OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: OverRunWithSons On: Mon May 19, 2008 2:12 pm

We used to have an Indoor Wood/coal furance, missed that when we sold the house, now we plan to buy one of these OUTDOOR wood/coal furnaces (We have alot of land to get free wood from, and no neighbors to smoke out), there is about 12 different brands to choose from in the US, every Seller says theirs is Best. Most are 409 Steel, some Boiler plate steel and a few make the 304 steel. Not sure which to go with. We did not want to do the INdoor route again as it will require building a new chimney, not enough space in basement for safe heating (like last block house was), insurance issues, etc. Want to hear from ANYONE who owns one of these OUTDOOR models, if you would recommend buying, or NOT to buy which brands and WHY. Please be detailed. Nothing better than hearing from those who have "been there, done that". We do plan to use coal along with Wood. Any recommendations on which kind of coal to buy also? Please post. WIth Oil prices skyrocketing out of sight, we just feel we will no longer be able to afford to heat our house. We have no option for Natural gas, and have heard Electric heat is not very warm , especially if you have an old drafty house like ours. Thanks for your help.
OverRunWithSons
 

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon May 19, 2008 2:30 pm

You need a unit that's made to burn coal, you can burn wood in something designed to burn coal but you can't burn coal in something designed to burn wood. You need a deep firebox with vertical sides and grates that are the entire bottom of the firebox. The coal stoves/furnces that can really burn coal well and can burn wood will not be labeled as dual fuel because of EPA regulations from my understanding. There are some that are borderline that a lot of people have goten to work well enough for them but if you want to burn coal get a coal stove.

Having said that do you have easy access to coal? I've yet to meet a coal customer that said he didn't like wood after burning coal. There's plenty of ex-wood burners on here. If you live close to coal country you can't even buy wood cheaper, it's only cheaper if you cut and split it yourself and even then you got a lot of time invested and some money and a PITA to keep it going for long periods of time.

As far as the chimney you can powervent some of them, if you have an existing chimney with oil burner power vent the oil burner and use the chimney for coal. :D
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: OverRunWithSons On: Mon May 19, 2008 2:52 pm

Indoor is just not an option for us, we can not use the same chimney--too old --that needs repaired itself, also in the middle of the house, bad place, house is like over 100 years old, even has some wood boards inbetween some of the bricks, plus not enough room in basement-very low ceiling, so many obstcles, then the Insurance company on top of all of this. Outdoor is our only option. We only plan to buy a unit that can burn wood and coal , with grates. I have not seen any outside strictly for COAL , has anyone here? Yes, a Coal company is not far from us at all--about a 20 minute drive. $91/a ton for egg coal, a little more delivered. Other kinds available also.
OverRunWithSons
 


Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: cArNaGe On: Mon May 19, 2008 3:18 pm

I bought an OWB for the exact reason you are looking at one. My house had a Yukon coal/wood/oil furnace in it. It only ever saw wood and it took around 10 full cord a year to heat my house. Five years ago my wife's parents gave us this house and he house needed two things immediately. A roof and a new furnace. The roof was first and after the finding out the chimney was shot while having the roof replaced we went with an OWB. We bought a used heatmor. It works thats about as much as I will say. We now go through 3-4 triaxle loads of wood a year. I burn year round. Every logger is different but most agree you get between 6 to 8 full cord each truck. I think its closer to 6. I fill it twice a day when its mild out and in the extreme cold (nepa) I fill it 4 times a day. Now saying that I could have bought a bigger one and gotten away with twice a day but this one was used and it works. You said you live close to egg coal. Is that bituminous or anthracite? I bought a coal boiler this spring and will be installing a new chimney. Its through the center of my house also.

Any other questions ask away. I know my system isn't perfect. On a side note my heatmor is 16 years old and still going without a leak. Stay away from Taylors.
cArNaGe
 

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon May 19, 2008 3:45 pm

Egg is bigger than stove (proabaly a good 6 inches acroos if not more) but at $90 a ton it has to bituminous, that will probably work better than anthracite in a woodburner. It has similar characteristics to wood but you'd have to get some info off the bituminous guys..
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon May 19, 2008 5:31 pm

Hello Overrun, welcome to the forum. First where roughly are you located?? That price for coal has to be for Bituminous coal..that is SOFT coal.. Anthracite coal which is HARD coal is a very different animal. So I suspect you are in western NY, western Pa, West Virgina, Eastern Ohio, or somewhere near the Bituminous coal sources..
Finding a source for coal is important, and which coal is very important. Bituminous coal can be added to a wood fire, it will usually burn completly or close to completely,, but if you add anthracite to a wood fire, just a couple of pieces, it will just sit there.. Even if you add a several inch-thick layer of anthracite coal over a hot wood fire,, if the firebox is not designed to burn anthracite,, the fire will just go out..

