anthracite boiler


My oil boiler is going and I was looking into one of these new anthracite boiler that have the duel fuel option. There is a company in my area called complete heat in NH that has these units, but I was wondering if these are all they are cracked up to be.
I don't mind empying the bin every day or two because I have to empty my trash can every day. Is there anything beyond the emptying that could make something like this a real hassle?
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Coal is dirty, dirty to handle, hard on equipment, soot will be a big issue.
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NJC wrote:

I'm not at all sure what the particular unit you're speaking of "is cracked up to be" since you gave no particulars or specific reference, but...
If they're self-firing and well-designed, they're pretty good as boiler firers wrt to minimizing the difficulties of combustion and so on. (This isn't your father's old coal-fired boiler). :)
But, I'd surely investigate thoroughly the availability and pricing of residential coal in your area--coal, like other energy sources, has really escalated and in most areas it is so little used as a residential source that it carries a premium over market prices as well.
--
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Actually, the anthracite is noted for its cleanliness compared to standard coal. In fact, one of the selling points the dealers in the area (NH) are using is how you can rub it in your hands and not get all sooty like clump coal. This is in rice form smaller than pellets so it won't clog up supposedly.
There also seems to be no issue getting the anthracite because I have seen it selling in numerous places for about $275 per ton. I believe that is 40 lb bags and I "hear" (which does not mean much) that these types of systems are supposed to use about a bag or so a day in the winter.
Winter in New England can be about 150 days so I am estimating about 4 tons for a total of $1,100 for winter heat compared to the almost $3,600 I am going to pay for the 1,000 gallons of oil @ $3.60 or more. Cost comparitively I am going to save about $2,000 + at least in fuel.
What I don't know is whether or not I can just throw the ash in the trash. Do systems like this break down a lot compared to my oil boiler that has only had a service call once in the past 10 years. Do I have to sweep the chimney yearly or something compared to only doing it every few years with the oil. How about tune ups.
I know the sales guy is going to tell me how it is the best thing since sliced bread, but what I don't want to do is overlook all the hidden costs just to come out in the end to save about $500 a year. Yes, to save $2000 a winter is great and well worth tying up the storage space and lugging a bag over to the hopper once a day for just a few hundred is not.
Does anyone have any experience with a unit like this?
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