Need Some Help...What to Buy?

Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: CoalUserWannabe On: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:46 am

I just checked the weather channel
Good through the 16th of Jan, meaning we only have 2 weeks of possible cold in Jan, 4 weeks in Feb, and after 3 weeks of March we are welcoming spring .

I wouldn't buy anything now ! Putt off shopping till April or May, instead go buy few cases of beer and enjoy whatever winter we have left .
there will be plenty deals in the spring and summer, especially after the Natural gas prices, and many people will switch to natural gas.
Remember, it's the first time ever, natural gas heating is cheaper than COAL ! Except we don't all have access to natural gas.

Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Kodiak

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Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: airflowdevelop On: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:42 am

Well... Not rushing into anything might have been a good thing for once! My deal on Egg has gone down the drain atleast for the short term (Thanks Obama)...

Digging around I am now considering the installation of an AHS 260 in the shop with a run of underground pex to the house. Is that my best option?

I did a heat calc including some thermal imaging / vaporization rate / infiltration to the n'th degree / extreme DHW usage... and come up w/ 213223 BTU/HR on a sub 5 degree day (which we only see maybe 5 times a decade if that).

Here is the new questions...

1. standard heating will only require 45-65k BTU.... Does the 260 do well in that condition or do I need a major dump zone?

2. Looking over our temp averages through the last 10 years... I figure that 8 ton's of coal usage would be the MAX I would ever that realistic??

3. How clean is the AHS boiler? Is that the best unit for this task? I HATE doing things twice!

Thank you for all your help!

Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:11 am

Big question you want to answer is do you want to load coal every day or two, or three as well as remove and replace an ashpan, or do you want to load coal into a large hopper once or twice a season, and only have the daily or every 2-3 day job of swapping the ashpans??

An AHS has a coal feed hopper, that is quite high in the air, it gravity feeds the fire. so you will have to lift the buckets or bags of coal up over shoulder height to fill the hopper every few days.. Or you can spend extra money and add a transfer auger.

The EFM 350/520/700 use and integral auger to pull coal from a large [months or a season's worth] coal hopper.
The AA130/260 use an auger to feed the fire, and can pull coal from a similar sized [a few months or a full season] sized coal hopper..

All the boilers are good units.. you just have to decide what type of setup you want.

I use an AA260, in an outbuilding that is 1/2 way between my 40x60 shop with heated floor, and my 4000sqft farmhouse with hybrid heated floors/baseboard heat and a DHW heat exchanger.

My AA260 has a hopper that holds roughly a week + worth of coal.. so I weekly fill it up, I empty ashpans every other day.

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

Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: airflowdevelop On: Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:01 pm

Thanks Greg! I was kind of torn between an EFM or the AHS. AHS is just a few minutes down the road so that was a selling feature for me. The pre-sales support seems excellent...but you never know what that turns into after you make the purchase.

Any design suggestions you can make?


Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:05 pm

Well, I don't really know enough to make many suggestions.. How about if I mention what i'd change if I were to do my instal over again?

First, I'd make the hopper larger. I'd make it good for at least a month,, and I'd make the roof so that I could winch a section up, and load the hopper with my front-end loader.. Even though I like the exercise of loading the hopper weekly, there are times I really wish I didn't have to do it weekly.

I'd make more of an effort to improve the insulation package and burried trench for the pipes from the boiler building to the house and shop.. I'd foam the bottom of the trench, lay in the insulated and sealed pex-pipe package, then foam the sides and top, then add a 4' wide plastic layer like a long umbrella over the trench, then backfill. Even though I have a VERY good insulated pipe package, there is a slight, constant heat loss to the ground, which is worse when the ground is damp/wet from rain/snowmelt etc.
Keeping the ground around the burried pipes dry would reduce heat loss, the ground is an insulator if it is DRY, but not if it's damp or wet.

I used the outdoor building I had, I should re-roof it, and insulat the building, it's got a greenhouse roof, wth no insulation. so i'm sure i'm losing some heat to the building, expecially last year when we had several weeks of sub-zero weather. This year it's probably minimal.

I'd consider raising the boiler on a base, and figure out an ash-removal auger, so it dumps into a large, tractor-handled ash pan,, this way I'd not have to go out to the shed but every 4-6 days or so.

That 's what I can think of right now. for me it's all about minimal handling of the coal and ash.. I've got too much on my daily/weekly 'list' as it is, and thankfully the AA only requires a visit about 3 times a week, one that lasts about 20-40 minutes when I load the hopper.

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

Re: Need some help...what to buy?

PostBy: Yanche On: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:24 am

My advise for any new boiler installation is to think hard about an installation that minimizes the work and dust in moving coal and ash. The manual labor gets old after a few years and it's the largest single reason why people switch to another more convenient fuel. So plan your install allowing for mechanized loading of coal from a large pile. It could be gravity fed, auger fed or belt fed. All installations will be different depending on the space and dollars you have. Similarly ash removal though less in volume is much more dusty. Some sort of auger is usually necessary, one strong enough to break up clinkers. After that a vacuum transport system can be used. A good mechanical coal/ash handling system will be a significant expense. But if you plan your boiler install, to accommodate it from the beginning it can be a future improvement.

If you are an engineer thinking type person there are any number of instruments or controls you can add. Rarely will they make significant operating cost reductions to pay for themselves. It does give you bragging rights though. Spend your money first on things that matter long term, insulation and fixing heat leaks, matching the right sized boiler to your heat loss and a plan for getting affordable coal to you.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

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