Switch from gas to coal help/guidance

Switch from gas to coal help/guidance

PostBy: strawman On: Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:15 pm

Looking for some guidance. I bought a older home this fall with a older gas furnace. The gas bills have averaged 420 a month and we are cold most of the time. I would like to switch to coal. Have done some research but would appreciate any suggestions that would help me make the transition from gas to coal.

Thanks
AJ
strawman
 

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:05 pm

Probably the most important thing in the long run to cut down on work is placement of the stove/furnace and coal bin. Consider the fact that you will have to get the coal to the furnace and remove the ashes. So if you're putting it in the basement preferably you'll want it to be close to the basement door.

The coal bin should be easilly acessible too as close to the furnace as possible. Also make sure whereever you put the bin that it can easily be accessed from the outside by truck. You can't for example have access where you have to go across the lawn, that may work during the summer months but if you need coal in the Spring it's not going to happen...

As far as the differences if the units there isn't much. Most can easily be adpated to the way you currently move the heat around the house whether it's hot water or air. They do make hot water boilers if that is your current setup.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: ktm rider On: Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:24 am

$420 a month ! WOW !! I would get something in there and fast. Whatever you get it will pay for itself in a hurry with a bill like that..
When your heat bill is approaching the same as your mortgage payment something has to give .... Good Luck ...
ktm rider
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup


PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:16 pm

KTM, that 's what my propane bill is for my 40x60 shop each month!! The 'money-pit' house used to be over $900 for propane, and that was with the thermostats set at 59*.

With the wood/coal boiler the house has burnt $300 since before Thanksgiving. I'm guessing about a $2500 savings at least. And the house is warm! 70* !!

This summer I'll bury another set of tubes to the shop and get rid of the shop propane bill for next winter.

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

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:29 pm

Hello Strawman, and welcome!!

Let us know a few more details about your house and we can help you a lot better:

Ranch or two-story??
Approximate sq ft.?
Basement, crawlspace or slab?
Location of current furnace.
Are there any fireplaces or extra chimney flues available?

Do you want a central heat system to tie into your current system?
Or do you want a free-standing coal stove in the family/living room??

There are lots of variables, and likes/dislikes for suplimental heating.

If your current furnace is in a basement with room next to it for a coal bin, and the coal bin area has an outside window next to a driveway, then you can install a coal firnace with a stoker, and only have to tend the furnace every couple of days. If you don't have room or access for a coal bin, then bagged coal may be the best way.

If you have a fireplace in your family room and it has free access to most of the rest of the house for easy movement of heat, then an insert in the fireplace may be the easiest way to add coal heat. Most inserts will require a few minutes each day to operate, but not a big deal at all. Plus you will have a fire to watch, and nice warm radiant heat from the stove. Look at a few instalations on the 'pictures of your stove' thread.

Let us know what your house is and your likes and wants and we'll try to help.

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

answers to questions

PostBy: strawman On: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:17 pm

LsFarm wrote:Hello Strawman, and welcome!!

Let us know a few more details about your house and we can help you a lot better:


Hi and thanks for the reply. My home has very high ceilings and large open spaces. Below our my replies to the questions,

Ranch or two-story?? Two story with full basement
Approximate sq ft.? 3,300
Basement, crawlspace or slab? Basement full
Location of current furnace. Mid basement. There is a root cellar door
Are there any fireplaces or extra chimney flues available? yes
Do you want a central heat system to tie into your current system? Would like to heat entire house.Or do you want a free-standing coal stove in the family/living room??

There are lots of variables, and likes/dislikes for suplimental heating.

If your current furnace is in a basement with room next to it for a coal bin, and the coal bin area has an outside window next to a driveway, then you can install a coal firnace with a stoker, and only have to tend the furnace every couple of days. If you don't have room or access for a coal bin, then bagged coal may be the best way.

If you have a fireplace in your family room and it has free access to most of the rest of the house for easy movement of heat, then an insert in the fireplace may be the easiest way to add coal heat. Most inserts will require a few minutes each day to operate, but not a big deal at all. Plus you will have a fire to watch, and nice warm radiant heat from the stove. Look at a few instalations on the 'pictures of your stove' thread.

Let us know what your house is and your likes and wants and we'll try to help. I also have a two story out building that I would like to heat.
Greg L [LsFarm]
.


AJ
strawman
 

PostBy: ktm rider On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 2:24 am

Strawman,
I have the same basic style house as you do. Mine is a 3,500 sq. ft. log home with 25 ft cathedrail ceilings. All that means is that it is hard to heat !! I have forced air with a water to air heat exchanger right above the air handler. ( you didn't mention if you have a forced air unit or baseboard heat or what ever) If you have forced air a coal boiler could not be easier to hook up. all you really need is a heat exchanger, ebay has them pretty cheap. and some pipe and basic valves and a expansion tank and a pump.
I personnally like the boilers better than the hot air furnace but to each his own. If you are serious about completley heating with coal I will tell you initially it is not cheap but it will pay itself back in a big hurry. ( I have $6,500 in the whole system) but at $420 that won't take long to get back. Check out this site http://www.alternateheatingsystems.com I bought one of these boilers and they are awsome units. I have only used 3 tons of coal this year to heat my whole home. I put it in my outbuilding and I heat it also with it.( 30x 40 building) I usually only have to tend the fire once a day. I bought the Multifuel boiler coal/wood/oil and not the stoker so it is a hand fired unit. By having it in my detached garage all the mess is outside , that is the way the wife likes it. and my coal bin is right beside my garage.

