Help With Considering a Coal fired Furnace

Help With Considering a Coal fired Furnace

PostBy: neverthought On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:15 am

Hello
New to this forum So please be Patient with me... Have lots of questions to ask. I am from Nj and had never knew how reasonable it is to heat your house with coal as compared to natural gas.. with that said I have just purchased a foreclosed Duplex in the Kingston area of PA.The house needs the natural gas furnaces repaired on both sides and was really considering coal hot air furnaces...as a primary source of heat. I have seen a few stokers out there on the net. But nothing that will fit my needs exactly.

Here are some of those needs

Thermostat control for both apartments
Automatic coal feeding (must be able to last 12+ hours)
I know that some furnaces can achieve this burn time without stokers but I may not be able to get to the unit every day.

Unit(s) must be able to sit alongside a natural gas backup unit
Unit must be able to be direct vented (both chimneys need repair)
would prefer a unit that needs fresh outside air (will be finishing off Basement and will need to enclose units in a room)

Some info on the apartments
3 bedroom 2 story 1800 square feet
poor to fair insulation factors I plan on using blown insulation wherever possible.

Also have heard of a single coal fired water boiler used to heat multiple apartments with existing hot air furnaces with the use of a radiator type of heat exchanger and zone controls but I have been unsuccessful in finding such units on the web.

House also has two very large Coal bins located under the front porch
I measured them at 18W x 4D x 7H each from what I can find on the web this will store quite a bit of Coal. I replaced the decking over the coal bins and did not cut any access to the bins. so I will need some dimensions to allow me to cut access holes in the decking to load coal into the bins.


Thank you in advance For your response
Rich
neverthought
 

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:10 pm

While the stoker is pricey it is without a doubt the best suited for your needs and a boiler is definetly the best way to do it. Where I get my coal the guy has an EFM stoker that has been running since 1972 flawlesly all year round doing heat and hot water for all 3 buisinesses and 4 apartments. It's not much bigger than the hand fired boiler I use. Just smolders untill there is a call for heat.
The stokers will run 3-7 days at least without any attention. And since you have the coal bins it would make good sense.

Fix the chimneys and post the questions, you will get plenty of info here.

You don't really have any problems here with what your doing from your post. You will be grinning like the Cheshire Cat when you are done though.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: LsFarm On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:22 pm

Hello Neverthought, welcome to the forum.

By far the best system for your application would be a stoker fed boiler using water to air heat exchangers in the hot air plenums.

Below are several sites with coal stoker-fed boilers for sale.

I personally would recomend the EFM boiler, because it can be set up to feed directly from your coal bin, so the boiler won't need you to keep a hopper full of coal. The feed is an auger inside a tube that you would run from the coal bin to the stoker unit in the boiler.

Once set up, the boiler would need the ash pan emptied every day or two. This will make the unit almost as easy as a gas unit to opperate.

Also here are a few sites with water to air heat exchangers.

You need to find a GOOD heating contractor to do this job, or do a lot of research and do it yourself. The average heating guy is going to just want to replace your gas furnaces and forget the rest.

Go to Ebay, type in 'wood boiler' and you will find several sellers of heat exchangers as well



http://www.alternateheatingsystems.com/coalboilers.htm

http://www.efmheating.com/d520.html


heat exchangers, pumps and controls:

http://www.ctwoodfurnace.com/parts_water_to_air.htm

http://pexsupply.com/index.asp



This ought to help a lot.

Greg L
Last edited by Richard S. on Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead link>
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland


PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:51 pm

Welcome to the forum. A stoker boiler is what you want. Water to air heat exchangers can convert the hot water to hot air. Thermostat zone controls will easily control the different heat demands of the two apartments. Auger feed will make it almost automatic. With additional effort ash removal to outside could also be automatic. Highly unlikely to be cost effect though. Most important thing is educate, educate, educate yourself before you buy anything.

My list of the steps:

1. Decide on a fuel (anthracite or bituminous). Check local availability and price.

2. Check with the local building code agency. It's an apartment and you are responsible for safety of the occupants. Especially understand fire wall and chimney requirements. Ask if the boiler must be ASME spec.

