People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Mon May 26, 2008 8:33 pm

My girlfriend and I threw a big bash yesterday and I was talking to her parents, my parents, and a bunch of other people about my idea of switching to coal. Almost everyone, save for my father, think I'm absolutely nuts to even think about going to coal. They mentioned the soot, the dust, and the dirtiness of coal. They said the price was higher than wood and that I should stick to my original plan of installing a wood stove in my existing fireplace. They said the price was going to go up and up because "how are you going to get it delivered to your house?" They went on and on... One person said he had a friend who installed a coal boiler several years back and then ended up switching to gas because he couldn't find coal anymore. :shock: They all said I should really think about this long and hard before I go ahead with it.

I've learned a lot from this site in the past few days and i think they're crazy to not see the benefits of going to coal. Most of these people, my mother included, are thinking about what their fathers, and grandfathers went through when they had a coal boiler in their basement.

Please tell me that I'm not crazy to go to coal.
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: mike On: Mon May 26, 2008 8:37 pm

Trust me: your not crazy for switching to coal. Theres a reason why most of the stoker boilers on the market today have been in production for 50+ years 8-)
mike
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Gentleman Janitor GJ5
Stove/Furnace Model: Reading utility stove

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon May 26, 2008 8:46 pm

If coal is good enough for me to truck it 600 miles to Michigan,, it's the way to go !! Most if not all of the negative ideas that go with burning coal are part of the media's image for coal: smoke stacks belchin black smoke.. Well it just doesn't happen with anthracite.. It can happen with Bituminous coal, but not when burned correctly.

I'm saving 2/3 to 3/4 off of my propane costs by burning coal,, and that is trucked in coal. If I lived close to the mines and breakers I'd be saving an even higher percentage..

You won't be unhappy,, especially as close to the source as you are..

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: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Mon May 26, 2008 8:49 pm

You're not crazy.

How many of these "experts" actually have burned coal to heat their own homes? Of course everybody knows some one who do this or did that and can tell you horror stories at great length! :shock: I have a good friend who went to great lengths to tell me how dirty and inefficient coal is. Same story there, that person "knows" someone who switched to coal and it was a terrible experience, now they are living a life of regret because of it.

The facts are that anthracite coal is much cleaner then wood, both inside of the house and outside. No wood dirt on the floors, no bugs running around that were living in that log you just brought in, no having to bring in 1/2 of a cord when a snowstorm is forecast. NO SMOKE out of the chimney, no creosote and chimney fires, long burn times, I could go on forever, I've been there/done that.

Yes oil heat is easier, but you will pay dearly for the ability to control the temperature by just pushing the thermostat around. Coal is definitely more work, but the benefits far outweigh the effort needed. I still have people that look at me like I just sprouted a third eye in the middle of my forehead when I say I burn coal.

I've burned oil, wood, kerosene, propane, and coal heating this house. Coal is and always will be my first choice.

You live close to me, send me a PM and you can take a ride up and see my 2 stoves, including my Alaska in operation.
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: coalkirk On: Mon May 26, 2008 9:22 pm

Most people today are not familair with coal and if they are they only heard a bad story from someone who didn't know what they were doing. I just finshed my fourth season of coal only. No oil. You'll never be sorry. This time next year, they will all be asking you for advice when they hear how well it worked and how much $$$ you saved. Yes there is alittle dust from loading the coal and dealing with the ash. It's no where near the mess of wood which i burned for many, many years. I'd never go back.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: leowis1 On: Mon May 26, 2008 9:28 pm

Hi. I switched to coal a little over 2 years ago. My wife was pregnant with twins when Katrina hit in 2005. That winter was the first winter in my 1884 Victorian house. I got killed with the natural gas bills. It was crazy! I found a coal dealer about 13miles from my house. I bought a stoker boiler from him and installed it in the summer of 2006. As God as my witness, the boiler is so simple to run. All I do is dump ashes once a day. It takes me longer to brush my teeth. And I'm saving tons of money. I can put the t-stat on 67 and not have to worry about an Artic cold front moving in.

