Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: RPSJR On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:40 pm

Hello guy's ! Be patient with me..I don't know much about furnace's and boiler...But I do know that I should upgrade my exsisting system ..
Six year's ago I bought a 100+ year old farm style house, after my told me she was carrying child # 3..The house needed and still does need a lot work and upgrading..We thought at the time it wouldn't be a problem..Gut and redo a room a year, as we could aford too..The house has plenty of room inside and outside for the growing family!! All was well !! Then htg oil went from $ 1.60 a gal the 1st year to $ 4.40 the 2nd !! Well that extra money went from restoring and upgrading to just hoping we had enough to keep it warm !! I purchased a used channing III from a friend..It has helped quite a bit, but this winter i've burned 10 ton of coal, and spent $1800 on oil..Of couse this was a tough coal winter in Nepa..
My house is 100+ years old, 4 story's, basement(unfinshed) 1400 sq.ft, 1st floor 1400 sq. ft. with 6 cast steam radiators, 2nd floor 1400 sq. ft. with 7 cast steam radiators (13 total for the house), walk up attic 1400 sq. ft. unfinished and no radiators.. Insulation and repalacement windows are a work in progress, we have 4 of 12 rooms complete, and the attic floor insulated with R30..The house is a 2x4 wall plank house, so the side wall insulation is only 4 inches.
The exsisting boiler is approximately 25 years old...Peerless oil boiler, gross output 237000 btu/hr, Ibr 178000 btu/hr steam, sq. ft. steam is 742 net..
I was looking at the AHS WOC55, but with delivery, setup and plumbing costs it's out of my $ 9,000 to $ 10,000 price installed range...Plus being that i'm usually at work 12 hours a day I was thinking a hopper or worm feed might be easier on my wife and oldest daughter if they need to tend it for any reason..We also looked at the Keystoker KB-8, with my house spec's i'm don't know enough to know if it can handle the job..
It look's like a nice unit that mywife an doughter can handle when i'm away..I have also thought about keeping the oil boiler, and buying a forced hot air unit and having it ducted to the first floor and let the heat rise..but then I would be back to useing oil for DHW...The hand fired units from harmon also look nice, and from what i've heard EFM is the most popular..Lots of option's which one is right??
Any suggestions or opion's on what would be the most cost effective, and proper way to go about heating this house with a coal unit would be appreciated....
RPSJR
 
Stove/Furnace Make: alaskan
Stove/Furnace Model: channing 3

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Coalfire On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:48 pm

DO NOT go forced hot air, the hot air will not rise as planned. It will be money wasted. Someone will be along with more boiler knowledge. I would keep your oil for back up and put a coal boiler in. Pipe them together. use only coal :) .


Eric

P.S. Welcome to the forum post your general location someone may have a used unit Scrapper and Glenn harris are two that come to mind.

Also I sent you a PM The little envelope at the top of the page.
Coalfire
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 96K btu Circulator
Coal Size/Type: Nut

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Pacowy On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:57 pm

This sounds like a job for an EFM 700 or 900. Our last house was 4850 sf (plus basement) and about 120 years old, with all original windows and doors, and not much insulation. We tightened things up some, and used a couple of Alaska stoves and a Harman Magnum for a while, but wound up putting in an EFM 900. It handled the load easily, including all DHW.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite


Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: whistlenut On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:35 pm

If you plan on using a boiler in combo with the existing, you will need a K-8 Keystoker, a 700 or 900 EFM, a AA260 Axeman, or an AHS 260. There are other units out there, but how is the basement configured. Try to make this coal change the easiest to service for yourself and your family. I'd stay away from a hand-fired unit with that large a demand, and a stoker boiler would afford you the opportunity of year round safe operation. I sent you a PM, so please check that, too.

Welcome to the forum. :) :!: :idea:
whistlenut
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA130's,260's, AHS130&260's,EFM900,GJ&VanWert
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Franks Boiler,Itasca415,NYer130,Van Wert
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Yellow Flame
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska-4,Keystoker-2,
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Alaska,Gibraltor,Keystone,Vc Vigilant 2
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Van Wert, NYer's, Ford,Jensen.
Coal Size/Type: Rice,Buck,Pea,Nut&Stove
Other Heating: Oil HWBB

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: mozz On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:21 pm

How is your chimney? AA130 Axeman Anderson is my first recommendation. I have mine running 9 steam radiators and it barely works hard at all. Granted my house isn't quite as big as yours but i don't think you would need the larger AA260 or larger EFM700. 1925 house with hardly any insulation but cheap replacement windows and doors. The fire is always burning in mine, just at the point where it makes some steam at idle. Try to find used of course refurbished or refurb it yourself. Second choice would be a EFM520 set up for steam. I would rip out the oil boiler and toss it in the junk pile. No need for a backup with a properly refurbished coal boiler. Slowly upgrade those windows and doors.
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Pacowy On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:42 pm

I agree with the ripping out the oil boiler part, but the output of a 130 is nowhere near the output of the oil boiler, so I'd be very nervous about that downsizing. Above and beyond the possibility that it wouldn't fill the radiators under the best of circumstances, I'd specifically be concerned about the following (in no particular order):

1. Use of DHW clobbers heat production from steam systems faster than hot water systems; a decent margin above the installed radiation is needed to prevent excessive interference, esp. with the "growing family".

2. To address the cold winter "feel" of old houses, many people run their coal boilers without jackets. This acts as additional radiation that heats the basement and first floor, but requires an additional boiler output margin to produce the same steam.

3. The "growing family" might decide in the future to add radiation (in the attic, basement, etc) to create additional living space.

4. I'm not a boiler pro, but to the best of my knowledge up to a point there is an efficiency advantage associated with running a bigger boiler at less than full output vs. a smaller boiler flat out, at least if the bigger boiler has a larger heat exchange area (i.e., if you assume the same gross input for each).

Overall, if somebody's going to put a bunch of $ into a coal-fired steam system, I believe they should take extra care to ensure it doesn't turn out to be underpowered.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Yanche On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:53 pm

mozz wrote: I would rip out the oil boiler and toss it in the junk pile. No need for a backup with a properly refurbished coal boiler. Slowly upgrade those windows and doors.

No national recognized building code permits only a solid fuel heating source in a residence. It's only permitted as a secondary heating source. You need to keep your oil boiler or install something else you tell the permitting authority is your primary heat source. Could be baseboard electric that never gets used. Check what your local building code says.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: mozz On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:57 pm

Pacowy wrote:1. Use of DHW clobbers heat production from steam systems faster than hot water systems; a decent margin above the installed radiation is needed to prevent excessive interference, esp. with the "growing family".

Please explain this, how could it clobber the system more? I run steam and have no problem with my hot water, it barely makes the boiler kick on. Coal loves to burn hot. After using this for a few years on steam i think hot water baseboard or even colder radiant heat would not be making the best use of burning coal. See what LSFarm heats with a 260 and tell me this person should use a 260 also? So in the future when he gets windows and insulation, the 260 will be overkill. AA's spit out unburnt coal when they are oversized for the job. The AA130, as far as i know, will output more btu than a stock EFM 520. There is a rating on it for 540? I think that is a rating for the steam sizing. I would install a AA130 for now, maybe run a hand fired or rice burning stoker stove and after the windows and insulation, sell the stoker stove. He could also install a AA260 or EFM700 then sell that down the road for a smaller size.

2. To address the cold winter "feel" of old houses, many people run their coal boilers without jackets. This acts as additional radiation that heats the basement and first floor, but requires an additional boiler output margin to produce the same steam.

Try and find a AA with a jacket, won't happen. He can have a coal boiler hooked up to the steam for a few thousand dollars if he does it himself. You would have to ask the guys who refurb them but i bet a lot of them taken out of service are setup for steam. Steam and oil don't mix, steam and coal, yes.

3. The "growing family" might decide in the future to add radiation (in the attic, basement, etc) to create additional living space.

If you add to a steam system, good luck, you'll need it. If they rip it all out and go to hotwater, why not. But we often talk expense and if appears the steam is in place and working so why not just change to a coal boiler as is. They might also close off the attic and unused rooms upstairs. You can turn a steam radiator off and close the door to that room. That would lower your btu requirements? If it's an old house, guaranteed the basement will be cold, damp and home to spiders and whatever and most likely never be turned into living space. The coal boiler will warm the basement and warm the first floor floors, yes no doubt.

4. I'm not a boiler pro, but to the best of my knowledge up to a point there is an efficiency advantage associated with running a bigger boiler at less than full output vs. a smaller boiler flat out, at least if the bigger boiler has a larger heat exchange area (i.e., if you assume the same gross input for each).

I think you have that backwards. Running the boiler at close to max output should show a higher efficiency. Mine hardly runs now and it is smaller by 40,000 btu than the oil boiler it replaced. I could heat 2 houses with mine.

