Selecting a boiler

Soupy6914
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Post By: Soupy6914 » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 6:08 pm

So it’s time for me to pick a boiler and I’m looking for advice. I have a few options. I can get a brand new leisure line aa220 for about 4500 or I could buy a refurbished 60’s era EFM 520 for about 3000. There is also some other options for a keystoker, and a legacy.

I don’t know much about the difference between these boilers, so I will take any advice given.
Last edited by Soupy6914 on Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 7:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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StokerDon
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson130M, BairMatic BMC-500/Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671SU/EFM S-15 stoker, 2xVan Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice, Pea, Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post By: StokerDon » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 6:33 pm

Is there a reason you want to limit yourself to the selection you have listed?

The reason I ask is that, I don't wish to offend anyone but, not one of them is among my favorites. If you consider used units there is a lot of variety. Refurbished and new kind of thins the heard. I whole hardheartedly recommend one that feeds itself with an auger. Filling a hopper everyday gets old fast.

-Don

Soupy6914
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Post By: Soupy6914 » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 6:58 pm

StokerDon wrote:
Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 6:33 pm
Is there a reason you want to limit yourself to the selection you have listed?

The reason I ask is that, I don't wish to offend anyone but, not one of them is among my favorites. If you consider used units there is a lot of variety. Refurbished and new kind of thins the heard. I whole hardheartedly recommend one that feeds itself with an auger. Filling a hopper everyday gets old fast.

-Don
Not offended at all. Doesn’t the EFM have an auger? The ones I mentioned were simply based on availability, and price. Would like to stay below 5,000 if possible.

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StokerDon
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson130M, BairMatic BMC-500/Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671SU/EFM S-15 stoker, 2xVan Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice, Pea, Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post By: StokerDon » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 7:38 pm

Well, I guess if there are no Gentleman Janitors, Van Werts or Axeman Andersons around the EFM will do. The 520 just would not be my first choice. The Axeman Anderson, Van Wert and some of the Gentleman Janitors are better boilers efficiency wise than the 520.

-Don

Rob R.
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Post By: Rob R. » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 8:36 pm

Nearly any of the stoker boilers do a good job if they are installed correctly, and you pick the right size unit in the first place. To Don's point, the ability to auger feed out of a bin separates them into two groups. The other things I would consider is how easy they are to service, cost & availability of parts, how well the fit into the space you have in mind, noise of operation, what size coal you have available in your area, and the total cost to purchase and install.

Comparing the overall efficiency of different heating appliances is complicated, and I have seen very few examples of people properly controlling the variables and recording the information that is required to really see what the difference is. To do so would require swapping multiple boilers in and out of the same home, while monitoring the average inside and outside temperature, and domestic hot water usage. I'll concede that Don has gotten pretty close to this, but I don't remember seeing an EFM 520 on the list.

Anyhow - in my experience, if you insulate the boiler and piping well, and use a good control strategy, you will have a system that is very economical to operate. Something to think about, if you burn 5 tons per year at $250 per ton, a 5% gain in boiler efficiency saves you $62.50 per year. If the more efficient boiler costs $1500 more, it will take you 24 years to break even.

If you take that same $1500 and make some insulation improvements in your home, you will be farther ahead.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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windyhill4.2
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Post By: windyhill4.2 » Sun. Feb. 18, 2018 9:18 pm

I am not worried about my choice offending anyone...

My 1960 EFM520 does a fantastic job....
Even tho i expect lots from it...
It doesn't disappoint.. :D

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lsayre
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Post By: lsayre » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 7:17 am

AHS Coal Guns are easily fitted with factory supplied and electronically integrated hopper augers.

Rob R.
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Post By: Rob R. » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 8:34 am

lsayre wrote:
Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 7:17 am
AHS Coal Guns are easily fitted with factory supplied and electronically integrated hopper augers.
Good point. I think that goes for the Keystoker units as well (factory support for auger add-ons).

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lzaharis
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Post By: lzaharis » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 9:07 am

Rob R. wrote:
Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 8:34 am
Good point. I think that goes for the Keystoker units as well (factory support for auger add-ons).
==================================================================================================

Nope,

Keystoker will NOT supply you with an auger to feed the hopper. I was told that I would have to purchase my own auger.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the small flat bed stokers used on the keystoker boilers will lose the fire in the event of a power outage AND having a separate low water cut off is a must have as the digital controls they use have a high failure rate.

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 By: Rob R. » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 9:18 am

Interesting. My neighbors have a K12 with auger feed and told me their dealer provided the entire kit. Must be the dealer took care of it on their own.

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StokerDon
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson130M, BairMatic BMC-500/Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671SU/EFM S-15 stoker, 2xVan Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice, Pea, Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post By: StokerDon » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 10:22 am

lzaharis wrote:
Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 9:07 am
Nope,

Keystoker will NOT supply you with an auger to feed the hopper. I was told that I would have to purchase my own auger.
That's very interesting, at the bottom of the Keystoker Products page it shows Westfield grain augers for sale.
http://www.keystoker.com/products.php

Even so, using a high speed auger to fill a hopper is not quite the same thing as a properly engineered auger fed stoker. The high speed of the auger can cause coal crushing and fines. Also, everything needs to be sealed up, including the hopper, or you will get coal dust everywhere.

-Don

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hotblast1357
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Post By: hotblast1357 » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 11:02 am

The auger assembly from AHS is 1938 dollars with all the controls, 6”x12’.

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StokerDon
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson130M, BairMatic BMC-500/Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671SU/EFM S-15 stoker, 2xVan Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice, Pea, Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post By: StokerDon » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 11:06 am

hotblast1357 wrote:
Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 11:02 am
The auger assembly from AHS is 1938 dollars with all the controls, 6”x12’.
That's quite a bit of money. Is the auger stainless? Do they run it at slow speed? It might be worth it, if it is a nicely engineered solution.

-Don

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Post By: McGiever » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 11:18 am

A while back there was a whole package AHS that included the factory auger listed for sale on internet, Craig'sList, I believe.

Newer model w/ little use, as I recall, and price was reasonable. It didn't last long for sale either.

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Post By: Pacowy » Mon. Feb. 19, 2018 4:11 pm

I'm concerned that much of this thread may be conveying misimpressions and conflicting info to the OP. For starters, a recent (and admittedly nonscientific) forum poll found that the mfgrs on the OP's list are used by approximately 70 percent of forum members (see Type of stoker boiler, what are you heating ). There's nothing wrong with the list.

The poll also showed that lots of people use stoker boilers fed via a hopper - e.g., Keystokers alone are used by more forum members than are all of Don's "favorites" combined. While anyone considering a hopper-fed boiler should make sure they are prepared to handle the "lifting" requirements, it is not necessary for a stoker boiler to be equipped with auger feed.

I do agree with at least portions of Don's comments on efficiency, and disagree with the proposition that lay people can't form reasoned views and beliefs regarding efficiency issues unless they have performed complex measurements and analysis. A boiler transfers heat to water by allowing hot combustion gases to pass over heat exchange surfaces. Based on those fundamentals, a boiler with a larger heat exchange surface and/or "better" flue gas path is likely to transfer more btu's, all else equal. I therefore agree with Don about Gentleman Janitors, and would put Wagners in the same category. From the same fundamentals, I would go further, and say the older EFM tube boilers are likely more efficient than the newer plate models. That doesn't mean everybody should go out and buy a GJ or an older tube EFM. It does mean that you don't necessarily have to pay more for efficiency, because sometimes you can find it in units that are older or out of production. The OP can balance that vs. all of the other kinds of factors Rob mentioned.

Mike

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