Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: dalimama On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:12 pm

My husband and I are possibly in the market for a new boiler for our house and I am the researcher of the family, so I am very happy to have stumbled upon this website. Here are some specs for our house:

It is a 111 year old, 3-story Victorian. The windows are original i.e. drafty and the boiler is about 50-60 years old. It's been a great, albeit not fuel-efficient boiler. My husband is handy and has learned how to fix various problems that have arisen with this boiler, but it's time for a new one. Our house is approx. 1800 square feet, with a poorly built addition built over the crawl space- with no insulation underneath that contains that kitchen and a storage room. The basement of our home fills with quite a bit of water anytime it rains for multiple hours despite
having two sump pumps which eventually pump the water out each time. I add this fact since that is where our current boiler is located and there is also a room which houses what used to be a coal bin down there. (perhaps some of you will say we should sell our personal money pit, but that's not an option right now)

Since we live in Chalfont, PA, I thought coal might be a possibility since PA is a coal state and it could save us money. Neither of us have any experience with coal.

So, here are my questions...
1) What kind and size of coal burner boiler would we need for a drafty house our size?
2) Does a multi function burner make the most sense so that we could fall back on oil if we needed to?
3) Does anyone know where to buy coal that will deliver to Chalfont, PA and approx how much we would spend monthly in the winter?
4) Does a coal burner use the same pipes/plumbing that an oil burning boiler would?
5) How much do coal burners cost and do companies usually offer financing?

Thanks for any help!
dalimama
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 350

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:30 pm

Hello! Welcome to the forum.

1) What kind and size of coal burner boiler would we need for a drafty house our size?

That is not easily answered without doing a walk-through and analysis of the home. The best we can do over the internet is guide you through that process. Please tell us more about the heating system in the house: Is it steam heat? Hot water? All one zone? Cast iron radiation? How much heating oil do you burn per season? Do you know the model/size of the existing oil boiler?

2) Does a multi function burner make the most sense so that we could fall back on oil if we needed to?

If you need to leave during the heating season oil backup is a nice feature. If your existing boiler doesn't leak, it may be able to serve that purpose.

3) Does anyone know where to buy coal that will deliver to Chalfont, PA and approx how much we would spend monthly in the winter?

The general rule is to divide your gallons of heating oil by 180 to get the tons of coal you would need. e.g. 1800 gallons / 180 = 10 tons of coal. I am not familiar with coal prices in your area, but I would hope you could get it for $220-250 per ton (or less?).

4) Does a coal burner use the same pipes/plumbing that an oil burning boiler would?

Generally speaking, yes. In cases where the oil boiler wasn't piped properly to begin with, it makes sense to redo the piping when the coal boiler is installed.

5) How much do coal burners cost and do companies usually offer financing?

That depends on the size of the unit, and features you need. Oil package costs more, auger feed is usually more, and obviously new costs more than used ore rebuilt. Perhaps some dealers offer financing, but I think that is the exception rather than the rule.

P.S. You should really track down the source of that basement flood...it might be time to excavate around the house and install some drainage tile, etc.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: rberq On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:28 pm

dalimama wrote:Does a multi function burner make the most sense so that we could fall back on oil if we needed to?

IMHO, yes: a multi-fuel boiler, or tie a coal boiler into the existing oil unit if it is still serviceable. I would really really want something (oil) that can run automatically if I have to go away for a couple days, if I am sick and can't tend the coal unit, or if the canoe springs a leak and you can't get across the rainwater flood to take out the ashes.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: ryan20strohl On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:42 pm

what about a DF 520 you can burn coal or oil i am heating a 1400 sq foot house and a 900 sq foot garage with a efm 520 no oil just coal. and i have underground pex going to the garage to heat it. soo maybe that would be a option for ya
ryan20strohl
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: efm stoker and allen stoker
Coal Size/Type: rice and buck
Other Heating: allen stoker
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: ryan20strohl On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:44 pm

as far as purchasing one im sure someone can hook you up on here. just make sure you get it high off the floor :shock:
ryan20strohl
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: efm stoker and allen stoker
Coal Size/Type: rice and buck
Other Heating: allen stoker
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: lsayre On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:52 pm

I would think that any of the following coal boilers would suffice:

AHS S130 Coal Gun
Axeman Anderson AA130
EFM DF520
Keystoker Ka-6


If you would be using it for loads of DHW as well as for home heating, then the AHS S260 or AA260 might be more appropriate than the 130's.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (It has been fixed!)