Overall, if somebody's going to put a bunch of $ into a coal-fired steam system, I believe they should take extra care to ensure it doesn't turn out to be underpowered.

I picked up my boiler for $1500, add maybe a few hundred dollars to refurb it, got it into the basement myself, removed the oil and hooked up to the steam myself. It works fine, i'm almost 50 and have never really done plumbing before i bought this house so it can be done for a few thousand $ and your free labor. If i had to move and bought another house, i would do it again myself. 100 year old house most likely had coal to start with, if in NEPA., He could purchase a refurb and have it installed by the same people for $4-5000 if the rest of the system was in decent working order. There was a thread on here with people telling how much they have heated with a EFM 520, some were a lot of square footage and outbuildings and such. I'm just thinking a 700 would be overkill. I like the idea of a 520 or 130, with a Stoker rice stove to supplement.

Done putting the chickens to sleep and eating a smoked chicken that was in the smoker for 6 hours, so please don't mind my posts, just bored.

Mike
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: mozz On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:59 pm

Yanche wrote:No national recognized building code permits only a solid fuel heating source in a residence. It's only permitted as a secondary heating source. You need to keep your oil boiler or install something else you tell the permitting authority is your primary heat source. Could be baseboard electric that never gets used. Check what your local building code says.


I can't believe that either. I should be able to build a house with heat of my choice. If i built a new house and bought a new AHS130 i couldn't do it?
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: mozz On: Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:13 pm

This is sad. I guess it depends where you live. This is somewhere in Colorado?
6-9-5 Limit on Coal Burning.Go to the top
No person shall burn coal in a solid fuel burning device.
(Ordinance No. 5445 (1992))
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Pacowy On: Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:13 am

mozz wrote:
Pacowy wrote:1. Use of DHW clobbers heat production from steam systems faster than hot water systems; a decent margin above the installed radiation is needed to prevent excessive interference, esp. with the "growing family".

Please explain this, how could it clobber the system more? I run steam and have no problem with my hot water, it barely makes the boiler kick on. Coal loves to burn hot. After using this for a few years on steam i think hot water baseboard or even colder radiant heat would not be making the best use of burning coal. See what LSFarm heats with a 260 and tell me this person should use a 260 also? So in the future when he gets windows and insulation, the 260 will be overkill. AA's spit out unburnt coal when they are oversized for the job. The AA130, as far as i know, will output more btu than a stock EFM 520. There is a rating on it for 540? I think that is a rating for the steam sizing. I would install a AA130 for now, maybe run a hand fired or rice burning stoker stove and after the windows and insulation, sell the stoker stove. He could also install a AA260 or EFM700 then sell that down the road for a smaller size.

2. To address the cold winter "feel" of old houses, many people run their coal boilers without jackets. This acts as additional radiation that heats the basement and first floor, but requires an additional boiler output margin to produce the same steam.

Try and find a AA with a jacket, won't happen. He can have a coal boiler hooked up to the steam for a few thousand dollars if he does it himself. You would have to ask the guys who refurb them but i bet a lot of them taken out of service are setup for steam. Steam and oil don't mix, steam and coal, yes.

3. The "growing family" might decide in the future to add radiation (in the attic, basement, etc) to create additional living space.

If you add to a steam system, good luck, you'll need it. If they rip it all out and go to hotwater, why not. But we often talk expense and if appears the steam is in place and working so why not just change to a coal boiler as is. They might also close off the attic and unused rooms upstairs. You can turn a steam radiator off and close the door to that room. That would lower your btu requirements? If it's an old house, guaranteed the basement will be cold, damp and home to spiders and whatever and most likely never be turned into living space. The coal boiler will warm the basement and warm the first floor floors, yes no doubt.

4. I'm not a boiler pro, but to the best of my knowledge up to a point there is an efficiency advantage associated with running a bigger boiler at less than full output vs. a smaller boiler flat out, at least if the bigger boiler has a larger heat exchange area (i.e., if you assume the same gross input for each).

I think you have that backwards. Running the boiler at close to max output should show a higher efficiency. Mine hardly runs now and it is smaller by 40,000 btu than the oil boiler it replaced. I could heat 2 houses with mine.

Overall, if somebody's going to put a bunch of $ into a coal-fired steam system, I believe they should take extra care to ensure it doesn't turn out to be underpowered.

