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Pellet Stoves
01-08-2014, 09:03 PM
Post: #1
Pellet Stoves
I have been seriously thinking about putting a pellet stove in the cellar thinking that if I kept the basement warm, the upstairs floors would be warm. The back part of my old house is chilly and that would remedy that. I was also looking at battery backup for the stove. Anyone have something like this?

Battery backup
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01-09-2014, 05:50 AM
Post: #2
RE: Pellet Stoves
Look into coal, more btu. We are switching to coal next year(wanted this year but something else came up). Similar to pellets, store coal outside no need to cover, thermostat controlled. They can be direct vented no chimney needed on some models.
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01-09-2014, 08:19 AM (This post was last modified: 01-09-2014 08:28 AM by Ugene.)
Post: #3
RE: Pellet Stoves
Coal is great, but ther are a few drawbacks.
One is that it is not easily ignited.
There is a new stoker stove on the market this year that ignites itself, but I would wait a while for them to get the bugs out.
Another is that every ton of coal you burn produces 400# of ash.
It's great material for icey driveways though!
Coal is very much dependant of diesel prices due to the mines being 650 miles away.
On the plus side, coal from the Blashak mines in Mahanoy City, Pa runs about 15K BTU per LB compared to the average for pellets at 8K/lb.
Coal can be stored wet outdoors with little effect.
Anthracite coal is being delivered in bulk up our way. The company doing it was looking to establish a place in the Bangor area, but I'm not sure if that has happened.

I've been using pellets now for 8 years in four stoves.
My split level ranch home is heated with two Harman PC45 "corn" stoves, one downstairs in my wifes workshop, and another in a small insulated porch with the stove positioned to blow thru the door to the rest of the house.
I bought these stoves seven years ago with the idea of burning small grains from my small farming operation. The first couple of years, commodity prices were so low that I figure I spent about $200 for the entire winter using barley and winter rye.
Then along came the ethanol binge, driving up not only corn, but other grains as well, making pellets @ $250/ton the least expensive fuel.
Since that time with all the pellet mills coming online, I usually pay around $200/ton for pellets.
This year with the colder temps, I am looking at six ton for the house total.
Last year it was five.
These stoves are completely automatic, except for the ash bucket that must be dumped about once a month.
They have their own thermostat system that controls the fire so well that, as the desired temp is approached, the stove slows feed and air down to keep the fire going and not overheat the house.
If the temp overshoots the mark, the fire goes out completely and when heat is called for, it reignites.
You can use a setback thermostat with these stoves for control as good as oil heat.
In our situation, I use a small inexpensive 24 hour timer with a nitelight plugged into it with the temperature probe from the stove laying up against the bulb.
When the light comes on, the stove goes off.
In my case, the timer is set to come on at 9PM. shutting the stove off. At 3AM, the light goes off, running the stove until 8AM when nobody is upstairs, when, again, the light comes on until 4PM, making it toasty when we get back from work.
The stove down stairs is started in the morning to keep the wife warm and shut off about three PM unless it is sub zero outside, in which case I turn it down and let it idle overnight.
Harman stoves are pricey.
These stoves are in the $3K range now.
Harman also makes auto-stoker and hand fed coal stoves, and wood stoves as well.

Is it considered a conspiracy if they really are after you?Huh
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01-09-2014, 10:17 AM
Post: #4
RE: Pellet Stoves
We have a multi-fuel stove, a Country Flame Harvester. I do not recommend buying this stove. It may burn just about any fuel but it burns none of them well. Parts are hard to find and are often available from only one source, which means you're going to pay dearly for it. Find a better stove. I hate this one and have debated buying something different and selling it.

My brother and many friends have pellet stoves and there are some sweet ones out now. A friend just bought a Quarda-Fire stove with remote wireless thermostat, autostart/stop, and other nice functions. My coworker bought a Harman pellet stove and loves its new features.

The difference with a pellet only stove is you won't have to clean it as often, some requiring cleaning only once every two or three weeks, while the longest we have ever gone is 6 days and that was because we use a mixture of 75% pellets to 25% corn, so it burns hotter.

