OWB's

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by tinner666, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    I thought I'd start one on Outdoor Wood Boilers. I planning on getting one to hook into the system of our new house. I have 18 acres of hardwood, so it seems like a good choice to me.

    Anybody here with any experience with them. Any input would be welcome. Especially if anybody here has firsthand experience with them.
  2. Tracker83

    Tracker83 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Michigan
    I own one, and installed it myself. What exactly would you like to know?
  3. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Frank,
    any particular reason you want an outdoor wood boiler ? An indoor unit with a storage tank can be much more efficient. you may even be able to go for days with out firing it. Sure you have to bring some wood indoors but otherwise you need to go outdoors to bring the wood to the boiler

    Lou
  4. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    We are moving to a new home. 25 acres of hardwood and poplar.

    I have one storage building/shop area. Putting in an 1800sf house and 5000sf shop. An OWB in the center would be within 100' of each.

    I was figuring on a radiant floor for the shop. Add to forced air in house, some type of unit the other one. Nearly free heat.
    By time I get a few more areas cleared, I'll have 20 cords of wood put by. I asked and got answers from a friend at the RCS Forum, http://www.rooferscoffeeshop.com/forums/viewreplies.asp?TopicID=24070&Srch=False&tpage=2&forumid=0
    but I'm still making enquiries. The more I know, pro and con of different models and owner stories, the better prepared I'll be.

    TO be honest, I'm a bit burnt out today to ask objective questions, but any comment you have about them would be great.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Some jusirdictions are passing laws and ordinances to restrict or prohibit them because of the smoke pollution. One problem has been that they are usually installed with short stacks so the smoke is released a lot lower to the ground than when an indoor stove vents through a chimney that is higher than the roof of the house.

    Some good links follow:

    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2007/11/22/1114833-interest-in-outdoor-wood-boilers-grows

    http://www.woodheat.org/technology/obmanufacturer.htm

    http://www.woodheat.org/dhw/dhw.htm

    http://www.woodheat.org/index.htm
  6. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    Thanks for the links. I had seen most, but not all. The last was a good one.

    We're in an agricultural district and have no restrictions on them. Central Boiler is near us, but I'm looking at all and comparing notes.
  7. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    How complicated was yours? What brand? What building(s) are you heating?
  8. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    I have a wood stove from the late '70s that still lives in my lower level. I haven't studied wood boilers but looking at the on-line stuff and tinners question, I'm inclined to wonder about an alternative.

    The issue with the boilers seems to be that you need to have a hot firebox to convert the wood to gas (therefore no water tubes in the firebox), a place to burn the gas (which is largely carbon monoxide) with additional air, and a place to remove the heat from the gas.

    Just doing a mental tradeoff of the alternatives, I would think seriously about putting a wood-fired furnace in or immediately adjacent to the 5000 sq ft shop. The heat leakage through and around the unit would supplement the heat in the shop which would primarily come from an air heat exchanger at the top of the furnace.

    The heat to the house could go via water or steam that would be heated by a smaller heat exchanger in the heat-exchange section of the furnace.

    http://www.yukon-eagle.com/FURNACES/EAGLEIVKLONDIKE/tabid/58/Default.aspx

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/2003-02-01/Wood-Fired-Central-Heat.aspx
  9. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Frank,
    one other plug for the inside wood boiler is no smoke. With a modest size storage tank you only have to fire it at full throttle every other day or so. A good hot fire will convert more of the wood to gas, allowing you to use less wood. OWB's will sit there and smolder which can be annoying reguardless of their being any restrictions

    Lou
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Well, I might as well add my usual comment: Al Gore would like to talk to you about this smogger.
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    But it has no carbon footprint because all of the fuel is renewable. May tinner could sell his carbon credits to Al.
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Renewable has nothing to do with it. After all, coal and oil are renewable, but not in our lifetime.


    A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.
  13. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    Great replies guys.
    And Bob, thanks for the Yukon link. I requested info from them.

    If I go with the OWB, it will be uphill from the house, about 60-80', and probably within 50-70' of the shop. Not sure yet of shop or possible OWB final sites.

    I'm even considering the GreenWood http://www.greenwoodfurnace.com/ I think it was featured on HGTV as smokeless.


