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Thread: RE: Anyone have experience with wood boilers or multi-fuel boilers

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiram357
    I agree about cutting wood, there's nothing like plunging a chunk of steel into a tree repeatedly then tossing it around like a couple of fleetwood mac records/frisbees... unfortunately living in an apartment I only get that joy every so often when I go camping of visit family that cuts their own wood, and a note to others that live in apartments... landlords get really mad when you fire up a chainsaw in the building and go after the trees and shrubs by the parking lot, and remember the best defense is to act like you cant speak english.

    Maybe you could go help WhereRWe? I'm sure he would welcome the help.

  2. #12
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    South Lagrange, Maine
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    Default Outdoor Wood Boiler

    I missed this whole thread when it came out. It just showed up under new posts this morning.

    I have an outdoor wood furnace (boiler) and I think it's the best investment I've every made (except my wife, of course!!). I've had my Heatmor furnace operating for six or seven years right now (lost track of time for everything while in Iraq). I'm off to work right now but I'll repost tonight and gladly answer any questions anyone may have.

    --Mike.

  3. #13
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    Jul 2005
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    Unity, Maine
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    Whererwe and Diver . . . what is the name brand of the wood boiler that you have? Can these wood boilers be hooked up in tandem to any brand of oil boiler . . . or does it have to be a specific type? Also, where did you purchase them?
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trezurs*-R-*Fun
    Maybe you could go help WhereRWe? I'm sure he would welcome the help.
    Yup. You can use my chain saw, too. Even put a new chain on it for you.


  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterjake
    Whererwe and Diver . . . what is the name brand of the wood boiler that you have? Can these wood boilers be hooked up in tandem to any brand of oil boiler . . . or does it have to be a specific type? Also, where did you purchase them?
    My wood boiler is a "New Yorker" boiler. Small, about 4' high by 3' square, takes a stick of wood 16" long, and the door is 8" high by 11" wide, so I can get a good sized stick in (about as heavy as RULOST2? can lift, anyway). I'm not a HVAC guy, but looks to me like you can hook it up to any oil boiler - it's just the hot water line that is connected. They operate independently, but the oil will kick in when the wood fire goes out. Actually I keep the oil turned off unless we're going to be away. We go to bed early (8-ish), and the wood won't last until we get up (we don't mind a cool start) and the oil would usually have come on in the early morning if we didn't shut it off.

    We're rebuilding an old farm house (no running water or central heat when we started), so we hired a local plumber to plumb the whole house and a local HVAC guy to put in the heating system. The system really isn't complex, and you could talk to any HVAC guy about one.

    We've had the system for 14 years, and the only service was to replace a set of cast iron liners in the fire box (I did that myself), and to have the oil burner serviced every 2-3 years.

  6. #16
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    Oct 2005
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    Maine
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    Default wood boiler

    Jake mines a home made one and it sits beside my oil boiler its set up so when the water in the wood boiler gets to 140 the it circelates to the oil boiler and when that gets to 140 it will go though the house and if your not home and the fire goes out the oil boiler will kick on.one draw back is if the power goes out after ya load it it over heats and the water dumps out the saftey .

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiverDave1998
    Jake mines a home made one and it sits beside my oil boiler its set up so when the water in the wood boiler gets to 140 the it circelates to the oil boiler and when that gets to 140 it will go though the house and if your not home and the fire goes out the oil boiler will kick on.one draw back is if the power goes out after ya load it it over heats and the water dumps out the saftey .
    In most systems, when the power goes off and the circulator pumps don't work, you can open a couple of valves and the hot water will circulate by gravity. You can't control the heat in the house, but at least the safety valves in the boiler won't let off and fill your cellar with steam and hot water. (Been there, done that MANY times before the HVAC guy showed me how to open the valves...)

  8. #18
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    Default wood boiler

    ya mine has automatic vavles but i rezoned last year and i didn't and anymore auto vavles some day when i get tired of hearing the air in the pipes i will add some. or was the the ex i was hearing.

  9. #19
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    May 2005
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    South Lagrange, Maine
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    All of the following pertain to outside wood boilers and my unit (Heatmor) in particular. Other outdoor wood boilers might operate slightly differently. I don't have any experience with indoor wood boilers or combination units.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sudonim
    The only thing I've read about outside wood boilers is that, unless you have a large demand (school, business, really big house), you don't get the efficiency that you should. They are designed to run fairly long time periods (due to energy expended getting them up to temp), so if you are firing it up, house gets warm, shut it down, you might be better off with a different system.
    This can be true. The burn cycle is controlled by aquastats on the water jacket around the firebox. Mine is set for 170 (cut-in) & 190 (cut-out) and the burn time while water circulates through the baseboards is 10 minutes. I have an old farm house, approx. 2500 sq. ft., with about half of it remodeled to modern (insulation-wise) standards. With a well-insulated, smaller home that retains its indoor temperature well the outdoor furnace might cycle a few times to keep the water in the furnace itself at temp. inbetween heat cycles in the house. These cycles last less then 5 minutes though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cache'n Jacksons
    ...I have heard that they can go as long as 48 hours between refills depending on quality of wood being burned and demand for heat....

    In the spring and fall, when my home demands heat only a couple times a day, I might only load the firebox every two or three days. In the deep of the winter, when it seems like spring will never arrive, I load the furnace in the morning before I go to work and once again around supper time.

    Quote Originally Posted by brdad
    ...I think the outdoor boiler can be a great idea, but I question how long it takes to pay for itself. They don't give the units away, wood isn't cheap unless you cut it yorself, the entire system will have to be filled with apx. 50% anti-freeze (unless you use a heat exchanger so the current system is isolated from the wood system), the underground piping can get expensive when properly buried and insulated, and if you want it to work when the power goes out, you'll need to invest in a generator, or a battery/charger/inverter setup to operate the pump(s). I used the inverter setup on my father's and it works quite nicely, though.

    There are several ways to hook the system up, but circulating the wood boiler water through the oil burner allows you to utilize existing electrical controls, thermostats, and pumps....
    brdad is right. The units are not cheap and there is a wide difference in the price range. Total cost for my complete setup a number of years ago was around $6000. Sounds like a lot until you figure that I used about 1500 gals. of heating oil a winter so the payback time for me then was 3-4 years. With the price of heating oil today, that payback would be less than two years. Now, although I have about 70 acres I could cut wood from, I don't have time between work and my children's schedules so I but tree length hardwood for around $80 a cord (I use 8-10 cord a year). I save thousands of dollars a year! There is some work involved cutting the wood and stacking it. The firebox in my furnace is 3' long but I cut 32" sticks for convenience in loading. There is no splitting and the furnace will burn any kind of wood, green or dry. Obviously I burn more green wood for the same BTUs than seasoned, but I still only load the firebox twice a day. The only inconveniece is keep the snow cleared around the furnace and a path from the house to the furnace. I sited my furnace so I could plow all the way around the woodpile and the furnace. I don't like to shovel!

    As most of the posts have said, I hooked up the furnace to the oil boiler as well. I set the cut-in/cut-out for the oil boiler below the wood boiler so it won't kick in unless I let the fire go out on the wood boiler. I installed a heat exchange between the wood boiler and the baseboard system because my wood boiler is about 20' lower than the house. The Heatmor furnace is an 'open' system (not-pressurized) and the water would have run out of the baseboards otherwise. If the furnace is sited at the same level as the house or higher, that would not be necessary.

    As far as anti-freeze goes, I ran mine for five years or so without it. I added anti-freeze to the wood boiler system prior to shipping to Iraq because my family was going to heat with the oil furnace for the two winters I'd be gone. It's not a necessity though.


    If anyone wants to see pictures of the setup and is willing to explain how to add them to a post, I'll be happy to include some. I'm extremely happy with the heat and the system I have and now wouldn't have a house in Maine without it.


    P.S. If the power goes out the furnace doesn't work (as someone said) but that's true of indoor boilers as well (unless you have the fancy valve setups). I have a generator that I use with the power out...I like my conveniences, running water, hot showers, internet...

  10. #20
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    I see where you can store your extra heat in a large tank, generally the tanks are over a 1000 gallons. This does allow a buffer between cycles and when you're not firing your unit.

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