Wood-fired boiler heating questions

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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby Smurf1976 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:32 pm

ALL power pollutes. ALL of it.

Electricity from the grid means coal, gas or big hydro dams plus a bit from wind. At various times environmentalists have strongly opposed all of those.

Gas is gas, and it pollutes.

So does wood, although at least it's renewable and the pollution is clearly visible for all to see (versus a power station you can't see).

Oil-based fuels aren't exactly "green" either.

And even passive solar means using heavy construction materials etc, most of which are mined. So that's not pollution free either.

If you're in central Melbourne then obviously burning wood or coal isn't a great idea. But it's perhaps the lesser of the evils if you're burning wood that would otherwise rot or be burnt off in the open and live out in the sticks.

As many Tasmanians will remember, high profile environmentalists once advocated wood fires as preferable to hydro-electricity, to the point of going into the business of manufacturing slow combustion heaters at one point. Whilst I disagree with that view, it does highlight how complex this debate really is.
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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby CaresAboutHealth » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:42 am

The important issue isn't that everything pollutes, but by how much?

Health experts estimate that every kg of fine particle pollution (considered to post the most danger to our health) has costs of $263 in large capital cities, $111 in smaller cities such as Launceston, Wagga, Armidale and much less in rural areas.

So if you drive your new diesel SUV 20,000 in Sydney or Melbourne, emitting 0.1 kg of fine particles, the estimated cost to public health is $26. In contrast, a typical new wood heater in Sydney or Melbourne emits 20 to 30 kg of fine particles with estimated health costs of $5,260 to $7,890 per year. One is reasonable, and could be covered by a "polluter-pays" tax. The other is ludicrous, arising because years ago there was no alternative way of heating houses in cities, so we had to put up with the pollution and early deaths, until the reality was bought home by events such as the Great London Smogs.

In the past 20 years, health researchers have demonstrated really strong links between current levels of air pollution and premature death, leading to the inevitable conclusion that there is no safe level of fine particle pollution. Sadly, this message has been counter-acted by the industry responsible for a major part of that pollution, who confuse the issue with statements such as "All things pollute", giving the impression that one wood heater is no more polluting than a car, rather than the reality of several hundred cars.

Out in the wild, there are indeed worse sources of pollution, including as the so-called "regeneration burns". Today's news about the melting permafrost in the Arctic and Antarctic should alone be enough for any responsible government to implement the UN Environment Program/World Meteorological Association recommendation to call a halt to every single unnecessary burn-off of rural waste.

People in urban areas can also do their bit by choosing healthy, non-polluting heating. As well as damaging the climate more than other forms of heating, even if you burn dry wood and do your best to operate the heater correctly, every tonne of wood burned emits about 10 kg of fine particles with estimated health costs of $2630 (major capital cities) or $1110 (smaller cities).
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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby Cherokee Solar » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:48 am

Hi CaresAboutHealth,

CaresAboutHealth wrote:which he said used 328 kWh to heat his house (allowing him to heat more of the house to a more comfortable temperature than the gas heating) for the entire winter.

I'm not trolling you but just that one appliance in your example uses as much energy as my entire house - everything, including the inverter - for 100 days (which is winter + give or take a week or two). :lol:

Look, people fixate on a particular issue and start jumping up and down berating others and it helps them to feel good about the rest of the damage they do to the environment.

I used to be a really hard core environmentalist, until the point at which I had to start walking the talk, and I'll tell you to try and do anything with any level of sustainability is really difficult and takes a massive amount of effort.

The pareto principle comes into play too (80 / 20 rule) in that the easy gains are just that, easy. The last 20% though is a real nightmare.

Please stop trolling people here as I have a deep respect for them for actually doing something. You never mentioned what you are actually doing yourself and this in itself is very telling.

You know, people whine about burning well seasoned timber from your own wood lot, which they replant, and which is cut and stored by hand and yet - without even realising it, they are probably wiping their bums on the products of old growth rainforests. How about that paper you are using, where do you reckon that comes from? How about the timber in your brick veneer house which - I understand from a builder friend - that the new ones only a have a lifespan of 35 years? How about that nice new deck you're thinking of installing, made of timber imported from ilegaly logged Indonesian rainforests in West Papua?

It is not a good look and it is one reason I no longer identify myself as a "greenie". We are all hypocrites - every single day - so please get off our backs with your single issue concerns.

Off grid solar + hot water. Heavily insulated + owner built flamezone house BAL-FZ. 300 mixed fruit trees + herbs + flowers + vegetables. Bees + heritage chickens. High up in the mountains north of Melbourne. http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/
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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby australsolarier » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:52 am

cherokee solar,

well said, i second that
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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby CaresAboutHealth » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:31 am

Cherokee Solar : "I'm not trolling you but just that one appliance in your example uses as much energy as my entire house - everything, including the inverter - for 100 days (which is winter + give or take a week or two)."

My 2.6 kW solar system generates about 10 kWh a day - so a month's use it would cover the above example of RCAC heating (which I don't have, instead relying mainly on direct solar gain from the large north-facing windows in all main rooms.)

I respect everyone who wants to do the right thing - but that takes knowledge and understanding. It's much harder to reduce global warming without knowing what activities are doing the most harm. What you call "trolling" is simply an attempt to provide people with facts and links to information that will help them make intelligent decision about future heating.

The UN Environment Program/World Meteorological Association recommended phasing out wood heaters in developed countries to reduce black carbon and methane emissions, not the CO2 that is replaced by re-growing the trees. Simple facts like understanding that more than half of current warming is caused by black carbon and methane (in its own right and as a precursor of ground-level ozone) can help people understand how best to avert catastrophic climate change.

Today's news that "Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic "economic timebomb" which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists." http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... ate-change This is something that affects everyone, not just "greenies".

In addition to the methane and black carbon emitted by your wood heater, every tonne of wood you store in your woodlot is 2 tonnes of CO2 less in the atmosphere. Trees are a great way to store additional carbon until new technological developments allow us to convert to 100% renewable power. Not burning them (unless the alternatives cause less global warming, which obviously isn't the case) will help avert the catastrophic climate change that seems an ever-increasing threat. This applies to the small contribution from firewood lots, as well as the massive contribution from unnecessary "regeneration" burns. Without accurate scientific information, it will be very difficult to fix the problems.

As for recycled toilet paper - it's easy enough to identify in supemarket packages - so it's easy enough for everyone to do the right thing.
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Re: Wood-fired boiler heating questions

Postby susan.to » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:50 pm

Hi, I would like to know if anyone has installed Sophel boiler/glass front heater and have used it for hydronic heating for the house with success. From what I have read from the forum, people written that they have installed and will post outcome later. I have seen model at showroom and was attracted by it's multi use and hydronic connection and we were going to install hydronic heating anyway in a new build at the back of a weatherboard DB fronted Victorian house. Sales person showed me a new one but I was concern that paint was coming off only after a couple of minutes of my husband manoeuvering the glass door up and down. He said that the paint will cure with first burn. Would be great if anyone out there have had success with this unit.
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