Constant Circulation System

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.
Olllotj
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KB-8
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat
Other Heating: Utica Propane Hot Water Baseboard
Location: Western NY

Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 12:38 pm

I am no pro or expert, and most of my knowledge is from here, and YouTube.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I do constant circulation between my coal boiler and my propane boiler. I have a bypass.

So my system is always 180* waiting for a zone valve to open, which triggers the circulator on the propane boiler to turn on.

9 zones, one of them is hot water.

Like you said it is even, warm and ready to go.

If you are an electric conserver, you would not like the B&G series 100 pumps I am using.

I am sure it uses more coal to pump constantly. Both of my boilers are in my basement for what that's worth.

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Rob R.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
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Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
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Location: Chazy, NY

Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 12:44 pm

And the wife won't allow an ECM circulator in the house
I have to ask...why not? I have one in my house, it is silent and works excellent.

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CoalisCoolxWarm
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
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Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Buckwheat
Other Heating: Oil Boiler
Location: Western PA

Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 1:23 pm

I didn't post about the logstore and I understand it was a just a suggestion. Bear in mind, the fellow who gave you that tip helps a bunch of other people, too. It isn't uncommon to lose track of where someone's individual project is at the moment. Just the nature of any internet forum ;)

The solar "requirement" isn't really a requirement then? If necessary, you simply at a panel or two as you resize your yet-to-be-installed solar system. Well that makes it easier! Grid-tie and you can still weight it towards battery/off-grid, based upon your battery size, solar hours per day, worst-day solar and reserve capacity, etc. If you're working for/with a solar company, surely you/he has all this capability of calculating anyways.

That being said, and trying to take all your requests into consideration, perhaps you will gain some traction asking about Gravity Flow Systems (mostly) with a pump assist.

Treat the remote boiler separately. You MUST do this in my opinion, regardless.

Any good heating system (lets stick with hydronics for this discussion) is made up of 4 parts.

1. Heat Plant. Your boiler must be able to provide enough BTUs, using a reliable fuel conversion method to a Primary Loop (open or closed)

2. Distribution System. This is your secondary piping, zones, loops, pumps, whatever you decide to install. Each has its own benefits and cons, including costs to install, operate, etc.

3. Controls. Zone controls, valve operations, logic, thermostats, heat plant controls, etc

4. Resources. Electrical, physical paths or restrictions, distances, fuel storage, man-in-the-loop considerations (ie fill hopper, empty ashes, shovel coal), etc

These parts are all independent, yet the interconnection of them will affect the other parts and requirements.

In designing a system, here's a suggested method.

1. Decide on general heat plant. What type of fuel, delivery method (steam, water, air), SIZE, location, draft, all that good stuff.

2. Your distribution system is independent from the heat plant, but is constrained by the choices made for the heat plant. What kind of piping (PEX, copper, steel), where (basement and then up, or home-runs, room to room) , how to run it (split tee, reverse returns, etc), SIZE, how to cause flow and return, and DESIGN TEMPERATURE/FLOW RATE per zone/loop.

3. Are you going to use electronic controls like Taco Zone controllers connected to thermostats, or TRVs, or something else? Although independent, they must interface with the heat plant and distribution system. Don't forget safety controls.

4. How much space do you need, electrical requirements, makeup water (do you have WATER in the garage?), chimney/vent/combustion air, where to store fuel, how to keep fuel supplied to heat plant, do you have people to handle the fuel/ashes or need something more automatic, etc

When one of these factors change, it can impact the others.

1. I like to start with a rough idea of the distribution system.

a. Hot water, steam, or air. You said water
b. Type of radiant. You said radiators
c. Zoned? How many? Requirements of each? You have some of this
d. How will you plumb it?
1) You want 11 separate zones, using reverse returns, considering split tee if needed, using mainly PEX.
2) You also want to use a manifold(s), possibly split into two because of stone wall separation of the house.

2. Heat Plant

a. Coal boiler located in a remote garage, connected to house with insulated underground pipe.
b. If using a primary/secondary loop configuration, "normal" circulators can be used (constraint for distribution system)
c. Freeze protection and insulation resources triggered by remote garage and underground (if you have a failure or have to shut down the system during cold weather). Do you have a secondary heat source in the garage to protect the boiler? Consider antifreeze treated primary loop due to underground?
d. You already have a coal boiler, right? That is a constraint for your distribution system. Good zoning can help stagger a load, which can "help" an overloaded boiler- if that is the case.

3. Controls.

a. You said you want TRVs and a constant circulation system.
b. Not sure of best way to control zoning and constant circulation
c. Simple aquastat at the boiler?
d. How will it adjust for changing flow rates as zones switch on and off?

4. Resources

a. Electrical desired to be as low as possible
b. Insulation of house is very low- MAJOR impact on all other parts to achieve any reasonable degree of comfort
c. Remote Heat Plant has losses that need to be factored in.
d. No ECM circulators. I listed this here as it affects all other parts
e. No individual circulators per zone. Also here because it constrains other parts

As each of these items (and others) are "filled in" they must be checked against all the other parts. Some will have little or no effect, others can create "must have" or "can't have" conditions in the other areas.

So for now, why not concentrate on JUST the distribution system. Figure out how you propose to do that, constrained by one or two pumps, using manifolds, piping that will work in your house, using x number of zones, using cast iron radiators, and minimize electrical usage.

Once you work that out, you can worry about the Boiler and Primary Loop and any factors that a remote install bring to the party.

Why don't you want ECM circulators again? Is it cost or something else?

What is the heat load per zone and for the house? Now, short term, later, is fine and how I did mine. It also got me hustling on insulating key areas, LOL.

