coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: huntingteacher On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:15 am

Question coming at the bottom about various boilers, but specifically the Leisure line WL-110.

When I purchased my home, the previous owner had radiant heat in the main level floor and baseboard in the basement hooked up to a propane boiler. From the research I have done, the propane boiler is top quality boiler rated extremely high in efficiency. This works great, but still cost me a ton for propane. Before the propane boiler, the gentleman had an outside wood boiler. So an outside pad is established with capped lines to the house as well.

I have been burning a Harman Mag stoker with a coal-trol hooked up to it for a few years now and like the heat and control-ability over a wood stove, AND ITS A LOT CHEAPER than the propane, but does not heat the house evenly and I still have my domestic water on the propane boiler. So, I have been thinking that I should buy a boiler and hook it up to my radiant heat and baseboard (domestic as well). I have an unlimited supply of wood to cut, but cutting wood is not free and I would prefer to spend my free time hunting in the woods rather that cutting it down. On top of that, a new gasification system cost twice as much as the average coal boiler. Because of this, I am very much pursuing a coal boiler.

So here's my dilemma: Which boiler to buy? My house is roughly 3000 sq feet with two levels and vaulted ceiling upstairs. I have three young children, ages 8, 10 and 13 who think nothing of 20 minute showers.

One guy who used to install the EFM's says that the keystoker boilers cost half as much as an EFM, and he thought they were a well built affordable unit. Keystoker makes the K-2 85,000 btu unit (which is likely too small) and the KA-6 144,000 btu unit (which is likely too big) A referbished EFM cost as much as a new other boiler and you can't be sure of the internal structure of a refab boiler. Many people rave about their Harman boiler and I like my Mag stoker, but...price of a new VF-3000? Forget the EFM and AA as new units. I might as well go with the gasification system if I was going to spend that much money.
Leisure line has the 110,000 btu unit (which might be perfect), but it hasn't been out there that long and I don't know much about it.

So.....All this back ground to get to my question.....Can anyone tell me why the Leisure Line WL-110 is so much more affordable than other types of boilers? It is $2k less than a VF-3000 by Harman and it includes the dual fuel oil burner?

Thanks for reading and you guys keep posting. It is amazing how much one can learn from all these post, but you are really affecting the amount of work I am get done.
huntingteacher
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:17 am

huntingteacher wrote:One guy who used to install the EFM's says that the keystoker boilers cost half as much as an EFM, and he thought they were a well built affordable unit. Keystoker makes the K-2 85,000 btu unit (which is likely too small) and the KA-6 144,000 btu unit (which is likely too big) A referbished EFM cost as much as a new other boiler and you can't be sure of the internal structure of a refab boiler. Many people rave about their Harman boiler and I like my Mag stoker, but...price of a new VF-3000? Forget the EFM and AA as new units. I might as well go with the gasification system if I was going to spend that much money.


I agree that Keystoker makes a good boiler for the money, but I think the guy you talked to was referring to the retail price on a new EFM...not a refurbished one. As for the integrity of a used boiler, there is a big difference between getting a unit out of someone's basement "as-is" and one from someone with years of experience that will warranty the pressure vessel.

How did you determine that a KA-6 was too big?

As for a gassification boiler, a friend of mine has a Wood Gun from Alternate Heating Systems. It is a nice unit, and it does burn clean...but it still has its share of issues and it isn't as "hands-off" as a stoker boiler. You still have to put in all the labor to get the firewood ready, and it better be DRY if you want good performance out of the gasser. If the wood isn't dry enough be prepared for condensation dripping out of the chimney and poor performance. Also, if you don't like getting up at 2 am to reload the boiler in cold weather, you better put up a couple grand for a storage system. By the time you get all that paid for, you could have bought a new EFM or AA and had money left over. In my opinion, if you want to cut wood, go ahead...but sell it to someone else and burn coal at home.

huntingteacher wrote:So.....All this back ground to get to my question.....Can anyone tell me why the Leisure Line WL-110 is so much more affordable than other types of boilers? It is $2k less than a VF-3000 by Harman and it includes the dual fuel oil burner?


