New Member needs help selecting stove/stoker for Bit or Sub-Bit. He's in Alberta, Canada.
I recieved the following list of questions from a new member ( bluesmobile ) and I am pretty sure he only has access to Bit or Sub-Bit. He is lookng at the DVC-500, but it will not burn Bit. Can anyone advise him which stove he should get?
I have already PM'ed him about this thread I started, so hopefully he'll respond t more questions here.
Sent at: Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:27 pm
Howdy from Alberta, Canada...
Am in research mode here...trying to figure out if coal is a good choice for us, and have looked at dcv500 on Harmon website...so if you have a minute to advise us, as an owner of such...would be much appreciated...also considering harmon tlc2000 coal/wood combo. Or just forget it until can afford an outside boiler in a building.
Some background....i'm well experienced with solid wood stoves (about 25 years)...but having moved back here to Alberta, am discouraged and dismayed to see that the local wood is poplar....to get anything decent like fir or larch am looking at over $200 per cord. (our money is close enough to us dollar at moment that not worth converting). Plus we live in a nasty cold climate - i think last winter we went over 20 days straight of -25F nights, and -40 is not uncommon for a few days couple of weeks - plus wind. And long winters too. Anyhow, people who burn wood seriously are using 6 to 10 cords of poplar/pine/spruce per winter.
Even better, our home is a 1926 high ceiling, 2 story with peak roof - no insulation in most walls, few inches in attic...old sash windows mostly, and leaks air as you might expect. 1200 ft sq on main, another 700 upstairs. The good news is that we don't have any air quality problems or rotting wood - lots of fresh air circulating, oh yeah. Was built as the post office, with living quarters above (where we live now )- was quite well built and still in decent shape.
Have gas forced air now (85,000 btu) which can't really keep up when it's truly cold. We use lots of electric space heaters. The old girl did use to have a coal furnace years ago - well before our time.
Anyhow, the costs to make this place energy efficient are well beyond us, though we will be working away at it over time. So for now we would like to throw some low cost heat at the place. Natural gas is still nasty expensive, even with gas rates at less than 1/2 what they have been - the distribution and administration fees haven't gone down, and double the cost over the actual fuel cost. We deregulated some years ago - bad plan for the average consumer, by at least double. And gas is gonna go up again sometime - probably sooner than later. And same with electricity which is now about 9cents per kwh.
Coal however is available delivered to my door in 50lb bags, smallish size, oiled, good quality - for $128 per ton (2000 lbs). If I drive about 400 miles round trip i can get it for under $40 per ton at the power stations - but that's bulk. One guy i talked to says he uses between 3 and 4 tons per winter for his whole house - we could use more, maybe a lot more? There aren't many coal users around here, but there are some for sure and i sense a growing interest.
Pellets are pushing $6 per bag (60 lb i think)...and it's normal for others to use over a bag a day. Again, we could use more. I don't really like being reliant on such a processed product, and am not endeared to the many moving parts in a pellet stove. However, the low cost for chimney is a big one for us.
I see that the dcv500 has computer board and possibly other moving parts - do you have any comments on this?
I'm attracted to coal for the price and the heat output, but have no experience...also have no real decent place to store it, though could probably use my garden shed or rig up something in backyard. Big volume would be an issue. Small yard, right in town.
Have read on one of forums here that you can end up with a film of coal dust inside your house? Is this common, or maybe just if you use an antique coal stove (as i am considering)?
I also wonder about the ability to turn a coal burner down low - will it do so, and will it go out if you do? Do you need new technology to do this well?
Installation is problematic for us...for a coal or wood stove requiring insulated chimney, the only location that makes sense so far is on main floor in back room of our shed-roof single storey addition (outside wall) ,to allow minimum chimney expense. Ican't see paying $2000 for chimney to put the stove in a central location on main floor (which is a commercial store space - we live upstairs). Apparently the local code requires coal stoves to have insulated chimney all the way through the house plus of course through the attic and above the roofline - and it costs about $80 per foot new. Which makes the dcv500 look interesting as if i understand it, it can vent out the back vertically like a pellet stove - right? Are you venting yours this way?
Price of dcv500 is also an issue - $3500 plus tax plus chimney, floor protector, etc.
Harmon tlc2000 runs around $2000.
Good used pellet stove runs around $1300, antique coal stove around $300.
1). Cut our overall heat costs a lot, and also give more total heat than what we have now - will still keep gas forced air system to assist.
2). Make the back room in rear shed roof addition more comfortable - some of the heat should flow upstairs (where we live) from this room, as stairwell is only 8 ft from this room, which is mostly open towards this stairwell. We could open the end of this room up even more, thus feeding more heated air into bottom of stairwell.
3). Make the main floor in center of building more comfortable - this is a commercial space which we may use again for our own business or rent out. Is a natural room to have some kind of heater in. Is also directly under our living space - ceiling is our floor upstairs. Could cut some vents in floor for heat transfer, but noise transfer is an issue - though maybe not a huge issue.
4). Cost is for sure a factor this year - the DCV500 may be out of our reach.
I see at least the following options:
1). 2 stoves. A used pellet stove in center of main floor, vented vertically through the wall - plus a second stove, say an antique coal burner in back room of shed roof addition - with 3 or 4 ft only of insulated chimney needed. Cost about $2000 - 2400.
2). Bigger coal stove in back room - forget the 2nd stove in center of main floor. Cut some grates into walls to hopefully let heat move around better from the one stove. Open up end of the room to let more hot air out. Could maybe do some forced air ducting to other parts of building. Thinking Harmon tlc2000 coal/wood combo - with 3 or 4 ft of insulated chimney. Cost about $2500.
3). DCV500 in center of main floor, vertical vent through wall. Won't do much for back room unless i can force vent some hot air into it. Another room lies between main floor central stove location and rear room.
Not sure that any 1 stove solution will do everything we'd like, but might achieve 2 out of 3 of our goals.
Would like to hear how you or others like the dcv500 or the harmon tlc2000. Am very open to any suggestions at all. I haven't searched a whole lot on this website yet, but am glad to have found it.
If you want to post this note somewhere on the forums where you think would get some good feedback, that'd be great. Or tell me where.
Thanks again from the frozen north..
barry c. aka bluesmobile