2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: 2ndtimer On: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:40 pm

Hi all, been browsing the forum here and decided it was time to register. Years ago I had an old pot-belly coal stove, and it did a nice job keeping my (then) house warm.

So fast-forward to 2013, I have a late 1920's brick home (two story) and have been burning oil for years. Now, it's time to do something about that... last bill was nearly $800... that is one of four fillups I get per year.

The house has cast-iron HW radiators which do a good job of distributing the heat. I have a 155,000 BTU/HR Columbia boiler in the basement.

Because I already have the oil-burner in the basement, I think a stoker boiler is the right way to go. I am in my early 50's and don't want to have to tend to the stove every day... I would like something that can run for 3 days without having to be refilled or ashes emptied.

I think I will go with the DHW coil which should save me additional money (propane) during the heating months.

I had the local Harmon dealer come out. Looked things over but not very familiar with the VF-3000 model. I think I read that these are a little different animal than what the Harmon dealers normally sell?

So I am looking for suggestions and recommendations. Some info which I think will help, in no particular order
- I have multiple basement windows so delivery via chute would be simple. I can build a bin in the corner of the basement closest to the road, though this is farthest away from the boiler location
- As I said, my current boiler is rated at 155,000 BTU/HR but it's been there for years (with annual tune-ups, testing about 85% efficient) and I have done a lot to the house to try and reduce heat loss and infiltration. Attic blanket, insulated the floor over top the basement, new energy efficient vinyl windows, and new storm doors.
- Exterior wall construction is two layers of brick, then lathe, and plaster. No wall insulation :(
- The oil burner typically runs maybe once every 2-3 hours when it's 20 to 30 degrees out. I burn between 560 and 600 gallons of fuel per year, historically.
- I thought about a direct-vent (like the DVC-500) but don't want to put a hole through the side of the house

I'm sure I will think of more info to post...

The configuration I have in mind right now is:
Stoker boiler (such as the VF-3000)
DHW coil kit
Oil burner kit for backup
Backup electric kit

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
2ndtimer
 

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: mozz On: Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:28 pm

Find a rebuilt EFM 520, hook up, save $$$$. Might be cheaper too than a new boiler.
mozz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 1982 AA-130 Steam

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Pacowy On: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:05 pm

2ndtimer 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

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:25 pm

I'd pass on the VF3000. They are a nice boiler, but you can get a nice Efm with a wider range of output for about 50% less.

With that said, you are wise to consider a stoker boiler for heat & hot water. My dad and I installed a 50 yr old EFM in his house three years ago. He said it was the best money he ever spent on the house.

Leave the oil boiler in place for backup/vacations.
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: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Wiz On: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:09 pm

Checkout keystoker ka 6 boiler. Very simple design, holds 375 lbs of coal. Has option for dhw coil and oil burner, me personally would pipe it into oil boiler. Keystoker is very quite stoker too. If you add your location in profile, you might get someone to show their setup
Wiz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker Ka 6
Coal Size/Type: Casey Junk Coal :(

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: katman On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:17 am

Sounds like you are about to make a smart move. The Harman is a good unit, as is the EFM. Our Maryland moderator (coalkirk) has had the Harman for several years and is very happy with the performance. One thing to consider is how much room you have; another is if you want a coal stoker with its own oil burning capability. Many people keep their existing oil burner and plumb in the coal stoker so they can use either.
katman
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Other Heating: Harman PB 105 Pellet Boiler

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: titleist1 On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:37 am

When looking at the different mfg'ers something to think about.....with Harman's customer service track record and dealer knowledge base, you would probably need to be your own troubleshooter / repairman. With help from this forum of course! Your local harman dealers lack of knowledge should have all kinds of warning sirens going off.

Other companies seem to fare much better based on the comments here and their participation on this forum (see Leisure Line or EFM).

If you want to avoid the gymnastics some here are going through to avoid puffbacks you may want to avoid AHS. Coalgun- Puff backs & Explosions

If you want to go 3 days without loading coal / emptying ash you will probably need an auger fed unit from an indoor coal bin. You will need the unit to house a fairly large tub to collect that amount of ash. That tub may get a bit heavy to move around without creating a lot of dust so you may want to have a daily routine to empty it. Available basement space and ease of filling the indoor bin from outside are considerations regarding coal bin and boiler placement.
titleist1
 
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: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: JeepinPete On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:20 am

I installed an EFM last winter. Got it online about half way through the winter. I was using a similar amount of oil, and this winter it looks like I will burn 6 tons of coal. That works out to about half the cost of oil. It is more work since you have to empty out the ashes. I tend to go every other day on that chore until it stays in the 20's. Then it is an everyday chore. I use two smaller tubs, and the weight of the ash is about all I really want to deal with. But that has as much to do with the low ceiling in my basement as anything.

The EFM has been a pleasure. I've had all of two problems, neither of which were the machines fault. Once, a piece of driveway gravel got mixed into the coal and jammed the auger. The shear pin sheared as it was designed to do, and it took all of 30 minutes to get it back online. The second was a stainless steel band got mixed in the coal and wound itself around the auger. Again, 30 minutes and I was back online.
JeepinPete
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Yanche On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:40 am

"2ndtimer" welcome to the forum. Send me your phone number via the PM (Private Message) icon on the right. I'll call you and discuss your needs and how to meet them. To others, he lives in the same county as I, and we are likely only tens of miles apart.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: dcrane On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:51 am

Im going to leave the stoker advise to some other here who are experts, but i do have a request if possible... Im interested in the 1920's brick two story :D also cast iron h/w baseboard is a rare and wonderful thing that has serious value these days! So if you can someday make a thread about your house with some pics of the features like that cast iron baseboard, id really enjoy it! and best wishes on your quest...
dcrane
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: 2ndtimer On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:38 pm

Pics of my current oil sucker install:
Image
Image
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I do really like the EFM setups, but the way I see it the auger and drum would be right across my access into the back part of the basement. I'm sure there is a workaround.
2ndtimer
 

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:37 pm

A Van Wert would fit right in there.
Scottscoaled
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520x3, 700 Van Wert 800
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: EFM 150, Keystoker 150
Coal Size/Type: Lots of buck

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Rick 386 On: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:35 pm

2ndtimer wrote:Pics of my current oil sucker install:

I do really like the EFM setups, but the way I see it the auger and drum would be right across my access into the back part of the basement. I'm sure there is a workaround.



There sure is. And Yanche will lead you down the correct path. You may not realize it, but you have one of the best we have here on the forum. Heed his advice and get in contact with him.




Rick
Rick 386
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: Wiz On: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:34 am

Little advice on making your choice, look at pros and cons on each make. How far is nearest dealer? Cost of boiler. Will stoker burn rice or buckwheat in case of shortage. etc.
Wiz
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker Ka 6
Coal Size/Type: Casey Junk Coal :(

Re: 2nd time around with coal - looking for advice

PostBy: dcrane On: Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:23 am

Yanche wrote:"2ndtimer" welcome to the forum. Send me your phone number via the PM (Private Message) icon on the right. I'll call you and discuss your needs and how to meet them. To others, he lives in the same county as I, and we are likely only tens of miles apart.


Jezzz... how perfect is that :D One of the most experienced advisers in the world to do exactly what your wanting to do and he's your neighbor :dancing:
Thats almost as perfect as me looking for a needle in a haystack (a soapstone top for my 404) after just having picked up my 404 with a blower i dont use... then a member pops on (beemerboy) and tells me he's got this needle in haystack tucked away in the closet (he dont use it) but he needs a blower ... this forum is just getting to darn good! Anymore of this sorta stuff and ima start singing Kumbaya pretty soon toothy
dcrane
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

Visit Lehigh Anthracite