The LL-110 is an Axeman Anderson oil boiler that has been modified to accept a coal stoker. Compared to something like an EFM or an Axeman Anderson Anthratube, it requires considerably less materials and labor to build.

Is the dual-fuel feature important to you? Seems like your existing propane boiler would make a great backup system.
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

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: steamup On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:19 pm

Based on the info you listed I would guess the heating load of your house would be about 75 mbh max plus domestic hot water.

Edit - You should have a load calculation done just to be sure.

You should get a boiler with at least 86 mbh output for pickup reasons (a little extra output to get up to temp to recover from night setback or excessive domestic load).

With domestic load, I would pick something closer to the 95 to 100 mbh range.

The biggest problem is manufacturer's don't tell you how they rate the boilers and there are no standards like with gas and oil.

I have both a K-6 and a AA-130 that I bought used and refubished. Both are great boilers.

The EFM and AA are a beast and more boiler than you need. AHS 130 is prices a little more affordably and would work but again is up in the "Buick" price range of boilers.

The Keystoker KAA-2 is a little light. The K-6 is rated at 122 output and is not too big for your need. It will provide plenty of extra capacity for those long hot showers. With its 50 gallons of internal water, it will handle load swings gently but takes up some floor space.

the VF-3000 harmon is rated at 95 mbh but they do not say input or output. It would probably be ok but might struggle on a cold day with a heavy domestic load.

The LL-110 is rated at 110 MBH input. It would categorize this boiler more of a good economy model. I saw these at the factory and they look well built but kept cost in mind. The only problem is they only have 12 gallons of internal volume and are a little more finicky to load swings. A small buffer tank would solve any load swing issues. I haven't seen one in operation but would love to get my hands on one to play with.

Since you already have a propane boiler, keep that as backup and forget the dual fuel options. The LL-110 has a oil burner that comes with it because of the way they are purchased by LL. Just put that burner in the corner or sell it to someone for parts.

It sounds like you have budget conerns as most people with a family have. I would look hard at the Keystoker and the Lesiure Line. If you are not a handy person, you may want to factor in which dealer could give you the best service.
steamup
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson AA-130, Keystoker K-6
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: HS Tarm 502 Wood/Coal/Oil
Coal Size/Type: pea, buck, rice

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Pacowy On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:21 pm

huntingteacher -

Please check your private messages (envelope icon at top of page).

Thanks.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: BrotherDave On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:32 pm

I am running a vf3000 in series with a wm-gold series oil burner. My home is a 2700 sqft(including basement) 2 story colonial. I heat my hot water with it also. I run all year round. Been running it now continuously for a year and half. Last winter was mild so I can't say if it will keep up with 10 degree days. I kept the temp at 68 last winter, wife said it too hot at 70. I think I will burn between 6 to 8 tons for a year. Three adults living in the house. We do a lots of wash every week.
I like the design because it is a bottom feeder like an EFM, no puff backs and little to no chance of the fire burning back into the bin. It is a compact, good looking unit. I am pleased with my purchase.

Dave
BrotherDave
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Godin 3727 / King KCC205
Stove/Furnace Make: King/Godin/Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: KCC205/3727/VF3000

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: KLook On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:59 pm

I am running a vf3000 in series with a wm-gold series oil burner. My home is a 2700 sqft(including basement) 2 story colonial. I heat my hot water with it also. I run all year round. Been running it now continuously for a year and half. Last winter was mild so I can't say if it will keep up with 10 degree days. I kept the temp at 68 last winter, wife said it too hot at 70. I think I will burn between 6 to 8 tons for a year. Three adults living in the house. We do a lots of wash every week.
I like the design because it is a bottom feeder like an EFM, no puff backs and little to no chance of the fire burning back into the bin. It is a compact, good looking unit. I am pleased with my purchase.


Then the question is where do you live? I also ran a vf3000, but up in Maine. Coastal area so not as cold as the far north. Still, this boiler has to struggle to heat my house. This winter it will be asked to heat all the house as half the house was heated with a gas fireplace. I am quite anxious as my son is running it this winter and does not have my "heating" experience. I would not use the Harman for 3000 sq ft and domestic water. Unless you are in Virginia.

Kevin

I was waiting for a Keystoker and waited a whole year. caved in and bought the Harman. My vote is with the KA-6.
KLook
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
Coal Size/Type: rice, bagged, Blaschak
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman (Back In Maine)
Stove/Furnace Model: VF 3000

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: oilman On: Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:22 pm

Whistlenut pretty much covered it. I like the Keystoker and LL, but you need to look at the degree of parts and service available in your area. You definately have the right idea of using coal though.
oilman
 

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: huntingteacher On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:31 am

Thanks to all for responding. Rob- your answer to the cost of the 110 seems logical. I like the idea about selling wood and buying coal. It would be nice to never have to do it, but I could and make a little cash. My Pop told me that I should never stop going to the woods as then I would become old and fat like him. I also didn't realize that a gasification system was so finiky to operate.

Steamup- Thanks for the btu evaluation and I will do that calculation. I am concerned about such a small internal water capacity. The KA-6 might work then.

I do think I will keep the propane unit as a back up in case I go away for a week some year. I really thought the KA-6 was too big, but I have lots of space for it in the basement. Someday, I could build a great room addition onto my house if I ever got time to kill some trophies to put in it. What is the negative to being oversized? Just burning more coal than I need too? Anybody ever think about how much extra it actually cost? I mean heck, I drive around a great big Hemi everyday that will go by anything but a gas station and yet I rarely push the needle past 55! I could get a Prius and save money on gas, but somehow I don't see that ever happening.
huntingteacher
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Rob R. On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:06 am

huntingteacher wrote:I do think I will keep the propane unit as a back up in case I go away for a week some year. I really thought the KA-6 was too big, but I have lots of space for it in the basement. Someday, I could build a great room addition onto my house if I ever got time to kill some trophies to put in it. What is the negative to being oversized? Just burning more coal than I need too?


I would certainly keep the propane unit, it is the perfect backup system. Propane is much more stable over long periods of time than heating oil, and a dedicated propane boiler will be more efficient than anything dual-fuel.

Considering the domestic hot water load you mentioned, I don't think you would be happy with an entry-size coal boiler. The KA-6 has a lot more mass than a KAA-2 or LL110, and as a result the temperature is more stable. I'm sure it burns slightly more coal than a smaller unit does idling, mainly due to the larger boiler and increased standby losses...but if the boiler and piping is well insulated I don't think the difference is significant. Also, keep in mind that the btu rating on the Keystoker is at maximum feed rate, you can (and should) reduce the feed rate to meet your needs. You may get acceptable heat with the stoker at 60% output, and the thermal mass of the boiler acts like a big flywheel.

I ran an EFM DF520 all summer for domestic hot water, and I have it connected to a 250k btu oil boiler. I allow the water to gravity circulate between the two boilers when sitting idle, so everything stays at the same temperature. I have it all insulated, and even with 2000 lbs of steel and 60 gallons of water in the two boilers I average about 20 lbs of coal per day to produce hot water for a family of three. With no hot water usage at all, it takes about 12-14 lbs per day to keep the boiler running.
Last edited by Rob R. on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Pacowy On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:37 am

huntingteacher wrote:What is the negative to being oversized? Just burning more coal than I need too? Anybody ever think about how much extra it actually cost?


Even the idea that bigger boilers waste coal seems to have taken on a life of its own through repetition. So I will repeat my response, with apologies to forum members who have already heard it: A bigger boiler (with a bigger heat exchanger) running easy may use less coal to produce a given amount of usable heat than would a smaller boiler (with a smaller heat exchanger) running hard. And before anybody cites an ancient study from the development of the AA design, I'm not talking about a bigger heat exchange area created by increasing the diameter of heat exchange tubes to sub-optimal sizes.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: steamup On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:17 am

Pacowy wrote:
huntingteacher wrote:What is the negative to being oversized? Just burning more coal than I need too? Anybody ever think about how much extra it actually cost?


Even the idea that bigger boilers waste coal seems to have taken on a life of its own through repetition. So I will repeat my response, with apologies to forum members who have already heard it: A bigger boiler (with a bigger heat exchanger) running easy may use less coal to produce a given amount of usable heat than would a smaller boiler (with a smaller heat exchanger) running hard. And before anybody cites an ancient study from the development of the AA design, I'm not talking about a bigger heat exchange area created by increasing the diameter of heat exchange tubes to sub-optimal sizes.

Mike



I will add that the big boiler mentality comes from "push button" fuels. Coal boilers seem to run on light load because the ramp up and down slowly. Not simply turning the blow torch on/off. Even with push button fuels, boiler efficiency comes from surface area of heat transfer to btuh input. That simply means that more area more heat is taken out of the combustion products for any boiler. So it makes perfect sense that a smaller fire in a given boiler size makes for slighlty more efficient operation.

When I designed by system I had no experience with coal boilers and was concerned that with my varying loads, one large boiler would be too inefficient so I installed two smaller boilers. If I were to re-do it today, I would not hesitate to put in one larger boiler.
steamup
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson AA-130, Keystoker K-6
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: HS Tarm 502 Wood/Coal/Oil
Coal Size/Type: pea, buck, rice

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Rob R. On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:05 pm

I am not a heating expert, but I have managed to keep a 100 year old house on the Canadian border very comfortable...for 50% less than most "modern" houses around me. If that has your attention, I'll tell you another one. How much coal you burn is largely attributed to these three things:

1. The heating envelope. i.e. The heating load (and domestic hot water load) of the house.
2. The heating system design, not just the boiler.
3. The installation and "tuning" of the system. Closely related to #2, but it isn't uncommon to have the finished system not operate as designed...usually because the installer make some "small changes" with unintended consequences.

As for the boiler itself, if it is reasonably sized you will be fine. In my limited experience, having the proper controls and the correct settings makes more of a difference in coal consumption than the boiler size itself (provided the boiler is large enough to carry the load).

One more thing to consider, and not everyone may agree with it...but in the interest of domestic tranquility, I think it is much better to burn an extra 500 lbs of coal per year than to explain why the shower went cold, why the house is cold, why the fire went out, or why there was a funny noise in the basement.

Edit: Added domestic water to point #1.
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

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: Flyer5 On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:34 pm

Don't forget about our LL220. It can be throttled way back or run just on 1 burner when large heat loads are not required.
Flyer5
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Leisure Line WL110
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Leisure Line Pioneer

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: dandy On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:18 pm

Hi huntingteacher, Welcome to the forum. If you are not in a hurry for a coal boiler, ask these gentlemen on this board any question and if they can, they will give you the answers. Now for me, we do not your location, so heating requirements are different within a few hunderd miles. I live in extreme northern Maine, I have seen twenty days in a row of -20 degrees, so my heating requirement are different than a person living in ,say, southern New York or Pennsylvania where 0 degrees is not to common. Another point is how well insulated is your home, if your window and doors are air-tight, these are factors in to your heating requirements. I run a ka-6 in series to a new yorker steel boiler, when I don't mess with the setting it runs like a charm, even in very cold weather. Any of these boilers are usually trouble free to operate, and if you run into a problem, this forum is a great source of information and advice for anyone. So good luck choosing a boiler.
dandy
 
Stove/Furnace Make: keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: ka-6 dual fuel

Re: coal boilers WL-110 vs KA-6 vs EFM520 vs VF-3000

PostBy: vermontday On: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:08 pm

One criteria for boiler selection you have not mentioned is ease of loading.

If you have room in your cellar for a skid system, you will never have to manually lift coal. Efm boilers have a very low angle auger that enables the use of skids.

While EFM boilers are available with dual fuel oil burners, you do not need it. They are that dependable.

Powerful boilers like an Efm have a great turndown ratio. They will sit waiting for a call for heat utilizing very little coal.

The purchase price should be viewed as a long term investment spanning decades, even though they will pay for themselves in a few years.

It is easy to get into the "price shopping" mode and forget your real priority is years of trouble free,plentiful, low effort heat.
vermontday
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520

Visit Lehigh Anthracite