Need Heating Help - Dust, Cost

A Coal stoker furnace or stove controls most operations including automatically feeding the coal. They are quite similar to any conventional oil and gas units and easily operated for extended periods of time. They commonly use rice coal but may use larger sizes like buckwheat. They can be used as primary heat, supplementary heat or have a dual set up with your existing oil/gas furnace.
maxpower_454
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Posts: 39
Joined: Mon. Oct. 31, 2011 11:01 am

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 9:05 am

Hey guys,

I’m new to this forum but grew up with coal and am still in NEPA so I’m not really that new to coal. I have a loaded question about my heating situation and would really appreciate some input.
I have a 1200sqft ranch with a full but unfinished basement and a 1200sq ft detached garage that is about 70 ft from the house. The house has oil heat hot water baseboard heat with an electric hot water heater and also a propane fireplace. The house has an aux chimney setup in the basement for a warm morning coal stove that was used by the previous owner. I just poured the garage floor and installed the tubing and insulation for radiant heat in the floor.
I hate paying for oil heat and want to put a stoker stove in the basement and then just use an electric boiler to heat the garage but the wife thinks there will be too much dust with the coal stove and is really against it. I think I made some headway with her but not much. My question is, what heating option should I go for?

1- My original plan of getting a coal stove in the basement and convince the wife it won’t be that bad and hope I can keep the dust to a tolerable level
PROS – I can get a stoker stove cheap & we’d have heat in our basement
CONS – If the wife can’t take the dust my coal dreams go up in smoke (pun intended)

2- Get a coal boiler and put it in the garage and heat the garage and house with it through buried supply and return lines
PROS – No dust in house and cheap heat for house and garage
CONS – Expensive boiler

3- Forget it all and just get a heat pump setup for the house and electric boiler for the garage
PROS – relatively cheap heat AND central AC for house
CONS – Heat pumps are expensive

I’d appreciate some input from some guys with experience with these types of heating systems. I’m really torn on this and every time my oil burner kicks on it aggravates me.


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coalkirk
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Posts: 4682
Joined: Wed. May. 17, 2006 8:12 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: anthracite/rice coal
Location: Forest Hill MD

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 9:18 am

We've got a winner!

2- Get a coal boiler and put it in the garage and heat the garage and house with it through buried supply and return lines
PROS – No dust in house and cheap heat for house and garage
CONS – Expensive boiler


There are lots of used but very good used coal boilers around. While the initial outlay is more than a coal stove, it will quickly pay for itself and your wife will think you are a genius. As I watched the oil man yesterday deliever to two of my nieghbors, I had a smug look an my face as he bypassed my driveway. I don't even have a vent pipe on my oil boiler. Haven't burned a single drop of oil this fall and will not all winter. It's simple math. A tank of oil for $1.100.00 or 5 tons of coal for $850.00. And the oil tank will need filling more than once. Three times in my case.
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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Rob R.
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Posts: 11368
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 10:47 am

maxpower_454 wrote:2- Get a coal boiler and put it in the garage and heat the garage and house with it through buried supply and return lines
PROS – No dust in house and cheap heat for house and garage
CONS – Expensive boiler
That is the way to go, especially since you live in NEPA and can get anthracite cheaper than those of us hundreds of miles away. My cost for anthracite has been around $275 per ton for the last two years, and I recovered the cost of an EFM 520 and all installation materials in 1.5 winters.

Unless you get dirt cheap electric, I think you would be horrified at the cost of heating your house and garage with it.

katman
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Posts: 94
Joined: Fri. Dec. 07, 2007 2:18 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Other Heating: Harman PB 105 Pellet Boiler
Location: Davidsonville, md.

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 11:15 am

There is no doubt in my mind about the right solution: put the coal boiler in the garage, run a good insulated line to the house and get good, inexpensive heat. As I read your post it made me think about my decision process: I have an oil boiler/hot water baseboards and heat pumps for the house, a pole barn/garage about 90 feet away. I got a rebuilt EFM to install in the barn. Now (Rob still doesn't believe I did this) I ended up putting a Harman pellet boiler in the barn instead of the EFM, but that was only because I live near Annapolis MD, I sold my truck, and pellets are easier to get in my area than coal. Also, the wife wouldn't load coal when I was on travel. I ran 1 1/4 inch thermopex line to the house. Still have a beautiful, unused EFM sitting next to the pellet boiler. This is the first full season heating with the pellet boiler. So far, it is working great, heating the house easily and the wife (she has a home office when she isn't on travel) keeps the place at 70/72. If I find the pellet boiler doesn't do the job economically when it is really cold down here the EFM will be connected. If it works, I'll sell the EFM.

My question to you is: have you (and more importantly the wife) ever lived with a heat pump in NEPA? I have two of the newer SEER 18 at a place we own down in Ocean City MD and they work pretty well. But we get a lot of sun there and it doesn't get too cold. At my place in Annapolis I have two SEER 14 heat pumps. They are okay as long as the outside temp is 45 or above. Below 45, not so good, even when operating in electric aux heat mode.

So, since you just poured the floor and have the pipes in for radiant, and you have baseboards, get the coal boiler. It will give you great heat and you live right where coal is readily available at a good price.

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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 12:44 pm

maxpower_454 wrote:
2- Get a coal boiler and put it in the garage and heat the garage and house with it through buried supply and return lines
PROS – No dust in house and cheap heat for house and garage
CONS – Expensive boiler
The other con is a lot of heat loss especially if it's 70 feet away and insulated pex is not cheap. Because of the distance if it were me I'd probably would not have used radiant heat for that building if I wanted to use coal. I probably would have just went with a small stoker.

As far as the dust in the house it can be controlled, ideally the boiler and the coal in a separate room. Make sure you seal it up good. LL makes a small boiler, don't quote me here but I think it's $4K. My Brother has one and is very happy with it. Buy two of them. :)

http://leisurelinestoves.com/Boiler_and_Furnace_P ... ducts.html
I’m really torn on this and every time my oil burner kicks on it aggravates me.
<insert oil boiler noise and the visual image of a gas pump display>
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

waldo lemieux
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Posts: 2261
Joined: Sun. Sep. 30, 2012 8:20 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20
Location: Ithaca,NY

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 2:53 pm

hello,

I just finished installing a refurb efm520 (4k) in my garage w/ pex to house. For the pex I used 1" and insulated it w/ two layers of neoprene pipe insulation on each line and backfilled the trench w/ #2 washed stone not dirt or sand. The stone has a lot of air pockets that surround the insul, where dirt or sand will hold water and more readily leach heat from your system. Way lower cost than insulated pex.

The way these things work there is no reason to use anything else. IMHO There is plenty of experiance with these boilers either in your area or especially on this site to help. Go for it! Support american jobs and @[email protected]$% the arabs.

Best, Waldo
When faced with a seemingly impossible task, my grandfather always said "can't never can, untill try comes along"

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Wiz
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Posts: 926
Joined: Sun. Nov. 27, 2011 8:45 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker Ka 6
Coal Size/Type: Casey Junk Coal :(
Location: Tannersville Pa

Post Thu. Nov. 29, 2012 6:20 pm

2- Get a coal boiler and put it in the garage and heat the garage and house with it through buried supply and return lines
PROS – No dust in house and cheap heat for house and garage
CONS – Expensive boiler
I've recently done this... Pros- happy wife.. No mess in house, nice warm garage and heat for 1/4 of the cost then oil.Don't have to worry about not waking up from carbon monoxide issue. Cons--- short term out of the pocket cost.

Need to remember if installing in garage you'll need to think about chimney also. Central boiler under ground pex cost me $14 a foot, very happy with it. About foot is exposed before going into the garage and recent snow didn't melt off of it. :D

You'll be able to save by buying a used stoker boiler. I saved $$$ by buying directly from Keystoker. reason that no dealers are near me.:dancing:
Randy
If you have time to make a post looking for free advice, then show some appreciation and say thank you.

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331camaro
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Posts: 204
Joined: Thu. Jun. 28, 2012 5:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker k6
Coal Size/Type: rice
Location: springville, ny

Post Fri. Nov. 30, 2012 5:48 am

i just did exactly what your are thinking about doing. its awesome! your going to love the radiant floor. don't scrimp on your carrier pipe between buildings you will need the thermo pex this is not the place to try and save a few bucks. there are cheaper ways of doing it but im not sold on it. as wiz said, many used boilers in great condition on the classifieds, a savings there could help you purchase your insulated pipe. only real con I can see from doing mine is that the hook up got alot more expensive than I first thought. radaint controlls can be pricey depending on what you do, but for me, the nice warm shop, all the coal storage out there its deff worth it, and I wouldnt have done it any other way. my wife complained as I was doing the install saying that I was spending too much money, now she brags to everyone about our boiler, radiant floor etc. and I keep the house about 8 degrees warmer than yrs past. there are alot of great guys on this site that can help you get the answers on whatever you choose to do. good luck!!


katman
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Posts: 94
Joined: Fri. Dec. 07, 2007 2:18 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Other Heating: Harman PB 105 Pellet Boiler
Location: Davidsonville, md.

Post Fri. Nov. 30, 2012 8:34 am

I don't want to steal this thread but Waldo, how long of a run of pipe do you have and have you had an opportunity to assess the performance of your method? I'm very pleased so far with the performance of my 90 plus feet run of thermopex, but at $18/ft for the 1 1/4 inch it wasn't cheap. It was competitive with foam in ditch and other "inside pipe" approaches I looked at. What do you figure your per foot cost was?

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Yanche
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Posts: 3032
Joined: Fri. Dec. 23, 2005 12:45 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Location: Sykesville, Maryland

Post Fri. Nov. 30, 2012 12:23 pm

The hands down winner of your proposed options is the coal boiler in the garage, heating both the house and garage floor. Don't be concerned with the long run to the house. Properly designed and insulated the heat loss will be negligible. I'd recommend a underground chase in which you place your hydronic piping and other conduits, i.e. electric, phone, etc. The chase can be large diameter plastic pipe, either schedule 40, like pipe used for water well casings or the thinner wall used for sewer drains. Size your pipe based on hydronic flow and heat transfer requirements. Don't base your selection base on what's easy to buy, i.e. insulated PEX. Use standard copper or steel threaded pipe. Insulate the pipe with closed cell insulation commonly used in the HVAC industry. All items will be available locally, at heating or A/C supply houses. They are standard products used every day by professional mechanical contractors, just do your design homework and shop around for a good price.

I've got my boiler in my garage/shop and couldn't be happier. Same for the wife. The installation long ago paid for itself both in dollar savings and comfort. If your wife isn't convinced, have her telephone my wife. She had some skepticism at first too.
Yanche
Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Stoker Boiler burning Anthracite Pea Coal

oilman
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Posts: 214
Joined: Sat. Feb. 04, 2006 6:19 pm
Location: Central New York

Post Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 12:11 am

Good points here but there is really no reason to have all sorts of dust flying if you have the stove. Just saying.
You could get oiled coal or simply spray down your coal hod with a water bottle before filling the hopper.
It might be a good entry point and you could go with a boiler later.
Oil & Coal Burner Service Specialist

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Freddy
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Posts: 6606
Joined: Fri. Apr. 11, 2008 2:54 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined
Location: Orrington, Maine

Post Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 6:04 am

I came close to putting the boiler in the house, but instead I put an addition on my garage & put the coal boiler out there. It was extra work & extra money, but In my opinion, money well spent. I built home made insulated PEX pipe to go underground. It was a pain in the butt, but it saved a bunch of money & has worked very well. I'm sure if you search around on here you'll find some history of it.
Orrington, Maine
Fred

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

maxpower_454
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Posts: 39
Joined: Mon. Oct. 31, 2011 11:01 am

Post Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 10:31 am

Thanks for all the help so far guys! I only really started browsing this forum recently and it's awesome. Anyway, I kind of planned on doing what oilman mentioned - use the stoker stove in the house for this winter and use the savings to work on installing a unit in the garage feeding the house in the future. I almost ran out and bought a Harman today but I realized I have another problem. I forgot to mention it in the first post is that my wife has a pet bird and since I'm a beginner at this, I really don't want to screw up and kill the little guy. She'd go ballistic and I would feel terrible.

I know the chances are slim but does anyone else have a pet bird and have a coal stove/furnace in the house? What exactly has to go wrong for CO to come into the house? I think unfortunately I have to support the arabs and PPL a little longer so I can learn and research which type of coal heating is best for me. I don't want to make a huge mistake.

Pacowy
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Posts: 2753
Joined: Tue. Sep. 04, 2007 10:14 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite
Location: Dalton, MA

Post Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 11:38 am

I'm going to vote for "none of the above". If you have unfinished space in the basement and a reasonable ability to get to it from outside, my vote is to put the boiler in the basement. Especially with the jacket off, you can change the whole feel of the house by gradually heating it from below. At the same time, you can protect your fuel supply against freezing by keeping it a basement bin, and you don't have to trudge out to the garage at 3 am if you happen to blow a shear pin. And with minimal attention and effort you should not have any problems with coal dust or ash.

We have a bird, a cockatiel, and burn truckload quantities of coal each year. The bird likes the extra warmth we put in our living space and has never uttered a single peep about dust. Without coal, we might have to trade her for a penguin. :shock:

Seriously, even though my SO didn't like the oil bills, she was pretty skeptical about coal before we started. That ended about halfway into our first day on coal heat. Since then she has volunteered to tend stoker stoves, and for a year served as Chief Wheelbarrow Operator to supply coal to our current boiler. She's very much a pacifist, but I would not want to be the person who proposes to her that our coal boiler be moved to an outbuilding.

Mike

maxpower_454
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Posts: 39
Joined: Mon. Oct. 31, 2011 11:01 am

Post Sat. Dec. 01, 2012 5:03 pm

Mike, do you use a power vent on your stoker stove? I have a separate chimney on my house for the coal stove but I'm thinking about running a power vent also just for added safety. Is this ok to do? Will the stoker just regulate the draft regardless of whether there is a power vent or not? I'm looking at a Harman Magnum right now.


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