How do y'all stay warm over these winter months...?

Discussion in 'General Off Topic Forums' started by Old1625, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. Old1625

    Old1625 New Member

    (Moderators: I have long ago embraced that perhaps I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so it is possible that this posting is misplaced. Please feel free to move it wherever you feel you must, and at least let me know where it went. I'll understand.... :eek:)

    I have been using old "king" coal for about 30 years. At first when my family came to this old farmhouse it took between 12 and 16 cord of wood to heat it a season. There was an old coal furnace in the cellar that we burned wood in--simply because the old man decided it wasn't in any condition for anything as hot as the coal fire it was intended to have in its belly.

    I begged to differ, and I was alpha enough that eventually things shaped up that I would assume all responsibility. And I did. I started advertising that I would remove unwanted chestnut coal from cellars. There were many unwanted caches of coal. Having chopped wood for enough years of my life I was not one to refuse free fuel. I used an ancient Dodge truck to haul home bummed coal from all over. For many years. I did have to start being legit, and buy coal like the rest of society eventually.

    I tended that furnace--merely an old and very large pot-bellied stove encased in a metal can, and originally gravity feed and later blower fed heater. This behemoth ran off of chestnut or "nut" coal--Penn's best anthracite--and needed to be shaken down, banked, shoveled out, swept of fly-ash, etc--which I did for darn near three decades..

    Enter my coal dealer, who has been keeping me in coal and selling it to me far cheaper than any of the competitors for many years. Now his prices are starting to get obnoxious, but he's doing the best he can under the circumstances of soaring operating costs.

    The dealer had been trying to get old tight-pockets here (me) to upgrade from this mid 19th century monster to something newer.

    It finally happened that somebody bought an Alaska brand model 140 rice-coal furnace, and then got talked out of it by his wife, and my dealer reluctantly bought it back--barely used. I got it at a significant discount.

    I got it home and proceeded that winter to set it up in my mudroom. And managed to more than successfully to heat that mudroom--along with my rather large workshop adjacent to it by keeping the door open.

    The following summer I uninstalled the old furnace (not a small project--believe me!) and then put this new 170KBTU plant in place...


    It is--as originally offered by the dealer--a double-stoker unit, with each stoker controlled by a separate control box. I wanted to make this new furnace down cellar respond to a normal thermostat up in the dwelling, and was qouted a price by the maker of this furnace of around a grand for the kit to do this. I told them what they could do with this kit.

    The furnace came to me with two stokers--each with their own controller, each of which I assumed I was expected to control manually to try to maintain the desired rate of burn to keep my house warm.

    Screw that crap. I wanted a 'stat like the rest of the civilised world.

    I also ascertained from the Alaska stove co that one controller could not source out to two stoker. With such info I devised a system in an old alarm system box that has the relays necessary.
    One relay enables a single control box to control 2 stoker motors. Another relay is controlled by an upstairs 'stat--like what the rest of the world has--which switches between the two feed control boxes. So one controller "pilot" is set at a minimum maintenance burn rate, so that the fires wont extinguish. When the stat calls from above for heat the relay that answers the stat's impluse switches the stokers over to the other controller which is set at a higher stoker feed rate. So the 2 stokers are controlled by one controller at a time--slow for a pilot rate when no heat is called from the stat, and a higher rate when the stat warrants more heat.

    Then--conscious that when the hopper runs out of coal the fires on the stoker pads....
    [​IMG]are extinguished, and have to be manually rekindled, that I needed to come up with a system to provide a reserve in the hopper--to wit that when the supply in the hopper dwindled from its maximum of 250lbs of rice coal to a paltry 75 or so that the thermostat upstairs would essentially be disconnected. This way the coal would be consumed at a mimimum rate until I could get back and replenish the supply. Pilot rate with the remainder is generally about 12 hours, so I have plenty of time to get around to rectifying the situation.

    Hillbilly Electronics to the Rescue.

    I whipped up a 3-transistor DC amplifier circuit, and printed up a board for this amp to use with a CdS cell (LDR) along with a 12V bulb--both planted on opposite sides of the hopper--bulb to upper left and "electronic eye" to lower right to provide appropriate slowdown of fuel consumption at the time when it is adviseable....

    PC assembly....
    Hopper above critical level...
    Hopper below critical, and the stat upstairs is ignored until I can haul my lard butt down to refill the hopper...
    The electronic eye is seen to the right as a pilot light jewel, in which the cell is hidden and protected.

    I still plan a battery backup, that will enable the furnace to maintain pilot burn during power failure, until I can get around to firing up my genset (also homebrew)....

    to provide a normal lifestyle until the provider can give me juice again. It will be comprised of an inverter, a trickle charge system, deep cycle batteries, and the third relay seen in the control box, which will transfer from one system to the other--as needed.

    Anyhoo that's how I do. How do y'all keep warm?
  2. Web Police

    Web Police Banned

    Looks cool, although I don't have time to tinker with my heat. :D
  3. x_25

    x_25 Big Vandies!! Mwahahah...

