Possible new coal burner

Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Adkhunter On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:01 am

Hi all. I've been reading alot on here the past day or two. My brain is on fire trying to learn all about coal burning! A little background...I am a over the road truck driver (hopefully local driver come winter time though) and I have a pregnant fiancé and a 5 yr old at home. We are about 80% complete with construction of a 2000sq ft 2 story house in upstate NY. I have burned wood my entire life and have spent countless days cutting and splitting and restarting the wood stove my mother would always let die out daily haha. My plan at first was to have a wood stove in our new house but a family friend who helped us out with some projects with the house brought up the fact that he switched to burning coal about 2 years ago and is very happy with it compared to burning wood. He talked about it being much easier and burning hotter and more efficient and saving a good chunk of money. Hearing this has sparked a huge interest for me in dumping the wood stove plan and possibly trying coal. From what I have read and learned I would really like to stick with a hand feed stove due to not wanting to lose heat when we lose power in a bad storm(it's going to happen lol). I am overwhelmed on brands but I like the look of the Harman stoves. The model Mark II looks like a good choice as far as I can tell. Any opinions there? Will that model be enough to heat a 2000 sq ft house as the primary heating source? The layout of the house is a wide open first floor with 3 bedrooms and a full bath and a 6x10 loft type area at the top of the stairs. We will be putting in grate air ducts in the floor of all the bedrooms to let the warm air circulate upstairs as well. Harman claims a 24 hr or more burn time. Is this accurate? I know the amount of coal I will burn will depend on a few different factors but is there a approx amount I will burn with this Harman? We don't keep the house at 80 like some people we like to keep the temp in the low 70s. Last winter we rented a house with a very old hot air oil burner and that thing sucked down oil like it was going out of style so that thermostat never went above 64 haha.

I am really liking the idea of coal mostly due to the fact that it will be easy for my fiancé to use it since she's pregnant and really shouldn't be carrying around heavy chunks of wood multiple times a day and having to constantly tend the fire every couple of hours. I plan on having a local driving job come January but in case that changes I'd really like to make her life easier in case I'm stuck out over the road for longer than planned. Even when I get home I'd love to refill the stove in the morning before heading to work and her not having to do anything with it during the day and I can take care of emptying the ash try and refilling if needed when I get home at night.

I appreciate any advice or insight you all may provide for me. This forum has a ton of info and I'm reading as much as possible! Thanks!
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:27 am

Welcome to the FORUM A h. Just to be up front with what I've heard to many times, is that customer service with HARMAN leaves much to be desired. I would suggest you look into the HITZER stove line. I have a 50-93 which burns NUT & involves tending every 12 hrs due more to consistency then necessity. Mine has gone 20 hrs on several occassions but I do try & tend every 12. The tending consists of shaking down & filling the hopper ( a 15 minute (MAX) process. Whatever you get, the hopper is mandatory. My 50-93 has a blower which I have probably used a half dozen times over the years. I also burned wood for about 40 yrs--and love this coal transistion. Top right is a search box--punch in Harman-Markll & then HITZER 50-93 - lot of info there. There is a wealth of knowledge here on the FORUM--if you can keep from getting sucked into the political silliness-- toothy FF PS--power outages are a big concern here on the hill also---gotta love NYSEG--NOT PS--just an add on--the tending/ filling the hopper consists of, usually, topping off with one hod full of coal ( hod is to the left in pix) those 5 gal. pails ( 7 ) equal about a weeks burning----maybe 20-25 lbs (every 12 hrs)--that would help keep the lil woman in shape should she have to tend herself. ;)
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Last edited by freetown fred on Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
freetown fred
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:34 am

Welcome to :D THE Forum! You're correct that there's so much knowledge here it makes your head burn (love that line)! Great idea going with coal. The stove I have can go as long as 15-16 hrs in the coldest weather and still have a warm house. For that reason alone, yuo will LOVE coal - big difference from when I burned wood ;)

One suggestion, when you place the floor grates, think about cold air circulation. Most often, one physical property, density, drives that flow direction. A unit of cold air weighs more that the same unit of hot air.Most of the time, the problem with circulation the heat generated from a hand fed stove is that the cold air cannot get back to the room where the heat source is. If the heavier cold air can get out of the room by gravity, as it flows out, the lighter warm air can and will replace it. Usually floor grates near the outside walls and corners are most effective.