Also suggest you consider which is more important- low electricity usage, 100% solar capability, installation cost, fuel usage efficiency, steady comfort temp, physical requirements (some people want radiators, some want baseboard, certain piping, etc), or something else?

Any system is a balance of requirements. Scattershot is a good way to get started and get rough ideas and uncover options, but then you must start narrowing down and choosing or ruling out certain items.

If you absolutely NEED full upfront details and examples, then I'd just say copy my design...or Rob's design...or Larry's design...or...LOL. I say that in jest, but in all seriousness if you find one you like, design yours like that to begin and adjust the design from there. At least you'll have a base to start.

One last point for this very LONG post.

There are lots of cookie-cutter solutions out there. Installers use them all the time. You can use them if you want. But most of the time they aren't the most efficient system, sometimes not even "acceptable" by the standards of many here. But they are FAST, and SIMPLE to use and follow. Call up "Joe the Plumber" and tell him to come put in a system and he'll do it.

But it seems you are interested in a more customized solution that you can do on your own? I think mostly all of us on this forum are in that boat. Sure, the degree of how "involved" we want to get may vary (especially with some of your REALLY OLD fellas, haha!), but we're here to learn, solve, and share. If that describes you, then have at it!

Ain't everybody's bag o' tea.
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McGiever
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Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 8:56 pm

I was slow to get the books originally, but did get them and they changed my outlook entirely, so from the sounds of the frustrations you are going through you will get more than your moneys worth out of them.

The THEORY is everything, having a suggestion means little if you cannot comprehend the theory behind it. :idea:

Do it the last way first! ;)
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

jrv8984
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Location: lower Schuylkill county, PA

Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 9:28 pm

Coaliscoolxwarm, you have been nothing but helpful, thank you.

As to why no ecm circulators, my wife is very sensitive to electronic radiation, she can't use a cell phone for very long, it starts to heat her ear up and then gives her headaches. She's been checked out, no brain tumors. LED home lighting bothers her as well. It has to do with the Pwm conversion of AC to DC instead of linear conversion and the disruption of the sinewave. Sounds kooky, but UC Berkley as well as other institutions have been doing research into this, and it is a real thing.

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windyhill4.2
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Coal Size/Type: 404-nut, 520 rice ,anthracite for both
Location: Jonestown,Pa.17038

Post Sat. Jan. 07, 2017 10:04 pm

From OWB to EFM520 Installed in Truck Box
It is a long thread,but I do have constant circulation (24/7/366 days) in my 600' loop that serves 2 houses & also constantly circulate my shop loop during the heating season. 1 Taco 007 on each loop.
I do wish I had my underground pex runs insulated as well as yours are.
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jrv8984
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Post Mon. Jan. 23, 2017 6:06 pm

Got a decent plan figured out. I haven't looked at the boiler wiring yet, but does anyone know how the tekmar 260 with ODR gets hooked up to the ahs 260 controls?

jrv8984
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Post Tue. Jan. 24, 2017 7:29 pm

So contacted AHS, and they stated that:
Keep in mind that the Coal
Gun operates based on internal water temperature. It will fire in
response to this only, as wired from the factory. Simply control
circulation, and the boiler will fire to make up the difference when
internal temps fall to the limit setting.
So if that's the case, is it even wise to try to wire in the tekmar 260? Thanks

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coaledsweat
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Post Tue. Jan. 24, 2017 9:07 pm

That isn't really an issue if plumbed properly. Since you are modulating continuously, you won't be feeding 170° water through the loop. Primary secondary or whatever they call it.
Nothing is impossible for people who don't have to do it themselves.

jrv8984
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Post Sun. Jan. 29, 2017 5:36 pm

Does anyone know of a type of thermostatic valve that I could use for my indirect HWH, something with a remote bulb, so I can remove my aqua stat from the tank, install the bulb that will then control the valve that would allow the hot water entering the the tank from the boiler. Basically a remote sensing TRV but not for radiators. And not a mixing valve.

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CoalisCoolxWarm
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: old Sears rebuilt, bituminous- offline as of winter 2014
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Buckwheat
Other Heating: Oil Boiler
Location: Western PA

Post Sun. Jan. 29, 2017 7:02 pm

jrv8984 wrote:Does anyone know of a type of thermostatic valve that I could use for my indirect HWH, something with a remote bulb, so I can remove my aqua stat from the tank, install the bulb that will then control the valve that would allow the hot water entering the the tank from the boiler. Basically a remote sensing TRV but not for radiators. And not a mixing valve.
So you're looking for a remote thermostat for your IDHW?

My IDHW has a thermostat on it already where you set the water temp, yours should too?

If so...are you looking to turn on/off the circulator for that zone with that thermostat?

Is that right?
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Scottscoaled
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Post Sun. Jan. 29, 2017 7:15 pm

Zone valve.
I think a man does what he can, untill his destiny is revealed. Right now that is trying to sell my EFM plate boilers in 520 and 700 sizes.

jrv8984
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Post Sun. Jan. 29, 2017 9:02 pm

Trying to do it without electricity if possible, they make TRV's that have remote sensing bulbs, I was hoping that there is something like that to use for the indirect HWH. Yeah, 120v zone valve is the other option

jrv8984
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Post Thu. Feb. 02, 2017 9:57 am

quick question, I accidently ordered a 3 way zone valve instead of a straight through valve, can I just plug the 3rd port and use it, or should I return it? :mad: stupid.
Last edited by jrv8984 on Thu. Feb. 02, 2017 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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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 Thu. Feb. 02, 2017 1:55 pm

I would return it and get the correct zone valve.

Looks like you have nearly the same thread going on over on heatinghelp.com ?

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