Build it yourself "green" home heating system

Discussion in 'The Helpful Handyman' started by John67x, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. John67x

    John67x New Member

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    Last winter while troubleshooting a pesky oil furnace (infernal, dirty beasts in my opinion), I came across these plans for a furnace that can be built for around $200-$300 in materials. It's fuel is compost, (grass clippings, hay and straw among others) and can provide as much as 90,000 Btu/hr, far more than most homes would likely ever need, with hot water supply as well. The plans are free to use and while I haven't dug into all the details, it seems a complete guide to building one. Once built, you load it with compost( grass clippings, hay and many other organics) and a handful of dirt and you've got a very green, low cost furnace.You need a good supply of compost, as it "burns" about 400 pounds in 3 or 4 days in colder winter climates. That all sounded like an infomercial but I thought some specifics were needed to give anyone interested a general idea about it. If I can find time I'd love to get started on one. Here is the page with the plan/guide:http://mb-soft.com/public3/globalzl.html I'd be curious if anyone builds one to know how it went.
     
  2. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Interesting idea I had some friends [2 brothers] that built one in the late 70's their design worked but had a few design flaws they built a sphere like a soccer ball and rolled it around the lawn to agitate it. It was about 6 ft in diameter and when loaded and after a 2 weeks of composting and adding compost it got to heavy to move. With the gear box drive for agitating it should work good. the only other thing to be cautious about is the temperature get close to what is required for spontaneous combustion if not maintained.
     

  3. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    What I am wondering is where you are goign to get a few hundred lbs of grass clipping per week in the winter.
     
  4. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Hay is selling for $85.00 a bale and up, if you can find it.:shock: Jack
     
  5. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    oil furnaces are pesky, "infernal, dirty beasts" problematic, and stinky........had one in an old farmhouse, it was also 'jury rigged' to a massive wood burning furnace, when the wood burned out the oil furnace was to kick in......scary thing that whole set up didn't take long to replace it with propane :grin:

    like apis said:
    "the only other thing to be cautious about is the temperature get close to what is required for spontaneous combustion if not maintained."

    and i see their website has some warnings and storage of materials used and just a snip:
    "The storage of so much material that has been very well dried, and which is therefore extremely combustible, is a matter that requires great attention to ensure safety."

    i am not sure how one would dry out grass clippings? wet or dry, all of these materials are capable of spontaneous combustion.
    i just watched a barn go up this past weekend.....:shock:

    interesting concept, good luck!
     
  6. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I spent half an hour glancing through that and looking at the other offerings from the same domain. They custom make some wood heaters that the owners have difficulty getting intstallation approvals for.

    On the composter/ heater they say there is a very steep learning curve to keeping the bacterial environment just right. They suggest you have two! In your house? Think silo gas! a charge is some 400 lbs organic material and several hundred pounds of water rotating on a one inch pipe with floor flange bearings.

    Dont eat that 'Arry, thats orth thit!
     
  7. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I didn't spend that much time looking at the details. I did spend quite a bit of time last year researching and building several models of the Rocket Mass Heater. I non traditional as well as a design that meets problems in geting approved. It can be approved though you just have to demonstrate that it works reliably. IN looking deeper at what the issue of approval are is that it is a low pressure venting system. and building departments simply don't like that. low pressure increases the chance that dangerous gases will leak into the living space.

    I can't say for sure what all the issue with this system might be. But I can say that inspectors are used to certain systems. and when they come across something different they have to be shown it meets their concerns for safety in any and every way.

    I do know that my experience with composting is that dry materials are slow to get started and produce heat. for a fast decomposition it requires green materials. Of course I have not read or tried their method. I have tried many and found none work quickly.

    In comparison to other alternative heating methods I have looked at. 400 lbs of material every few days seems way over the top. where would you store that sort of material and not have it composting on you already? It is also goign to produce a waste product in the form of compost. Now I can imagine needing that for at least a while. I can even imagine using it for quite a while. btu eventually I think it is goign to be considered just as much a poison to the environment as Co2 is now. Keep in mind plants utilize Co2.
     
  8. tmrschessie

    tmrschessie New Member

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    I don't buy it....I have watched hay bales burn on their own. Looks like a salesman is trying to make silk from a sows ear....I will stick with my outdoor wood burner. Tom
     
  9. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    85 a bale for hay? down here it's 115
     
  10. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. This one is guaranteed to be (too goo to be) true!