1st house. Choosing heating sources

1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Lawns570 On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:55 pm

I am 24 and have just purchased my 1st starter home. It's located in schuylkill co. and obviously we have an abundance of coal. The house is right around 1,500 sq feet. Currently the home has an oil furnace and electric heat. The oil furnace currently does work. The house has baseboard radiators throughout the house that hook up to the oil furnace. The baseboard is old and in my opinion ugly. I know I want to fix the oil furnace and then sell it. I want to replace it with coal. My first thought was to buy a coal stove, and put it in the basement. I would cut vents in the floor and let the heat rise up naturally. Or my other option is to a buy a coal furnace and hook it up to the current baseboard heat that the oil furnace was connected to. My number one option would be to buy the stove, so that way I can remove the ugly baseboard heaters, but I am wondering if the coal furnace with the baseboard would be much more efficient. The other consideration is the I have found many used coal stove much cheaper than coal furnaces.

Looking for input from you guys.. Thanks

Also if anybody has any coal furnaces/stoves for sale let me know
Lawns570
 

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: carlherrnstein On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:13 pm

Id probably go with a stove in the basement and keep the furnace for backup heat.
carlherrnstein
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: combustioneer model 77B
Coal Size/Type: pea stoker/Ohio bituminous

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:56 pm

Congratulations on buying your first home, and welcome to the forum.

You will get a lot of different opinions on this, so just remember that everyone's goals are different and what works for one person might not work for you. It really depends on you want to accomplish, how the home is setup, and how much you are willing to spend.

This thread has a lot of different viewpoints about a similar topic: Stoves or Central heat? Boilers vs. Furnaces

A lot of people find out the hard way that it is tough to heat a home with a stove in the basement...especially if the basement walls are uninsulated. It can be done, but you will be heating significantly more area than if the stove was upstairs. The other challenge is moving the heat around to the various rooms. Certainly a coal stove in the basement will provide warm floors and help offset the fuel costs, but I wouldn't plan on replacing the oil boiler with a stove. A backup system is very nice to have regardless of what you decide to burn coal in.

I prefer stoker boilers because you can make use of an existing hot water heating system, and you get the benefit of coal-fired domestic hot water. Check out the classifieds section towards the bottom of the main forum page, there is a variety of equipment listed for sale.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Dennis On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:36 pm

Congrads on your home and welcome, :clap:
With purchasing the home I'm sure money is or will be tight, but don't go the cheap way out. If you get a coal boiler it will last you 50 years if taken care of properly. Yes they can cost up to $10,000.00 new, but there are many members who rebuild boilers for half that price and they will last your life time if taken care of properly. If you spread that out over the years you own the home it will cost hundreds a year and save you 50% of your heating bill compared to fuel oil.
Now the fun begins to narrow down your choice of heating appliance. Read and ask questions, everybody here is willing to give advice from our own experences(good and bad). You have all summer to make up your mind.

IMO a coal stoker boiler would be the way to go. You get even heat through out the house with your existing(ugly)baseboard,all DHW and will heat your basement and have warm floors.Good luck on your choice and enjoy the warm house next winter.
Dennis
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Wiz On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:24 pm

Welcome to the forum and congrats on your new home. I agree with Rob & Dennis on looking at a stoker boiler. It would provide better heat and you already have the baseboards. Check out Keystoker since it's in your backyard.
Wiz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker Ka 6
Coal Size/Type: Casey Junk Coal :(

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: traderfjp On: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:06 pm

Natural gas would be my prefernece. I know people who have it and they pay considerably less than oil. I would then have coal as a suplement heat.
traderfjp
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing 3

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Freddy On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:08 am

Welcome to the Forum & best of luck with your new home. A few things...let's get terminology somewhere near correct: A stove or a furnace make hot air, a boiler makes hot water (or steam). Base board has water running through it so a boiler is what you're after for that.