Do you already have your chimney built? Post a floor plan of both levels so we can get an idea of how the air might move. Cold weather is just around the corner!

(and here I thought I was gonna beat Fred! Shuolda known better :lol: )
Last edited by VigIIPeaBurner on Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: whistlenut On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:40 am

Welcome to the forum......and the world of Coal. Before you dive into a purchase, step back a second and think about your needs and your family's needs.
Harman is a name that pops up every time, and they make great products, always have.

The need to look at other stoves and or stokers is that you aren't going to have to but a brand new stove, if you can find a great used stove or stoker.
Freetown has had great success with Hitzer, and they are terrific. If you want a hand fed unit, that is fine, but with the additions coming to your home, you might want to check out a stoker stove, also.

I'm not trying to make this decision any harder, just trying to help you slow down long enough to make a more informed decision. Either way, you sure won't miss dealing with wood...... :idea: :idea: :idea:
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA130's,260's, AHS130&260's,EFM900,GJ & V-Wert
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Franks,Itasca 415,Jensen, NYer 130,Van Wert
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska, EFM, Keystoker, Yellow Flame
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska, Keystoker-2,Leisure Line
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Alaska, Gibraltar, Keystone,Vc Vigilant 2
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Ford, Jensen, NYer, Van Wert,
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwoods
Coal Size/Type: Barley, Buck, Rice ,Nut, Stove
Other Heating: Oil HWBB

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: SteveZee On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:16 am

Welcome to the forum,

I'm not going to tell you what stove to buy or the reasons why. There are planty of people and opinions enough here for that. Do your homework and you'll find what's right for you and your situation.
I would like to restate what VigII said, that location of the stove and most importently (because you have more options than where the stove is placed) the location of the floor registers. This will make sure you get the best circulation for your home. As Vig said, you need to find the cold spots/areas and put your registers close so that the cold air can sink down and start the circulatory flow. Many people make the mistake of having a register right above the stove and while you will get heat moving through it, the cold air pushing against it slows the flow. Picture in your mind a siphon effect where you start the flow by dropping that cold air.

You have everything you need here (information wise) to choose the stove that's right for you. Take your time and get it right the first time. 2000sq feet in an open plan could be heated by a stove the size of MarkII assuming your house is well insulated and tight which of course being new it ought to be. There are several people who use that stove that can advise you and there are many other stoves, bigger/smaller, better, not as good, Antique (My preferance although I said I was not going to try and sway you ;-)), modern, hand fed, stokers, boilers, furnaces, etc... Check them all out, ask the questions, and you'll make the right choice.

PS: Also like Fred mentioned, a 12hr schedule is more realistic for tending your stove. Some can and will certainly go longer but in the dead of winter running at optimal temps, 12hrs (7am/7pm for me) works well and you never have to woory about losing the fire or have a large drop in temp while the stove recovers.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: coalkirk On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:40 am

The Harman Mark series stoves are bullet proof. You won't need any customer service. And that's good because their customer service is generally not good.
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: anthracite/rice coal

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: titleist1 On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:42 am

Welcome to the forum and congrats on looking at coal as a heat source!

I think the Mark II may be a little undersized for a 2000 sq ft house in very cold weather. Of course there are a lot of variables that will contribute, but if you go to a Mark III sized stove (no matter which mfg) you can always throttle it down (or open a windowstat :) ).

Look around to buy a used stove rather than a new one. Check Craigslist routinely and you will save money and usually you won't have to drive too far to pick it up. If you are uncomfortable evaluating the stove yourself, ask your buddy to go along to check it out, he will probably have a good idea on what to look for after burning a couple years himself. Also post what model you would be looking at here and guys on here can tell you what to look for.

For instance, on Harman Mark series stoves you want to especially check the baffle plate on the top of the firebox for warping and rust/flaking/deterioration. Also the shaker grates should be checked to make sure they are not warped. Nothing much else to go wrong with them. As stated Harman cust service is horrible, you are on your own (with a lot of great help here) or at the mercy of the local dealer's expertise.

If you are gone long periods due to the trucking job, you may want to look into a stoker with a generator backup to be easier for the fiance with two kids to manage. I had a Mark III hand fed for 20 years and switched to a stoker last year and couldn't be happier.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:47 am

I live just North of Plattsburgh...where are you located?

