Coal Boiler ??

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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valentine92
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Joined: Fri. Jun. 06, 2008 7:25 pm

Post Sun. Jun. 08, 2008 12:32 pm

Ive read a lot of posts here and find the information very useful.

Can someone please share with me what kind of "work" or maintenance is involved with a coal boiler. I currently have an oil boiler.

Can you adjust the temperature of your home just like you do with oil?
How often do you need to add coal and how often to dump the ashes?
If the temperature rises outside can you shut off the heat and easily put it on again later when it is needed?
If we use it for hotwater how often do you need to add coal during the summer for hotwater only?

Is there any other maintenance involved that I did not mention?

Does anyone have a service contract with their boiler in case it breaks down?

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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Sun. Jun. 08, 2008 2:12 pm

valentine92 wrote:Can you adjust the temperature of your home just like you do with oil?
Yes, they are no different than any large furnace or Boiler, if you already have hot water baseboard you'll find it no different.
How often do you need to add coal and how often to dump the ashes?
Weather dependent and the size of your house but generally it's dictated by how much ash it can hold. If its really cold we have to do it once a day however it could go two days if we let it. the coal itself will depend on the size of the container. Some have a hopper that will hold about two days worth or you could have a auger fed one that will go int large drum that can last longer than that. If you really wanted too and a really high basement you could build a your coal bin as a giant hopper and never have to touch the coal. you will need a lot of space for that and a auger fed boiler like the EFM's.
If the temperature rises outside can you shut off the heat and easily put it on again later when it is needed?
These use relatively little coal when it gets warm. Generally you would light it for the season. The larger boilers are insulated and really made to run year round. They have domestic hot water coil you can utilize a few different ways. If you live close to coal country it's certainly worth it. It will also add considerable life to the unit. e.g I'd estimate that in years if not a decade. ;)
If we use it for hotwater how often do you need to add coal during the summer for hotwater only?
Again it comes down to the amount of ash it can hold but roughly once a week you'd have to empty the ashes out.
Is there any other maintenance involved that I did not mention?
You will need to shut it down at least once a year to clean the flue pipe, burning coal produces fly ash. this ash will eventually clog the flue if its not removed and cause gas to back up in the house. Not trying to scare you but thats the way it is. With the larger stokers you will have to do this once a year and with the smaller ones as much as once a month. There's also additional maintenance like oiling the pumps, making sure the gearbox has enough oil in it. Varies by furnace and stove but all told its a few hours each year.
Does anyone have a service contract with their boiler in case it breaks down?
Break downs are rare, these are very simple robust machines. In the event that it does break anyone mechanically inclined can fix just about anything on it that will break.
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

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LsFarm
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Posts: 7385
Joined: Sun. Nov. 20, 2005 8:02 pm
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 Sun. Jun. 08, 2008 3:07 pm

I'll expand a little on Richard's above post..

In the summer,, I burn about 20-25# of coal a day,, that's most of a 5 gallon bucket [full the bucket is 35#]... the ashpan needs emptying every week.. in the winter,, at 0* weather, I'm burning 200-250# a day, so my 1500# hopper lasts just barely 6-7 days.... In the summer I'm heating domestic hot water for two people. IN the winter I'm heating 4000 sqft drafty poorly insulated farmhouse, and a 2400 sqft shop.. I use a lot of BTUs.. in the winter the ashpan needs to be emptied every day... or two if I don't mind it being full to the top.

The big difference is this: my place would cost $2000-$2600.00 PER MONTH to heat with propane,, more with oil. with coal,, it cost abour $2400 for the entire winter season... AND the house was 65-72* instead of 60-62* on propane.. The few coal-related chores are worth about $500/hour to make up the cost differential. Well worth the work..

The flue needs to be cleaned, at least once a season,, for me I clean it 2-3 times.. But I have clean-outs in the pipes so it is only a 15 minute job.. good for peace-of-mind.

Hope this helps... if you are thinking about it,, hurry up, the boiler manufactureers are backlogged already with orders.. You may find you have someone in your area that will install and cover your service with a contract.. Most of us on this site are do-it-yourselfers.. but there are servicemen/companies around that will do what you need.. at least in some areas..

Greg L
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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valentine92
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Joined: Fri. Jun. 06, 2008 7:25 pm

Post Sun. Jun. 08, 2008 3:15 pm

Thank you both sooo much. We will be visitng a few dealers in the area shortly.

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Freddy
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Posts: 6606
Joined: Fri. Apr. 11, 2008 2:54 pm
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. Jun. 08, 2008 4:07 pm

valentine92 wrote:How often do you need to add coal and how often to dump the ashes?
I've never burned coal, but I'm hoping to fill my bin once a year. I'm planning a 8' by 10' by ceiling height bin with sloped bottom to gravity to the auger. It should hold around 5 ton. Now, to train the dog to take the ashes out. :)
Orrington, Maine
Fred

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

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beatle78
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Joined: Wed. Oct. 03, 2007 1:46 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker KA-4
Location: Rhode Island

Post Sun. Jun. 08, 2008 9:39 pm

Freddy wrote:
valentine92 wrote:How often do you need to add coal and how often to dump the ashes?
I've never burned coal, but I'm hoping to fill my bin once a year. I'm planning a 8' by 10' by ceiling height bin with sloped bottom to gravity to the auger. It should hold around 5 ton. Now, to train the dog to take the ashes out. :)
Freddy, you need to buy an auger and put it in the ash bin :)

Then you can sit back and enjoy the MASSIVE savings.... you'll still go out to the boiler each night and open the fire door and smile... but that's part of the fun :D

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