The Coal Attraction

The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:57 am

MY story...

HI I'm new here and I would like to share the story that brought me to use coal to heat my home. I live about 70 miles south of Buffalo and just a few miles above the PA line. Last year I converted my 2 and a half car garage into a living room (and we love it!) bringing my square footage of living space up to about 2000 SQ feet. I ran duct work off my propane furnace in December to feed the new room. We kept it around 69-70 degrees. Things were going smoothly, new room, loved it - we gazed out at the frozen tundra thru the new bay windows smiling...

Then one day in mid January it happened. I stopped at the mailbox on my way home from work and there it was... The ominious propane bill. My eyes opened wide, I felt a rise in blood pressure, my heart thumped.. I knew we had been pushing that furnace hard. I opened the envelope, trembling. At the bottom I saw $452.35. I cringed and covered my mouth in denial. Then paid the bill.. From that point on I lowered the themostat at night, and my wife did during the day when she wasn't home. The cold spells outside got worse. Below zero at night. Mid Feb, there again the propane bill, this time $592.61.. I screamed in agony.. OMG I can't do this!!! I started using electric to help cut the propane bill.. BAD MOVE!! I was even burning wood pellets in the other part of the house to help.

I think you guys get the point.. By April I was totally disgusted and knew I had to completely redo my heating system. I never paid the final propane bill. The supplier showed up in July to take the tank. I told him get that thing the H*** outta my yard and good riddens too ya!! - (sorry propane guy) -

Last spring of this year I started my research. I looked at all the ways to heat and how many dollars per million BTU. I thought about my Grandpa who heated his camp with a nice little coal stove. I miss him. I remember sitting next to it, 31 years ago, feeling the radiant heat when I was 9 years old... Sorry I got a little emotional there :)

Wood, not bad but alot of work. Wood pellets still decent, I have a pellet stove in the other part of the house, I love it. Electric, $36.64 per million BTU, ouch. Propane at $2.99 gallon - $40.92 per million BTU. Are you for real!!! Then coal sits at a humble $11.72 per million BTU @ $211/ton. I was totally blown away. I must have done the figures wrong. Checked and checked again. It was right, and I was left wondering why everyone on this planet isn't using coal to heat with.

All summer I talked to freinds and family about coal. They probably got sick of hearing about it even lol.. I got some very awkward looking faces and responces. Coal was like some dirty little skeleton in the closet. My wife feared we would surely freeze to death this winter since I uprooted the propane furnace. I didn't understand but I knew in my soul I was onto something huge!! I thought about the cold winter days when I was a child at my Grandpa's camp...

Time for action!! I found a used Clayton 1537G on Craigs list for a very reasonable price. Its a hand fed, forced air unit with blowers designed to connect to duct work. The previous owners used hard nut coal in it. I wire bushed the front and re-painted it with stove paint. Looks nice! My freind and and I wrestled it into the basement and I spent a couple weeks redoing duct runs. We have had some cold and warm spells so for this year so I think the longest duration I had coal burning was about 3 days. I love it!!

I'm still learning how to burn coal, but I'm getting a grip on it now, thanks to the wealth of knowledge here written by enthusiastic coal burners!! The hardest part is leaving it alone to do its job.. The days I've had it running it was 25 outside, shorts and T-shirt weather in the house at 80.. Now we're smiling - again :) and I'm very excited to burn coal this winter!

In closing I hope I didn't bore anyone with my long winded story, I'm sure many of you have a similar reason for your coal coolness or should I say say holy heatness lol. I will return here with photos and things that I'm learning along the way. Thank you for all that have written to help us newbies get on the wagon with coal!