As for OWBoilers.. they are for the most part very inefficient.. regardless of the claims.. they are about 35-50% at best.. the rest of the heat from the wood goes up the chimney. A good coal boiler is around 75-85% efficient.. you can put your hand on the chimney pipe with most models.. there is that little lost heat going up the chimney.

I would recommend building a shed, with a masonry chimney, and installing a good coal/wood boiler.. Depending on the size of your house, and BTU needs, there are several very good coal/wood boilers.. Harman makes three sizes.. http://www.harmanstoves.com [I think that is right] . This way you could make use of your supplies of wood, and still efficiently burn coal.. And like state in an above post,, most folks, once they burn coal, don't go back to wood...

However, if you truely ARE 'Overunwithsons' then the work of cutting, splitting, stacking wood, and keeping a wood boiler stoked can be a positive Famly-Time function.. and that is a GOOD thing...

The problem with OWBs is that they try to be selfcontained,, a small weather-resistant shed fitted around a boiler. with a very short chimney, a HUGE firebox to make up for the shortcomings of burning wood, and then the resulting smoldling fire, with lots of smoke.. Don't forget, smoke is unburnt wood, all that lost BTU's going away in the wind.

The best way to burn wood is very hot, and completely,, look into 'reverse gassification boilers' or gassification boilers.. http://www.hearth.com I think is the premier site for burning wood.. But these boiler will not burn coal..

I started with an existing outdoor building, burried pex pipes, added a small wood/coal boiler.. notice I didn't type coal/wood.. I typed wood/coal.. the boiler was way too small, so I tried coal.. it was a little bit better.. stil to small.. So I copied the best ideas off the OWB sites and built a very good wood/coal boiler,, all 409 stainless, 2500# of 409SSteel !! and burnt wood in it for only a month or so before I realized it needed feeding every 4 hours, even tough it has a huge firebox... So I started burning coal.. I managed to learn from this forum, and experiment, and modify, and do it again, and again, and finally was able to have a fairly good wood/coal experience with my own boiler..

Then I bought a Coal-only boiler and rebuilt it, and am burning exclusively anthracite coal, and I just about can forget about the boiler for several days at a time.. it is bliss !! I burn about 1/4 the dollars in coal compared to Propane, and I keep the thermostats where I'm warm,, and comfortable,, I never was able to do that with propane..

There are few if any OWBs that will burn anthracite at all much less burn it well.. I'd go with an outbuilding, You will have an 'indoors' to load the fuel into the stove, and an 'indoors' to store some wood out of the weather,, where it can melt off the snow/ice from the woodpile, and you can store some coal as well...

My fingers are tired,, Hope the above helps.. I'm trying to not be too discouraging,, but OWBs were a 'quick and dirty' solution, now it the time to go with something more sophistcated, and efficient.

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: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: jpen1 On: Mon May 19, 2008 9:56 pm

I am going to agree with greg on this one That the outdoor boilers are very inefficient. Also 304 stainless out of those 3 choices is the most corrosion resisitant however the carbon steel boiler plating will be the best at not developing cracks over time. The 409 stainless would offer better corrosion resistance than the boiler plating and better resitance to cracking over the much harder 304 stainless and likely would be a good compromise as far a heat transfer efficency.
jpen1
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: 110 Boiler

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon May 19, 2008 10:05 pm

For what your going to pay for a S/S fuel pig, you would be better off getting a real hand fired boiler and building a shed for it. It would probably cost you less and it definitely will use a lot less fuel.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: 1termite On: Tue May 20, 2008 8:41 am

we switched from wood boiler to efm 520 in our shop. we had access to wood but it takes up so much room and time handeling. after using coal i would not go back to wood, to much work over coal. we just fill the bin and take out the ashes when needed, the wood had to be taken care of all the time. i would build a out building to hold the coal stoker and pipe the heat into the house. sell the wood to pay for your coal. you won't be diapointed
1termite
 
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: df520

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: OverRunWithSons On: Tue May 20, 2008 8:53 am