I picked up my boiler for $1500, add maybe a few hundred dollars to refurb it, got it into the basement myself, removed the oil and hooked up to the steam myself. It works fine, i'm almost 50 and have never really done plumbing before i bought this house so it can be done for a few thousand $ and your free labor. If i had to move and bought another house, i would do it again myself. 100 year old house most likely had coal to start with, if in NEPA., He could purchase a refurb and have it installed by the same people for $4-5000 if the rest of the system was in decent working order. There was a thread on here with people telling how much they have heated with a EFM 520, some were a lot of square footage and outbuildings and such. I'm just thinking a 700 would be overkill. I like the idea of a 520 or 130, with a Stoker rice stove to supplement.

Done putting the chickens to sleep and eating a smoked chicken that was in the smoker for 6 hours, so please don't mind my posts, just bored.

Mike


1. You get steam when your boiler water gets to 212 deg and then absorbs the "latent heat of vaporization". If you add a DHW load when the boiler is trying to make steam, those btu's come pretty much entirely from steam production. Put another way, with a steam system, if the DHW load pushes your boiler water to 211 deg, you get 0 steam into your radiators. With a hot water system, even if the DHW load pushes down your boiler water temp, you'll still get some heat from your radiators.

2. My point is that any boiler, including an AA, if run without its original jacket basically can't make steam per its original specs. If they have any future scenario that would involve running a coal boiler without a jacket, they need to factor that in when they compare it to the performance they get from their current oil-fired boiler.

3. As far as I know it's not a big trick to add hydronic heating zones to a steam boiler (without converting the existing steam radiation to hot water) and several forum members have done so. My last house had a hydronic loop and my current house has an indirect water heater; both use water from steam boilers.

4. If you burn 20 lb/hr in a boiler with a given heat exchange area, and I burn 20 lb/hr in a boiler with, say, a 25% larger heat exchange area, all else equal I'm pretty sure more of my btu's are going to end up in the water. A given boiler may work most efficiently near its maximum output, but that doesn't tell you anything about how it compares to the efficiency of other boilers with larger hear exchange areas.

Of course, if you find you have an underpowered steam system you can always shut off radiators, manage the timing of your DHW consumption, insulate the boiler and live with cold floors, etc. To me, that misses half the point of the cheap btu's you get from coal - you can choose to have a quality of life that involves greater comfort in - and even expansion of - the habitable area of your home, as well as prodigious amounts of DHW, all while saving a large percentage of the cost. Especially with steam, I just don't see the point of cutting it too close on capacity.

Mike

P.S. Mozz, how many sf are you heating to what temperature, and what is your annual coal consumption? Thanks.
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: jim d On: Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:01 pm

if you have 13 rads you should 1st measure the rads and determine how many sq. ft. of steam you will need, the boiler should be sized to fire the existing radation then add 15% for the piping that is the correct way to do it. if you don't have a rad sizing chart pm me and i'll get you one jim
jim d
 
Stove/Furnace Make: alaska//coaljck
Stove/Furnace Model: liberty// cj3

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Pacowy On: Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:27 am

jim d wrote:if you have 13 rads you should 1st measure the rads and determine how many sq. ft. of steam you will need, the boiler should be sized to fire the existing radation then add 15% for the piping that is the correct way to do it. if you don't have a rad sizing chart pm me and i'll get you one jim


Jim -

I certainly agree that making sure the boiler is adequate to fill the existing radiators is an important starting point, and that it's possible that the boiler sized for 742 sf of steam was overkill. However, I'm concerned that when you say "add 15% for the piping that is the correct way to do it", a reader could think you're dismissing the possible significance of DHW load, running the boiler without a jacket, adding hydronic heat, etc., which were discussed above based on the circumstances RPSJR presented in his opening post. To ensure the system is not underpowered, it seems like those considerations need to be accounted for in the sizing computations.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: mozz On: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:22 pm

A 130 will do 540' of steam, as per the manual. I did measure mine once during the install but don't have the numbers here anywhere. There is a web page that has pdfs of old radiators of most every size and shape that tells you the sq ft. The link was posted on here once long ago. Maybe do a search on American radiator or US radiators of something like that. I think the original poster was scared away. I didn't know steam will only go to 212 then stop, hhhm, my aquastat is set at 190-230. Triple aquastat, most steam systems use them. 8124?
Last edited by mozz on Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: Unsure on which way to go-stoker or handfired?-steam boiler

PostBy: Pacowy On: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:55 pm

Mozz -

I'm not a boiler pro, but as far as I know with steam you normally would use a single aquastat to maintain temperature above the low limit, and let the high end take care of itself based on your thermostat and pressure controls. From your earlier post it sounded like your boiler might be percolating along on its own - does it make steam even when there's no call from the thermostat?

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite