Air to Air Heat Pump Vs. Coal Stoker?

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Post By: Keystone » Sat. Aug. 09, 2008 5:48 pm

I have been reading the boards for several months but haven't registered until today. I have a question about comparing an air to air heat pump to a coal stoker. I'm having trouble comparing them because my electric bills show total electric usage not just for heating. Does anyone have an ideas on comparing the two?

I currently have a 5 year old 4 ton heat pump. My house is 3200 square feet. I'm located in Northeast PA, so coal is very convenient. I grew up with a handfired coal furnace then we had a stoker for rice coal. I'm familiar with coal heat, I'm just trying to determine if I'm making a good decision.

I'd like the coal furnace to be big enough to heat my DHW and hot tub. Thank you for any info and let me know if I need to give you more information.


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Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove
Location: Cape Cod, MA

Post By: CapeCoaler » Sat. Aug. 09, 2008 6:48 pm

A 'normal' house uses 500 kWh/month. Below 40* air to air heat pumps do not function as efficiently. What is your kWh/month in April/May vs Dec/Jan this should give you a ballpark. What is your electric rate per kWh?
Boiler with indirect DHW, a zone to do the hot tub and a water to air heating coil in the air handler.
Use the fuel cost calculator to figure your cost pr Million BTU and then see which is cheaper.
If coal costs you less than $220 ton and electric is more than $.09 kWh then the answer is coal

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Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
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Post By: Yanche » Sat. Aug. 09, 2008 7:39 pm

The heating system that be competitive with coal is ground or water sourced heat pumps, especially if you can get lower electric rates at night. Equipment complexity and costs are high. One implementation would be ground coil water to water heat pump and an energy store tank for storing the hot water. The tank only needs to store enough for 24 hours worth of heat.

In the long term future (decades) heating systems like ground or water sourced heat pumps will start to have an operating cost advantage because they are more efficient. Until then solid fuel coal or free wood will have the advantage. The referenced fuel cost calculator is a good one. It should give you your answer. Please post your analysis for all to see.

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