Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: keithonline On: Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:28 am

I'm new here, and read many posts. This is a great site. Very helpful. I really want to move to coal, but I (and my wife) are cautious about "over committing" to coal. We're in western CT, 3500 ft 2 story colonial with partial finished basement. Oil furnace and oil DHW. Furnace is 20 years old, oil DHW is new. I've considered putting stoker furnace in parallel, but I have only one chimney, and already put both oil burners to it. Could direct vent, but I honestly don't like the idea due to power failures. Also the extra furnace in series is going to be tight. I like the idea going to a boiler with a new air handler, and it (considering the KA-6) should handle the DHW, but in the summer, wouldn't it be less efficient than keeping the oil DHW? Is the KA-6 even insulated? I could power vent, but how much risk (beyond code) would I really take by putting 2 appliance, coal boiler and oil DHW up the same chimney?

Also, we travel often, and I'm sure I'll need oil back up. If I get that option, I’m sure we'll use it more than I would like. I've only seen one post with an estimate about efficiency of the KA-6 on oil. Does anyone have any actual experience with these units running on oil? Would there be another better boiler design than the KA6 for using oil, (Harmon, EFM, perhaps)?

Finally, going from furnace to boiler is going to be expensive. ~$5k for boiler, ~$2k for air handler, $?? for some help doing the duct work. Maybe I should just "half commit" and get a Koker or Alaska 140, put it in series, and jam all 3 appliances and ducting + a power vent in there? This keeps my oil furnace which I assume should be more efficient (on oil), but seems ugly. I like the opinions I see posted here, they seem very sound and reasonable, and any assistance with my situation is appreciated.
keithonline
 

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: billw On: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:18 am

I have an oil boiler that is 15 years old. I'm keeping it and running my EFM coal boiler in series with the oil unit. The oil unit will be back-up only. I'm giving up more space in my garage/shop than I care to but it's worth it. Having everything installed gets expensive so I'm doing all of the work myself. I decided to put up a second chimney instead of a power vent for the same reason you cited. A cinder block and teracotta flued chimney is for life and it always works. Putting one together isn't rocket science, just a lot of hard work. I'm one of many that has more ambition than dollars so it was an easy choice for me to do it myself.

I spent a long time weighing all of my options and decided to keep my old oil unit and run the coal unit in series. I already owned the oil equipment so why replace it? If the coal unit goes out the oil unit will kick on automatically.

One suggestion for your DHW. When you buy the coal unit consider putting a DHW coil in it. Feed the output of the coil to your water heater. In the winter you'll be putting hot water into your oil water heater so it shouldn't run much. When the coal unit is out the oil water heater will heat your water. You'll save money on oil for hot water all winter.

Good luck with your project.
billw
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM 520
Stove/Furnace Model: GOODBYE OIL COMPANY

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:56 pm

I question the $2K estimate for an air handler and added help with the ductwork... you can buy water/air heat exchangers all day long for less that $1,000... do a search on ebay for wood boiler or outdoor wood boiler exchanger... there are several suppliers that keep all sizes in stock... you need to size the exchanger to your ductwork's dimensions...

Yes the cost to install and purchase all the parts and pieces is high,, but they pay for themselves in only a few years at the current oil and propane prices..it certainly has been worth it for me,, and for everyone on this forum...

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

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:21 pm

A hot water coil rated at 122,100 BTUH is listed priced at $349.89 at my HVAC wholesalers. Called a heat pump helper, frequently installed with a domestic hot water heater as a boiler. Of course a coal boiler is much better. :-) How may would you like?
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: eskimo On: Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:10 pm

type in hot water heatexchanger on ebay. 18"/18", coil 139k btu, 3 pass, 1" in 1" out. $169 delivered.

this is the home page for this coil, there are many differt sizes and sellers on ebay.

eskimo
Last edited by Richard S. on Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead link>
eskimo
 
Stove/Furnace Make: looking

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: TimV On: Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:14 pm

I think I would maybe see the PowerVent as the least $$$$ option.
Besides why worry about power outages with a power vent? If power goes out circulator wont work so no heat anyway and if power is out have boiler rigged to close off draft air like my wood/coal furnace does when power goes down.
Many will tell you its ok to put multiple units in a flue but its dangerous and asking for trouble. Why not switch stove pipes from oil to coal as you wont run both at same time anyway.
I added a all fuel insulated chimney and am happy with it and it was less than a $1000 for a 28 foot one (self installed)
I would keep the oil as a backup because who thought 8 years ago we would burn anything but oil.....maybe the change in the White house will bring oil down ...but I doubt it.
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: TimV On: Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:20 pm

I did it again. I assumed you already had a oil boiler. $2000.00 seems expensive for a heat exchanger....For that money you could install a lot of hotwater baseboard and I have seen PEX used indoors for it . Dont know if its code but he says it works great.
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: Should I commit to a boiler or keep the oil furnace back-up?

PostBy: 218Bee On: Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:47 am

Could you power vent the oil units and use your chimney for the coal stove? The oil burner would only kick in the power vent as needed while the coal stove needs draft 24/7.
Less noise and electric.
218Bee
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Visit Lehigh Anthracite