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: whistlenut On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:20 pm

I'm assuming you have a hot water boiler...with a prehistoric oil burner on the beast....and efficiency is not as 'kind to the fuel' as you would like. You are on the right track to living afford-ably and staying warm without buying a couple new 'Rolls cars' for the foreign folks..... Hot water baseboard? or radiators? Look for a name plate on the old boiler...you should see Gross BTU and Net BTU output. Now you will know where the previous folks started from

You would be a candidate for a new or refurbed coal stoker boiler, and as you read on the forum, there are many very good units, both new and used. I checked out you location on mapquest, and there are a number of members close by. My thought is to see if you can get an 'invite' to an operating system.

This is not difficult, but if you are one of those folks who has to have a definite answer for every question, please go with the flow until the learning curve is mastered. DO NOT freak out when you get the blast from the eco folks who want you to replace the windows, add insulation, etc. All that can come later, meanwhile you will be safe and warm and still be able to afford groceries!

Start the research by learning about: Axeman Anderson, AHS, Alaska, EFM, Gentleman Janitor, Harman, Keystoker (Keystone Manufacturing), Leisure Line Products, Patriot.NET, Van Wert.....and who did I miss????????
The wet basement gets my attention...but that can be done at any time. Chimney flues? One, two...or none? Rice, buckwheat, pea, nut, and stove coal sizes. It's all surface mined these days, so don't 'sucker' for : Pure Deep Mined Coal!

I always recommend a stoker boiler with the ability to generate your hot water. Used, Refurbed or brand new, there is plenty of time, but the first 40 degree day will sure get your attention! Your lifestyle will have some influence, but any stoker will give you 24 hours at a minimum.....some several days. A hand fed unit will do the same but requires more attention; however they are less costly. If you are the 'Davy Crockett Type' and just 'killed dinner' you might want to have a hand fed unit.
No electricity required for the burn process, but you still need it to run circulators, lights, blowers and to see the 'cookie trail' to the Coal Bin if you have it outside. Ask all the questions you want, BUT my $.02 advises to stay far away from any politics with forum members. You will feel like the Cobra or a Mongoose are coaching you. A favorite comment that works for me: "I have no comment and no opinion"!!! (and you know darned well I sure as heck do have an opinion...but it is NOT worth the aggravation..............................) Much as coal floats to the top in a 'magnetite solution', the waste products fall to the bottom...

Tampa tonight, and a couple of days......and JUST ASK ME if I want to see or hear another political advertisement on TV or on the Radio.....Lots of 1-866 or 1-800 calls.....what a freaking waste. We could have you guys burning in a week, however you have to suffer through this war of words.

Don't be shy fellow members, ask these kind folks if they might want to see a system operating as we speak. :idea: :help2: :bighug:
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: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: dalimama On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:41 pm

[quote="Rob R."]Hello! Welcome to the forum.

1) What kind and size of coal burner boiler would we need for a drafty house our size?

That is not easily answered without doing a walk-through and analysis of the home. The best we can do over the internet is guide you through that process. Please tell us more about the heating system in the house: Is it steam heat? Hot water? All one zone? Cast iron radiation? How much heating oil do you burn per season? Do you know the model/size of the existing oil boiler?

It's hot water. There are two steel radiators on the third floor that don't work. (my hubby thinks the last pump he bought for our current boiler was wrong and can't pump up to the third floor). It is two zones. In the winter, we burn between 200 and 250 gallons per month. The existing boiler is an approximately 60 year old Dynatherm boiler/heater.. it is huge.


Here is a new question:
Is anyone on this forum a dealer or something in PA near Bucks or Montgomery County? If so, please let me know.
dalimama
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 350

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: whistlenut On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:59 pm

I'm far from you, but someone will chime in soon. Please don't be intimidated, you are asking all the right questions......and will soon get the answers you want. Coal is an individual sport, more than you know, and dozens of individuals gathered to create this forum through the generous support of our fearless leader, Richard C. He will probably help out with the spelling on list last name...man, some of the German, Slovac, Dutch names are tough.

Don't end your day in a quandary, you have the ball rolling, now all you and your hubby have to do is 'aim' it.
Look at it this way: when this phase is over , you will be well informed consumers, who will be warm and comfortable at less than 1/2 the price of oil heat.

Your reward? Like others on the forum, you can help other folks save money, and become 'hands on' when you are ready to show more folks the rediscovery of a friendly old fuel.

Here is something that will blow you away: The Vocational Centers do not teach anything about coal to new techs. Natural Gas, Propane, Geo Thermal, Photovoltaic, and Solar. Bio fuels are mentioned, but not coal......scary!

...a mind is a terrible thing to waste.....following the sheep over the cliff. :eek2: :fear:
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: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: dalimama On: Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:01 pm

[quote="whistlenut"]I'm assuming you have a hot water boiler...with a prehistoric oil burner on the beast....and efficiency is not as 'kind to the fuel' as you would like.

<<Yes, you are correct in your assumption.>>

Hot water baseboard? or radiators?