Pellet stoves in general are efficient, we heat our 3,500 sq ft house all winter on 4-5 tons, which is less than half of what it costs to to heat my insulated and updated 1,700 sq ft farmhouse with oil fired hot air. I highly recommend one to anyone looking to save money on heating. The choices of pellets have come a long way and can be had cheaply now. We used to have a wood fired hot air furnace but removed it years ago since it was a pain to operate, dirty, and took a lot of time and space to prepare the wood.

If/when you get a pellet stove, do your research beforehand and buy a good one, it will pay for itself.
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01-09-2014, 10:37 AM
Post: #5
RE: Pellet Stoves
We have an oil fired boiler and in-floor radiant heat in our ranch house. It works well but is not that cheap to run, over the long haul. We have an Ashley wood stove in the cellar and run that all winter, and keep the furnace shut off other that a few hours in the evening, for the hot water for showers etc.

We have the ability to construct our own outdoor wood boiler, and are planning on doing so before next winter. They are very simple, and work quite well. We like them for several reasons.

1) They have the ability to heat several buildings at the same time. Many dairy guys have them, to keep the milk room warm, and other things, plus heat their houses.

2) They have the ability to burn most anything, and we have lots of fuel, sort of "multi-fuel" if you can see what I mean.

3) With a heat exchanger in our cellar, our in-floor radiant heat can operate from the wood boiler, giving us the convenience of not being married to it, if we should want to leave in the winter. Outdoor boilers have plain water in them so somembody is "married to it" for several months each year. They can be set up to easily drain all the water, in just a few minutes.

4) We have 70 acres of woods, and access to lots more if we need it, therefore we intend to burn fuel that we produce on our own land. Sort of an "independence" from the Arab oil guy.

Long term plan is we hope we can build onto the house someday so we can make the kitchen bigger and put an old black iron wood fired cook stove in it. Can't beat sitting beside one of them, drinking coffee on a cold morning. And my wife can make the best baked beans and biscuits on one that you could ever want.

WC
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01-09-2014, 02:26 PM (This post was last modified: 01-09-2014 02:33 PM by Ugene.)
Post: #6
RE: Pellet Stoves
Do some research before you design your outdoor boiler.
I've built a couple of boilers for industrial applications, one being a million BTU outfit to thaw large bundles of lumber in order to treat them with fungicide for export.
That one had a fire tube design, and the tubes were forever plugging with creasote.
If you build a firebox, don't plan on using a wet base design, which surrounds the fire with , at most, 190 degree water.
The fire, in order to burn most efficiently, must reach a temp of 2000 degrees in order to burn all the combustibles in the smoke.
Otherwise, you'll be wasting BTUs, and making a lot of pollution.
Line the firebox with some sort of refactory and direct the hot gasses produced at the initial fire to an area where you can inject some secondary air in order to finish the burning process.
From there, send it through "fire tubes" which are tubes surrounded with water, or, ideally, over water tubes which are tubes filled with water.
The later being easier to operate because the fire tubes tend to clog with creasote.
DRY WOOD is the key.
For every two percentage points of fuel moisture content, boiler effeciency decreases one percent.(or vise-versa, I don't remember).
In order for a boiler to operate at peak, a large thermal storage system is a good idea because the unit is fired hard for however long it takes to bring the temp up and then allowed to go out.
That smoke you see when a stove is idling is made up of BTUs that you will never get back.
Some boiler designs such as the GARN incorporate storage in the package, and others use something such as an insulated 1000 gal propane tank filled with water for storage.

Is it considered a conspiracy if they really are after you?Huh
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01-09-2014, 02:44 PM
Post: #7
RE: Pellet Stoves
Ugene, the input is much appreciated, my don has been using coal for a couple of years and loves it. We now have 2 wood stoves, but wood is not cheap here on the coast. One of the reasons we are looking at coal vs pellets is the btu difference. I do like the idea of being able to buy coal just about anywhere, anytime especially in the spring when my wood usually runs out.
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01-09-2014, 07:20 PM
Post: #8
RE: Pellet Stoves
(01-09-2014 10:37 AM)woodcanoe Wrote:  We have an oil fired boiler and in-floor radiant heat in our ranch house. It works well but is not that cheap to run, over the long haul. We have an Ashley wood stove in the cellar and run that all winter, and keep the furnace shut off other that a few hours in the evening, for the hot water for showers etc.

