Best of Both Worlds?

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.
Former WoodHog
New Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed. Oct. 09, 2013 8:15 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Koker Lite
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Vermont Castings Vigilant- Wood
Location: Harford County, MD

Post Mon. Oct. 21, 2013 9:47 pm

OK folks, here’s my situation. I’ve been doing supplemental wood heat for about 30 years. I work with a rabid coal burner, a great guy, who’s clearly in stage 4 of ‘Stoker Madness’ ;)  He introduced me to the forum and I’ve been soaking it up for a few months now. It’s a great place, thank you all for your participation. :D

It may be that I want something I can’t have: The best of both worlds. The ability to gather around the hearth on a frigid January eve, reading the forum, savoring the radiant heat from the woodstove and enjoying an amber, while having the furnace carry the bulk of the load from 10p until 6p the next evening, with attention to its needs, of course.

I plan to install a wood/coal furnace in the basement, (Yukon Big Jack and Harman SF-1500 are my 2 front runners)tied to our existing duct work but do not want it to be too warm in the house, as we would prefer to have a small wood fire in the Vigilant many evenings.
At the risk of being laughed outta here, I should say I honestly enjoy all that gathering firewood entails and am blessed to have access to a fair amount of it, as I’ve gained the reputation of being the guy to call when your locust tree falls in your field.

That being said, at 59, it may only be a few years before I, too, succumb to Stoker Madness!
If one of my primary concerns is my ability to be able to regulate (read ‘not overheat’) our 2500 sq ft fairly well insulated, 26 year old home, please give me some input.
With a little practice I’m hoping to be able to control the delivery of heat primarily between the hours mentioned. Currently, there are 2 existing thermo-controlled dampers in the supply ducts, one for the main living area, and the other for the in-law apt where my daughter and son-in-law reside.
Generally, is this obtainable? Any opinions and input very welcome!
Thanks again ! :)


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blrman07
Member
Posts: 2379
Joined: Mon. Sep. 27, 2010 3:39 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.
Location: Girardville Pa.

Post Mon. Oct. 21, 2013 10:20 pm

I am not sure exactly why you would want to do this but coal stoves have the ability to be dialed back to an idle setting which you can't with a wood stove. I have heated with both and I love the ability to dial back my coal stove to idle. You can have the best of both worlds but I'm not sure why you would want to split your time. My suggestion is if you like the wood gathering continue, sell the wood, and buy coal.

Rev. Larry
Rev. Larry
Ashland Pa.

1 John 1:9... If we sin and we confess that sin He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Former WoodHog
New Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed. Oct. 09, 2013 8:15 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Koker Lite
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Vermont Castings Vigilant- Wood
Location: Harford County, MD

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 5:48 am

Thank you and I understand your response. Not trying to be contrary here...

I know on a coal forum this seems crazy, but I am clearly not ready / willing to give this up and forego the hearth…just yet.

As an old dog, I consider cutting, hauling, handling, splitting, stacking and handling to be beneficial. Time? Yep. Hours? Yep. Expense? Yep.

Also, outdoors breathing real air, a good physical workout, opportunities to meet people, extend relationships, share the take and barter.

I know a furnace is more bang for my buck, and understand that over time the transition will be made to more coal than wood, more central than supplemental heat.

Thanks for helping me think this through a little more; I’ll post a follow-up in the weeks ahead..

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Dennis
Member
Posts: 1066
Joined: Sun. Oct. 30, 2011 5:44 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size
Location: Pottstown,Pa

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 7:15 am

I believe I know what you want?? Yes stoker stoves can idle back to almost no heat,At age 59(don't take this the wrong way),but your 1 slip/fall away from a injury that will take a long recovery at your age(still young thou).Seriously look into a stroker furnace hooked into your existing sysem,and use the upstairs fireplace for a small wood fire in the evenings(i do like and miss the smell of a wood fire).The stoker will have enough output to heat the house in zero degree temps and have no problem idling back for a wood fire.Keep cutting and splitting and sell the excess off to buy your coal with and you can still have the"best of both worlds". Welcome to the forum and keep asking away.I wish I found this forum before spending time and money only to be replacing my new hand feed boiler with a stoker boiler some day soon,do it once and be done.

