Transition from wood to coal

 
SteveT
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Post by SteveT » Thu. Mar. 28, 2024 12:42 pm

Hi y'all. New here. I have been burning wood exclusively for 20 years with a Jotul F500 (which is a great stove) to heat my 1600 sq ft home in CT, and am seriously considering transitioning to coal. I've never burnt a nugget of coal, but, for some strange reason as I push 60 years old, I like the idea of not cutting, splitting, drying and carrying wood anymore. I love the heat that wood provides, but a friend of mine just started burning coal and I like that too. Problem is, I know very little about coal and especially little about coal stoves. Another friend recommends that I get a "Chubby" for my needs, and from what I have seen on youtube and a few other places it seems to be a nice little stove and would likely do the job, but looking around on this forum there seems to be a plethora of good choices. As I've been married to wood for so long, I think a purely manual coal stove would seem like a permanent vacation so I don't really need a hopper or stoker or anything fancy like that. I've been meandering on this forum, but I'm not sure where to start. So I guess my question is, where is the best place to start to learn about coal, about stoves, etc? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


 
nut
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Post by nut » Thu. Mar. 28, 2024 4:15 pm

I'd look for a stove you don't need to get too low to tend for when you get older.

 
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warminmn
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Post by warminmn » Thu. Mar. 28, 2024 5:56 pm

I agree. One with a shaker handle that can be shook standing up or sitting in a chair.

There are hopper stoves that run on electric (stokers) and ones that dont use electric except for a blower that are just gravity feed hoppers. An example of the 2nd type is a Hitzer 30-95 if you want to look at all the pics of them online. Most of the non-stokers made in this country are good. And its not really hard to find a used one a lot cheaper than new as long as you are within a few hundred miles of NE PA.

 
waytomany?s
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Post by waytomany?s » Thu. Mar. 28, 2024 6:06 pm

Ok, first finish filling out your profile. As the welcome wagon states, nobody is going to steal ya. Second, describe home layout, current stove location and approximate current fuel usage. We'll continue from there. Welcome aboard.

 
SteveT
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Post by SteveT » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 7:53 am

Thanks guys. I did think it a bit strange (for the lack of a better word) that, for the Chubby, you have to lay on the ground twice a day to clean the grates. Although (as a sidenote) I have learned from docs and from taking care of elderly parents, that one of the best excersizes that an elderly person can do is to get on the ground and get up again several times a day. The doc says, if you don't do it you'll lose it, so there's that. Regardless, is there a good gravity feed stove that has a nice look to it like the Chubby that can be cleaned while standing or sitting? I really do like the look of that stove. Call me sentimental. Probably the only electric component that I will be considering is a blower.

I added a few things to my profile, but there didn't seem to be much to fill out for me there. I'll go back and look again though. Maybe I missed something.

My setup: I have a small cape, about 1600ish sq ft. It was built in the 1930's and was uninsulated when we bought it, but I have been insulating as I have remodeled each room. The entire house is now insulated with the exception of one 12 ft exterior wall that I keep telling my wife I will get around to. When we moved here the oil heat could not keep up, which is why we started burning wood and fell in love with it. We completely stopped using oil. The furnace has not run in nearly 20 years and is likely shot. I do not plan on replacing it. We heat water with a heat pump. The basement is unheated. My Jotul F500 is on the main floor, which is mostly open. The kitchen, dining, living room, sitting room are all open, with 3 bedrooms on one side and two bedrooms upstairs. The stove sits basically in the middle, between the kitchen and dining room. I installed the ss insulated chimney straight up above the stove through the roof. I burn dry wood and typically pretty hot so I've never had a problem with creosote. I am burning roughly 4 to 5 cord of hardwood through a typical winter. Lately winters have been relatively mild here in CT. The most I've burned is just over 6 cord during colder, longer winters. There has been a winter or two where the fire burned from October til March without going out. Last fall I broke down and installed a 36k btu mini split. I know, it's heresy, but it'll keep my wife happier in the summer and it is providing enough heat right now during mildish weather where I don't have to burn. Until the mini split, wood was our only heat. I spent many, many hours cutting trees down or buying log lengths and hauling, cutting, splitting, drying, carrying...... We have saved a ton of money and have been quite comfortable. Now I am getting lazy, like to be warm, but I am still cheap. Coal seems like a nice fit.

 
waytomany?s
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Post by waytomany?s » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 8:33 am

First thing to plan for that could be a deal breaker for some is ashes. Coal has a significant amount of ash compared to wood. Volume wise. Do you have a place to dispose of it?

 
SteveT
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Post by SteveT » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 8:36 am

Yes. I have a small farm. Ashes are not an issue. They are actually a plus for soil, compost, etc.


 
waytomany?s
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Post by waytomany?s » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 8:39 am

SteveT wrote:
Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 8:36 am
Yes. I have a small farm. Ashes are not an issue. They are actually a plus for soil, compost, etc.
There are some arguments on using the ashes in a garden, but as a soil amendment in general I agree. I would say next step is availability of coal in your area. And pricing. We have hit a point where the distance from the mines and fuel prices make coal too expensive for some.

 
SteveT
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Post by SteveT » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 8:45 am

Blaschak anthracite close by is just under $500/ton. I am guessing that will will likely need in the neighborhood of 1.5 ton. Does that sound reasonable given what I am using for wood?

 
nut
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Post by nut » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 9:21 am

I'm guessing 2 tons will do you. My only reservation is that SS chimney. Coal can rot out a SS chimney is 5 years or so.

 
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warminmn
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Post by warminmn » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 9:51 am

4-5 cords of good wood is supposed to be the same as 4 or 5 tons of coal, but I think its more like 3 or 4 tons in real world. Now you have the minisplit. It could easily end out being 2 tons as said but I'd buy 3 just in case as you mentioned needing 6 cords of wood once. it keeps anyway.

Stoves, ok this is just my opinion and opinions vary, but for a new hopper stove I'd say this is the best looking. The one in the pic is rather plain, but there are quite a few options to pimp it out. Glass top, fancy glass door, etc. Even the handfed model would work fine and looks the same. They are more expensive than other hopper stoves like Hitzer. There are less of them on the used market than Hitzers but with patience you might find one used.
https://www.keystoker.com/product/hopper/

Im unsure a Chubby would have enough BTU's without pushing it if the power went out (no minisplit then), but if you look at my avatar you can see I put my smaller Jr model on a cement pad to raise it. Lay down? I never did that. Ever. Lots of knee work though.

Other good lookers without a hopper are the Legacy (formerly Harman) line. Both the Mark Series and the TLC-2000 are nice looking and good stoves. That'll get you started searching.

 
nut
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Post by nut » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 10:22 am

While I'm thinking about it because his stove is in the living area, does the oiled coil produce less dust? I never tried it. My stove is in the basement and we still get dust upstairs.

 
waytomany?s
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Post by waytomany?s » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 10:53 am

I don't think there is any getting around dust burning any solid fuel. Minimizing it is all you can do. Any idea BTU wise what the Jotul is. The rating doesn't mean a heck of a lot but helps to compare.

 
Gian4
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Post by Gian4 » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 5:47 pm

Yes
Oiled coal makes a big difference in the dust problem. It doesn't eliminate it but does cut it by quite a bit.
Gian4

 
nut
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Post by nut » Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 5:54 pm

Gian4 wrote:
Fri. Mar. 29, 2024 5:47 pm
Yes
Oiled coal makes a big difference in the dust problem. It doesn't eliminate it but does cut it by quite a bit.
Gian4
Thanks


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