Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:17 pm

Hello Everyone,

I have read posts on this board for awhile and I am now going to try to ask a question!

I am trying to figure out what would be the best option to heat my home. Or maybe supplement my current heating sources is a good way to put it.

Located in South Central PA (Bedford CountY)

So first the house is an early 1900's farm house.. Insulation and windows were terrible but after 3 years there now its getting MUCH better. And I will continue to work on improving that this year. We tear out plaster and lath, reinsulate and drywall. lots of work in an house this old but anyway... it is 2 stories plus basement.

Originally they heated with a coal boiler. all hot water baseboard thru out the home. The older gentleman who lived there passed on and they installed an oil boiler. I heated the home with an oil boiler the first year. that did it for me! WAY to expensive and now it would be even 1/3 more than it was that year. I can't imagine...

Anyway I purchased a Bixby Corn burning stove (does pellets, switchgrass, cherrypits, just about anything pelletized really). That stove has already paid for itself in the savings over fuel oil. This is freestanding stove that is in my living room (largest room in the house) and it heats the house pretty well down to about 25 degrees outside. The oil burner runs the hot water baseboard in these cases. about 1 tank of oil per year. Now that corn is going thru the roof due to ethonal I am faced with a few decisions and any and all suggestions here are VERY welcome. Please help!

I am pretty well sold on a coal applicance but I'm not sure which one just yet.

I don't know if I should look into a small boiler like the KAA-1 to hook in parallel with my curnent oil boiler. Using the existing hot water baseboard heat.

OR get another small stoker or hand fired stove and place in my basement.

I don't exactly know how well the heat from that would get upstairs? so I wonder if anyone out there is heating their homes like this?

I like the Hitzer units and the Harmon units but I see the Liesure Line has a Pocono unit that is designed maybe for this purpose?

I have NO existing hot air duct work. which worries me a bit about a stove in the basement not venting the heat easily upstairs....

Is leaving your basement door open really going to work to help heat the house? My basement steps come into my kitchen which is the oppisite end of the house from my corn burner... so i thought that might be ok...

I really need to decide if spending $1800 for a unit or $4500 for a boiler makes sense for the long haul. i don't plan to move or anything...

either way I have to build another chimney for either coal appliance as I don't like the idea of a powervent really.

SO any suggestions for me or help would be really really appreciated! Anyone using a small stoker or manual fire gravity feed in their basement and heating 2 stories with it??? (probably about 1700 sq ft)

Glad to answer any questions! Stove model suggestions are fine by me too!!!

With corn equal in price or even more right now than coal I would think i'd like to run the coal appliance MORE than my corn burner for awhile but will use both to tag team the heating of the house if need be.
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:34 pm

Mark (PA) wrote:I don't know if I should look into a small boiler like the KAA-1 to hook in parallel with my curnent oil boiler. Using the existing hot water baseboard heat.


This is exactly what you should do. Any of the currently manufactured stokers can do the job, you don't need a big one. You can put your existing oil burner on a power vent and use the chimney for the coal boiler.
You also don't need a new one, I paid $500 for mine 14 years ago (hand fired), it has paid for itself about 50 times over in that time. A used stoker can be had for $1-2000, sometimes they can be had for almost nothing but the labor. It depends on who is getting rid of it and what they actually know about it.
Last edited by coaledsweat on Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Yanche On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:37 pm

A coal fired stoker boiler piped in parallel or series with your existing oil boiler would be the best option. It will also give you unlimited domestic hot water cheaper that any other fuel.

If you were satisfied with the heat distribution in your house when you heated with oil baseboard, the heat distribution will be the same with a coal boiler. If there are problems, now's the time to correct/improve/zone, etc. You will be happy with the comfort for years. Most of the smallest sized boilers will be adequate for your home. Which manufacturer will depend on your choice of features important to you and the cost. Good value will come from a refurbished boiler.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: coalkirk On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:12 pm

My boiler paid for it self in 2 1/2 years. Best money I ever spent!
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:18 pm

coalkirk

I see you have a VF 3000. I was reading a good bit about those units. They look nice. I have found some of the other boiler websites leave a good bit to be desired in the way of info.

Thanks to all for your replies! looks like a boiler is easily winning so far... Even though I really didn't want to shell out for it...

I will need to look into power vents for my oil burner I guess. see if that is a savings over a masonry chimney. I do have an advantage in that my dad was a brick layer so he can do that sort of work for me... cheap! hehe.
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: coal berner On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:38 pm

Hi Mark if your dad can do the chimney that would be The best way by far Plus you will find it will be cheaper then a Power vent Coal Boiler is the way to go you already have the hot water baseboard Just hook the Coal boiler And forget about the oil It will never be cheap again Coal is the way to go If you Do That You Won't need another Chimney More Money Saved Here are a few links to Some coal boiler Co. Also look for used ones They are out there With a little bit of work cleaning them up you will have a new one and you will save a Ton of Money Good luck & stay warm

http://www.alternateheatingsystems.com/coalboilers.htm

http://www.axeman-anderson.com/anthratube.html

http://www.efmheating.com/d520.html


http://www.harmanstoves.com/list.asp?id=48,6,31,32,33&title=Harman%20Boiler%20Central%20Heat%20Stoves
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.



http://www.keystoker.com/coaloilboilers.html
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:41 pm

Hello Mark, welcome to the forum... Unless you trip and fall over a used stoker for real cheap, I'd go with a stoker boiler.. Or a hand feed boiler, if you [again] find one real cheap. Loading a boiler every 12-14 hours got old for me, as well as starting a new fire when I didn't get back to the house in time to reload, and the fire went out.

If you have patience, and keep an eye on the local paper, contact local heating /cooling installers, tell them that you are looking for a used coal boiler... There a lots and lots of boilers that go to the scrapyard, because the installers of the new replacement units don't think anyone wants an old coal burner.. .. There are a few that show up in the papers, and at farm sales and auctions.

I found my AxemanAnderson boiler on ebay, bought it last June, spent the summer rebuilding it, and it has paid for itself already this winter... I'm burning around $600/month in coal, compared to $24-2800/month for propane... it's a no-brainer.. it was a lot of work to rebuild, and install, but now that it's done, I'm on 'easy street' just load the hopper and empty ashpans, and enjoy the warm house.

There are no bad stoker feed boilers on the market.. there are some not-so-good hand fired boilers found at some of the Home Depot's, Tractor Supplies, etc.. Be sure to ask us before you buy,,, we don't have any money at stake in your purchase,,, just would be glad to help..

Take care, Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: stockingfull On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:49 pm

Yanche wrote:A coal fired stoker boiler piped in parallel or series with your existing oil boiler would be the best option. It will also give you unlimited domestic hot water cheaper that any other fuel.

If you were satisfied with the heat distribution in your house when you heated with oil baseboard, the heat distribution will be the same with a coal boiler. If there are problems, now's the time to correct/improve/zone, etc. You will be happy with the comfort for years. Most of the smallest sized boilers will be adequate for your home. Which manufacturer will depend on your choice of features important to you and the cost. Good value will come from a refurbished boiler.


+1.

If your oil HW system heated your house before, why wouldn't that system do just as well fueled again with coal?

We moved into my house a year and a half ago. Straight colonial with a full basement, built in 1973, originally all-electric, with, count 'em, 23 electric baseboard zones. :fear: Previous owner installed my stoker coal furnace in the late '80's, with direct ductwork only to the first floor rooms, with the exception of the over-garage space on the 2nd floor. One return duct (plus a laundry chute!) from the 2nd floor.

I was worried. But, with minimal throttle adjustments depending on the outside temps, the coal heat is so even that the whole house is comfortable: 68-70° on the first floor, 66-68° upstairs.

I'm pretty happy, heating a 3700' house for what I figure is no more than half price, even when you figure in the cost of the electric blower and circulation fan. In the current weather (lows around 20°, highs in the 30's), I burn 100-125#/day and generate 35-40# of ash every other day.

So, for straight colonial design (living space on the main floor, bedrooms up), heating the main floor during the day can warm the sleeping space enough, just by convection, for comfortable sleeping at night. I've come to the conclusion that this is the essence, and the genius, of the colonial design. Of course, if you don't heat during the daytime, it could be tough to get the second floor warm enough in the evening. In that case, you might want to pipe up the second floor, or the part(s) of it that don't warm up enough. Another alternative would be some strategic through-floor circulation venting. Some combination of these strategies should fairly readily solve your problems at a much lower cost than oil.
stockingfull
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Yellow Flame
Stove/Furnace Model: W.A. 150 Stoker Furnace

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Coal Jockey On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:27 pm

Why do you need another chimney/vent? I run two furnaces into one 8" flue (FAO furnace and coal hot air) Works great!!
Coal Jockey
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Newmac
Stove/Furnace Model: GAO

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Yanche On: Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:46 pm

Coal Jockey wrote:Why do you need another chimney/vent? I run two furnaces into one 8" flue (FAO furnace and coal hot air) Works great!!
It may work great but it doesn't meet code. See my post, the part in red .... http://nepacrossroads.com/post28295.htm ... ode#p28295
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:39 am

Thanks for all the suggestions! Looks like a boiler wins hands down.

I need to call some dealers to get pricing. I like the VF3000 and the KAA-1 based on what I have read so far but we'll see!

I have other questions if you guys can help.

Can anyone give me any how to's or good books on Primary secondary systems? That sounds like the way to go. I may have to get a plumber in because I'm not sure I can do all this setup myself really. Although I would like to try for sure.

I need to add 2 zones to my system anyway. right now it all goes off one zone and the upstairs (even with valves turned way back) gets hot MUCH faster than the downstairs if I am burning oil. which I don't do much of but with a boiler I will.

I should clarify I wasn't concerned at all about the boiler heating the house I was speaking in terms of if I went the freestanding route if that would do it... I am sure the boiler will do well.

Thanks for all your help and suggestions and I will post back and keep everyone updated on this project!

I wonder if any of the manufacturers will run springtimes sales to reduce inventory or anything....
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: rychw On: Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:43 pm

Mark,
Your story sounds exactly like mine. My 1900 victorian has no insulation and old windows. The oil boiler was fine until the prices skyrockected 3 years ago. I was hesitant getting rid of the oil boiler because it was heating my domestic hot water so I purchased a pellet stove. It heated 1/2 the first floor and the second floor but I needed the oil boiler for the basemant and 1/2 of the first floor. We went through that winter with the average temp in the house at 65 degrees! The wife and kids were miserable and the toilet seats were rather cold! I purchased an AHS 130 two years ago. It has the domestic hot water coil. I kept the oil boiler in place and plumbed in the 130 next to it since I was not convinced that coal was easy and reliable. I was completly wrong! The house is never less than 70 degrees and there is plenty of hot water. I kept the pellet stove for the spring and fall when my boiler is shut down. I installed a electric hot water heater for the summer months and that is also cheaper then oil. The boiler set up cost me $5500 and installation by a plumber friend cost me $800. I'm saving $2500 per season burning coal so after next heating season the boiler will have paid for itself. I assumed it would take around 5 years to recoup my investment. I'm very happy with the AHS130 and now when the boiler runs I don't get that sick feeling in my stomach that the oil boiler caused. I'm also not so worried about a few drafts and window air leaks. The wife and kids are happy and the tiolet seats are warm! Good luck.
rychw
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS 130
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS
Stove/Furnace Model: 130

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:15 pm

Mark (PA) wrote:Can anyone give me any how to's or good books on Primary secondary systems? That sounds like the way to go. I may have to get a plumber in because I'm not sure I can do all this setup myself really. Although I would like to try for sure.

I need to add 2 zones to my system anyway. right now it all goes off one zone and the upstairs (even with valves turned way back) gets hot MUCH faster than the downstairs if I am burning oil. which I don't do much of but with a boiler I will.
You want two books written by Dan Holohan, "Primary-Secondary Pumping Made Easy!" and "Pumping Away and other really cool piping options for hydronic systems".


http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/index.cfm?category=2
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


Both books are excellent, non technical with many examples. Highly recommended.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Coal Jockey On: Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:46 pm

Yanche wrote:
Coal Jockey wrote:Why do you need another chimney/vent? I run two furnaces into one 8" flue (FAO furnace and coal hot air) Works great!!
It may work great but it doesn't meet code. See my post, the part in red .... http://nepacrossroads.com/post28295.htm ... ode#p28295


hmmm... It meets code here. :|
Coal Jockey
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Newmac
Stove/Furnace Model: GAO

Re: Boiler, Freestanding, Manual, Stoker???? Opinions Please!

PostBy: Yanche On: Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:03 am

Coal Jockey, Any chance you could find the reference code and post a quote that permits two appliances in a single chimney, especially two different fuels? Here in the USA all the updated building codes prohibit it, but it was common practice years ago.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Visit Hitzer Stoves