I also heat all my Domestic hot water with this boiler. All you need is a water to water heat exchanger and tempering valve and then just plumb it right into your existing hot water heater. if the fire ever goes out the electric hot water heater will take over.

If you have any more questions about this kind of boiler just shoot me an PM and I will try and answer your questions. I am in no way an authority on the subject though but I do know how I installed mine, trial and error of course ! :oops:
ktm rider
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: kirk On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:30 am

KTM - That is a very impressive boiler. Although I'm happy with the Harman stoker, I wish I had known about this unit while I was still shopping. I am also using a water coil in the duct work. Although I have hot water baseboard on the first level, we rarely use it. Are you running untempered water through your coil? I use a mixing valve and typically run water at about 90-100 degrees through it. I keep the air handler fan running constantly. If the weather turns really cold and windy, I adjust the mixing valve up to raise the coil water temperature to 110-120. I don't have to do that often. By running the water at 100, my duct air temperature is about 90 degrees. By constantly pushing 90 degree air out, it seems to maitain a nice balance of heat to loss. I would like to see a picture of your setup if you have one.

Kirk
kirk
 

PostBy: Richard S. On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:04 am

ktm rider wrote: I bought the Multifuel boiler coal/wood/oil and not the stoker so it is a hand fired unit.


That's something I would consider as well, from my understanding the coal/oil units are not very efficient using oil but it's a nice convenience if you want to go on vacation in the winter. Keep in mind that unless you set it up stoker with a giant hopper and a large area for the ash it's going to have to be attended to at least once every two or three days.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 10:26 am

Hello Strawman, how far away is the outbuilding you want to heat? If it is about 1-200' then you may want to consider the setup that KTM rider and I use.
You could install a boiler in either the basement of your home, or the basement of the outbuilding, and use a water-to-air heat exchanger to get heat into the ductwork in the house. And a water to water heat exchanger for the domestic hot water.

You would have to bury insulated tubing between the house and outbuilding to transfer the hot water to the other building.

The choice of which building to install the boiler in will be determined by the desire to have a coal bin next to the boiler and access to a window from outside for a coal delivery truck. And consider the ease of removing the ash from the boiler.

I have a boiler in an outbuilding that is about 125' from my house, the total tubing run is 150', I loose only 3*f in that distance. The tubing insulation system really works.

If you want the least hassle and effort, a stoker with a large ash pan will provide a setup requiring attention every few days. You will have your gas furnace for backup when you are not home for extended periods.

The reason I like a boiler over a furnace hooked into the ductwork is what happens to the heat of the coal fire when the furnace is not being asked to provide heat? [the thermostat is satisfied]. A lot of heat is wasted. Even with a damped-down fire, the heat is not getting into the heating system.

But with a boiler you can store heat fairly effectively in the water, and only if there is not any demand for heat for a long period of time will the boiler's water get hot enough to require a 'heat-dump'. Usually this is into an otherwise unheated room or space, like a garage or basement.

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

PostBy: ktm rider On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:29 pm

Kirk,
No i don't use a tempering valve for my heat exchanger in the duct work. I just run straight 150-170 deg. water to it. I personnally didn't want my air handler running constantly so I did it that way. My domestic water has a tempering valve, that way if the fire ever goes out the electric will heat the water.
I don't have any pictures right now. I'm not all that camera savvy. I will see if the wife will take a few.
ktm rider
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: strawman On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:20 pm

The outbuilding is maybe 100 feet from the main house. My current system is gas forced air. I like the idea of placing the unit in the outbuilding. There is plenty of room for the coal and the unit with easy access. I will check out the website tomorrow.
Thanks
AJ
strawman
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:47 pm

Take a look at the tubing systems on the sites below. The sites are for outside wood boilers that use burried pipe systems.

Do a google search for 'wood boiler' and 'outdoor wood boiler' also for Kitec tubing, and Pex tubing.

The CT site has the best prices I've found for water to water and water to air heat exchangers. I don't know if these can be found on ebay at better prices.

http://www.CTwoodfurnace.com

http://www.A-Hit.com

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

PostBy: strawman On: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:34 pm

[quote="ktm rider"]Strawman,
I bought one of these boilers and they are awsome units. I have only used 3 tons of coal this year to heat my whole home.
So at what 180 a ton it has cost you 540 to heat this winter so far?
strawman
 

PostBy: ktm rider On: Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:42 am

No, I'm not in the NEPA area, I live in Western Md. just a stones throw from the WV line. I don't burn anthracite, I burn Bitiminous or "Soft" coal. I get it for anywhere from $40-$65 a ton, depending on the kind I get. ( big vein, run of mine, house coal,etc.. ) so I have spent about $150 this year in coal. Anthracite coal in this area is extremely hard to find but the price seems to be comparable to the NEPA area.
That is why I bought the Multi fuel boiler and not the "Coal Gun" stoker boiler from AHS. The multi fuel is designed to burn soft coal and does a great job.
ktm rider
 
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup