Need an Irish Coffee this morning

Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:48 am

There is a point where boiler capacity, boiler demand and home efficiency cross. I'm normally well above that point with my setup but last night I fell below it. Feeling alittle down this morning. :( Woke up to a 64 degree house this morning. Holy crap! That's not exactly freezing but it's 4 degrees south of where it normally is and 4 degrees south of the thermostat set point. Was my fire out? Was the boiler failing? The sad answer is no. The boiler was firing away, plenty of coal in the hopper and plenty of coal on the grates burning. My poor little 95,000 boiler was flat maxed out for the demand.

I'm well south of most coal burners here so we normally are getting weather that's alittle warmer than you guys up there in northern pa, NY and chowda' territory. And I'm sure that's the case here this morning as well as it is 9 degrees this morning here. My house was built in '52 but every room has been gutted, reinsulated and new windows installed. The house has 2x4 R13 walls and R30 attic insulation. I wish now I had been more anal with sealing and insulating as I think I under appreciated at the time I was doing the work the role that air infiltration plays even in insulated walls. But that ship has sailed and I'm not opening up any walls anymore. The bottom line is I'm heating 4,100 sq. ft which includes basement space of which about half is finished.

Harman advertises this boiler as heating 1,500 to 4000 sq. ft, depending on climate and home efficiency. So I knew I was pushing it's limits when I bought it. But even yesterday it was 17 in the morning and it was holding my thermostat setting. So somewhere between 17 and 9 degrees, I crossed over into.....the Twilight Zone. :shock: So admitting defeat, I just reinstalled the vent pipe on the oil boiler and reattached to hot wire to the burner and fired up the weil-mcClain. Damn it the sound of that thing running is like nails on a chalk board but my water temp is rising. It was 122 this morning for those keeping score. Just hit 167 as I type.

So I'm not really sad, just disappointed. And of course I shouldn't be as the math doesn't lie. In 2003 when I bought the VF3000, it was the best I thought I could afford at the time. The other boiler I was looking at was the coal gun but it was about twice the cost so the Harman won. Knowing what I know now, I would shop for a used reconditoned EFM, but hindsight is always 20/20. My little Harman is a rock star (black rocks of course) 99% of the time. So I'll just have to resign myself that in extreme weather, like 9 degrees, it's just not going to cut the mustard. Luckily we don't get this kind of arctic air mass here often.

So know I will run the gauntlet of all you more sucessful coal burners. Please just give me a gentle wack as I pass by. :oops:
Last edited by coalkirk on Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:55 am

Did you do a mid season cleaning? That might have helped a little...but there is still only so much that stoker can do against mother nature. Good thing you have "plan B" ready to fire and help out.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: CoaLen On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:59 am

My little Harman is a rock star (black rocks of course) 99% of the time.


Sounds like you made the right decision when you went with the Harman.
Maybe your next move should be to install one of those fancy base burners we've all been drooling over. Now you've got a reason. :D
CoaLen
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Coal Size/Type: rice


Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Dennis On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:31 am

The boiler by far exceeded itself by the savings over oil.So if the weather turns south once every 5 yrs,be happy you still have a back up or sweatshirts.With weather patterns you have, a bigger boiler will only eat up more coal than you need.Next week it will be back in the 40's again.
Dennis
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:41 am

Rob R. wrote:Did you do a mid season cleaning? That might have helped a little...but there is still only so much that stoker can do against mother nature. Good thing you have "plan B" ready to fire and help out.


Nope, she's clean. The only place I can't completely clean while running is under the grates. There is a cleanout lever under the grates that opens 2 holes that are probably an 1" or so in diameter. I open them and use the shop vac hose to clean it out. There's never a huge amount of stuff there. The fire looked fine. I just reached the point where all the factors collide.
Capacity and demand basically. There's not much I can do about the demand anymore. And since it works great all but the few extreme days we get, I'm just going to live with it on the capacity side.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Dann757 On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:44 am

coalkirk wrote:I wish now I had been more anal with sealing and insulating as I think I under appreciated at the time I was doing the work the role that air infiltration plays even in insulated walls. But that ship has sailed and I'm not opening up any walls anymore.


I hear that! I don't own this place, somehow when I was fixing it up I decided not to insulate the walls. Insulated the ceilings very well though. I only heat 500sq/ft.

I had the brilliant idea of making my firebox smaller due to the stove being oversized for the place. I was about to try and pull some of the firebricks last night!

My indoor/outdoor thermometer, mounted on the wall, was giving false reading indoor last night! I kicked in the aux heater. Floors are cold and I'm reviving the fire as I write, Just trying to make sure no pipes freeze!

Be of good cheer, the deep freeze is hitting us all :)
Dann757
 

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:45 am

Dennis wrote:The boiler by far exceeded itself by the savings over oil.So if the weather turns south once every 5 yrs,be happy you still have a back up or sweatshirts.With weather patterns you have, a bigger boiler will only eat up more coal than you need.Next week it will be back in the 40's again.


I know. It's saved me a lot of money over the years. And you are right. A bigger boiler would just burn more coal. Since I have a backup for these times it was a good choice.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: franco b On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:46 am

I agree with the above. Sizing the boiler for rare occasions could be wasteful.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:57 am

coalkirk wrote:Harman advertises this boiler as heating 1,500 to 4000 sq. ft, depending on climate and home efficiency.


It drives me nuts that they put a "sq. ft" rating on a boiler. That is a pretty generous range, but it could still lead to some unhappy customers if they don't do their homework about their heating and domestic water load.

coalkirk wrote: A bigger boiler would just burn more coal. Since I have a backup for these times it was a good choice.


I agree that having an oil boiler to help shoulder the load allows you to size the coal boiler closer to the common load...but I disagree that a boiler with a larger range of adjustable output would burn more coal. If you had a larger boiler, and you ran the stoker at an unnecessarily high feed rate...that is a different story.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Pacowy On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:28 pm

Rob R. wrote:
coalkirk wrote: A bigger boiler would just burn more coal. Since I have a backup for these times it was a good choice.


I agree that having an oil boiler to help shoulder the load allows you to size the coal boiler closer to the common load...but I disagree that a boiler with a larger range of adjustable output would burn more coal.


x2. As discussed in endless detail in other threads, a bigger boiler with a larger heat exchange area may provide heat transfer efficiency advantages that outweigh possible standby loss issues. As frequently observed, all else equal, an EFM 520 running flat out will produce a higher stack temperature (i.e., put more btus up the chimney) compared to an EFM 700 (which has 53% more heat exchange area) running at the same feed rate. Put another way, the 700 will make more usable heat with less coal.

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

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: chester On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:55 pm

coalkirk do what i do ,go outside for a while ,when you come back in 66 feels balmy! :rambo2: had 0 degrees here this morning!
chester
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: nut/stove
Stove/Furnace Make: hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 50-93

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:14 pm

chester wrote:coalkirk do what i do ,go outside for a while ,when you come back in 66 feels balmy! :rambo2: had 0 degrees here this morning!


I just did that and it works very well. :lol: I also throttled back the mixing valve on my water to air heat exchanger to limit its supply to 140 degrees. Might help aitlle. I shut the oil boiler down, couldn't stand to hear it run. Harman is holding 160 right now.

I agree with the remarks of larger boiler may mean greater efficiency. It would certainly carry me on days like this without having to resort to using backup. But those days are typically very few. So there would be not be a compelling logical reason to swap out my boiler for another. I don't always act logically though. So you never know.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:22 pm

coalkirk wrote:So there would be not be a compelling logical reason to swap out my boiler for another.


Agreed, I was just making those points for anyone else reading that was shopping for a stoker boiler.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:26 pm

Rob R. wrote:
coalkirk wrote:So there would be not be a compelling logical reason to swap out my boiler for another.


Agreed, I was just making those points for anyone else reading that was shopping for a stoker boiler.


:lol: :lol: And I said you never know cause it's got me thinking about it now! I lead a pretty boring life. I don't hunt or golf. Most of my friends do one or the other or both. So my only hobby really is burning coal.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Need an Irish Coffee this morning

PostBy: I'm On Fire On: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:29 pm

Don't feel bad. I goosed my oil furnace this morning too. My daughter's room was 58* and she was complaining it was too cold for her to sleep. The heat from the DS wasn't making it to her room so the only thing that does go to her room is the oil fired furnace. I clicked it on, let it run through one cycle then shut it down so she could go back to sleep.
I'm On Fire
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machines DS-1600 Hot Air Circulator