    Thats a cool set up. We use a wood stove insert at my house for heat. We go through about a cord and a half to 3 cords depending on how cold it gets.
  4. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Leb' deine Träume! Subscriber

    My house has a steam boiler that was originally built to burn coal, but was installed on day one (1941) with an oil burner. The builder must have gotten it dirt cheap.

    With oil at $3.19 a gallon lately :yuck: we've turned the thermostat down to 70° and use a few electric space heaters to take the chill off.

  5. Old1625

    Old1625 New Member

    Neither do I, but one has to do what one has to do. :thmbsp:
  6. Old1625

    Old1625 New Member

    I just got my second-for-the-season 4 ton load of coal--$1000 bucks. Oh well... I think that my bro down in the city near here spends almost that much to get a monthly oil delivery....

    I'd like to wring some oil magnate necks....Naw! What good would it do? Likely our fault to begin with.... :rolleyes:
  7. BroonsBane

    BroonsBane raisn em up waxin em down

    We heat our house with a natural gas furnace and I've got a killer down parka for outdoors. Good thing too, we are expecting daytime highs of -20C over the weekend.
  8. vinyldavid

    vinyldavid AK Subscriber Subscriber


    :yes::yes::yes: :D :music:
  9. Urizen

    Urizen AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Shaddap until you have to pay for it.:D

    My power bill is a third less, compared to last year, since I placed a couple of ceramic electric space heaters around the house. Having my 57 year old home painted and caulked this past summer helps, I'm sure.

    Gas is expensive here, and I have a gas furnace, fireplace and water heater.

    Next up is replacement of the hot water heater.
  10. OvenMaster

    OvenMaster Leb' deine Träume! Subscriber

    Ah, yes, that reminds me: my Yamaha amp in Class A is the best-sounding room heater I've ever had the pleasure of owning.

  11. caddisgeek

    caddisgeek sorry.......what?

    Natural gas down here, but not at the moment....................bout 30 deg C today, 42 C the other day bit different to you eh broonesbane?
  12. merrylander

    merrylander AK Member Subscriber

    All electric, Trane 3 ton high efficiency heat pump plus a 'Heatilator' type fireplace - double steel walls and a fan, glass doors in front with fresh air drawn from outdoors.
  13. Dynacoman

    Dynacoman New Member

    Heat Pump and tube amps
  14. pioneervato

    pioneervato Member

    My game PC with an nVidia 8800 GTS graphics card. That sucker puts out quite a bit a heat.:D And for outdoors, sometimes I put on a light jacket on the colder days but most days just my usual tee shirt and button up shirt does me just fine. :thmbsp:
  15. BroonsBane

    BroonsBane raisn em up waxin em down

    Yeah, just a few degrees different. I couldn't live in Australia or anywhere else that gets really hot, can't take the heat. I"m a cold weather animal :thmbsp:
  16. chewy

    chewy New Member

    I turn up the thermostat......:yes:
  17. DougMac

    DougMac AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Heat pumps and a Jotul stove in the basement office. When we built, I wish I had sprung for either a geothermal system or radiant floor heat.

    We moved from a 1950's house with no wall insulation, original single pane windows and a gas furnace to a fully insulated house with good insulating double panes. We doubled square footage (1/2 in a daylight basement with poured concrete walls hunkered up in a hillside) and pay 1/2 - 2/3 for heating than the old house.

    We also keep the house at 66-68 in the daytime and turn the heat way down at night. When we wake up, it's usually 60-62.

  18. x_25

    x_25 Big Vandies!! Mwahahah...

    I forgot about my computer. The proseor in it doent put out much heat (overclocked by 25% and it still wont go above 46*C) but the graphics cards (yes two of them) idle at 55*C and get up to 65* when really working. Raise the temperature in my room 10*F in an hour just idling. :yes: It's a noisy heater though, with 3 hard drives, 8 fans and the case open.
  19. bshorey

    bshorey AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I've got an 80,000 btu wood stove in the breezeway. The house is heated by oil, which as we all know is pretty expensive. I can crank up the wood stove and easily knock a couple thousand bucks off my home heating bill every winter.

    This is the first year I bought wood, prior to this year I've been burning trees I cut down when I cleared the lot, and stuff that friends and relatives send my way.

    I think I'll burn 3-4 cords of wood this winter.

    It's nice to have one room in the house where I can sit and roast! I regularly keep the breezeway in the 80's, so the heat from there can disberse through the house. Some day I'll get clever with directly ducting things to the upstairs of the house, but for now, heat rises..

  20. Urizen

    Urizen AK Subscriber Subscriber

    We cut ours back from 68 last year to 65 this year. WIth space heaters and warmer clothes, we've been fine.:thmbsp:

    I refuse to pay MLG&W the amounts we did last year, and gas is the kicker.

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