3. Do a heat load requirement on each apartment. Ideally a room by room analysis. This will tell you where to put your insulation money and the size boiler needed. If you are also going to central A/C the apartments with shared ductwork be sure to determine which has the greater BTU requirement heating or cooling. The "J Manual" abridged edition "residential load calculation" from the "Air Conditioning Contractors of America" is the gold standard for load calculations. Comes with an Excel spreadsheet. It's technical but is what's required by some building permit agencies. See:

4. Understand chimney and inlet air fire code requirements. Even if you are doing it yourself and don't get a building permit make sure it meets the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 211) requirements. A central boiler is classified differently than a room coal stove. Call your state fire marshal for help in understanding the code requirements. In my opinion a class A insulated chimney, even high grade stainless, doesn't last as long as clay lined masonry chimney. Do a cost vs. life trade off.

5. Understand heating system controls. Particularly zoning controls. See Taco's design catalogs for electronic controls. Zoning with a primary-secondary piping system is easy. It also permits easy seasonal switching to propane and/or automatic backup.

6. You can also heat domestic hot water with the boiler. Best way is with an indirect hot water heater. See Weil-McLain water heaters.

Coal heating is less expensive than other fuels. With the right design and equipment it can be almost as convenient as gas or oil heat. If you buy coal in bulk it can be much cheaper. I'm very happy with my Alternate Heating System S-130 boiler.

sells some excellent books on heating system design. Not much help for coal specific but very good for general design guidance.

I enrolled in the the local Community College HVAC apprentice program to hone my design skills and to make connections with local supply houses and service technicians.

Good Luck

Yanche
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

PostBy: neverthought On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:47 am

Hey thanks for the replies I have gotten your information has proven to be very helpful..

The next challenge that I have to over come is that both chimneys in this house are shot. One has major cracks in it and needs to be rebuilt and is not being used at the present time.

The other is in better shape cosmetically but i'm not so sure of that one yet either. I had someone out to look at it and give me a price to repair it and to get it in shape so that I could use it for a coal furnace. The cost of repairs make it impossible to consider doing a natural gas to coal conversion.

There is a liner in the one chimney already and is being used for the working Natural gas furnace that is in the house.. from what I can see and what I'm told it is the wrong type and size liner to run a coal furnace.

Now I know that people try not to recommend power vents for many reasons but I think that if I'm even going to go any further with this conversion idea I have to overcome this problem with the flue / chimney setup.

Can the EFM 520 boiler be set up to take an outside air kit??
also I have seen power vent kits that run on DC and have motor speed controls built into them and will work with long term battery backups.

:idea: My plan was to use a little of the technology that I used in a solar powered home that I built as far as the power vent having a constant source of power I have got that solved for up to 2 hours and if my back up generator doesn't start by then I have problems other than no heat.

I seen that Alaska Stoves makes a power venter kit has anyone seen any others out there

also yanchie you made mention that you own a coal gun boiler??
how do you like it and how much was it complete I'm considering a 260 coal gun or the EFM 520

thanks Rich
neverthought
 

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:23 am

Your best bet for the chimney is have a cast in place liner installed. It may be pricey but it will strengthen the chimney and seal it if there are cracks. The best are cast in two different processes, first a thick insulator and then a thin ceramic. It will improve the performance of any solid fuel appliance. The S/S liners do not have a real long life with coal.

Try to stay away from the power vent, they eat your heat and if they fail you have big trouble. The coal gods want chimneys.

I envy your coal bins, a quick calculation says you have 25 tons of storage. That is exactly what they can deliver by tractor/trailer combo and that would be at an absurdley low price. IIRC I was qouted $130 a ton to the Connecticut shoreline. That's $3250 dollars for 5 YEARS of heat! That's $650 a year! Being in PA you could probably half of that!

GOOD GOD MAN, you have been blessed.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: Yanche On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:48 pm

You need a masonry chimney for long term coal use, PERIOD. Here's a link to one of the cast in place processes: http://www.guardianinc.com/. Central heating using coal must have a passive chimney for safety reasons. You can not turn off coal combustion like other fuels. It keeps burning when the power fails. I have read and re-read NFPA 211 and it makes no distinction for coal vs. other solid fuels. It also makes no clear distinction between central heating (furnaces and boilers) vs. room appliances (fireplaces and stoves). Class A chimneys and some power vents permit use with solid fuels. None that I'm aware of specifically say it's approved for use with coal. I think this is wrong and misleading. With the increased re-use of coal a residential heating fuel NFPA 211 needs to be changed to make that distinction. The Fire Marshals I've spoken with would never consider using a power vent coal appliance in their home.

The coal burning device must have passive (no electricity needed) source of combustion air, PERIOD. You can use a properly sized duct to get that fresh air to the stove or boiler. It's not a common practice for solid fuels. It is a common practice on new high efficiency oil and gas fuel installations.

In my opinion much to much effort is wasted on the problem of power backup. Just get a small gasoline power generator and be done with it. If you truly need a no electricity solution design you central heating system the way they were in the late 1800's. All gravity flow, 3 inch master feed pipes, massive flue sizes and huge cast iron radiators.

Rich ... I'm very happy with my AHS S-130. Search on my name for more of my AHS S-130 postings. The larger AHS S-260 may be to large. Be sure to do a heat loss calculation first. The last thing you want is a boiler that's too large. If the S-130 is marginal capacity, design a system that supplements the heat with a natural gas boiler on very cold days.

Yanche
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:16 pm

An old house would hardly require a fresh air intake for combustion air. I would NOT use it as the natural draw tends to "freshen" the air in your home continuously.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: Yanche On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:17 pm

I was quoted $110 a ton pea coal delivered to central Maryland, 23 ton tractor trailer load. I wanted a tri-axle dump truck load rather than a tractor trailer load. Can't be done. It turns out the weight per axle restrictions on PA roads makes bulk coal transportation to costly vs. the multi-axle tractor trailer loads. If you are looking to get a bulk source for coal take a look a "Pennsylvania's Annual Report on Mining Activities and Production". You will find info on operating mines and coal breakers. Find one that will deal with you or will give you the name of coal broker. Need a lot of PA coal delivered a long distance? Use the railroad. Check out:


To ... GregL like that link? To ... all others, inside joke.

If the link is two long try, Norfolk Southern RR, http://www.nscorp.com/content/nscorp/en.html and work down the coal links.

Certainly no one here would be buying coal by railroad car, but it would allow you to determine if coal is delivered to a broker in your area for some export or industrial use. You then may be able to buy a smaller amount at bulk prices.

Yanche
Last edited by Richard S. on Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead link>
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:31 pm

I have to laugh, coaledsweat, a friend bought an old house and it had bad windows, leaking doors etc etc. He was using a wood burning fireplace insert to supliment his heat.

The house was a sieve. it makes my place seem airtight. We went into one room that was cold enough to see your breath, he complained about how cold it was, I said to look at the bright side, his house had a good flow of 'fresh air'.

His reply. Yeah! Fresh from the D**n arctic circle!!

An independant fresh air source to the base of his wood stove, made that room 10* warmer!!

I have 3M mylar film on some of my windows, and when the regular propane boiler or hot water heater kicks on, the film bulges in like a big clear pillow. So I know I'd be pulling in a lot of chilly outside air, and exhausting heated house air up the chimney. Not what I want to do.

With my coal boiler in an outbuilding, I have no draw on the house, so the mylar is limp, and the house is very nice without all the infiltration. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans pull in enough outside air.

Greg L

/
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:45 pm

LOL, yeah, a good point. I guess like everything else "it all depends". My boiler is in the basement, and I tried outside air to it and it just used more coal.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:51 pm

[quote="Yanche"]I was quoted $110 a ton pea coal delivered to central Maryland, 23 ton tractor trailer load. I wanted a tri-axle dump truck load rather than a tractor trailer load.

Just curious, why the tri axle instead of a trailer dump? Access problem?
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:56 pm

Yanche, yeah that link is great, it sticks our of the side of my laptop monitor about three inches. If I had a holographic monitor it would be cool.

Now, how do I edit that link??

Yanche, I'm going to try to edit it so that it wraps around like text does.
If I mess it up could you repost it with the shortcut in the middle?

A rail car full of coal, 100 tons, I have a friend with a RR siding on his property. Hmmmmm.

That's A LOT of COAL!! :lol: :) :!: :!:


Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: Yanche On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:50 pm

To coaledseeat ... Yes it's driveway access issue. I canceled a delivery when the broker telephoned me and we discussed backing the trailer into my driveway. Tractor with 40' trailers have done it before but it needs a skilled driver. I need to get a commercial driver to look at my driveway and give me an opinion. The last thing I want is for them to drive the load back at my expense. Surprising the coal broker didn't want any money up front. Pay the driver on delivery.

To Greg L .... Here's what I do with wrapped links. Use the first part of the link as normal. The browser will fail, then cut and paste each additional line to the end until you have it all.

Good luck on shoveling 100 tons. :-) In the port of Baltimore railroad cars were emptied by turning the car upside down. It made so much noise they used active noise cancellation techniques to reduce it. Amplified phase shifted noise to cancel the sound. A storm blew the whole thing down and now much of the coal is shipped through the Virginia ports.

Yanche
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea