In Alberta, Canada. What Stove Should I Install? Bit Stoker?

In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: 009to090 On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:18 am

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
by bluesmobile

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 Harman if you have a minute to advise us, as an owner of such...would be much appreciated...also considering Harman 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 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.

Our Goals:
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 Harman 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 Harman 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
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: rockwood On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:58 am

Well, not sure where to start but here goes...
First: I'm not sure how much nat. gas is there but where I live pellets cost about the same as nat. gas so I wouldn't recommend wood pellets.
Second: What chimney(s) are in this structure now and what type? What chimney is the gas furnace using?
Third: If you put a stove in the "shed-roof single story addition" the chimney may not work well because it would be significantly shorter than the rest of the structure unless it was lengthened to be taller than entire building.....even then it may not draft as well as a chimney running up through the middle of the tallest part of the building. ( is a Canadian website that has lots of good info about chimneys in cold climate)
If you want to transition to coal, keep in mind there's a good chance you'll have to pay a substantial cost up front that will take maybe a few years to pay for itself from money saved by no longer using nat. gas.
The coal in 50lb bags is probably soft coal/stoker size and at $128 per ton is kind of expensive but is probably cheaper than Nat. gas. Also, stoker coal doesn't work to well in a hand fed stove (from my experience) so unless larger coal sizes are available you would need to look for a stoker stove designed for stoker size coal. In my area used stoker stoves are readily available but I don't know about Canada. What stove/furnace does the guy that uses 3-4 ton have?
What I would try to do is find out how available automatic stoker stoves designed for soft coal are in you area. I would also check to see what other (larger) sizes of coal are available that could be used in a hand fed coal stove.
I would look at adding least in the attic areas to start with. That would make a big difference.
Hope this helps.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: markc On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:08 am

hi my name is mark cottrell I read your post and sound like you have access to bulk bit coal cheap my recomendation is to put in a bit stoker outdoor boiler in a shed I have just put one in and I have all the heat I want plus some, 400,000 BTU I have to fill the hopper about every 5-6 days and empty ash every 3 days im burning 100 lbs perday and it can be adjusted up or down to fit your demand, here is my pics of my unit with links to where it came from (manitoba,canada.) tim suderman is the man to talk to at I am currently working on a dealership with this comapany they are the mfg of this boiler, good luck if you have any questions on how it actualy burns from a very satisfied customer call me

mark 502-548-9282

pics of coalman up and running on ky bit
Stove/Furnace Make: coalman,coal, biomass, pellets
Stove/Furnace Model: 400,000 btu, soft coal stoker

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: rockwood On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:19 pm

Hey Mark,
I thought of recommending an outdoor boiler set-up like yours but it didn't sound like he had much space, was kind of on a tight budget and wanted to start using coal right away. A boiler project like yours I think would be hard to put in during an Alberta winter. We'll see what he thinks.
You do have a great set-up and if he has the room and budget for it it would be great for that cold climate and like I said before, if I were to put in a coal boiler I would do it just like you did.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: Robby On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:24 pm

I am also from Alberta. For those temps you must be quite a ways north.

If you can afford, go a boiler. Lots of choices. If not I have a TLC2000 I used for 3 years until ready for boiler. They work just fine, lots of heat. I saved it for someday greenhouse. I will sell real reasonable. I never had a problem with draft. Burns wood OK as well, has dual air controls. There must be someplace closer than 200 miles, most of the mines are further north. Stoker was a little fine, I preferred lump from Dodd's Coal Mine. 8500 BTU per lb. Last time I bought, I think $39 per tonne (2200lbs).
I now use a Harman SF360 and 1400 US gallons storage in a big garden shed. Untill it gets colder I burn once per day, DHW and 4400 sq.ft house. If you decide on any Harman product I have to warn you: Great products, work as stated, I think last a long time. Terrible dealers, therefore crappy warranty.

Good Luck
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman & Elmira
Stove/Furnace Model: SF360, TLC2000, PC45

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: wlape3 On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:07 pm

One possible strategy would be to go with an older hand fed or antique stove and use the savings to invest in a good chimney. Location should be close to where your gas furnace is with the idea of eventually installing a bit stoker with hot air jacket that would use the existing ducting to heat your home. There are several good units available which could supply all the BTUs you need.

I'm assuming there is not much hydro-power in Alberta. My wife is from Quebec and most heating in newer buildings is electric. I also met a fellow from Ontario who was heating a converted barn with 4,000 sqft using a heat pump with a ground coil. His cost for heating was less than what I was paying for a 1200 sqft home near Philadelphia using natural gas and a timer (65 during the day and 50 at night). The hydro-power in both provinces is comparatively cheap although my brother-in-law in Sherbrooke, Quebec uses a wood stove to supplement his heating.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Propane
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: charlie On: Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:30 pm

I have a 30+ year-old Prill stoker boiler in an outside building. It's an 8'x12' building containing my Prill and my 3 ton coal bin. I also have a wood stove that will not burn coal which is 600 pounds of soapstone that might bear looking into because of efficiency. Last year, efm was looking at manufacturing a Prill-type under-fed stoker. I had my fingers crossed that they would hurry, but instead ended up refurbishing my Prill with the able assistance of all the folks in this Forum.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Prill 200 BF
Other Heating: Tulikivi TTU 2700

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: bluesmobile On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:51 pm

Howdy folks....barry here...aka bluesmobile....firstly, thanks for so much help so soon...maybe that good old coal heat results in a warm heart or sure a lot friendlier bunch than the car club forums I've been on lately....that's a good thing.

Chimney - existing chimney is original brick from basement up....however it has been "taken over" by the natural gas guys and has gas flue(s?) in it. I'm not sure it's possible to take it back - would at least have to put in new gas flue somewhere else. For now we want to keep the existing gas forced air furnace system. We also have gas hot water tank which I think means a second gas flue - we could ditch that and to to electric water tank if that'd be an advantage. Would also have to verify condition of old brick chimney - looks ok on outside, and was originally used for maybe still useable? Few loose bricks on top of roof which I've patched up a bit.

As for a new chinmey in central location inside the building, unless I can find something looking at $2000 range ($80 per foot - need 25 ft plus/minus to sit a few feet above roofline) for current to-code insulated pipe. Am apparently not allowed to use any single wall pipe inside the building when installing coal. I may have to do it, but would like to at least try the rear shed roof location unless that for sure won't fly - it'd take 3-4 ft of pipe to be sitting 2 or 3 ft above it's roof.

Rear shed roof location...i take seriously your concerns about poor draft due to this rear location . The roofline at this proposed chimney location is about 20 ft lower than roofline of main structure. Why I think it has a chance of working is that the location is 20-25 ft away from the higher structure, is at the outer edge of a low pitch shed roof, as far away from the main 2 storey structure as it can be - so has a lot of air around it. A small additional negative is that one neighbouring building has a wall butted up to my roof - sits about 10 ft away from proposed chimney location. Wall is only 3-4 ft tall, and only borders us by about 15 ft but it is there and may contribute to the "chimney in a hole" effect. I could move my chimney a few feet further away from it - but only a few feet.

Boiler in a building:..i would love this option, but unless something crazy cheap came my way can't see affording this this year. Although space is tight - I could make it happen. Am curious as to how much an install like this would cost. Am guessing in the $10,000 zone.

Stoker system might be good match, but as we would like to sell the building soon I probably don't want to go so far as to replace my existing gas furnace which has been upgraded about 10 years ago. I don't know if it'd make sense to put in a stoker while leaving gas system intact - don't most stokers tie into existing forced air ductwork?

The comments on gas being as cheap as a pellet stove are helpful....i've never really liked the complexity of pellet stoves, and having to rely on a distribution system and prices I have no control over. The big attraction has been the much cheaper chimney cost - go out vertically, thus allowing a central location on the main floor. I also don't like being a hostage to natural gas - prices are lower now that 2 or 3 years ago - but I doubt they'll stay low, and the distribution/administration costs sure aren't about to go down - they are half my bill these days. Bottom line is both gas and pellet stoves have similar disadvantages, and a gas stove is probably more reliable.
May be best to forget about the 2nd stove for now until I sort out chimney issues for a coal one.

So far, subject to being able to use a chimney on rear shed roof location - it seems one decent choice would be to put it only one coal or wood/coal stove for now in this rear location and see what that does for us. Preferably used in case need to spend bigger bucks on another chimney

I'll take photos later today and attempt to post them to show better what i'm dealing with.

Meanwhile, any more advice gladly received...and also any offers on used equipment or chimney.

barry aka bluesmobile in alberta

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:03 pm

Have you thought of putting a stoker on a power vent? That removes all your chimney issues and would give you some flexibility on the location of the stove in the house; you just need an outside wall. It could be a lower cost solution while you decide if coal is the way you want to go. Just a thought. Lisa
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: bluesmobile On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:56 pm

Power vent idea is interesting...will do some searching to see what I can find out, also need to learn more about stokers as haven't looked into them at all yet...