I have a dungy dampy basement. The only thing down there is the cat's liter box. Perfect for coal. The neighbors may have thought I was crazy a few years ago, but I think they're now jealous. I would not have the boiler in my living area. There is dust from dumping the ash pan and getting the coal refilled. But like I said, my basement is perfect for coal.
leowis1
 

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: rberq On: Mon May 26, 2008 9:44 pm

My coal stove more than paid for itself in a single season in fuel savings. At next year's oil prices it will pay for itself again, three times over. I wish the stock market would return me 400 percent in two years. When we said we were converting to coal, one friend told us we would fill the neighborhood with stinky black smoke and be run out of town by vigilantes. Or course, there's never a trace of smoke from the chimney, and only (very rarely) a sulfur smell which is no worse than a new car with its catalytic converter and doesn't last more than 15-20 minutes. I wonder what my nearest neighbor thinks -- the previous year we too often spewed thick clouds of wood smoke toward his house, and this year he sees nothing come out of our chimney at all. Have faith. All those naysayers are just jealous of your projected fuel savings.

P.S. Even though the stove is in our living room, my wife loves it compared to burning wood. Far less mess, no stinky smoke in the room when reloading. And steady warmth, compared to the ups and downs of the wood burn cycle.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Mon May 26, 2008 9:57 pm

I think most people envision huge smokestacks belching smoke or a locomotive under full power when they think of coal.
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If you burn coal this is what your chimney will look like!
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Or maybe even this!!!!!
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Everyone in your neighborhood will look like coal miners if you do it!
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Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon May 26, 2008 10:10 pm

Hollyfeld wrote: They mentioned the soot, the dust, and the dirtiness of coal.


True but I've seen it mentioned that it's no more dirty than using a wood stove, can't comment on that from personal experience. Having said that if you plan it properly and install a boiler you can eliminate this issue. Simply put you need to isolate the boiler and coal bin. If you can't do that you can still take measures to keep it to a minimum. The only time the dirt and dust is a real issue is if you install a stove in the living space.

They said the price was higher than wood and that I should stick to my original plan of installing a wood stove in my existing fireplace.


If you can get a the coal at local prices and are paying market value for the wood is more expensive, you need to compare apples to apples. Coal is ready to be used the minute you get it delivered. Just to add there is lot more work and maintenance involved with a wood stove, if you live in the woods and can get the wood for free you still have some costs involved with chain saws, splitter rental and probably a few weekends getting it all cur split and stacked...

are thinking about what their fathers, and grandfathers went through when they had a coal boiler in their basement.

Please tell me that I'm not crazy to go to coal.


I'm assuming they mean a hand fired boiler, certainly not as easy as using a modern stoker boiler but I had little old lady customers that had boilers like that installed. ;) Let me put it to you this way from my experience with a stoker coal boiler over the last 25 years... with a modern boiler this is the work you can expect to do.

  • You will need to fill it with coal and take the ashes out every two days during the coldest months.
  • The ashes of course will need to be taken somewhere, once a week we have to put them out for the borough to pick up.
  • With a large stoker you'll need to do basic maintenance on it every 6 months to year. this includes taking the flue pipe off to remove the fly ash. If you have a setup like ours you don't even have to take it off. Other maintenance includes oiling motors,m checking the transmission oil etc Overall this yearly maintenance can be done in about 2 hours max if you don't encounter any problems.

Having said that getting coal for a lot of people can certainly be an issue but for every problem there is always a solution. Even if you have to rent a truck to go get it yourself you're not that far from coal Country to do that. Looking at the map you're right off of I-80, you can get to breaker in about 2-3 hours max.... One days work to save thousands of dollars works for me. :D

Getting coal presents many problems for a lot of people out of the area and each person would have to decide what's best for them. Personally if it were me and I had the room I'd just be getting it delivered via tri-axle once every couple of years if I lived that far away.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: stokin-railroad On: Tue May 27, 2008 2:08 am

my first year burning coal '07-'08.i heard all the same stories you are hearing.JUST DO IT!! you won't regret it.if you and significant other agree then order your boiler and install in basement.i have oil fha heat stove is paralled to furnace with duct work.home was at 70 all winter with a lot more if we wanted it.used all of 4 tons to heat @ $900 oil for season @$3000 not to hard to figure!!stove is paid for in just over 1 year with savings over oil.NO REGRETS!!!!
stokin-railroad
 
Stove/Furnace Make: keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: koker 160k

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Freddy On: Tue May 27, 2008 6:22 am

Yes, you are crazy....crazy like a fox.

