Unplugged Energy Independence

Wood/Solar Combination Heating

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Thu,Mar 21,2013 @ 09:42 AM

Certified WoodMaster dealer, Kim Quirk with Energy Emporium, shares the following article relating to a recent Flex Fuel install.

Here in New England many home owners have their own source of wood they can use to heat their home. Or, they may decide that local wood or pellets can replace fossil fuels helping them achieve a level independence from foreign oil.

Working with a few of these customers, I have had the opportunity to put together combination wood and solar heating systems for both home heating and domestic hot water.

Burning wood or pellets in a highly efficient gasification boiler will provide more heat then a typical home can use each hour…especially in the spring and fall. So many of the new wood or pellet boilers recommend (or even require) a large water storage tank.

Solar hot water systems also require a water storage tank because the sun can only provide heat during the day. That heat needs to be saved until it is required.

Since both systems can benefit from a water storage tank, then it makes sense and can save money to design one storage system that can be heated by either energy source. The wood does most of the heating in the winter; and the sun for the summer. The heated water can provide house heating, which we only need in the winter, and domestic hot water, which we need year round.

The Energy Emporium recently installed a large, very well insulated, 2000 gallon water tank from American Solar Technics that is heated with both solar (Sunda evacuated tubes) and a gasification wood boiler (WoodMaster’s FlexFuel30).

Solar / Wood storage tank

Solar / Wood storage tank

Wood/Pellet Boiler

Wood/Pellet Boiler

Solar Thermal Collectors

Solar Thermal Collectors

In the pictures above, the storage tank is in the process of being completed. Once the liner is sealed, 3-4″ insulation is added on top and then a final layer of 2″ foam board will be added on all sides.

The Woodmaster Flexfuel is used with cord wood or pellets. It can decide to start or stop the burn (for pellets) based on temperatures it reads in the water storage tank. It can also block out some times (daytime, for instance) when it will not burn so the sun has the chance to do as much heating as possible.

The solar thermal collectors were built in two rows with northern row 3′ higher than the southern row to avoid shading. The angle is optimized for winter heat production. Each solar collector array has its own coil in the storage tank.

We added datalogging equipment on the solar loops and temperature sensors at 3 places in the tank as well as the boiler in and out. Over time we can report on the efficiencies of cord wood versus pellets and how much energy the sun is adding to this tank. The expectation is that in the spring, summer, and fall the solar collectors will provide most of the heating.

In the image below, the green line indicates the temperature of the storage tank. The red and blue are temperatures of the heat exchanger and the shaded red area indicates that heat is being transferred to the storage tank. Notice that, even in February, when we have a nice sunny day, the solar heating between about 9:30am and 3:30pm was able to boost the 2000 gallon tank temperature. At about 5pm the pellets kicked back in to boost the water temperature for the evening.

Solar Hot Water Data

Solar Hot Water Data

Topics: bioenergy flex fuel furnace, woodmaster, woodmaster flexfuel series, WoodMaster FlexFuel, Flex Fuel, alternative fuel, affordable heating, alternative home heating

WoodMaster Supplies Flex Fuel Series to Silver Bay Greenhouse

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Aug 07,2012 @ 11:40 AM

describe the imageThe business park the city of Silver Bay acquired in 1993 is finally filling up.

Victus Farm has joined AmericInn on the property, which the city now calls its eco-industrial business park. The new farm, a collaboration with the University of Minnesota Duluth, will provide jobs as well as local food and energy for the region.

"This really was a big effort," Lana Fralich, Silver Bay city administrator, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place on Sunday. She thanked the City Council and officials for their foresight in bringing in local jobs for future generations.

The farm is a combination of new technologies. The process starts with fish, tilapia to be exact, grown in large tanks. Next is the greenhouse that holds produce and algae. The fish will provide nutrients for the plants and the plants will oxygenate the water for the fish.

The algae will be made into biofuel, the tilapia will be sold to Harley Tofte, operator of Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais, and the produce will be sold locally.

Ellen Anderson, adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton, made the trip to Silver Bay for the ceremony. She addressed a crowd of more than 100.

"Local foods and local energy means local jobs and local economic prosperity," Anderson said.

The story started in 1993, when the city purchased land for a business park from Lake County.