<<radiators, newer ones on first and second floor- old steel kind on third floor>>

Look for a name plate on the old boiler...you should see Gross BTU and Net BTU output. Now you will know where the previous folks started from

<<will do that tomorrow. I really hate going into our basement, lol. But, will do so if we get a coal boiler>>

You would be a candidate for a new or refurbed coal stoker boiler, and as you read on the forum, there are many very good units, both new and used. I checked out you location on mapquest, and there are a number of members close by. My thought is to see if you can get an 'invite' to an operating system.

<<Yes, I think I need to see a system in operation. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the learning curve, but I refuse to let that get in the way of being warmer.>>

DO NOT freak out when you get the blast from the eco folks who want you to replace the windows, add insulation, etc. All that can come later, meanwhile you will be safe and warm and still be able to afford groceries!

<<Thank you for this advice. I would love to get all of those new things, but with 5 kids and helping to pay for college for one of them, we barely have two pennies to rub together, so one thing at a time.>>

Start the research by learning about: Axeman Anderson, AHS, Alaska, EFM, Gentleman Janitor, Harman, Keystoker (Keystone Manufacturing), Leisure Line Products, Patriot.NET, Van Wert.....and who did I miss????????
The wet basement gets my attention...but that can be done at any time. Chimney flues? One, two...or none?

<<would love to have a better solution to the basement, but we've had a "lawn drain" installed and the two sump pumps and really need to deal with the boiler next. We have one chimney flue.>>

Rice, buckwheat, pea, nut, and stove coal sizes. It's all surface mined these days, so don't 'sucker' for : Pure Deep Mined Coal!

<<which of these kinds of coal do you feel is best?>>

I always recommend a stoker boiler with the ability to generate your hot water. Used, Refurbed or brand new, there is plenty of time, but the first 40 degree day will sure get your attention! Your lifestyle will have some influence, but any stoker will give you 24 hours at a minimum.....some several days. A hand fed unit will do the same but requires more attention; however they are less costly. If you are the 'Davy Crockett Type' and just 'killed dinner' you might want to have a hand fed unit.

<<We are def. not the Davy Crockett type but not unhandy either... somewhere in between so it sounds like a stoker boiler is the way to go.>>

Tampa tonight, and a couple of days......and JUST ASK ME if I want to see or hear another political advertisement on TV or on the Radio.....Lots of 1-866 or 1-800 calls.....what a freaking waste. We could have you guys burning in a week, however you have to suffer through this war of words.

<<I hear ya. My hubby loves to watch CNN and between the constant political drivel and phone calls, I am going batty.>>

Thanks for all of your help, Whistlenut! :)
dalimama
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 350

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:18 am

dalimama wrote:Here is a new question:
Is anyone on this forum a dealer or something in PA near Bucks or Montgomery County? If so, please let me know.


I have heard good things about Scott Martin in Mont Clare, PA.

http://www.scottamartinservicesinc.com/

dalimama wrote:It's hot water. There are two steel radiators on the third floor that don't work. (my hubby thinks the last pump he bought for our current boiler was wrong and can't pump up to the third floor). It is two zones. In the winter, we burn between 200 and 250 gallons per month. The existing boiler is an approximately 60 year old Dynatherm boiler/heater.. it is huge.


200-250 gallons per month in the heating season isn't uncommon for a home like you've described. A stoker boiler will cut your heating costs by at least 50%.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:10 am

You've come to the right place for sure and I think others can answer all of your boiler questions. Check your PM's (private messages). I've got some advice for you on that wet basement.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: Dennis On: Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:20 pm

Rob R. wrote:dalimama wrote:
Here is a new question:
Is anyone on this forum a dealer or something in PA near Bucks or Montgomery County? If so, please let me know.

I have heard good things about Scott Martin in Mont Clare, PA.

http://www.scottamartinservicesinc.com/


Very good service and reliable,I also believe he is an EFM Dealer
Dennis
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size

Re: Newb interested in alternative energy i.e. coal

PostBy: JeepinPete On: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:33 pm

Your situation sounds familiar. I'm not too far north of you, and definitely know the area (my wife and I were married in Chalfont). Living in an old farmhouse up here, use to burn a tank of oil an month. Got the EFM running last winter and could not be happier. I've got a local Tru-value that sells expensive coal (over $300/ton), and it works out to being half the price of oil. A couple cold winters will get me to a break even on the install.

Coal is not like oil. There is work involved. Getting the coal into your basement, getting the ashes out. Relighting the fire when it goes out. Dealing with the coal gas when you do something dumb (like let the coal level get low in your hopper :oops: ) All which happen as you are getting over that learning curve.
JeepinPete
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy

Visit Lehigh Anthracite