Author Topic: Wood burners  (Read 5180 times)

Offline pwhole

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Wood burners
« on: January 20, 2021, 02:01:25 pm »
My friend is a teacher at the main school in an ex-mining town in South Yorkshire, and the school is fundamentally what keeps a very fractious and run-down town together. Many of the parents are frankly not capable of home schooling as their own education was so poor, being born just after the strike, and as job prospects in these areas are appalling (if you get one it'll be a shit one) there's not a lot of incentive for anyone to work even harder. Much of my friend's time in lockdown has been talking to the police trying to locate her pupils who have gone AWOL on their bikes instead of revising. So they desperately need the school to re-open as it's the glue for the social fabric. There's not many arty singletons and trendy well-off wood-burning stove families in that district. They already had severe deprivation in their education before Covid, due to their social circumstances, and this is just making it worse and worse. However, at her school when it was open, in the last quarter they had two cases of Covid, whereas the school in the next town had 97 at the same time, so much of it is about procedures, control and, probably, respect.

Just a personal gripe of mine, but in most of the middle-class neighbourhoods in Sheffield you have to wear a bleeding mask to protect your lungs from the stove emissions that fill every street from September to April. The areas that mostly kicked off about tree-felling on their roads - but I digress ;)

Offline AR

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2021, 02:23:46 pm »
Just a personal gripe of mine, but in most of the middle-class neighbourhoods in Sheffield you have to wear a bleeding mask to protect your lungs from the stove emissions that fill every street from September to April. The areas that mostly kicked off about tree-felling on their roads - but I digress ;)

Digressing a little further Phil, it may amuse you that recent research by Sheffield Uni has shown just how bad for you wood-burning stoves are; whenever you open the door to put more wood in, the draw of the chimney gets disrupted and the room gets flooded with smoke microparticulates that take a few hours to clear. Perhaps they should be wearing their masks indoors...
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Offline PeteHall

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2021, 02:54:02 pm »
Just a personal gripe of mine, but in most of the middle-class neighbourhoods in Sheffield you have to wear a bleeding mask to protect your lungs from the stove emissions that fill every street from September to April. The areas that mostly kicked off about tree-felling on their roads - but I digress ;)

Digressing a little further Phil, it may amuse you that recent research by Sheffield Uni has shown just how bad for you wood-burning stoves are; whenever you open the door to put more wood in, the draw of the chimney gets disrupted and the room gets flooded with smoke microparticulates that take a few hours to clear. Perhaps they should be wearing their masks indoors...

To bring it full circle then back to Covid. Gathering, cutting and splitting logs is very good for your physical health and sitting by the fire, watching the flames is a brilliant way to unwind and protect your mental health when locked up at home over winter. So on balance, I couldn't give a toss if my stove is bad for my lungs and I certainty won't be wearing a mask as I warm my feet by it this evening  :)

Also for those worried about money (as a result of Covid, or otherwise), there is a pretty much endless supply of firewood out there for free, assuming that you have the space to season it. You only need to pick up a small amount each time you go for a walk and you'll gather enough through the year to heat your home during the winter. Failing that, keep an eye on the highway verges and help yourself when the council leaves it by the roadside.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2021, 03:08:48 pm »
I think the standard advice from stove suppliers is to open the door slowly, so any movement of air is inwards rather than outwards. Stoves are only badly polluting when not run properly.

Michael Gove had a real downer on stoves and never gave a really good reason which couldn't be sorted by using them properly. Could the real reason be that he couldn't figure out a way to tax the wood supply?

(Just putting an alternative view to pwhole's here, not trying to steer the topic away.)

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2021, 03:13:27 pm »
Could the real reason be that he couldn't figure out a way to tax the wood supply?

I reckon you are spot on there!  :lol:

Offline SamT

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2021, 04:11:17 pm »
Intersting topic - that might be worthy of a topic split.


Offline al

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2021, 04:26:33 pm »
Does anybody have any thoughts about biomass wood-burning boilers, from the point of view of efficiency, cost and polution?
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2021, 05:06:53 pm »
Does anybody have any thoughts about biomass wood-burning boilers, from the point of view of efficiency, cost and polution?

I've no experience of these but one of the main reasons I have a traditional multifuel stove is as a back up when other heating methods fail. (Don't biomass burners need an electricity supply to operate?)

