Solid Fuel/Wood heating advice sought.

I can't make up my mind whether to heat water and power a few radiators with a range cooker, or a stove. I'll be using wood when I can, and coal when I have to. I prefer to use wood because it's cleaner and getting rid of ash much less of an problem. I've got 2 chimneys, and a house with a tendency to be quite chilly.
I imagine the cooker would be on all the time, and could be used to gently heat a (direct) thermal store throughout the day. A few radiators could be powered from the store when required. I could get a cooker with a boiler mode to provide a degree of responsiveness. The stove would be dry, so within a few minutes of lighting, it could start to produce enough heat to warm most of the house. I think the main problems doing this will be keeping the cooker going so that it will tick over for at least 12hrs a day without turning the chimney into a fractional distillation column for tar. In reality I suspect this will mean relying on coal. Another issue is the possibility of boiling water in the store.
The other scenario is to leave the cooker to just cook. The stove could then be used more intermittently to heat the store when required, and there's no need to keep the fire going. This might be more convenient when the cooker is off, and will probably cause fewer chimney problems as the stove can be burned hotter. The downside is that the stove won't provide the same intense immediate heat as a dry stove, and I'll probably require more radiators.
Any/all opinions appreciated.
T.
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You don't say whether you already have a stove or range, or whether you're looking at an economy solution or how you're coping at the mo.
My experience is currently using a woodburner as my main heat source, but shortly to be more or less displaced by a modern pressure jet oil- fired Rayburn - which will do full time-clocked central heating.
Mine's a Jotul F600 - the side loading door is great for larger timbers. Very little ash residue form wood, so rarely needs cleaning out. Remember lining a chimney can be comparable to the cost of a stove.
However a friend relies on a coal fired Rayburn as her primary heat source for her home. It's ability to burn for many hours without attention really surprised me. And if you're on a budget, old ones can be picked up cheaply.
I found the info here on ranges very useful: http://www.tradcookers.com /
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Dom raises the question of how you are coping at the mo - for instance do you have an existing CH system that the new heat source will just supplement ? And then how big is the house ?
The reason we ask - and I don't know Dom but he has experience to give like me - is that this situation does rely on experience rather than an installer's knowledge.
For instance I have a 4 bedroom old stone single storey cottage. I went down the road of limited CH off a multifuel stove some 25 years ago, and found that in order to get acceptable heat out of the CH system I had to run the stove sufficiently hard that it overheated the room it was installed in. I did have thoughts about setting up some sort of air-warming system to transfer this heat, but opted sometime later for a full CH system from an oil burner, with the wood stove as an ancillary source.
Do remember also that although wood has all sorts of attractions, you do need to make sure you have a supply that will go on year after year after year, that you do have the physical capability to process the wood when it arrives at your front door year after ...etc, and you do have the capacity to store a year's supply under cover - and that should be near the front door too !
I'm not heading you off wood, but warning you that the investment you make in the equipment to burn a cheap fuel, does commit you to life long labour !
Rob
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Gents
I live in a stone cottage, dating from about 1650 which I'm renovating. When finished it'll have 3 or 4 bedrooms. It takes a fair bit of heat to get it comfortable as the walls are quite thick (some are 29", others 24") and it's dominated internally by a hefty inglenook fireplace. I'm sticking with solid fuel because I like it. It would be far cheaper to have an oil combi boiler installed. I reckon a Rayburn plus a stove plus a thermal store plus two chimneys lined is going to set me back 10k at least. I'm beginning to think that it might be a good idea to have the Rayburn heat the thermal store, so will have to choose between the 345w and the 216sfw.
T
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On 10 Dec, 15:04, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Tom It may well not be possible with a stone building of that age in that you are requiring to preserve character, but my 1800's cottage in Scotland was originally plastered on the hard; lath and plastered in the late 1920's with a floor ventilated air gap behind this plasterwork, so the insulation in the house in the winter particularly was negligible. It was cold ! - and winter's *were* colder even 25 years ago.
We made the whole house liveable in by removing all the lath and plaster and adding insulation before re-lining. It is now a warm house; it probably has a higher carbon footprint that some modern ones, but not as bad as it could be.
The other bonus of the wall insulation is that don't suffer from black mould as we did when we started 30 years ago.
Rob
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On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 03:35:15 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@gglz.com"

