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Old 01-26-2013, 11:21 PM   #1
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Best heating and demostic hot water systems


I live in MA/NH and I need to replace my heating/water system late this summer. I currently have a tankless oil boiler with 3 zone hydronic baseboard heating system. I have a two story colonial with a walk out basement. There is unfortunately no natural gas in my neighborhood. My current boiler is 25 years old and in rough shape.

Some more information. I have a 2 story colonial with an attached garage. I have a chimney with 3 tiled flues. The first is used for a oil boiler, the second is used for a wood fireplace on the first floor and the third is used for a woodstove in the basement or on the first floor (right now only used on first floor). The woodstove doesn't produce even enough heat for the house. One side of our house will be 80-85 whiles the other is 60 and probably being heated by boiler. Also, propane in my area is cots about 20-25% more per BTU to operate.

I have thought about a few different configurations and any feedback or other ideas would be helpful. Of course cost of system, fuel source and return on investment is critical.

1) Keep the system the same - Replace oil boiler and add a zone for domestic hot water using a tank (cheapest ~7K)

2) Replace oil boiler add zone for hot water, add radiant heating on the first floor, my running pex under the subfloor in the basement. Unfortunately I cannot do this on the second floor. I'm hoping radiant heating will be more efficient than baseboards. (~7K for boiler, ~? for radiant heat - I would install myself)

3) Replace oil boiler + zone for hot water and add outdoor wood boiler so I could use the wood boiler main supply and I could use the oil boiler as a backup ( ~7K oil boiler + >8k for wood boiler) radiant heating would be an option here is as well.

4) Replace oil boiler add propane on demand for DHW. I would have to have propane tanks installed, but I could direct vent the DHW. (10+K)

5) Replace oil boiler with direct vent propane modulating boiler w/ on demand DHW. This would require that I have a porpane tank installed, but it would free up a flue that I could use for a wood stove, wood boiler, or pellet boiler add on. I could also remove the oil tank from my garage. (~7K)

I know this is very much a personal and geographic decision, but any other thoughts or ideas would be great.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-27-2013, 06:26 AM   #2
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Best heating and demostic hot water systems


Ayuh,... Personally, I'd go with option 3, which is what I've got,...

If OWBoilers are looked down upon in yer neck of the woods, you could put a wood boiler in the basement...

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Old 01-27-2013, 09:51 AM   #3
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Thanks bondo! Option 3 is really want I was leaning towards, but its the initial cost of the OWboiler that is concerning. Wood in my area is fairly cheap - $250 seasoned cut/split, $190 unseasoned cut/split, $1000 for grapple loads (~10 cords) uncut/unsplit, or free when I cut it from my backyard.

I was thinking if I had an outdoor wood boiler I could buy the grapple load and cut it to 2+ foot lengths and either split them in half or not. I thought it would be much less work than the wood stove.

Unforunately in my neck of the woods our state requires we have a specific EPA rating on our wood boilers. I am not sure if OWBoilers are looked down in my neighborhood as I am not aware of any. Although, we all have 4-10 wooded acre lots, so I would hope it isn't noticeable to the neighbors.

Could you give me some more details about your setup? What OWBoiler do you have? How often do you have to feed it? Did you install it yourself, if so how much effort?..Thanks
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwith View Post
Thanks bondo! Option 3 is really want I was leaning towards, but its the initial cost of the OWboiler that is concerning. Wood in my area is fairly cheap - $250 seasoned cut/split, $190 unseasoned cut/split, $1000 for grapple loads (~10 cords) uncut/unsplit, or free when I cut it from my backyard.

I was thinking if I had an outdoor wood boiler I could buy the grapple load and cut it to 2+ foot lengths and either split them in half or not. I thought it would be much less work than the wood stove.

Unforunately in my neck of the woods our state requires we have a specific EPA rating on our wood boilers. I am not sure if OWBoilers are looked down in my neighborhood as I am not aware of any. Although, we all have 4-10 wooded acre lots, so I would hope it isn't noticeable to the neighbors.

Could you give me some more details about your setup? What OWBoiler do you have? How often do you have to feed it? Did you install it yourself, if so how much effort?..Thanks
Ayuh,.... I not only installed mine, myself, I designed, 'n built it, 'n integrated it into the original oil boiler/ hydronic baseboard system,...

Mine is a 42"x 60" propane tank, inside a 54"x 72" salvaged industrial water sofener tank,..
that gives it right at a 100 gallon water capacity...

I studied many of the then available OWBoilers, 'n sorta went along those lines of thought, except, mine is a pressure system, rather than an open top unit...
I wanted to tie directly into the existin' system, 'n not have to use a heat exchanger to heat the oil boilers water...

Bein' a long time welder/ mechanic, I had no problem buildin' a pressure system, cause it only runs 12psi to 30 psi...
'course, I Tested my welds to 100 psi, just to be Sure...

Mine is a chunk wood boiler,... big firebox, ya just keep throwin' wood into,...
If, or more likely When I build my next 1, it'll be a Gasifier unit,...
Google will help ya learn what the Gasifiers are, 'n how they work,...
Unfortunately, by the time I'd heard of 'em, I was too deep into buildin' this 1, this way...
Though I did loose a year, by re-engineerin' it to burn wood Chips, but that's still in the works,...
Dryin', 'n handlin' the wood chips is problematic, in of itself...

'n,... My wood is pretty much Free, as I barter with a fella who owns a local tree service,...
I wrench, 'n weld on his equipment, 'n he keeps my backyard, Full of wood..

I burn alota poorer species of wood, but that just means ya fill it twice a day, insteada just once...

With this last cold snap, I'm fillin' it 'bout 3 times, though it ain't actually empty when I do...

This is an old shot of it, Way back in the build, front, 'n back sides...


I don't have any good shots of it, as it is now, but here's a couple of the loadin' door, draft open, 'n draft closed,...
Basically, I built a steel frame, insulated it, 'n covered it with tin roofin',...



But as I said before,... Look into a Gasifier unit, 'n ya also should consider a wood boiler, in yer cellar, if it's viable...

Donno how it is in yer part of the planet, but Progressive New York has already Outlaw mine, by ridiculous zonin', set-backs, 'n STUPID stack restrictions...

My next build will be an In-house/ In-cellar unit, just to beat the State, 'n their restrictions...
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:15 PM   #5
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That's awesome Bondo. Awesome job. I don't have the welding skills or tools to build my own. Our state restrictions are pretty stern. They have strict zoning, out put pollutants, stack sizes...They even have to be EPA certified.

I like the basement boiler, but the issue is size/runtime, and flues. I won't have a spare flue for the wood boiler. I could remove the wood stove and use that one, but I really enjoy the wood stove. I would have to replace my oil boiler with propane to free up a stove.

There is also a combo unit in Maine, right up the road from my neck of the woods, that sells OIL & Wood combo boilers that is certified to use single flue.



www.mainewoodfurnaces.com/
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:01 PM   #6
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Ayuh,.... I've seen them,... Might fit yer needs....

I like Hydronics, over hot air,.... Much easier to put heat, Exactly where ya want it, reasonably efficiently...

AC ain't even thought of up in this country,... no need for air handlers, 'n ductin'...

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