Ok, Please help me out about what exactly you mean about building a SHED kinda thing. Are you saying if we build a SHED, that this can be near our house (like 50 feet or so --just like the OUTDOOR Wood/Coal furnace I am talking about would be) but inside a building, making our own mason chimney, but then how am I getting the Heat to the house? --not the underground pipes like with the OUtdoor furnace)??? Or are you meaning building another room (Shed) onto the house --and putting in an INDOOR wood/coal furnace? If I add onto the house, Taxes will go up and you have to notify the Code people, and Insurance issues again. Plus not sure how you would get the heat on the ground floor to the basement Duct work if this is done. But I am just a woman who does not understand all of this. My husband would not want to ask all of these questions on here though, so excuse me for "being so clueless". Yes, we live in Western PA, a small town called "Wampum". We have 5 sons, oldest 17, youngest is 1 year old. I do not understand all of this about Coal, surely the egg coal is the lower cost Bituminous as you say. Is this bad, what are the sceneriors of WHAT to use in WHAT system?--I am very confused here- but would like to understand. Is it that the Lower cost BItuminous is burned FAR more quickly so you are getting less heat out of it and that is why it is cheaper? So it sounds like you all agree that the 409 steel is BETTER than the 304 stainless --for an outdoor furnace? I was looking at the Hardy
http://www.hardyheater.com/ (which is 304 stainless), and the Heatmor http://www.heatmor.com/ (which is 409 stainless). As usual, they all claim they are the BEST.... Hardy has a paper why 304 is better, and Heatmore has their written claims why the 409 steel is better . I spent hours the other night looking up all of these companies on the Better Business Bureu, these 2 Companys have 0 complaints in past 36 months -while a few are not even listed to "exist" (Like Shavor Wood Furnace) , BBB had Royal as "Unsatisfactory", Central Boiler (which is popular) had 11 complaints in past 36 months- but was claimed "satisfactory". The Free Heat machine had a few complaints, but was "satisfactory". Please do explain more of what you mean by a SHed and what this involves--building onto my house? How does the heat get to my basement from this shed?? Thanks to all. We want to do this right and only ONE time. I do PREFER the Coal option over wood as this is available where I live, not as much work as wood if we are busy and as I understand, we will never run out of it in this country!
OverRunWithSons
 

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: Richard S. On: Tue May 20, 2008 9:36 am

Well I think you have the idea by what he means by shed. You're basically building a little building to house the coal boiler. Be the same as the wood boiler, they don't make coal boilers that I'm aware designed to sit outside hence the reason you need the shed.

As far as the bituminous coal goes that is an issue and I would definitely recommend researching it, I can't give any advice because I really know little about it. If you intend on burnng coal and expect to use bit. make doubly sure the unit you are getting will burn it. Most of the coal burners are designed to burn anthracite and may not work very well with Bit. but you'd have to find out. If you need anthracite its going to cost you more because the price goes up outside of NEPA, probably about $250 a ton roughly and you will have to make sure you have supplier and/or you can travel here and pick it up yourself for about $130 a ton presently.

The other issue with bit. is that the it produces a lot of soot, black smoke and a odor... :lol: On the other hand its much cheaper.

You may be interested in this thread, EFM is working on stoker for bit. coal: efm Bituminous boiler testing is next week

Also check the bit forum: Using Bituminous Coal
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: OverRunWithSons On: Tue May 20, 2008 10:39 am

Accually I did find this-- an OUTDOOR Coal burning Boiler http://www.heatinnovations.com/coalheat.htm but this place is in Canada and I could not find out anything about them, I did find it on the Better Business Bureu, but when you go to check their record , it says "page can not be displayed". Bummer, cause this sounded PERFECT for what I am looking for. Then I wouldnt need the shed! Ok, so THIS is what you all are talking about...
http://www.harmanstoves.com/features.asp?id=32
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
Just getting one of these and building a shed about 50 feet from my house and doing the underwater pipes just like the OUTDOOR Boilers are set up?? If this is the case, this IS Doable--shouldn't need a code or my insurance raised by the county. (I hope) SO the INeffiencey of the OUTDOOR Boilers is about WOOD, NOT about UNDERGROUND Piping to a house ???? Just using COAL over WOOD makes it effienct? Thank you all for your help, keep posting--please. Does anyone on here have a set up like this--- in a shed with underground piping to the house???

About the COAL , wow, I thought COAL was Coal, I had no idea some burners/boilers must use different things , I guess this also needs thoroughly researched before I buy. I obvioulsy want the cheaper Egg Bitamous kind because it is abundant in my area. I did ask the Coal man the other prices of some of the other stuff, he said $220 a ton for something, must be Anthracite kind--which this board is named after. Is Anthracite what everyone uses in their Houses --if NOT using wood. SOrry, I am still confused. :?:
OverRunWithSons
 

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue May 20, 2008 10:50 am

Hello Overrunwithsons [ :D I like that name!! ] I'll try to answer a few more questions.

The shed is a separate shed, and the hot water generated by the boiler in the shed is piped, just like an OWB underground into the basement of your house.. Once there what happens depends on your existing heating system..If you have hot water heat , you use a water-to-water heat exchanger to put the outdoor-heated water's heat into the water system in the house..
If you have forced hot air heat in your house, you the use a water-to-air heat exchanger that installs in the ductwork of your existing furnace,, The booiler-heated hot water warms the heat exchanger in the duct which then moves the hot air through your house.. Go to http://www.ebay.com and search for outdoor wood boiler exchanger.. you will see both types of heat exchangers I mention.

OK: Bituminous coal... well you need to read the many threads on the bitumonous forum, just click on the 'Board index' and there are more forums below.

Bituminous coal is a different animal than Anthracite:
.. Anthracite burns allmost smoke-free, it is almost pure carbon. The flames are a translucent blue-white. There is very little odor [about like a kitchen match when lit, or firecrackers going off] and there is only some fly-ash, which is like dust in the chimney. The ashpan holds the unburnable ash in the coal... most coal has around 8-15% ash,, so there is some volume of ash to dispose of.
Bituminous coal is like you see in all the locomotive films... billows of black smoke,,, LOTS of soot, an inky black fine carbon dust... very difficlut to wash off the hands and clothes.. This smoke and soot is from when the Bitum. coal is first burning.. the soot and smoke is from the products in Bitum coal called volitiles,, they burn out of the coal when first heated,, these volitiles are very energy-rich, but need LOTS of oxygen to burn,, most stoves/boilers are not equiped to burn off the volitiles.. so they smoke..
A properly designed Bituminous burner will not smoke hardly at all.. but burning bituminous has been unpopular for a long time for residential use, and the manufacturers of proper Bituminous burning equipement have for the most part stopped producing heating appliances..
Bituminous coal requires more 'tending the fire' than anthracite.. with bituminous, the coal first burns off the volitiles, then the coal itself swells when heated,, and it gets softer, almost like tar or asphalt.. the pieces of coal stick together, this causes problems in that the coal started as a loose bunch of pieces, and now it has fused together into one big chunk in your firebox.. So you have to break up the big chunk to let air get around and through the coal, allowing it to burn completely.

Read as much as you can on this site,, it is all here,, about burning Bitum. about the dirrerences with a stoker or a hand feed, piping of hot water, etc..

There was a statement made in an above post,, put up the shed, burry the pipes, install a good Coal/wood boiler, and sell the wood to pay for coal.. this is good advice,, but it will require you to be interactive with the process.. there are few if any contractors that have a clue, and they want to sell you their product..

I highly recommend NOT buying a OWB unless you do LOTS of reading,, and go see as many other OWB users as possible, MANY are not happy..

Greg L
.

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

Re: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue May 20, 2008 10:54 am

Hello Overrun,, I see you posted while I was typing the above chapter...

Yes I have an outbuilding [a shed] with burried underground pipes to my house and shop. There are at least a dozen members on this forum that have a similar setup.

The inefficiency is with the wood, the way wood burns and the boiler designs of the way-too-simple OWBs.. Look at gassification wood burners on http://www.hearth.com that will explain some more.

Read up on the differences between Anthracite and Bituminous...

Hope this helps.. 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: OUTDOOR Wood/Coal Furnaces...Seeking advice before we buy??

PostBy: OverRunWithSons On: Tue May 20, 2008 12:05 pm

I want some of those unhappy outdoor wood boiler people to post on here. I really want to hear from them & their problems with thier particular product. SO far I have met 1 and talked with 1 Home owner who LOVES theirs, and in my area, others have been happy with theirs, I have heard more good in my area, but alot of bad on the internet, like Woodweb. I love the shed idea except for one thing. Glad you clarified it is a WOOD thing, not the Piping. The shed idea with a regular indoor Coal boiler has such a SMALL door opening, that we would have to tend to the fire more times a day & cut our wood much smaller. We know how this is cause we had a wood/coal furnace in last house. It was like every 4 hours, using both. One advantage to those outdoor Boilers is...the doors are huge & you can put almost logs in there & tend to them approx twice a day. Plus we have access to Alot of free wood, so I do want to burn both. I also know I do not want to buy that more expensive COal if I do not have too. I need to do more reading there. I know when I called the Coal company, they told me the egg kind was good enough for anything outdoors. I was happy with that answer.
OverRunWithSons