Baseboard heat is much preferred over hot air heat. It's a better heat because it does not dry the air out as much....less static electricity in the house and less money spent on Chap Stick. Also it is considerably more efficient for three reasons: It's temperature is lower, it costs less to pump water than it does to move air, and, it's less drafty. Regardless of how ugly the base board is I would never remove it. ( I might replace it someday when I could afford better looking stuff)

I think you'll find that fixing the boiler and selling it is not a big profit maker. I'd try to keep it for back up.

Coal? Natural gas? Today probably both good choices. I do think coal will be a bit cheaper in dollars over the years, but a bit more work.
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: NWBuilder On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:47 am

As usual Freddie is on target.
NWBuilder
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Ahs 130
Coal Size/Type: Burning Pea anthracite

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: WNYRob On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:42 am

Another thing to think about in relation to getting rid of your oil furnace, is resale ability. If you think you will sell the house in the future (as many starter home buyers do), it may be tougher to sell if you only have coal heat. Maybe this isn't as much of a problem in PA, but in NY I would have to believe that most people looking to buy a house with only coal heat would not want to mess with it and would either walk away or ask for a hefty credit to put in an oil/gas furnace. While coal heating is gaining in popularity in NY, it is still a significant minority in heating applications.
WNYRob
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker Koker controlled with CoalTrol

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: PRengert On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:43 am

In addition to what Freddy said, hot water heat is more comfortable because it's output is more even and continuous than forced air. Also, the pipes are much easier to insulate and take less space than ductwork. Boilers cost more but last longer than furnaces.
PRengert
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker K6

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: traderfjp On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:14 am

What do you use for hot water? I installed a hybrid hot water heater and even on Long Isalnd my bill only went up 30.00 a month. It was costing me more for my oil fired unit each month. I had a Boch HWH and it was fairly effecient too. I really want to get off oil all together. I still heat my basement with oil, and from Oct. 4th to April 4th I've used 200 gallons - keeping the basement at 72 so that isn't too bad. I may install a pellet stove down there just because a coal stove would be over kill and there is much less work with a pellet stove. The ash doesn't build up mearly as quickly as it does with coal. Coal is a lot of work. You have to store it, move it around and you'll will be constantly emptying the ash bin and filling the hopper. There is a reason why oil replaced coal over the years. Lets see. I can just turn up the thermostat or deal with the chores of coal. However, I save a ton of money with coal over oil. It only cost me a few hundred dollars this season for coal heat. Usually I burn about 2.5 - 3 tons. I'm in at 200.00 a ton so even a rough winter isn't that costly. Lots of people, I know have NG on their streets (I don't) and National Gid will give you money to convert to a nice new NG unit. Dealers have been raising the prices of coal due to shipping rates going up and the increseased costs to get the stuff out of the ground which makes NG a good alternative. I wouldn't get a coal boiler for several reasons. First it will burn lots more coal than a stoker and when you go to sell your house you will have issues for sure. A good stoker stove on the first floor is your best bet for now but if the stove is 3k and you're paying 400 a ton for coal I would seriously think about NG and ditching coal.
traderfjp
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing 3

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:32 am

I would seriously consider a Leisure Line 110K boiler. NEW with the included oil backup burner.. This is a highly efficient small stoker boiler that is very reasonably priced, and will satisfy any purchaser of your house in the future, it's an efficient oil boiler as well as an efficient coal boiler.
It's made in Berwick PA... take a 45minute drive and go see Matt and Dave.. and see the boiler from inside out..

Keep the baseboard, and if you have access to the underside of your floors, you can slowly, as the money and time become available, install below the floor,
hydronic heating pex/heat difusers to heat the floors above.. and then you can get rid of the worst of the 'ugly' baseboards..
But carpeted floors don't heat well, the carpet is an insulator. wood or ceramic/tile floors work best.

A small boiler with dhW with oil backup for the vacations, the fall and winter.. it's all there in one package, and the price is quite reasonable.. less than half that scary number mentioned in an earlier post.

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

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: traderfjp On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:22 am

I would only do a coal boiler if you can keep your oil fired boiler. When I tell people I burn coal they cross their eyes at me and sneer. You may decide to sell your house in the next several years and only having a coal boiler will turn many more people away then it will attract. Most people think it's dirty and don't understand how clean burning anthracite is. If they are familiar with coal they remember the old stoves and usually it isn't a pleasant memory. Before making any decisions talk to your neighbors. Don't tell them you're thinking of coal (they don't need to know) but see if NG is an option and what it cost them each month. I have a friend who spends 156 a month, on heating his house, and making hot water with NG in the roughest of winters. The rest of the year it cost him about 30.00 a month for hot water. If you pull a shoulder or get hurt the stove still needs attention. I use bagged coal and it's no fun lugging these bags about. Loose coal had its own pros and cons too. If you're stuck with coal then I would buy an Alaska Channing stove or a stove in that line. It is desgined beautifully. I have had zero problems with it. It has a small foot print, allows easy access to the ash bin to compress it down and is a work horse. I'm sure there are other good brands but I can only speak of my experiences. I would suggest you stay away from the Harmon DVC-500. My friend has that stove and is having many issues. Wet coal gets stuck in the feed system, which is designed poorly, no one seems to understand how the thermostat system works, and you always have to run your exhaust on full. No rhesostats allowed. I can't tell you how many times his stove has gone out on him. THe poor guy has adjusted the feed system rods, tried drying out his coal, replaced parts, etc. He also has to empty his stove more times than I do because he can't really get into the ash bin to compress the ash and he is burning twice the amount of coal I'm and our homes are simaliar. Coal ash is very fluffy and if I didn't compress it down I would have to take it out every day. With a potato masher I can compress the ash down and go twice as long between trips to empty it.
traderfjp
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing 3

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:39 am

traderfjp wrote:I really want to get off oil all together. I still heat my basement with oil, and from Oct. 4th to April 4th I've used 200 gallons


traderfjp wrote:I wouldn't get a coal boiler for several reasons. First it will burn lots more coal than a stoker


traderfjp wrote:I may install a pellet stove down there just because a coal stove would be over kill and there is much less work with a pellet stove. The ash doesn't build up mearly as quickly as it does with coal.


trader, I'm having a hard time following your logic. You don't want a coal boiler because you think it will burn more coal than a stoker stove...I agree that it takes more btu's to heat the entire house than just part of it, but it sounds like you want the entire home heated anyway...hence the 200 gallons of fuel this year and the pellet stove you mentioned.

Maybe I'm missing something, but considering what you've already spent heating the basement, and what it would cost to install a pellet stove (couple grand?), wouldn't you have been money ahead to install a refurbished stoker boiler on day 1? I am referring to the cost of the stoker stove, fuel oil heating the basement, and cost of an additional pellet stove vs. tying in a stoker boiler to the existing heating system.

I started out with a stove, and I've done the math...I would have been money ahead to just install a stoker boiler to begin with. I've got $5,000 invested in my EFM, and that includes the cost of the boiler and self installation. My oil boiler is still there and ready to shoulder the load if I want to go on vacation, hurt my back, etc etc. Like I said in my earlier post, it is all about goals...mine was to have a house that was warm from top to bottom and corner to corner, and I didn't want fuel oil to be part of the equation.

Oh, about the pellet stove. You are certainly correct that the ash pan doesn't fill up as fast, but you still need to shut them down about once per week for a cleaning/vacuuming. Ask someone that owns one.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: 1st house. Choosing heating sources

PostBy: traderfjp On: Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:07 pm

There are a few reasons I don't want a boiler.

1. More work
2. More maintenance
3. Cost
4, Nightmarish install
5. Don't have the room
6. Re-sale value.
traderfjp
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing 3

Visit Lehigh Anthracite