In terms of the cost of running a coal fired Rayburn you can reckon on a minimum of 50Kg of coal per week if you're careful and never use the range on anything but tickover. Boost it up to do cooking or for extra hot water/heating a couple of times a week and you're easily into 75Kg a week. Use it in anger daily and that's at least 100kg. Bank on a cost of 8-9 per 25kg of suitable coal ( such as Phurnacite ).
If you're in a hard water area you should consider a secondary hot water system for the Rayburn, or you'll be forever replacing the boiler.
Regards,
--
Stephen Howard - Woodwind repairs & period restorations
www.shwoodwind.co.uk
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It's scary when you add it up! However, I don't think it's going to be any worse than my neighbour's oil bills.
T
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On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 09:42:54 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I always thought oil would be cheaper. My neighbour's got the exact same setup as me, but he went over to oil this summer...I'll ask him what his bills were like when Spring comes around.
Regards,
--
Stephen Howard - Woodwind repairs & period restorations
www.shwoodwind.co.uk
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I've got a fuel price comparison chart which is supposed to take efficiencies into account. It indicates that oil at 42p/litre (average price at the moment) is equivalent to about 4.75p/kWh electricity, and 400 pounds/tonne of anthracite. If I buy in bulk, I'm sure I can get phurnacite for less than 400quid a tonne!
Regards
T
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On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 12:08:00 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
<snip>

Corralls list Phurny at 359 a tonne - it gets slightly cheaper in the summer. Taybrite - similar to Phurny, not quite as long-lasting in my experience, is 310 a tonne
Even buying Phurny by the 50kg bag only comes to 379. If I remember rightly, our local village shop sells 25kg bags of Phurny at 9 a pop...which works out at 360 a tonne. If that's right, it's bloomin' cheap!
Regards,
--
Stephen Howard - Woodwind repairs & period restorations
http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk
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We used to have a very old coal-fired Rayburn... And your numbers seem a little high from what I can recall (although it was nearly 5 years ago). We used to spend about 35 a month on coal and I'm sure it was only 4-5 bags of the stuff we took. (25Kg a bag?) It didn't do the heating though, just a small back boiler for hot water. (Which it could boil easilly if we weren't carefull!)
We needed to stoke it up 2-3 times a day and last thing at night, when we'd screw it down to real low tick-over and there was usually enough embers left in it after riddling the next morning to get it going again... But get the vents the wrong way round when re-fuelling it, and it was kitchen full of smoke time ... (again!)
We cooked on it most days too.
PITA when both of us were out through the day though and it got a bit cold and we wanted to cook late at night when we came in...
We now have a gas-fired Stanley.
Gordon
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On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 21:35:44 +0000 (UTC), Gordon Henderson
<snip>

Mine only does hot water too...but won't boil the water unless it's been running on full throttle for the best part of half a day. 4-5 bags a month is an incredibly low consumption.

I'm wondering if yours was a small Rayburn....not that mine's that big ( just the basic main and lower oven job - and no hob cover ), what with the fact that it boiled up so quickly and ran on so little coal.

That, and the really annoying quirk that if you forget to close up the bottom and leave it open juuuuust a smidgeon it'll burn a whole load of coal in an hour and the oven will hit around 500 - and yet when you're planning to have guests round for dinner you have to get the thing going two days in advance. Does lovely spuds tho'....
Regards,
--
Stephen Howard - Woodwind repairs & period restorations
http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk
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You seem set on an either/or choice.
My first instinct would be to go for a cooker and a stove both with back boilers, and both indirectly heating some kind of thermal store. This does of course depend on the ability to plumb both into a single thermal store.
Having (quite a long time ago) had a solid fuel heated house with a Rayburn in the kitchen, I would also have a 'summer' cooker for those years when we have a hot summer and you don't want to cook in a thong ;-)
We had a small 3 ring electric cooker, and an immersion heater and an electric shower. I assume you are on mains electricity.
With this kind of combination you can have several working combinations:
Summer - cooking and washing on electricity. No solid fuel heating
Spring/Autumn - cooker heating the kitchen and washing water. Light the stove in the evenings if it gets chilly.
Winter - stove and cooker going most of the time; possibly keep the cooker in overnight with coal/coke and burn wood during the day if it won't stay in overnight on wood.
This is noting that you want wood fired although there are cheaper and easier options.
We breathed a huge sigh of relief when we installed a Baxi room heater/boiler which took anthracite beans and extended our central heating to all the house.
Even then it was hard and dirty work keeping everything going, and neighbours had to come in over the winter if we were away for a few days to de-clinker and refuel the boiler. We did the same for them.
Gas fired central heating is a dream.
Currently both ourselves and the brother-in-law have gas combis and multi-fuel stoves.
For a good part of the year we can warm the house using the wood burner alone (which keeps the gas bills down) but we have a reliable backup system should we need it. The wood burner also backs up the gas in the event of a power cut.
Relying totally on solid fuel is O.K. - people have done this for centuries - but you have to make a few sacrifices and work quite hard to keep it all going.
HTH
Dave R
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It's an interesting point, Dave, that when you and I started out (and I take it that your timescale was at least 20 years ago :>) ), we did not have the benefit of something like these forums to get the opportunity to discuss these very points. One can only hope that the consultees take on board what the consultants have to offer !!
I didn't go down the solid fuel cooker route, but a neighbour did and had to write off quite a significant sum of money because it really didn't come up to the salesman's patter of being capable of doing everything.
Like you I was awfully glad when I found the funds to go to a reliable and continuous source of heat which didn't require my physical input - no gas here so it had to be oil.
I think the one thing that the OP has correct is the heat store, particularly if he goes your suggested route of cooker and stove as both can directly feed into it. But I would have wondered about the electric shower as I would have thought the immersion heater would have heated enough water for that if either a shower coil is used or the system generally is mains pressure DHW.
Rob
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wrote in message <massive snip>