This will be my first year burning coal. If the neighbors are right, you & I will be playing checkers together in the loony bin. I don't think so! We will be warm and content as we listen to them cry about their empty checking accounts.
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue May 27, 2008 8:17 am

I encountered a very similar reaction when I brought up my plan of switching to coal heat at a recent get together. Everyone thinks it is very dirty and not worth the trouble. My dad and brother had the same opinion until they saw my stove burning anthracite last winter. Now they are shopping for coal stoves and ready to split a tri-axle load with me.
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: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: BugsyR On: Tue May 27, 2008 8:23 am

The only way you are crazy is if you don't fully research all your options on what type of coal burner you want. If I would have found this web site before I bought my stove and fully researched it, I would have a completely different set up. Not that I am unsatisfied but I am planning and saving for a change in the next few years. Research research research and stop listening to the nay sayers. Growing up, my parents had an EFM boiler, I don't remember my mother ever complaining about dust. The only dirt I saw was caused by me pulling out the ash pan and cleaning up any spills. Coal was contained in a coal bin under the front porch...(old house). Break down and cleaning was dirty...but that was just one day in the summer months and all fly ash/dust was contained within the basement by the boiler.

Have a Keystoker 90K in my basement today. Wife and I dusted the basement once the entire heating season. Some and I mean some black dust within a 8 foot radius of the stove. No ash dust because I cleaned that up every evening. Upstairs in the living area, no different than the year before when we didn't have the stoker...other than it being 6 to 10 degrees warmer depending on the temp outside. I did make a mess with end of year cleaning (rookie) but it all cleaned up nicely and I made good notes for next years clean up.

So you have a couple choices...you can help us by staying away from coal and help keep the demand for coal to stay down...or you can install now and be warmer at a lower cost next winter.

Wood versus coal...that fight was fought in my head also... I am glad to say that with all my other chores this past winter, splitting coal wasn't one of them. Personally, in doors, I think wood is just as dirty and dusty.
BugsyR
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K

Re: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Tue May 27, 2008 10:22 am

Holyfield, I too think you are crazy. Crazy for wanting to deal with wood. Crazy for not burning coal. Crazy for listening to people who know little about what's happening here. Crazy for not getting into the "Coalution" while it's resonable. And real crazy for not wanting to hear you friends tell you that you were so smart and they were so crazy not to have gone with coal when you did. Feel the heat!!! :) Scott.
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: People think I'm crazy to switch to coal

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Tue May 27, 2008 10:58 am

Thanks to all for the knowledge and support. It's nice to see that I'm not alone on the boat of crazy people that have, or will, switch to coal.

Wood'nCoal wrote:I think most people envision huge smokestacks belching smoke or a locomotive under full power when they think of coal.


That is exactly what people thought of when I mentioned coal.

Richard S. wrote:
True but I've seen it mentioned that it's no more dirty than using a wood stove, can't comment on that from personal experience. Having said that if you plan it properly and install a boiler you can eliminate this issue. Simply put you need to isolate the boiler and coal bin. If you can't do that you can still take measures to keep it to a minimum. The only time the dirt and dust is a real issue is if you install a stove in the living space.


My basement is finished but there is a room where my current boiler and HW tank are located. It's where I store all my tools, and stuff that I don't use on a regular basis. It's closed off from the rest of the basement by a door. I could reorganize what I have and most likely toss out a bunch of stuff that I don't need. In this room there is a closet with an exterior wall that I envision as my indoor coal bin. There is no way that a truck can deliver the coal directly to this room because its on the other side of the house from the road, and driveway. I'm thinking about sectioning off part of my outdoor shed as a coal bin. Then from there I can wheel barrow it or construct a shoot from the shed to where the closet is.

I have thought about this almost non-stop since I found this site.

Once again, thanks to all
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6