    Please feel free to add any more comments guys!
  14. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Frank,
    that greenwood looks like a good unit. another good name is TARM. Its only smokeless when firing at full blast. They are not like an oil or gas unit that can shut off for days at a time then come back on with no issues If you add a good amount of storage you can easily meet all your heating demands all year with a minimum amount of work by only running the unit at full blast to heat the storage then extract the heat from the tank

    here is a link for storage tanks, I think they make them for tarm
    www.stsscoinc.com

    Lou
  15. Tracker83

    Tracker83 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Michigan
    And burning wood is carbon neutral...
  16. Tracker83

    Tracker83 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Michigan
    Complicated? Not at all. In fact, I was surprised at how simple of a system it is. The stove heats the water; the circulator pump distributes the hot water to the house; and heat exchangers in the house extract the heat from the water. Installation was a breeze. You'll have more work into burying the pipes than anything else.

    The brand is Pacific Western made by Innotech Developments. Here is their homepage: http://www.outdoorfurnaces.com
    I did not do any comparison shopping when I bought. A family member was a dealer at the time, so I went with him. I have the model 2 which is much bigger than what I need, but the advantage is that I can go every other day between fill-ups (this time of year), and once-a-day fill-ups when it gets colder (highs in the low 20's).

    I am heating my house (1800 sq. ft), an attached 900 sq. ft. garage, and our domestic hot water. However, I have a family member with the exact same stove and he is heating a 2000 sq. ft. house, his domestic hot water, his driveway (only when he needs to melt snow/ice), and a 60x40 pole barn. He has to fill his once a day now and twice a day when it gets colder.

    Other things to think about:

    1. You really need to do financial analysis on how much you will be saving by buying an OWB. Factor in how much it would cost you to heat with conventional sources. In my opinion you need to save $2,000 a year for it to make sense. The initial investment is high, and it just doesn't make sense otherwise. Also determine how long you will be living at the house. You will want to stay there long enough to payback the investment plus enjoy a few years of "free heat".

    2. Wood. Lots of wood. I burned 12 cords last winter. That's a lot of cutting, splitting, transporting, and stacking. You need to be healthy enough to process that much wood every year. You also need good equipment. A good saw (or 2), a good splitter, and something to transport the wood to the house. If you do not have the equipment now you will have to factor their purchase into the financial analysis.

    3. Smoke. If you research on the web you will find both sides of this story. You will hear from one side that they never smoke, and the other side will say that they are nasty smoke-beltching hogs. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Obviously they don't smoke when the blower is off (or the damper is closed in the case of a Central Boiler) which is 90% of the time. However, mine does smoke pretty good for the first few cycles after a fill-up. After that the wood in stove is good and dried out, and a good layer of coals has formed. At that point you will see almost no smoke when it runs. If you have close neighbors you need to consider that because at times it will smoke.

    For me it made sense. I have access to free wood. I plan on staying at the house for 10+ years. I already owned all the wood processing equipment. I estimated that I would save $2500 over heating with LP (which was my only other option). And I am in a rural setting with no neighbors close by. But when asked I am very honest that they are not for everyone.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2007
  17. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    OK, I see where the logic is that the CO2 released by burning wood is only equal to the CO2 it sucked up while it was alive. I view this as a loophole, a technicality to make an excuse for an otherwise unhealthy situation. The smog and smoke still make even the most efficient wood furnace a bad idea. This might be ok in rural areas where the net impact per square mile is minimum. It simply is not a viable solution for urban areas. Also, there is no way we could grow trees fast enough to replace all the coal, oil, and natural gas heat with wood burners!'

    Oil is running out, and the sooner we all accept the fact that the solution is Nuclear, the better!
  18. Tracker83

    Tracker83 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Michigan
    Jimbo,

    The "carbon neutral" comment was in reference to the Al Gore discussion which involves greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) and the whole carbon neutral lifestyle debate (carbon offsets/credits, quotas, etc.). In that case burning wood is considered carbon neutral. I do agree, however, that the particulate emissions are a bad part of burning wood and every effort should be made to limit them to a reasonable level (which the new EPA regulations on conventional wood stoves address).

    I also agree with you that the use should be limited to rural areas (as least as far as OWBs are concerned). As I said they are not for everyone. But there are clearly instances where their use is acceptable.

    I also agree that the faster we expand nuclear power the better!
  19. tinner666

    tinner666 New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Central Va.
    Rural here. 1/2 mile to nearest downwind neighbor. Plan on dying there someday. Plenty of wood. Easy access. I have several cords cut that would otherwise go to waste. And more needs cutting.

    If I went with an indoor unit, I'd need to add the cost of another garage/utility room to the furnace cost.
    I've been curious about setting the damp to burn some continously to eleminate some smoke problems.
  20. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    12 cord holy crap those things are way more inefficint then I thought

Share This Page