What are you using for a central heating system in your new home? Have you considered a stoker boiler or furnace? How does not tending the heating system more than once every 24 hours sound?

If you live in my area and want to see a stoker boiler in action, that can be arranged.
Rob R.
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: SteveZee On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:31 am

Rob R. wrote:I live just North of Plattsburgh...where are you located?

What are you using for a central heating system in your new home? Have you considered a stoker boiler or furnace? How does not tending the heating system more than once every 24 hours sound?

If you live in my area and want to see a stoker boiler in action, that can be arranged.

I didn't think there was anything (in the USA) North of Plattsburg. :lol: It's my guess that he's in the Adirondacks somewhere based on that screen name, or he just could be a duck hunter? ;)
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Three Labs On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:07 pm

I would have to agree with titleist about the MarkII possibly being too small for your needs. In their advertising, Harman has increased the square footage heating capability of their stoves. Previously the numbers were lower. For example, my SF-250 was always listed as able to heat 3000 sq ft. I don't know what the sq ft listing is now but I know the number is higher now.
Three Labs
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman SF-250

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:27 pm

I might be missing something, but I think the request included a concern of loseing power, which I know happens here on the hill quite often, hence the HITZER 50-93.I'm heating 2400 sf all broke up 200 yr old farm house. Yes I think also the MARKll would be a bit small for 2000 sf. There is the MARKlll/sf right up there with the HITZER 50-93 Yes ther are often good used stoves of this type on Craigs List & other selling sites. I spent $600.00 for mine 4 yrs ago. The simplicity of my hand fired has over the years happily amazed me & even my 17 yr old daughter (BLONDE) at the time, was able to figure it out. toothy
freetown fred
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Adkhunter On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:49 pm

Wow thanks for all the replys!!!!

I'm going to try and address everything but if I miss something just let me know. I'm doing this on a iPhone sitting in a truck stop in the middle of Nevada on a quick lunch break haha.

I will deffinatly look into the hitzer stoves! I'm open to looking at any stove company. I mostly had Harman on the brain because my parents had a very nice Harman wood stove in a house they built in 2005 that was very well built and did more than a great job at heating our house. Sometimes heated it to much! Lol. So that was why I first looked up Harman and the wife likes the look of them as well. Whatever stove we end up getting has to be appealing to the eye to some degree as it will be in plain view on the first floor.

As far as a furnace or boiler goes we are out with that one. We don't have a basement the house sits on a concrete slab. The house is built ontop of a little mountain with nothing but pure rock underneath it. You should have seen the fun we had digging up for a septic system and water/electric lines! Haha.

A stoker stove is not out of the question either. I mostly figured on hand fed due to power outages being quite prevalent during winter months. I do have a generator though that will run the stove and most of the house if needed but I've never had to start it in cold temps and wonder how difficult it would be for the wife to walk out into the shed and crank it up if it's 10 below. But I can start it a few times a week and let it run for a bit to keep it a little more lively. A stoker would have a nice advantage as to less tending for the wife to worry about which may push me into going that direction.

I plan on buying one brand new mostly due to the fact that I don't know enough about these things to make sure a used one is in good condition and we have actually saved more money on this house than planned. We are currently quite a good chunk of money under budget so I have plenty of room to go brand new and not worry about buying a bad used one and will have a warranty in case something did go wrong with the new one. Not that I'm against buying used things it's just become feasible to buy new so why not right? Lol.

The chimney is not currently in yet. Haven't started that until we figure out what exactly we are getting for heat. The clearances will play a factor in how far away the stove is set from the walls and which direction the chimney goes. The builder is doing the insulation next week and will have that completely done and ready to begin sheet rocking next weekend. He plans on insulating the house extremely well as that was one of our concerns. The builder we have is a complete perfectionist. He built my fiances parents house and many other big fancy houses. He works either alone or with one maybe two at most guys when he needs help but everything he does is top notch quality.

As far as a floor plan goes I don't have one on me due to the fact in about 2500 miles away from home haha. But I will give you a description that hopefully you can understand. The house was originally a 39x27 3 car garage with a second floor for storage that had a drop down staircase like you would see for a attic. The roof had a very steep incline on the back side making the upstairs narrow so they took the entire back roof off and put in a dormer leaving about 2 and a half feet on each end of original roof slanting down. This added 8 extra feet to the upstairs floor and 9 ft ceilings. The first floor is wide open. I mean OPEN. The kitchen will be in north east corner with a large island and the stair way is on the south east corner. Going up the stairs you face east with a small landing at the top that turns the stairs north. At the top of the stairs there's a small loft area where the washer and dryer is recessed into the wall on the west wall. A hallway contines straight north to our master bedroom. Once up the stairs and into the loft the first kids bedroom is on your right( east facing) and second kids bedroom also on east end farther down the hallway. The bathroom is on the west side of the hallway across from kids bedroom #2. And then our bedroom at the end. Kids bedrooms I think are 10x10 each with 5x2 closests. I hope this is somewhat understandable lol. Picture a rectangle and picture a north east south west on it. Best way I could think to describe it. We will have ceiling fans in all bedrooms and the loft as well. Each bedroom has a window facing east.

Now for the downstairs the plan is to put the stove in the south east corner. In the corner straight east of the stairway. That way the chimney can go up through the 2 and a half foot of remaining original roof slant and then box it in up the side of the house and above the roof line which would be kid bedroom #1 outside wall. I figured with a blower I will be able to push the heat across the open first floor easily and then have vents in the floors for the upstairs to gather heat. After reading about the circulation of cool air coming back down I think I wont put a vent in kid bedroom #1 since it will be right above the stove and it should get enough heat that way. But if I place floor vents in the second kid bedroom near the east facing wall below the window and then a couple in our bedroom which is on the opposite end of the house that should be the correct way for circulation? We will also have a large ceiling fan in the middle of the house on the first floor.

I hope I have covered most replys. Sorry for such a long winded post haha. Just want to do this right the first time around and not have to make changes down the road. Once again thank you for all your knowledge and help I really appreciate it!!!

O I almost forgot. I'm located just outside Albany. I grew up in the adirondacks on the Sacandaga Lake and up until this past spring I was a hunting guide out in the western states from Montana to Kansas, Illinois and all that. Awesome job I loved it but needed something with a steadier pay check for the family and had to make a career switch. Dad was a truck driver and I've spent my whole life around big rigs and spent alot of my life on the road traveling for guiding and pleasure so it made sense to get into driving.
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Dann757 On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:27 pm

Adkhunter, welcome and you prolly don't ever have to apologize for being long winded here! I was born in Albany in 1957, lived there till I was 12. I hear it's changed a lot.
I read your posts with interest, great description of your situation. A appreciate the drivers that get our goods to us over the roads.

My old Monticello stove is hand-fed, and believe me it gets old tending it all the time in the winter. Don't get me wrong, I love anthracite heat and learned everything here. My stove is dual use, and it can eat through a cord in no time, expensive.
Just sayin', as you consider your options and your wife; I would seriously look into a stoker. I lug in 40lbs a day in the winter, my place is really small, my stove is actually too big for the place. If you have to tend a stoker so much less, might be worth it to go with the lesser tending and see if you can keep your generator prepped as best as possible. Easy to say but I'm sure any gen might be temperamental in -10 weather.

Best wishes on your house, sounds awesome!!

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: Wiz On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:23 pm

I did have a Harman Mark II and it was a great stove, never had issue with it. I recently purchased a Keystoker Boiler, and hands down stoker is less work.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker Ka 6
Coal Size/Type: Casey Junk Coal :(

Re: Possible new coal burner

PostBy: SteveZee On: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:08 pm

If the chimney is hasn't been build yet, I would try and make sure that it's inside the house for sure and secondly the more centrally located you can get it, the better/easier it will be for heat distribution. Just saying. Also, since you might be on the road and the wife tending the stove, a stoker may be the best bet for your situation, but only because you have a generator/back up wired in. With a stoker you would use small rice coal and once lit for the season you just empty the ashes once a day and fill the hopper. No shaking down and no air tuning. Want more heat, you turn up the feed rate want less, dial it back. Very simple. No schedule really like a hand fed. You keep that hopper full and ash pan emptied every so often and it keeps on keepin on.
I've never used one but lots of folks do and love the simplicity. Don't quote me on this but the smallest stokers are usually 75k btu's or better so they are pretty good output. The Harmon Mag stoker can put out 105K I think?
Last edited by SteveZee on Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Visit Hitzer Stoves