Showers need a decent head of water. However, venturi shower or shower pump could be the way to go these days, or as you say a pressurised hot water system or a heat exchanger in the thermal store. I guesss I was thinking back to when we were setting the house up - and it was more like 30 years ago. T'Internet? Nay lad..........
In our old house the hot water cylinder and header tank (IIRC) were both in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. Not having the option of a venturi shower, or having even heard of shower pumps (as well as not having much money to spend) the only decent option for a hot shower was an electric shower.
The Raeburn cooker we had came from a friend of my mother. It had been converted to oil (very crude - it looked something like a small greenhouse heater sitting where the ash pan would be) but I converted it back to solid fuel (i.e put the grate and ash box in.). I had to strip it down to move it, then rebuild it in the kitchen which was an epic undertaking.
Hmmm....back to the electric shower. I think an electric shower may be more cost effective than heating water with an immersion heater and then pumping/heat exchanging/mixing it. It is also more immediate. So I would still consider an electric shower for the summer months. [Assuming of course you like showers and don't hanker for a bath instead.]
Cheers
Dave R
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Being in exactly the same time frame re. house refurbishment and also the lack of head for a shower, my reasoning for avoiding the electric shower, having lived with them for some 25 years, is the hankering after something that has decent flow. I don't want to be cut in half by needles of water, but having several friends with mains pressure showers, is encouraging me to consider going down the thermal store route.
Rob
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The house I've just bought has two oil boilers (one for the new extension, and one for some holiday lets) and an oil rayburn (for the old 250 yr old original farmhouse).
The Rayburn is actually a solid fuel converted to an oil, and I'm toying with the idea of converting it back. (A bit of physical exercise, and storage of fuel doesn't bother me.) Neighbours tell us their solid fuel Rayburn is much cheaper than oil. Not sure if I believe it, but oil is only going to become more expensive (and I would expect at a faster rate than wood/coal although that's speculation). Having just bought 3200 litres of oil does smart a bit.
The concensus of opinion so far would suggest I'm mad.
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<snip>
only
How much land do you have, and how much time?
In the medium term you could grow your own trees and coppice/pollard them to provide cost effective fuel.
Anything that takes you away from oil and coal (which are both finite resources) can't be bad.
Cheers
Dave R
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8 acres, but not enough time to be harvesting my own coppiced wood at the moment (although not out of the question in future). Not sure 8 acres is enough to be self-sufficient on wood.

I think I read here that SRWC was not a great idea because you have to chip it before burning it, and even then it's not that efficient a fuel.
Perhaps there's other types of wood that would be a better bet.

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On Mon, 10 Dec 2007 20:53:47 -0000, "Piers Finlayson"

On average sort of ground this might get you 30tonnes of dry matter a year if you are a good farmer. Say 150MWhr(t) gross.

This depends on your definition of cost effective, I haven't come across a grower receiving a stumpage payment for a woody biomass crop yet.

Why?
I'll agree it's not as efficient as many fossil fuels in delivering its potential calories into a home.

I'd say some of the less marketable softwood roundwood from a large scale harvesting operation.
AJH
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