We have the ability to construct our own outdoor wood boiler, and are planning on doing so before next winter. They are very simple, and work quite well. We like them for several reasons.

1) They have the ability to heat several buildings at the same time. Many dairy guys have them, to keep the milk room warm, and other things, plus heat their houses.

2) They have the ability to burn most anything, and we have lots of fuel, sort of "multi-fuel" if you can see what I mean.

3) With a heat exchanger in our cellar, our in-floor radiant heat can operate from the wood boiler, giving us the convenience of not being married to it, if we should want to leave in the winter. Outdoor boilers have plain water in them so somembody is "married to it" for several months each year. They can be set up to easily drain all the water, in just a few minutes.

4) We have 70 acres of woods, and access to lots more if we need it, therefore we intend to burn fuel that we produce on our own land. Sort of an "independence" from the Arab oil guy.

Long term plan is we hope we can build onto the house someday so we can make the kitchen bigger and put an old black iron wood fired cook stove in it. Can't beat sitting beside one of them, drinking coffee on a cold morning. And my wife can make the best baked beans and biscuits on one that you could ever want.

WC

We moved into a newer home that my wife's parents (who died young) built.
I had a cookstove in the old house.
I really miss it.
Especially cooking on it.

Is it considered a conspiracy if they really are after you?Huh
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01-09-2014, 09:12 PM
Post: #9
RE: Pellet Stoves
Quote:We moved into a newer home that my wife's parents (who died young) built.
I had a cookstove in the old house.
I really miss it.
Especially cooking on it.

We had an "Atlantic Queen" cookstove, that my great grandmother bought new around 1910. We used to use it for heating the kitchen, and cooking. They are the greatest thing to cook a thanksgiving dinner on that there ever was.

We sold the house that that stove was in, in 2008, and had no place to store it so left it for the new owners. I have regretted it ever since.

Thanks for all the helpful info on the wood boilers. My older son works for a guy who has one, and has run his a lot. Matt goes to the Bear's Den (local Dover bar!) and gets used fryer grease. He keeps it in a 55 gal barrel on his porch. In the morning he goes out and throws in 3 or 4 qts of that grease, just to get things started, and lets her go full throttle for a while. My son says the stack looks like the space shuttle taking off. There is no creosote left in it....after that little enterprise.

We also like the fact that, around the farm, there are things that, well, just need to disappear, and they disappear real well into one of those boilers.

My son has worked on a boiler at a house in Corrina, for a couple that are friends of ours. He went down to get it running, late in the summer as there was some issue with controls on the draft. I went in the house to do some stuff while he went and checked out the boiler. He came over in a few minutes with stars in his eyes and said "you got to come look at this". It indeed was a wood boiler but was really a gassfication plant, and when set up completely, as it was designed, wood gas can be taken off of it and used to run an internal combustion engine powering a 240V generator, and power the house. The previous owners had buried an underground feed to the house that was about as big as something you would see on a transmission line. The builders were serious about making this thing run the whole house. I can't remember the name of the manufacturer but we looked them up online and they are quite a unit.

There is a guy over in charleston that runs a welding shop, and has for years. He repairs big chippers and all kinds of logging equipment. He had been designing gassification plants, and building some, in his spare time. We have talked a bit with him and this may well have some major implications for the future in Maine.

Have you encountered any of the gassification technology in your travels, if so, what do you think of it?

WC
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01-09-2014, 09:40 PM (This post was last modified: 01-09-2014 09:40 PM by Butch Moore.)
Post: #10
RE: Pellet Stoves
I remember seeing a former NASA scientist with a rig at the Blue Hill Fair that burned wood to heat a boiler, but also had some sort of turbine on it to generate electricity enough to run a house and more. This was quite a few years ago and I can't remember much more, other than if it had been a grid intertied system the power company would owe you instead of the other way around. I wish I had gotten more info on it back then...

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