day is so simple that it isn't an issue at all.Way less hassle that owning a Central Boiler
    I use around 8 cords a year to heat my house in a cold climate.I have a two story house with full basement.I have cast iron rads through out the house and use a unit heater to heat the basement which is separate from the rest of the house(no interior staircase)
    A normal heat session on a -20 Celsius day...
    Start fire when returning from work at 5 pm, stoke boiler about every 2 hours till i let the fire burn out around 11 pm,then shut off boiler.
    Repete the next day,starting time and ending time will vary depending if it gets colder or warmer.
    So simple.Even my wife has absolutely no issues with taking care of the boiler and it's needs.
    Our system is in it's own separate building,which is approximately the same leval as the basement of the house and the hot water is piped underground about 125 ft.My wife and Daughter have asthma,so no dust or wood smoke ever in our house,no carbon monoxide source or flame source in out house which makes for peace of mind.
    So spend a bunch of time reading,the three boilers/water heaters i was looking at never made my short list once i spent a couple of months reading,Central boiler never was a consideration,their reputation and smoke has been around for to long up here.Did i mention my gasifier doesn't produce any smoke except at startup,and i haven't had to clean the chimney in 8 yrs.
    Please feel free to ask me anything about the system i built,i had some design help from the shop i bought my boiler from,had help from reading on Hearth.The months i spent reading on Hearth allowed me to build a good system right the first time.
    If i had not put the time in reading i an sure that i would have wasted a bunch of money on crappy underground lines and bought a crappy boiler besides the Central Boiler. Central Boiler is a smoke screen,unless they have changed none of their water heaters are pressurized.A boiler needs to be pressurized to be called a boiler,if it isn't than it is a water heater.
     
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  5. estepracing

    estepracing
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  6. Dmiller2945

    Dmiller2945
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    Sep 21, 2018
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    So your gasifier heats the water in storage tanks,how many gallons are we talking? I assume it only stays hot for 12-16 hours if you are real lighting every day? I have heard they are much more efficient than an owb, and you are correct that cb does not make pressurized boilers. Essentially they both do the same thing, by pumping hot water to heat? If so, regardless of which one I use, I'll still have to figure out how to get the water to the attic. Any thoughts on that? I am looking to utilize the existing duct work, so radiators are not really an option.
     
  7. salecker

    salecker
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    Aug 22, 2010
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    Yes the water stays hot for the 19 or so hours,toyal water with the boiler is around 5000 liters
    Where i live we have a huge heat demand in the winter.It can be -40 Celsius or Fahrenheit(same temp) for a complete 24hr cycle.When those temps happen we have to burn for at least 10 hrs a day flat out to store the BTU's required after the house has used what it needs during the firing event.Yes starting a fire every is part of life,but as i have said it is a non issue.
    Saying a unpressurized non gasifirer is essentially the same as a pressurized gasifier is so far from reality that it isn't funny.The maintenance is completely different,the amount of wood burned will differ,the smoke produced will be different.The only similarities are they heat water and burn wood.
    Getting water to the attic is simple run a line and use a pump.My highest cast iron rad is about 16 ft above the top of my storage.I have a pump that circulates water to the house 24/7,if the house doesn't need heat it returns to the boiler room.If the house needs heat the TRV's on the rads open,then the Grundfose Alpha pump i have senses the need for flow and turns on to the volume needed for the open TRV on the rad.
    I the basement i use a unit heater which is essentially a heat exchanger with a fan behind it.I feel that air movement in the basement is good because there isn't much use of the basement.Having a fan pump air around in the basement helps keep it healthy.
    Yesterday part of town was getting smoked out by a Central Boiler glad i don't live near it,it would suffer some kind of failure.Funny part about it is that it now is half mine UGH.Previous lease to own tenants of my Moms business had installed a Central Boiler the winter prior to walking away from the business.Unfortunately they also removed most of the existing heating systems.My mom is now dead so my brother and i own that mess.The tenants now still use it as there isn't much choice,and they are buying it supposedly.But the amount of wood that goes through is incredible.And they still have to run an oil fired boiler in the biggest building or they all freeze.One winters wood there would last me 4 yrs at home.Plus the oil.
     
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  8. E Yoder

    E Yoder
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    I would agree you want a downdrafting gasification type wood boiler, not the old updrafting "smoker" type salecker reffered to. There are quite a few brands of gassers, pressurized and non-pressurized.
    Running to the attic isn't difficult, run your pex lines, purge out the air with house pressure, then the height makes no difference provided you don't run extremely hot (180+) causing it to steam in the partial vacuum up high.
    My thoughts anyway.
     
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  9. maple1

    maple1
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    If you get an open boiler you would need to pressurize the distribution system and separate the two with a heat exchanger.
     
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  10. salecker

    salecker
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    I have my system separated with a heat exchanger,and am pressurized on both sides.
    I run glycol in the underground lines and house,the back up boiler is on the glycol side.
    Straight water in the wood boiler and storage.
     
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  11. Dmiller2945

    Dmiller2945
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    Sep 21, 2018
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    I think this is what I'll end up doing. I'm sure it's hard to picture without seeing, but when my thermopex comes into house, it hits the water heater, then the basement air handler exchanger, then to a plate exchanger into a pressurized system? I assume the pressurized loop needs a plate exchanger, pump, expansion tank, and heat exchanger ? If I do that, will my upper unit and lower unit still be controlled by separate thermostats? Or only off of one?
     
  12. Dmiller2945

    Dmiller2945
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    Yes, I would be getting the cb classic edge 750, which is a gassifier. Biggest reason for using that brand is because of the limited list of "approved" boilers in Maryland. You think I can get it to that attic with a large enough pump without a pressurize loop as long as I have no air?
     
  13. maple1

    maple1
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    Might be kind of hard to say for sure on much without seeing your whole system. Not sure what you are doing for hot water? Plus I'm a bit over my head since my only hands on is with my system which has no air handlers - all baseboard/hydronic. It MAY be possible in your case you could do it without a heat exchanger. But, with an open system you will have constant system exposure to air, at your boiler. That air (some of it anyway) will almost always find it's way (even if it only starts as micro bubbles) over time to the highest, lowest pressure spot in your system - which in this case sounds like would be in your attic. And then likely cause an airlock. Which is a situation a heat exchanger should prevent.

    (I have also never gotten my head around attic air handlers, and sending heated or cooled air or water through that unheated or uncooled space. Might just be me...)

    Your boiler dealer should be able to help?
     
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  14. Bad LP

    Bad LP
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    It's not just you..... I think it's the stupidest thing going on today but not so much for old retrofits. New construction? Just dumb.

    There are a few ways to get that water to the attic. On one house I manage we have a 2" primary loop in the basement. Off that loop are 5 close spaced tees along the 100 foot run from the boiler to the far end of the house. Each has it's own pump for the appropriate FCU in the attic. IIRC the basement FCU also have their own pumps.
     
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  15. maple1

    maple1
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    But is your house example pressurized? Thinking yes? If so, yes it's easy to do - but not if someone wants to do it with an open unpressurized system like the OP was asking about.

    Plus there are also the pressure differentials. 30' vertical computes to about 12psi. Thinking a Central Boiler isn't made for holding 12psi in?

    Also - glad to see it's not just me. :)
     
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  16. Bad LP

    Bad LP
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    I could have been a tad more clear. The house is on the higher scale of life. The town would have puppies if an outdoor wood boiler was in operation.

    Oil fired boilers are in use. Not sure how a zero pressure and an pressurized need could interact without an exchanger.
     
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  17. maple1

    maple1
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    Yes me either. But reading some things some owb guys have said about their systems gets me scratching my head sometimes.
     
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  18. E Yoder

    E Yoder
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    This is how I've been doing it, not saying there isn't a better way, but I've found this to work well.
    It is critical to purge with house pressure the first time. The pump won't do it on its own. The pump must push, not pull the water around the loop, and I normally use 3/4" piping to keep velocities high enough to keep micro bubbles moving to vent out at the OWB.
    The OWB will not be under pressure, the vent pipe is the point of no pressure change, the attic loop will be in a slight vacuum. Hence the need to push the water, not pull.
     
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