Lee :)
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: I'm On Fire On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:25 am

Glad to see you on here. Welcome. Like you, I spent a few seasons heating with electric baseboard. My wife and I would set the t-stats to 45* and then sit around with blankets and sweaters on. At night, when we went to bed the t-stats would get turned to 35*, just to keep the pipes from freezing. Our electric bill was close to $1000 at one point. Then I repaired our 50 year old furnace because we didn't use it for two seasons. We ran that for a season and spent $1500 for the season to run our furnace. Again, the t-stats were set to 65* and we sat around in sweaters and blankets. Then I bought a wood stove, we ran that for two seasons and set the t-stat for the furnace to 50* for when we weren't home to feed the fire every hour. I over-fired that stove like it was no-one's business just to keep the house 67*- 70*, the furnace still ran constantly and we were still spending $1500 a season in oil and $800 in wood.

Then, one summer I hired a guy to come service my oil furnace. He broke it. So, it sat for four months broken. From June to September. I found this website and asked if anyone knew how to repair a furnace. I then started reading about coal. In July of 2010 I bought my first coal stove. Spent the summer restoring it. It was a Chubby SR circa 1976. It heated my home to 75* from late September to early December. Then, the real cold set in. And it too, like my wood stove could not keep the house 68* without the furnace running. I had a few 'outs' with the Chubby because I was running it well over 600* and I was running 100+ pounds of coal through it. So, the hunt was on. To find a bigger coal stove.I looked at Alaska's, Hitzer's and finally, with some guidance from several members on here I found DS Machines. At 130k BTU/Hr and able to hold 120+ pounds of coal I measured my fireplace hearth, once, twice, then placed my order directly with DS and got me a DS-1600 Hot Air Circulator. For the January 3rd I drove 3 hours one way to pick up my stove. By January 8th it was installed. And for the remaining 2010/2011 season I kept my house at 80*+ degrees and didn't buy oil again.

This season, I shut the oil furnace off at the breaker the third week of October and won't buy oil (read, diesel) until April where I'll pour 10 gallons in the tank for the shoulder months.
I'm On Fire
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machines DS-1600 Hot Air Circulator

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: freetown fred On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:51 am

Welcome to the FORUM lightning. You can't hate a warm & frugal winter season. And yea, weird weather so far. ;)
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

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Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:54 am

Thanks for the welcomes! Yeah I plan to save at least $1600 on heating. And the best part? No cold noses and tight sweatshirts - no cringing at the propane furnace, that sucker is gone!! We're gonna be warm and happy about it!
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Dennis On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:00 pm

I bought my house 21 years ago and heated with oil and wood.Wood was great when i had extra time and energy.I hade too many chimney fires(chimney was too small) and riped it out when i renevated the house.With the price of oil, i would heat the house at 50to60 degrees.Last year my oil burner started leaking and found this great fourm and started looking for a new boiler and setteled with my AHS/ WOC55 multi-fuel boiler.When the boiler was installed i hade 3" of oil in the tank,this year there is still 3" in the tank and my house is heated from 65 to 70 degrees.I will only buy oil when the prices the prices come down to a reasonable price.My boiler has 225,000 btu/hr capacity and will be heating my 1600 sqft. shop when i can install a modine heater.It would cost me $40.00 a day to heat the shop when oil was $2.02 gallon.I calculated to save $2500.00 last year from not using oil to heat only my house and my boiler investment will take 4 years to pay off.Coal is a no brainer
Dennis
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:07 pm

Welcome. I think we all have pretty similar stories. I was outraged when oil jumped to .99 from .89 in 2003. I had heated with a wood boiler for many years but had decided to leave the wood due to all of the work involved. Wood heat is great if you are young and have a strong back. Heated with oil for a few years. My time was better spent earning money rather than wood cutting, splitting, hauling, stacking, hauling again, etc. Wish I had gone right to coal in '83 when I bought this house.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:11 pm

Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to Nepacrossroads. I heat our house and domestic water with an EFM stoker boiler, and I am on track to save about $3000 this year compared to fuel oil ($3.59/gal right now). I know how nice it is not to get slammed with those $700 fill-ups.