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titleist1
Member
Posts: 4404
Joined: Wed. Nov. 14, 2007 4:06 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite
Location: Cecil County, MD

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 7:26 am

Welcome to the forum!! I too am a stage 4 coal-a-holic. I actually enjoy the coal-on-oscopy each spring and fall getting my system ready!

There is no problem getting that exercise gathering wood while you still want to. Like Dennis said, I'd recommend the stoker furnace in the basement. It will be thermostat controlled so when you are enjoying the woodstove upstairs it will only be idling along putting out minimal heat and when the woodstove isn't burning it will fire up when the t-stat calls for it.

You can make the gradual switch to coal as the years go by and the allure of wood gathering drops! I think you are in stage 1!! :D
I drive a VW TDI, heat my home & workshop with two coal stokers and have two vintage JD diesel tractors....
The EPA just loves me!!

Rigar
Member
Posts: 857
Joined: Tue. Dec. 04, 2012 6:30 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker A 150
Coal Size/Type: anthracite rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: A 150 warm air furnace
Location: central new york (syracuse area)

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 7:32 am

woodhog-welcome to the forum
...Dennis took the words right outta my mouth! :lol:

...Get a coal stoker furnace for the basement (whole house)
..and enjoy the wood upstairs.
I have a stoker furnace...and when at 'idle' wont heat the fan limit switch enough to blow heat thru the house.....essentially on pilot mode.
..get a programmable t-stat and ur good to go.
If you already have the proper ductwork....You should eliminate that furnace altogether (Imo)
...and consider a coal FURNACE-...not a stove
....'Rigar

coalnewbie
Member
Posts: 6201
Joined: Sat. May. 24, 2008 4:26 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22
Location: Chester, NY

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:19 am

I think you are in stage 1!! :D
Hmmm, the concept of coal addiction stages, now that's interesting. I am pretty sure I am in stage 5, let me put it this way, there is no stage 6.
Posted by an unreasonable adult.

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blrman07
Member
Posts: 2379
Joined: Mon. Sep. 27, 2010 3:39 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.
Location: Girardville Pa.

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:48 am

Stage 5 and there is no stage 6? Well that means that I am Definitely in stage 5.

I just finished the piping for converting my little coal fired water heater to heating the whole house. I piped the outlet from the water heater to a T. The inlet for the water heater comes from the lower right corner of the hot water boiler. The right side of the T goes to the boiler and the left side goes to a plate type heat exchange. The heat exchanger heats all our domestic hot water and holds it around 160F. The boiler is holding at around 140F.

I haven't fired a drop of oil since we moved in August of last year except to test the boiler and make sure it worked. It worked so I shut it off and pulled the fuse.

It will be interesting to see how much coal I burn with this new arrangement vrs the Leisure Line Econo1 that is sitting in the dining room.
Rev. Larry
Ashland Pa.

1 John 1:9... If we sin and we confess that sin He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


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coalkirk
Member
Posts: 4679
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 Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 9:23 am

Woodhog, welcome to the dark side. I heated with wood for 20+ years. Coal for the last 10 with a stoker boiler. I'm also in Harford County MD. If you'd like to see a stoker boiler in action I'd gladly show it to you. I would recommend you not only get a stoker but get a boiler instead of a furnace. Why? Better control of the house temperature, bonus of heating your domestic hot water and greater efficiency. Boilers store heat in the water. To heat your home you would need a water to air heat exchanger in your duct work.
heat exchanger.jpg
like this.

I understand the part about liking to be out in the fresh air and getting the exercise. Personally for me 20 years of cutting, splitting, stacking and moving of wood has been quite enough. My back is still screwed up from it. I still burn wood fires in my firepalce and outdoor firepit. Standing there in the fresh air with a cold beer works for me. ;)
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.
Site Moderator
Posts: 11349
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 Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 10:45 am

Wood is at a big disadvantage for central heat compared to coal. Woodstove or fireplace upstairs to burn a few sticks, stoker furnace or boiler in the basement to shoulder the big load.

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

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:00 pm

stoker all the way!!!

Former WoodHog
New Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed. Oct. 09, 2013 8:15 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Koker Lite
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Vermont Castings Vigilant- Wood
Location: Harford County, MD

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 9:03 pm

Great feedback, all, thanks for bearing with my 'idiot-syncracies :!:
Dennis, none of us like to consider it but you're right regarding the potential for injury...I would like to stay whole for a few more years...the repeating theme here seems to be _stoker_, obviously, for the control I'm looking for. ...Only confirms what my work mate with Stage 4 Stoker Madness has been saying all along!

Coalkirk, the boiler concept is a little radical for me, but I already pm'd in response to your invite. You're just over the 'holler from Dirt City!( Harford County inside joke, sorry...)

Rob, I realize there is no argument re: coal's BTU supremacy, it's clearly a matter of changing the way I think...but I'm getting there... and yes,'Rigar, I'm talking furnace, not stove.

What started this transition was a failed AC unit the last hot day back in August. HVAC guy said it was best to replace and started talking about the 'benefits' of bundling a new furnace with it. I came to my sense after a couple days and let him know my 26 year old oil fired unit was fine as a backup, in that it has been lightly used and even moreso in the years ahead...
So, here I am, looking at options and grateful for the feedback and shared experience.
I'm headed over to the 'What brand of stoker stove is best' Thread for awhile, please excuse me...

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coalkirk
Member
Posts: 4679
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 Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 9:37 pm

I know the idea of a coal boiler may seem radical but it's not. I'm going to ask you to trust me on this. Don't make a deicsion on this until you've really considered it. The control and comfort level is much better not to mention the efficiency and the bonus of domestic hot water. As I said, glad to give you the tour. I did not get a PM though. By the way, I'm in Forest Hill just south of Jarrettettsville off of Rt 165.
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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dcrane
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Posts: 3115
Joined: Sun. Apr. 22, 2012 9:28 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404
Location: Duxbury, MA./Hanson MA./Brockton, MA

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 9:50 pm

Welcome to the forum... You are defiantly one of those who has not actually started burning coal yet and that's OK... you plan to and amidst all your planning you keep thinking in your head things like (back ups, enjoying wood fire and also burn coal, I want a new boiler and it would be great if it could burn coal too...so I can just try it out when im feeling ambitious)... let me tell you this my friend, what WILL happen AFTER you start burning coal (be it in a coal stove instead of a wood stove OR be it in a coal boiler instead of an oil boiler) is that you will SEE THE LIGHT and come to realize the silliness of your former thoughts :lol:

You will see that coal wins in every category (especially if your near PA!)... heck.... it wins here in MA for me at $350-$400 per ton! in PA its a downright sin to use anything else.

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michaelanthony
Member
Posts: 3987
Joined: Sat. Nov. 22, 2008 10:42 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant 2310, gold marc box stove, vogelzang pot belly coat rack
Baseburners & Antiques: Home Sparkle 12
Coal Size/Type: Coal Contractor's stove, a little Kimmels 'nut
Other Heating: Very cold FHA oil furnace
Location: millinocket,me.
Contact:

Post Wed. Oct. 23, 2013 8:34 am

dcrane wrote:Welcome to the forum... You are defiantly one of those who has not actually started burning coal yet and that's OK... you plan to and amidst all your planning you keep thinking in your head things like (back ups, enjoying wood fire and also burn coal, I want a new boiler and it would be great if it could burn coal too...so I can just try it out when im feeling ambitious)... let me tell you this my friend, what WILL happen AFTER you start burning coal (be it in a coal stove instead of a wood stove OR be it in a coal boiler instead of an oil boiler) is that you will SEE THE LIGHT and come to realize the silliness of your former thoughts :lol:

You will see that coal wins in every category (especially if your near PA!)... heck.... it wins here in MA for me at $350-$400 per ton! in PA its a downright sin to use anything else.
Oh Former Wood Hog, I too saw the light and it gets brighter as the days get cooler. Remember back in the day when you went out with a chick but you were really crazy about her best friend but she had a boyfriend ( football quarterback ), well lets not get buyers remorse and think you should have or could have. I have too hand feeders and I know now that in the next couple yrs. I will have a coal boiler and possibly a dual fuel, coal/oil and I even have the unit in mind. The wl 110!
never yell through a screen...you'll strain your voice.


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