Freddy wrote:I'll start it off by asking some questions. Other will chime in I'm sure.
How much oil do you use a year? About 600 gallons I'd guess? They filled it 4 times this past winter and it was about 1/2 full each time - based on cost I'm guessing no less than 600 gallons
What do you have for a chimney? Mason? Tiled lined? About how tall? Inside house or outside on a wall?It goes up through the center of the house, appears to be a metal pipe? But it must be lined somehow - the house is only 15 years old so built under modern building codes
How do you heat your domestic hot water? (DHW)Electric water heater
Are you looking to do this as inexpensive as possible, or do you have the wherewithall to invest in a Cadilac system? Maybe even convert the house to hot water baseboard?Not wanting to cheap out but not looking to convert to a boiler either - want to stick with forced hot air if we can and run it from a programmable thermostat on the main floor
Might you have space to build a bin in the cellar and have bulk coal fill it through a window? (10 feet by 10 feet)Sure - basement is full length of house, unfinished, in addition to furnace and oil tank we also have laundry, exercise area, pool table and TV area - it's one big open room with concrete block walls
How much headroom do you have in the cellar? about 7-8 foot except where the duct work runs down the center of the room, then it's more like 6.5 feet
To answer a couple of the questions,
Devil5052 wrote:I heat my 2200SF raised ranch with just a Harman TLC2000 hand fired in my basement family room on about 2 tons of coal in SE Massachusetts. If you can get the stove heated air up into your living spaces you may not need more than just a stove. Ypou could use you old oil furnace for backup. A new Harman TLC2000 will cost you less than $1500.00. (you will need a chimney though)
TriciaR wrote:Sounds nice and cheap! I would like it to blow the heat through the house though - parents heat with wood and in order to keep the upstairs decently warm their basement is like a sauna. I want my house to be fairly uniformly heated if at all possible.
coalkirk wrote:Devils system works well but he has a bi-level I think. The layout and floor plan of a bi-level really lends itself to good air circulation throughout the home that a rancher will not have.
Freddy wrote:Greg gives excellant advice. It would be far cheaper than converting to all baseboard heat, but gives you the benifits of a boiler. Your electric bill will take a huge dive if you get your DHW off the coal.
Bottom line, if you live near coal, it can be 1/4 the price of oil, if you live in Maine as I do, coal can be half or 1/3 the price of oil. That's of oil is $3.50 a gallon. I heard just today that one oil dealer is asking $4.89 for prepay oil!!!
LsFarm wrote:Hello TriciaR,, Welcome to the forum. I would recommend the following: Keep your existing oil furnace, use it as a backup heater for when you go away for a vacation, or a long weekend. When I say we need to replace the oil furnace it's not just because oil is too expensive, the furnace is corroding and is becoming unsafe - it has an awful lot of aluminum tape on the firebox because of rusting. We were going to replace it with another oil burner but that seems like a real waste of money with the price of oil heading higher all the time. So not sure keeping it in is going to be feasible - will the corrosion stop if we aren't using it? We never leave the house unattended - even when on vacation my dad comes up 2X a day to feed the animals so filling the hopper won't be an issue. I do wonder if having only a coal furnace would affect resale value though?
Install a boiler, use a water to air heat exchanger that installs in the furnaces' ductwork. This transfers the boiler's heat into the ductwork,, this way the house thermostats stil control the heat in the house,, You can stay very simple with the thermostatic controls, or get really 'exotic'.. but you can still control the heat with a thermostat, and use the ductwork to distribute the heat..
Then hook the boiler into you DHW, domestic hot water,, your hot water is roughly 25-30% of your yearly heating bill,, so why not use the virtually free heat from the coal boiler, since it's hot anyway?? Save your electric hot water for the summer. Just curious how much water does a boiler pull from a well? Is it mostly a reservoir and how much water is lost due to evaporation as steam? I have a well that produces approx 2 gallons per minute for about 2 hours before the reservoir is emptied. I try to conserve water and have never pumped the well dry yet but I worry.
Hot air is the poorest conductor of heat,, water is nearly the best.. A boiler will save and store the heat overruns when the thermostat is satisfied, and the ductwork fan shuts off, but the coal fire is still burning strong,, it takes several minutes for the fire to die down,, and this excess heat cannot be stored in forced air furnace.. this is where the boiler is great,, it can store the heat in the water,, letting it get hotter, and then giving the heat off into the house instead of up the chimney between heat demands. Add this feature to the abilty to give virtually free DHW all winter long., and I think that a boiler is the only way to go, even with forced-hot-air ductwork for heat distribution. This type system sounds perfect actually - will have hubby ask about these systems specifically when he goes out looking for info on Saturday (I'm out of town or I'd go with him).
The above system is very common, and works very well, there are quite a few forum members with just such a system.. Hopefully they will show some photos and have a vew comments on their systems.
rberq wrote:Greg has outlined the ideal solution so I'll keep my mouth shut on that. You asked about coal storage. Yes, you should very likely be able to store a winter's worth on three pallets in your cellar. A typical pallet delivered is 2.2 tons. With a "very well insulated" 1400 sf house, I will bet 4 tons more or less will get you through the winter and provide your domestic hot water.
Just roughly, if you burn 600 gallons per year, that's 84 million BTU input (before efficiency losses). Anthracite is, what, 24 to 26 million BTU per ton? also before efficiency losses. So without figuring it right down to the pound, that cross-foots nicely with my 4 ton guestimate above.
It sounds like you have an insulated metal chimney. I have been told that some types of metal chimney are not suitable for coal due to coal's sulfur/acidity, but I don't know if that's correct or not. At any rate, if you keep your oil system for backup (which I agree is a great idea), I think you would have to power-vent the coal boiler because they could not both run legally on the same flue.