Your Clayton furnace is also capable of burning bituminous coal. If you ever want to try some, look up Valier Coal Yard near PUNXSUATAWNEY, PA and ask about their Kentucky lump coal.

They are highly recommended by another forum member: Where do you get your Bituminous coal and a going price?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: musikfan6 On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:32 pm

Lightning,

All the best to you as you enjoy the heat of the coal stove. Tonight it's going down below the 40's in the evening here in Lancaster County, PA, and you can be sure I'll be hovering over my little FB, watching the blue ladies dance across the surface of the grate. What a sight!!

ENJOY!!
musikfan6
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Franco Belge
Stove/Furnace Model: 1475

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: ValterBorges On: Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:27 pm

Scary how i was just telling markviii a very similar story. My propane supplier was charging 3.80 and my 3 or 4 fills were like 1800 a pop.
ValterBorges
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS
Stove/Furnace Model: S260

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: musikfan6 On: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:05 am

Rob R. wrote:Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to Nepacrossroads. I heat our house and domestic water with an EFM stoker boiler, and I am on track to save about $3000 this year compared to fuel oil ($3.59/gal right now).I know how nice it is not to get slammed with those $700 fill-ups.
Your Clayton furnace is also capable of burning bituminous coal. If you ever want to try some, look up Valier Coal Yard near PUNXSUATAWNEY, PA and ask about their Kentucky lump coal.

They are highly recommended by another forum member: Where do you get your Bituminous coal and a going price?



Dittos on this. My fill-ups weren't quite that much money, but were in the ballpark-probably around 500.00 every time he came to suck money out of my house through that darn pipe in the wall.

Can someone quickly tell me what the difference is with Bitumionus coal?? Thanks...
musikfan6
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Franco Belge
Stove/Furnace Model: 1475

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: SteveZee On: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:43 pm

Bit is classified soft coal and burns differently than anthracite. Obviously, there are different grades with different properties but the top shelf stuff (for home heating) like Kentucky Lump puts out as many BTU's or more than ant coal. It also has more volatiles and thus makes some smoke and soot like wood. Usually burns with a yellowish versus blue flame and needs secondary air to burn properly. Sometimes has a sulfery smell also but not always.
SteveZee
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Berlin On: Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:04 pm

Stevezee basically hit the nail on the head. The best bit coal will have more heat and less ash than anthracite, but you'll have a bit of soot - similar to an oil burner running rich. Still no creosote or chimney fire danger. In a hand-fired stove/furnace it will produce a bit of smoke similar to burning wood however it does not smell the same so if you have a low chimney and very close neighbors downwind, burning bit coal in hand-fired stove may not be for you as it sometimes has a smell that most people outside of bit coal country are unfamiliar with. I would at least recommend giving it a try and seeing if you like it.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: saragnac On: Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:43 pm

Welcome to the forums Lightning. I too am on my first year burning coal and can't say enough good things about it. I live in one of the coldest parts of the US so heating up here is a big concern. Last year I kept my house at 65* tops and still burned through 1500 gallons of fuel and decided there was no way I could do that again. I was going to install gas logs into my fireplace to help out but then propane prices went crazy so I did the research like you and found a wonderful heat source. I have already saved at least $400 in the last month alone in heating and if all goes well I will save enough money in the first year alone to pay for my stove and 4 tons of coal. And that is keeping my house at least 10* warmer than it was last year. The kids (five of them) are in shorts, t-shirts and barefoot on hardwood floors and the stacks of blankets are nowhere to be found. When I build my retirement home I'm already planning on designing the basement around the boiler, I think that's going to be my favorite part of the house.

Take care and crank her up!
saragnac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC 2000

Re: The Coal Attraction

PostBy: Lightning On: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:25 pm

Saragnac, Thanks man!! It's really quite impressive.
Stuff they dig out of the ground, looks like a rock, is roughly 300 million years old - and burns like awesome sauce lol.
Yeah love it 8-)
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

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