BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: StinaInMaine On: Sun May 11, 2008 2:46 pm

bustedwing wrote:LeisureLine stoves published BTU's are input BTU's,Harmon's are output BTU's,Harmon literature states 104,000 to 108,000 input to get 85,000 output,I forget which stove this applied to,that's about a 20 percent loss,assuming that loss to be an industry average 80% efficiency is in line with oil burners.90,000 input for LLpioneer would then yield 72,000 output,similar to Harmon's dvc stove.The details and confusion are usually in the fine print. Rich


Who knew? Thanks for digging into this, bustedwing! It makes a lot more sense now. Can you tell I'm not a math person?
StinaInMaine
 

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Sun May 11, 2008 3:26 pm

StinaInMaine wrote:We don't have a lined chimney, so doesnt that mean we couldn't do the boiler? Don't those require a lined chimney instead of a power vent?


No. Unless the chimney has holes in it, it should not need a liner. People that sell liners are typically the ones that recommend them. Some local codes may require them due to anal retentive oversight, but a coal appliance does not need one.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: e.alleg On: Sun May 11, 2008 4:08 pm

An unlined chimney is unsafe in the event of a chimney fire. You can use an unlined chimney safely but never burn wood, garbage, or anything besides coal in it. The code officers will disagree as they think coal and wood are the same thing.
e.alleg
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

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Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: rberq On: Sun May 11, 2008 4:51 pm

Even if your chimney needs lining, it is not terribly expensive. Mine was done with "Supaflue" hydraulic cement about three years ago, for $1,600. The estimates for stainless steel were a thousand dollars higher. But the real issue, I think, is that you said you have only the single flue, and I don't know if you could have both your oil furnace and a coal boiler on the same flue. There again there are two questions: (1) would it work? and (2) is it code-legal? But if the coal boiler is the better choice, you shouldn't let the chimney stop you as long as you can power-vent your oil furnace.

I don't understand, myself, why any heater "cares" whether it is chimney vented or power-vented. How does it even know?
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: StinaInMaine On: Sun May 11, 2008 6:04 pm

e.alleg wrote:An unlined chimney is unsafe in the event of a chimney fire. You can use an unlined chimney safely but never burn wood, garbage, or anything besides coal in it. The code officers will disagree as they think coal and wood are the same thing.


No worries here--we'd only be running a coal furnace in the chimney. But we're going to have to do a lot more research, obviously. We're hopinng to power vent (one or the other unit) out a basement window that's at ground level. Jerry at LL said it has to be 12" to 18" above ground level (oh yeah--can't have it buried in snow) so first we have to figure out if the power vent can be run out the window and mounted up 18 inches. If not, we might have to scrap this whole plan b/c neither furnace will be able to direct vent. Argh.

I'll keep you posted--thanks for all of the advice--it's very helpful!!
StinaInMaine
 

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: dipep41 On: Mon May 12, 2008 5:32 pm

AHS has a great btu calculator at Alternateheatingsystems.com. Check it out. It sure worked when i needed to calculate BTU's
dipep41
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS
Stove/Furnace Model: S-260

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: dipep41 On: Mon May 12, 2008 5:34 pm

The Coal Guns from AHS also have a forced exhaust built in so that should help you with some chimney concerns.
dipep41
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS
Stove/Furnace Model: S-260

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: coal-cooker On: Mon May 12, 2008 7:08 pm

If not, we might have to scrap this whole plan b/c neither furnace will be able to direct vent. Argh.

If that becomes the case, I would disconnect that oil furnace and replace it with a good coal furnace. You can heat your entire house far cheaper with coal than you ever will with oil or gas. It is all we use. And, just think of all the great stories you can share here on the forum :D
coal-cooker
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Crane/Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Coal Cooker/Mark II

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: StinaInMaine On: Mon May 12, 2008 7:41 pm

Thanks, dipep41, for the BTU calculator. Had no idea how to guess the window or door area but I fiddled with it and it was very helpful.

Justin--we came to your conclusion today, when the local furnace guy (who knows our house) said we can't do a power vent. Our foundation is ridiculously thick and they can't get the vent high enough off the ground w/o putting in an unwanted bend. So we're pricing out coal/oil furnaces or wood/coal/oil b/c it turns out any new appliance that goes into a chimney in Maine since 1998 must be on a lined chimney, regardless of what it's burning. So if we replace the current oil furnace, we have to fork over to line the chimney. Argh--of course that adds a lot to the cost (at least to us, $1600+ is a lot).

We might have to do the coal stoker stove this year (less than half the cost, it looks like) and plan on a bit of oil use to keep the upstairs warm enough. Then when the oil furnace craps out (or next year, if we win the lottery), we can replace our oil furnace with a combo unit.

Sigh. I was so excited about the furnace and having a warm house throughout. Still, my hubby pointed out that the Harman DVC-500 (or the LL Pioneer LE) should be able to make it pretty toasty, at least downstairs, for a good portion of the winter--at least until it gets insanely Mainely cold ;-)
StinaInMaine
 

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: rberq On: Mon May 12, 2008 9:11 pm

If you use the coal stoker stove AND run the fan of your hot air system (without the oil burner), it seems that it ought to mix the warm air in with the cold and help distribute it through the house. I am sure it is easy to wire a switch to make the furnace fan run "all" the time independent of the burner. I don't know how well the heat distribution would work -- maybe someone else on the forum has experience with it. I have a friend who is going to try it with his pellet stove, but I don't know if he will get to it this Spring or not.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: Yanche On: Mon May 12, 2008 11:27 pm

StinaInMaine wrote:SNIP ... So we're pricing out coal/oil furnaces or wood/coal/oil b/c it turns out any new appliance that goes into a chimney in Maine since 1998 must be on a lined chimney, regardless of what it's burning. So if we replace the current oil furnace, we have to fork over to line the chimney. Argh--of course that adds a lot to the cost (at least to us, $1600+ is a lot). SNIP ...
Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a bill into law March 30, 2004 creating the Maine Model Building Code. The state code is composed of the 2003 International Building Code and 2003 International Residential Code. Jurisdictions in the state can voluntarily adopt the new code for their communities. Unless Maine made specific changes to the recommended model codes, which I doubt, there are several approved chimneys. Search the web for "International Building Code" and you will find info on what is needed for a chimney. Several states have web sites that allow you to read but not print or download the code. Mass. is one state the allows you to download it in pdf format. See:
http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsterminal&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Consumer+Protection+%26+Business+Licensing&L2=License+Type+by+Business+Area&L3=Home+Improvement+Contractor&sid=Eeops&b=terminalcontent&f=dps_bbrs_building_code_6thedition&csid=Eeops
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.

You want the chapter on "Chimneys, Fireplaces and Solid Fuel-Fire and Appliance". Don't take the Mass. code as gospel in your state but it will be very similar since there is an effort to make building code uniform in all states.
Last edited by Richard S. on Tue May 13, 2008 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: fixed link
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue May 13, 2008 6:46 am

StinaInMaine wrote:So we're pricing out coal/oil furnaces or wood/coal/oil b/c it turns out any new appliance that goes into a chimney in Maine since 1998 must be on a lined chimney, regardless of what it's burning. So if we replace the current oil furnace, we have to fork over to line the chimney. Argh--of course that adds a lot to the cost (at least to us, $1600+ is a lot).


If you purchase a used boiler, who would know when it was installed? Seems like a waste of money to line a perfectly good chimney, it is half the cost of a refurbished EFM boiler.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Rice/buck
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue May 13, 2008 8:38 am

I'd keep an eye open for a used stove or boiler.. Since money is an issue [for everyone !] then save the $$ on the stove or boiler... There is or was a used Alaske console stove for sale in the forum classifieds... reasonable price,, needs some TLC. At a reasonable price.. This would give you all summer to get it fixed up, hooked up, and to keep looking for a whole-house unit.

If you buy new,, I'd recommend the LL Pioneer, the customer support is second-to-none, and the stove comes with the sophisticated Coal-Trol thermostat, which save coal useage, and keeps your house at a comfortably even temperature. The LL products have in my opinion the most 'bang for the buck'.

I agree with the above suggestion about just disconnecting your current oil system, and hooking up the coal unit... if you buy a capable unit, you won't want or need the oil at all. If you plan on going away for a week or so during heating season, you can either train someone to take care of your coal chores, or hook up the chimney for the oil burner [swap flue pipes, takes 10 minutes] and burn oil while you are away. The units that are coal/oil combination units require more hook up work than just a chimney flue pipe swap.. The combo units are NOT just a flip a switch swap!

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: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: StinaInMaine On: Fri May 16, 2008 3:41 pm

rberq wrote:If you use the coal stoker stove AND run the fan of your hot air system (without the oil burner), it seems that it ought to mix the warm air in with the cold and help distribute it through the house. I am sure it is easy to wire a switch to make the furnace fan run "all" the time independent of the burner. I don't know how well the heat distribution would work -- maybe someone else on the forum has experience with it. I have a friend who is going to try it with his pellet stove, but I don't know if he will get to it this Spring or not.


It's funny you should mention this solution, rberq--the stove installation guy was here today and he suggested exactly what you did. Right now, we're planning on getting the Harman DVC-500 stove (just can't afford the boiler/furnace, guys--it's nearly $7,000 total) and setting up the furnace like you suggested above. Hoping that will do it. Worst case, if our bathroom way upstairs is freezing even with the furnace fan running, we might install a little Rinai (sp?) propane heater for the bathroom--it's got a programmable thermostat so we could set it to be warmer in the morning--and it's fairly cheap.

Thanks again, everyone, for the amazing advice! The Harman guy REALLY pushed the pellet stove (P68) but after he told us we couldn't store pellets in our dank, 118-year-old basement (and that storing them outside under a tarp was a good idea--is he smoking something?) we decided to stick with the coal stove. I'm sure you will be proud of us for swimming against the tide (pellets are much more common up here right now)!
StinaInMaine
 

Re: BTUs vary so much. How do I tell what we need?

PostBy: rberq On: Fri May 16, 2008 6:27 pm

I have one of those, too -- a 10,000 BTU unvented Rinnai propane convection heater (not radiant) for the kitchen / dining room area where the coal heat does not reach. It heats about 400 square feet of well-insulated space. (I wish the rest of my house were that well insulated.) It is in a corner of an open area -- no wall between kitchen and DR -- and heats the whole space very evenly. Some people claim an unvented propane heater is bad, but when you think about it, it uses less gas than the largest burner on the gas stove, even when it's going at maximum output which is very rare.

My Rinnai has an internal thermostat that doesn't work very well, but needs no electricity. (Since the ice storm of '98 we are big on things that work without electricity.) I expect the external programmable thermostat you are talking about works a lot better. Usually the Rinnai heaters specify NOT to install in a bedroom or bathroom, though I don't understand why not.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Visit Lehigh Anthracite