"Since the early 2000s, we've tried to make it work," Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said.

The city courted many businesses, but AmericInn was the only one they could convince, until now.

The city began discussions with the Center for Sustainable Community Development at UMD more than three years ago and held the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in October 2011.

"This is exactly the innovative, important project UMD should be involved with in the 20th century," said Susan Maher, dean at the UMD College of Liberal Arts.

The city and Lake County, supplemented by numerous local and state grants, supplied the $1.3 million needed for the farm.

The first grant of $300,000 came from the Minnesota Legislature. Fralich and Mike Mageau of the CSCD at UMD did their best to stretch their money, Fralich said.

All the construction labor was local. City crews did the prep work, Lakeside Masonry did the concrete work and Ray Riihiluoma Inc. completed most of the construction. WoodMaster, a local biomass company, supplied the pellet boilers that will heat the facility and water.

The final step will be the installation of a wind turbine near the water tower to power the facility. The city is in the process of finalizing the agreement.

The city hopes to expand the eco-industrial business park to include a pellet manufacturing facility that can feed the boilers at Victus Farm, Fralich said. The nearest pellet facility is in Hayward, Wis.

The farm will bolster the local economy and serve UMD, too, Mageau said. The site will be used for education, research and as proof that a system like Victus Farm can work in a small community like Silver Bay.

"This has really been an amazing project," Mageau said. "Silver Bay has been by far one of the best communities to work with."

 

Learn more about WoodMaster's Flex Fuel Series.

Topics: affordable fuel, bioenergy flex fuel furnace, alternative energy sources, affordable heating source, EPA qualified furnace, EPA qualified, Flex Fuel, affordable heating, energy independence

WoodMaster dealer makes customers happy (and warm) with person-friendly heat

Posted by Kelsey Gagner on Tue,Jan 03,2012 @ 02:55 PM

Jonathan Wells, part-owner of Wells ContractingWhen WoodMaster dealer Jonathan Wells’ first batch of furnaces were delivered, the first thing he did was put one in his own house.

“As far as I’m concerned, WoodMaster has one of the best wood-burning products out there, and I’ve looked at a lot of them,” says Jonathan. “I figured if I’m going to sell them, I ought to have one.”

Jonathan and his brother, Brian Wells, began selling WoodMaster furnaces one month ago as an experiment in supplementing his family-owned contracting business during the slower, winter months. So far, he’s sold ten WoodMaster furnaces and says it’s been “going without a hitch.”

Jonathan, part-owner of Wells Contracting in Murphy, N.C., currently sells WoodMaster wood furnace models, including the WoodMaster 4400; however, his eventual goal, as long as there is demand, is to carry all WoodMaster products.

“We’re open to selling every item WoodMaster offers, including the pellet furnaces and bioenergy flex fuel furnaces,” says Jonathan, explaining he and Wells Contracting staff have plans to travel to WoodMaster headquarters in Red Lake Falls, Minn., for training on other WoodMaster products.

Jonathan has sold furnaces to people of all ages, from people in their 20s to people in their 70s. With his sales of wood-burning WoodMaster furnaces already thriving, he is considering investing in a wood processor to sell wood along with the stoves. 

One of WoodMaster’s main benefits, says Jonathan, is “person-friendly heat.”

“You get the benefit of burning wood without the mess—there’s no dust or ashes, so it’s good for people with allergies,” explains Jonathan.

As a business owner, Jonathan says his job description is simple: “to make sure the customer is pleased, regardless of whether I make money on the project. We take pride in our work and go the extra mile to make someone happy.”

Jonathan says all of his WoodMaster customers have been overly surprised with the product’s efficiency.

“I like to see people smile when they crank it up and see how great it works,” says Jonathan. “They knew it was going to work well, but they didn’t know it would work this well.”

With “customers calling all the time to tell him how they love the system,” it’s safe to say that selling WoodMaster products fits right in with Jonathan’s job description.

Topics: dealer spotlight, woodmaster 4400, person friendly heat, red lake falls mn, wells contracting, north carolina woodmaster dealer, jonathan wells, bioenergy flex fuel furnace, woodmaster, pellet furnace, wood master, WoodMaster Dealer, lower heating costs

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