New and Confused Coal Guy Wanna Be

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.
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Brian A
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Posts: 1
Joined: Fri. Jun. 27, 2008 11:29 am
Stove/Furnace Make: Not a coal burner....yet

Post Fri. Jun. 27, 2008 8:26 pm

Hello all,

I have been reading this thread for about two months now and finally decided to become a member and buy a coal boiler. There is a lot of great information here. I am very concerned with heating my house next winter. I heat my water and house with propane. I have a propane boiler tied into some baseboard heaters. I was getting $1000.00 propane bills last winter about every five to six weeks to heat my water and my house to 60 degrees. It was miserable and I promised my wife we would not go through that again. I read a ton of threads because I did not want to ask the same question that others have asked, but I am still confused, so here is my question.

I have been looking at the Keystoker KA-6. My current propane boiler has a net output of 130,000 BTUs. The KA-6 has a net of 122,000 BTU with a Gross of 144,000 BTU. Looks like it is close enough to what I have however after measuring all my baseboard heaters and multiplying by four like a previous thread said to do, I came up with 700 square feet of load. The max for this boiler is just under this at 675 square feet. Will this be adequate? The salesman told me it is better to operate a smaller boiler at max power than a larger one that just idles all winter long. Is this true?

I am also looking at the Harman VF3000, it says it will heat 3000+ square feet yet it only puts out 95,000 BTU. According to these advertisements, it looks like the VF3000 would be big enough, but after reading the adds for a Keystoker KA-6 which looks bigger, it looks like that wont even be big enough. Do I have to go to a Keystoker KB-8 or something bigger than a Harman VF3000?

I am on a tight budget, so I don’t want to go too big, but after spending all this money, I don’t want to be stuck with something that is not up for the job either. I would like to get off of propane completely.

Thanks for everyone’s time and help. I need to make a fast decision since the wait time for both models is already out to January of 09’….and I thought I was the only one thinking about coal. :oops:


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Posts: 2606
Joined: Fri. Jan. 26, 2007 2:51 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice from Schuylkill County
Location: Parts Unknown

Post Fri. Jun. 27, 2008 11:17 pm

Based on the info you give I would say the KA-6 is a close match. For a bit more money the A-A 130 or the AHS 130 would be a choice as well as an EFM 520. If your propane boiler does not seem to be grossly oversized I think the Harman could be too small. Advertising how many square feet a boiler can heat is a little misleading because you need to know how cold it gets on average in the winter, how well insulated the house is and how tight the house is as far as air infiltration around doors and windows etc. If I were you I would get a KA-6 before the KB-8. The worst that would happen is the heat could not keep up on the coldest of days and this could be only a matter of hours in a year or not at all in a mild winter. If the house has old windows or no or poor insulation this is where you could spend a few dollars and the KA-6 would be more than up to the job.

Good luck in your pursuit.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Location: Guilford, Connecticut

Post Sat. Jun. 28, 2008 9:27 am

Brian A wrote:The salesman told me it is better to operate a smaller boiler at max power than a larger one that just idles all winter long. Is this true?

Yes, it is. Remember that a solid fuel boilers output is continuous and that gas/oil burners will fire only on demand so don't be too worried about the output ratings. My coal boiler is in the 95K range and the oil is at 138K, never had a problem keeping up and my home is warmer and more comfortable on coal as the cellar and floors are warm as toast. It is a bit of a shock in the spring after you shut down your coal appliance, you would think the cellar was a walk in freezer!

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