Coal boiler recommendation for my home

Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:52 am

Hi,
I've been lurking here on and off for the last four years. After the winter of 2008 when heating oil prices went north of $4, I seriously looked into installing a coal boiler to use as a primary heat source with my oil boiler as a backup. I even purchased a hand fired Tarm. Well, oil prices went down, and I tabled the idea (the Tarm is still sitting in the basement but will soon be for sale). Now I'm back and am seriously considering coal again, but only a stoker this time.
My home is approximately 6000 sq ft, of which we've been heating about 4000 square feet. The current boiler has a capacity of roughly 300K BTUs. The burner is a Riello 40 F10 (firing rate range 1.45-2.95 GPH). I am not sure what it is actually running at. I haven't tracked what we've spent on oil(too painful to add it up:)), but I'd guess it's been in the $5-$7K range per year. The HVAC system is hydronic with seven zones including five air handlers, a hot water heater, and a pool heater. Our family is growing, and we will be heating more of the house this winter, so our oil usage will increase. The house was built in 2002 and is well insulated; although, I do have some air leaks which need to be addressed.
I am considering having a stoker installed which would supply the majority of the heating in the winter. I don't know if I would run it during the summer or not. The room where the boiler would likely be installed (and where the current boiler is installed) does not have access to an outside wall, so an external coal bin feeding an auger is not an option. I could potentially build a small bin under a stairwell, but most likely I'd be relying on a hopper only. I have two unused flues in my chimney. Unfortunately, the access points are on the wrong side of the chimney, so a relatively long connecting pipe to the boiler would likely be required. The chimney is probably on the order of 45 feet high.
We live in central/eastern Massachusetts. I've contacted Jim at Patriot Coal about the Coal Jack boiler, but it may be too small for our home (I'm waiting to hear back from him). The AHS S-260 looks interesting, and they are currently running a 10% sale, but they have no dealer or support that I am aware of in our area.
Budget is not my primary concern; although, it is certainly a consideration. With our heating loads and the current prices of coal and oil, I think that we would have a relatively short payback period on the installation. My primary concerns are ease of use and reliability, and I'm not interested in sacrificing either to save a few thousand $ on the system price. I would also likely be looking to have the system installed by a third party.

FWIW, here is a picture of our current boiler.
Image

I would greatly welcome any and all feedback and suggestions from the forum. Let me know if I've missed any important information. I'm happy to provide any info about the house I have.

-Gary
gwgjr34
 

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gaw On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:50 pm

Wow, there ain’t much room in that boiler room. I think whistlenut works on EFMs and Axemans as well as AHS.

Just remember you have to get coal in and take ash out some way or another. As far as reliability goes I clean mine once a year and squirt some oil where it needs it. Most problems arise from installation mistakes or improper settings.
gaw
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice from Schuylkill County

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:01 pm

Hi,
The picture is a bit misleading with regards to space. The current boiler, hot water heater, and one of the air handlers are tucked back into the corner (the air handler is just to the right of what is shown), but there is a lot of open space behind where I was standing to take the picture.
The utility room is accessed through a walk out basement, so access is fairly easy.

-Gary
gwgjr34
 

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Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:03 pm

Hi Gary - I have a Riello F10 on my oil boiler as well, it is a serious burner! Considering how many zones are in your house, I bet that oil burner kicks on and off all the time...it probably never gets enough of a load to do a 20-30 minute burn.

Can you contact your fuel company and see how many gallons of heating oil you burned last winter?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: ryan20strohl On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:45 pm

sounds like you need a efm 900 for your growing family
:)
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: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: Freddy On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:58 pm

I'd find out how much oil you actually use. An AHS 260 might be the answer, but if a 130 would do it would save money as well as coal. The AHS is rock solid dependable & a simple machine. I wouldn't be afraid of having one installed.
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: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:02 pm

The s130 was my first thought as I found a five year old unit available for sale locally, but it sounds like a 130K unit would likely be far too small based on my home, its current setup, and what I've read here. My original thought was that a smaller unit that handled 70% of my peak load might be a good compromise with the oil boiler picking up the slack during peak loads. However, if a unit that size wouldn't end up supplying the majority of my total consumption (for an average winter), then it wouldn't really make sense.
gwgjr34
 

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: whistlenut On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:01 pm

Wow! Someone has actually done most of the homework BEFORE making a request on the forum!!!! I like you already!! I'm sending you a note ;) and you do have some options with boilers. A 260 is very appropriate for your needs. AA or AHS. Ben has the sale going on for a couple more weeks, also. Dealer support is something you need not worry about. These units are not JUNK, they are well designed and well made and are good for 30 years before the first rebuild is in order. If they were a truck motor, they would be a 5 million mile unit. They are just that tough. EFM's. GJ's, Keystokers, Van Wert, Yellow Flames are equally tough.
Too bad Jim's CoalJack's were not bigger, but 170K would be pushing it HARD all winter. You need 220K or above to make yourself happy......and warm enough. I'll PM you in a few minutes and we can have a minute to chat. :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: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:17 pm

EFM 700. Fully adjustable to be taylored to your needs. I install them also
Scottscoaled
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520x4, 700. Van Wert 1200.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: EFM 150, Keystoker 150
Coal Size/Type: Lots of buck

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:23 pm

Scottscoaled wrote:EFM 700. Fully adjustable to be taylored to your needs. I install them also


Hi,
I understand that many here swear by EFM including (especially?) the older units. What are the advantages of this model over the current generation of boilers.

Thanks,
Gary
gwgjr34
 

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: whistlenut On: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:33 am

A product of some damned fine engineering. Extremely adjustable in output, both feed rate and air supply.
I call them the BMW of coal boilers. They are ANNOYING to be called Electric Furnace Man, because they started out as replacement stokers for hand fed units.
Electricity came along (Freetown Fred doesn't know that, guys, so please don't mention it here.....) the stokers had an electric motor...were installed in 'furnaces' and 'boilers' but the name stuck.
If it heats water, the SOB is a BOILER, END OF STORY!!!! Probably EBM would annoy the 'anal retentive folks' so EFM it remains.......
Other designs work just fine, because like BMW cars (and some damned fine motorcycles) other manufacturers are successful too!!!

There is more, but a PM will follow, tonight...
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: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:21 pm

Thanks guys for the feedback guys. I'm going to spend some time looking into EFMs as a potential solution.

Regarding my oil usage, I have two 330G tanks and which are filled approx four times per year (they don't typically get more than about 75% empty). So, I'm guessing that we've used between 1500 and 2000 gallons per year over the last four years. As I mentioned, our heat load will be larger this year. Also,if heating fuel had been significantly cheaper, then we probably would have used a good bit more in past years. I can get the actual numbers from our oil supplier, but that's a ballpark number.
gwgjr34
 

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:20 pm

8-10 maybe twelve tons coal per year. Yeah baby! Talk about saving a mint! :)
Scottscoaled
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520x4, 700. Van Wert 1200.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: EFM 150, Keystoker 150
Coal Size/Type: Lots of buck

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: gwgjr34 On: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:19 pm

Well, just to follow up on this thread, here's what I ended up buying:

Image

It's an EFM 900 purchased from Dave O'Neil who delivered it today all the way from NY. Dave, thank you! Also, big thanks to Mike (Pacoway) for his help in making this come together.

I'm looking forward to getting this installed and running! All start a new thread about the install.

A few more pics:

Image

Image

Image
gwgjr34
 

Re: Coal boiler recommendation for my home

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:57 am

Big house, big boiler. :) You have no idea what that 900 is going to do to transform the comfort of your house.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

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