Question From Newby on EFM 520

Stoker Coal Boilers automatically feed the coal and have controls and pumps just like any conventions boiler. They are intended to be used as a primary heat and often have domestic hot water coils as an added bonus. They can be set up independently or in dual sytem with your existing oil/gas boiler. They can accommodate both hot water base board or steam plumbing.
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mooseman100
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Stove/Furnace Model: EFM 520
Location: winchester, va

Post Sat. Mar. 05, 2011 10:41 pm

I am considering on purchasing a refurbished model, it would be an outside unit located in a shed about 150' from my house. Here in Winchester, VA there is no EFM dealer, only a Keystoker dealer. So with myself, again a newby to boilers, as the only service guy, am I asking for trouble. If I go with the Keystoker guy he will be selling me a brand new unit, I believe this will be much more expensive.
Last edited by mooseman100 on Sat. Apr. 01, 2017 3:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Moved topic to the EFM forum.

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Pacowy
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Posts: 2731
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. Mar. 05, 2011 11:24 pm

I've heated 2 houses with refurbed EFM equipment. I'm 2 hours from the nearest dealer, but the units have been straightforward to install, operate and maintain. They are built like industrial equipment - once you see it in action, the proposition that you are relying on it for your heat is reassuring rather than scary. There are manuals on the EFM website, numerous informative threads in the EFM section of this forum, and many members ready to share their EFM experiences and insights, above and beyond the guidance you'll get from wherever you purchase the boiler.

I have nothing against Keystokers, but I'd be fully comfortable going with a refurbed EFM.

Mike

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LsFarm
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland
Location: Michigan

Post Sat. Mar. 05, 2011 11:28 pm

Well stated Mike,, I agree whole-heartedly. I feel the same about my AA boiler.. it's an industrial unit.. and once I figured out the way everything works, and works together, it's not a concern.. just keep the ash pan emptied, and the coal hopper full.

Greg L
Pacowy wrote:I've heated 2 houses with refurbed EFM equipment. I'm 2 hours from the nearest dealer, but the units have been straightforward to install, operate and maintain. They are built like industrial equipment - once you see it in action, the proposition that you are relying on it for your heat is reassuring rather than scary. There are manuals on the EFM website, numerous informative threads in the EFM section of this forum, and many members ready to share their EFM experiences and insights, above and beyond the guidance you'll get from wherever you purchase the boiler.

I have nothing against Keystokers, but I'd be fully comfortable going with a refurbed EFM.

Mike
Burning Pea/Buckwheat through an antique stoker [semi retired SSboiler],
Running an Axeman-Anderson 260M boiler burning Pea, About 150-250#per day
Farming, Fixing, Fabricating and Flying: 'spare time' what's that?

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Freddy
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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 Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 5:39 am

I think the only concern with any coal boiler is a totally outside building would be to make sure the building is designed in such a way that the coal bin does not freeze. I'd feel bad if someone custom built an out-building and not knowing, made it in such a way that the supply of coal froze and gave trouble with the auger feed.

150 feet away is no problem at all, I'm just curious as to why quite so far away?
Orrington, Maine
Fred

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

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vermontday
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Location: Bennington, VT

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 9:59 am

I originally was considering putting my EFM in the garage as I didn't know how clean it is to operate.

I am glad I didn't. That would have been a waste of heat from the boiler shell and lines. Having it in your cellar is like having a warm beating heart in your house. Unlike an oil boiler, there is always a fire in providing radiant heat.

When we come back after shutting it down to go on vacation, even my wife wants it back on right away (we keep warmer with coal than oil), She likes how clean it is, and she is a Martha Stewart type without the stock tips. Our coal is never exposed dry. We feed ours from sealed bags and then slid a cover onto the ash can in the boiler so even that is sealed coming out. The efm burner box is a sealed box under vacuum at all times so there is no smell. There is also no smoke from burning anthricite.

EFM is the only coal boiler with a low auger angle. This allows you to make feed skids for it that keep everything sealed.There is no lifting or shoveling of coal, you just drop 1-1/4 tons on at a time with a pallet jack. You also never have to worry about auger blockage causing you to dig out a coal bin.
US dependence on foreign oil has created the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

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Rob R.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
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Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 10:09 am

EFM stokers are very tough and reliable. Do you have an oil boiler as well?

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vermontday
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Location: Bennington, VT

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 10:30 am

Yes, we have a modern Buderus oil boiler. We only have one flue so we isolate it for the winter and remove the flue pipe. We install the flue pipe to the EFM and are set for the winter.

You can get an oil burner kit for the side of the EFM, but I think it would be a waste of money. The EFM is as reliable as the oil boiler, with the exception of shutting it down for vacations, it is a one match for the winter operation.

It easily heats our 4,200 sq ft house and the unlimited hot showers are sweet. It is one of only two things I bought in my life that totally lived up to expectations. You won't regret it.

I suppose if you had no other boiler it might make sense to have the oil kit for vacations.
US dependence on foreign oil has created the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

Pacowy
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Posts: 2731
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 Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 10:42 am

Freddy wrote:I think the only concern with any coal boiler is a totally outside building would be to make sure the building is designed in such a way that the coal bin does not freeze. I'd feel bad if someone custom built an out-building and not knowing, made it in such a way that the supply of coal froze and gave trouble with the auger feed.

150 feet away is no problem at all, I'm just curious as to why quite so far away?
x2.

Getting your coal in the summer (and protecting it from the weather) is a good way to make sure it's dry enough to flow in the winter. The outside set-ups make me nervous because it doesn't take a lot of (frozen) moisture to mess up your coal feed.

Having heated two houses with stoker boilers, my experience is that any dust and ash associated with indoor installations can easily be managed. The EFM auger can also draw directly from a bin - depending on your set-up you may not handle the coal indoors very much, if at all.

Mike

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Pacowy
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Posts: 2731
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 Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 10:48 am

vermontday wrote:Yes, we have a modern Buderus oil boiler. We only have one flue so we isolate it for the winter and remove the flue pipe. We install the flue pipe to the EFM and are set for the winter.

You can get an oil burner kit for the side of the EFM, but I think it would be a waste of money. The EFM is as reliable as the oil boiler, with the exception of shutting it down for vacations, it is a one match for the winter operation.

It easily heats our 4,200 sq ft house and the unlimited hot showers are sweet. It is one of only two things I bought in my life that totally lived up to expectations. You won't regret it.

I suppose if you had no other boiler it might make sense to have the oil kit for vacations.
In our last house we found that even with a bigger coal boiler (EFM 900), it made sense to use the coal boiler for DHW in the summer. The economics were favorable and the coal boiler likes to work better than it likes to sit. The EFM's, in particular, are very good at maintaining a low fire without using a lot of coal.

Mike

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vermontday
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Location: Bennington, VT

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 10:52 am

Pacowy makes a good point, I don't want to misguide you that there is a lot of coal dust with other feed methods, there isn't. The coal comes prewashed, so there is very little dust in it. In the winter time, it comes oiled, there is no dust. A coal bin discharges at a glacier pace, which does not stir up any dust.
US dependence on foreign oil has created the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

Pacowy
Member
Posts: 2731
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 Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 11:00 am

And I don't mean to imply that the dust will always take care of itself. We had one batch of coal that gave off a fair amount of dust when it was dry - as a precaution we try to keep the indoor coal a little bit damp.

I do like the looks of that supersack/skid set-up, not just for dust, but also for ease of handling.

Mike

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vermontday
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Location: Bennington, VT

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 11:00 am

If it weren't for traveling alot, we would run it all summer. If oil prices continue to rise, maybe we will.
US dependence on foreign oil has created the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

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Rob R.
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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 Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 11:13 am

vermontday wrote:Yes, we have a modern Buderus oil boiler. We only have one flue so we isolate it for the winter and remove the flue pipe. We install the flue pipe to the EFM and are set for the winter.

You can get an oil burner kit for the side of the EFM, but I think it would be a waste of money. The EFM is as reliable as the oil boiler, with the exception of shutting it down for vacations, it is a one match for the winter operation.

It easily heats our 4,200 sq ft house and the unlimited hot showers are sweet. It is one of only two things I bought in my life that totally lived up to expectations. You won't regret it.

I suppose if you had no other boiler it might make sense to have the oil kit for vacations.
Thanks, but I was asking the original poster if they had a backup boiler...I should have been more clear.

I have a separate oil boiler as well, so I carry very few spare parts for the EFM. One switch brings the oil unit online, so I can afford to wait for UPS in the rare event something breaks.

-Rob

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mooseman100
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Stove/Furnace Model: EFM 520
Location: winchester, va

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 3:12 pm

markviii,
I do not have any oil heat. Currently we heat with a heat pump with a LP back up, and I spend around $3,200/ year doing so. I plan on adding a heat exchanger from the boiler to each of my two duct work systems. Of course the LP unit would be set by a separate thermostat at a low temp so it would only come on if the coal unit went out or failed for any reason.

Freddy,
The 150' run is because the only place I could put the shed to house the unit would be pretty close to my 500# LP tank, just doesn't seem like a good idea to put fire by compressed gas. We cook with LP so I will never be getting rid of the tank.

I do not like the idea of having a boiler in my basement. As previously stated here, it puts out heat year round and I like my nice cool basement in the summer. Plus, my basement set up is just not condusive to that idea.

So back to my original question, am I ahead to look at a refurb EFM 520, preferably a highboy, or go with a new Keystoker KA-6. Again, there is no EFM dealer within 3 hours, but there is a Keystoker dealer here in Winchester.

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AA130FIREMAN
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Stove/Furnace Make: axeman anderson
Stove/Furnace Model: 130 anthratube

Post Sun. Mar. 06, 2011 3:20 pm

mooseman100 wrote:I do not like the idea of having a boiler in my basement. As previously stated here, it puts out heat year round and I like my nice cool basement in the summer. Plus, my basement set up is just not condusive to that idea.
My basement is not damp anymore, no mold to grow, no dehumitifier, and a good place to dry cloths in the winter plus the added heat to the house, no worries of freezing pipes, no need to add antifreeze to pipes,no need to go out in the cold to tend the fire/ashes, DID I MENTION I LIKE THE STOKER IN THE BASEMENT IDEA ??? :lol:

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