Am trying to attach photos..

Blue bucket is my no one choice for chimney, green bucket also also open to suggestions of any kind as to chimney location or whatever...
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blue bucket is where thinking chinmey could go
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another view, green bucket could also be chimney location
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sideview of upper storey

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: gambler On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:12 pm

A direct vent or power vented stove would be nice but you didn't say If you can get anthracite coal and if you can I am sure it would be expensive. All of these stoker stoves will not burn bit coal.
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: rockwood On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:10 pm

He's in Alberta so he must be talking about soft coal.
I don't know of any stoker/stove using soft coal that can be power vented. I think it would turn the outside wall of the house black anyway.

Thanks for the photos bluesmobile, that helps a lot.
Either location of the buckets are not too good for a couple reasons...a chimney should be taller than the whole house so you may have issues with downdrafting especially when stove is running idle(on low) but I think the biggest problems could be when winds swirl around/over the surrounding buildings affecting the chimney.
You could try putting it in your preferred location but it might give you fits. If you do put it there go as high as you can. I would look for a stoker stove designed for soft coal because it won't emit as much smoke as a hand fed which could be a problem with close neighbors.
That masonry chimney looks like it would be perfect for your stove...
If you are planning to sell I wouldn't put in a boiler because it probably wouldn't pay for itself in that short of time and may not raise the property value enough to match the investment you made in the boiler. You could take the boiler when you leave but that would be a lot of work.
I would just put in one, maybe two stoves.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: 009to090 On: Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:31 pm

Barry, from what I understand, you don't want to put another chimney in the main section of the house, cuz you just live on the second floor? How about installing a stainless steel double-lined chimney like a Duravent on the second floor, going thru the upper peak of the building? Unlike a mason chimney, no need to go down to the first floor to install that. :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea:
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: bluesmobile On: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:33 pm

Hi some local bummer advice...may sink my coal burning ambitions for now..."got the bituminuous bummed out smokey coal burning blues"...isn't there a song like that?

Seriously, I talked to a guy who's supposed to know some stuff, works for a large wood/pellet etc stove place....he says Alberta indeed has only soft coal as in bit....anthracite can be had somewhere in BC, but that's not a real option at least I don't think so - talking several hundred mile road trips.....

more importantly, he says that burning bit coal in town is gonna be a bad thing....will make the neighbours upset with both the smoke and the smell....i asked him if he thought a boiler would be less smokey than a hand fed, said nope...same problem. Basically, he figures unless living on an acreage...not a good plan to burn coal - stick with a wood burner. Also said something about neighbouring province of BC banning coal burners period....anybody heard of this, either in BC or any of the USofA?

He also did not like the rear and low chimney idea...figures would "give me fits"...i don't look good in fits.

I also ran idea of reclaiming my original brick go, as apparently would need to line the old chimney with a stainless liner due to it's age, plus of course put in another flue for nat gas.

So i'm wondering if this guy is right about the "not in town" verdict...if so I better forget about it until I move out of town....any comments?

Maybe i'll go down into the basement and get up close and personal with some pieces of coal that are still lying around...from the good ole smokey ole days. That may be as close to burning coal I get - here anyways.

barry with the bit bites blues....aka...bluesmobile

Re: In Alberta, Canada. What stove should I install? Bit Stoker?

PostBy: rockwood On: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:53 pm

bluesmobile wrote:not a good plan to burn coal - stick with a wood burner

That's typical, and what's sad is this guy you talked to probably has little or no experience and maybe never even seen a coal stoker in operation. You have to realize there are lots of anti-coal people who know nothing more of coal than they see on TV or here Al Gore(loser)say about it. Sorry for the rant but it's because I run into this "coal ignorance" all the time. Wood stoves (especially older ones) can be much more smokey/annoying than a coal stoker in my opinion.
I would be surprised if coal is banned in your area but I guess you could call anonymously to find out.

Here's the truth...Will it smoke using a soft coal stoker?...Yes, there will be some smoke but most of the time (in my experience) you can hardly see any smoke if the stoker is operating properly.
Smell?....Yes there will be the "coal smell" and truthfully most people won't even recognize the smell as coal burning...they'll probably think it's coming from a woodstove. So if soft coal stokers can be found in your area I wouldn't hesitate about using one.

Here used stokers are available and there are 2 coal stokermatics for sale in my area right now...One is only about 30 minutes away and they're asking $300.
So...I guess it's up to you if you want to pursue coal and if you do I recommend a stoker like I mentioned in my previous post. BTW, do people live in those buildings surrounding you or are they businesses?
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)