When the power goes off (which it does from time to time here in the Dales) the central heating system doesn't work (as the pump needs power). I fire up the stove, which keeps keeps the house cozy and also minimises the risk of pipes freezing.

I'd offer a word of advice to anyone thinking of getting a stove; go for one with a flat top and get a 4 pint farmhouse kettle to stand on it. It gets hot enough to brew up with at a pinch. You can even cook a basic meal on a flat topped stove, if needed. A flat topped stove can also have a stove fan placed on it, which recovers extra heat that would have gone up the stove pipe.

Also avoid "inset" stoves (where the front is flush with the wall) - these are significantly less efficient at heating a room than a free standing stove (as far less metal is exposed to radiate the heat).

But above all, do use properly seasoned wood. The heat output is many times greater than fresh wood, even when it seems dry - and it avoids the risk of a chimney fire (because creosote build up is minimised). It also helps keep the door window clean so you can enjoy watching the flames.

I just chucked a nice beech log (properly seasoned) on mine before I started typing this message and it crackled into life straight away. It's now bright orange hot and the airwash intake is hissing satisfyingly.  So nice on a filthy day!

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2021, 05:42:14 pm »
I've had multifuel stoves for years and used correctly are a very efficient way of heating your home, mine does the hot water and central heating and is also linked to the boiler through a h2 panel which controls the system if you have both on.
Oh and I burn reject recycled paper bricks that where heading for the landfill, winner winner  :ras:

Offline pwhole

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2021, 05:59:54 pm »
Digressing a little further Phil, it may amuse you that recent research by Sheffield Uni has shown just how bad for you wood-burning stoves are; whenever you open the door to put more wood in, the draw of the chimney gets disrupted and the room gets flooded with smoke microparticulates that take a few hours to clear. Perhaps they should be wearing their masks indoors...

Yeah, that's kind of why I mentioned it. Much of Nether Edge and beyond smell like Bonfire Night most nights if it's still, due to the plethora of wood fumes - it's really unpleasant. Made me pine for some coal if I was honest.

Offline jcarter5826

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Wood burners
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2021, 06:43:24 pm »
I can recommend Miflues stoves. Just had a tinderbox model installed. Flat top. Done jacket spuds on it already. Great!


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Offline Robert Scott

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2021, 07:52:00 pm »

Michael Gove had a real downer on stoves and never gave a really good reason which couldn't be sorted by using them properly. Could the real reason be that he couldn't figure out a way to tax the wood supply?

He can't be a good useful decent competent politician if he can't figure out, or he has rubbish "special advisors" who can't figure out, how to tax something that the public uses.

It's just occurred to me regarding Churchill and Attlee. I wonder how many special advisors they had? I think the people advising them were people of some standing and repute, and not 12 year olds with Oxbridge degrees. Political Rant  over.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2021, 07:53:09 pm »
Digressing a little further Phil, it may amuse you that recent research by Sheffield Uni has shown just how bad for you wood-burning stoves are; whenever you open the door to put more wood in, the draw of the chimney gets disrupted and the room gets flooded with smoke microparticulates that take a few hours to clear. Perhaps they should be wearing their masks indoors...

Yeah, that's kind of why I mentioned it. Much of Nether Edge and beyond smell like Bonfire Night most nights if it's still, due to the plethora of wood fumes - it's really unpleasant. Made me pine for some coal if I was honest.

Sounds like they all need an information sheet posting through their doors about how to use their stoves properly. Done right, they produce hardly any smoke.

Then again, I bet folk who had to endure the severe London smogs in the 60s would wonder what you're complaining about!  ;)

Offline grahams

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2021, 08:11:03 pm »

Michael Gove had a real downer on stoves and never gave a really good reason which couldn't be sorted by using them properly. Could the real reason be that he couldn't figure out a way to tax the wood supply?

He can't be a good useful decent competent politician if he can't figure out, or he has rubbish "special advisors" who can't figure out, how to tax something that the public uses.

It's just occurred to me regarding Churchill and Attlee. I wonder how many special advisors they had? I think the people advising them were people of some standing and repute, and not 12 year olds with Oxbridge degrees. Political Rant  over.

Tony Bliar beat Gove to it 20 years ago. He turned the collection of wood from Forestry Commission land in England into a business. The FC charged £40 per tonne for unseasoned wood the last time we used them a couple of years ago - it's probably more expensive now.

You can collect wood from private land if you get the owner's permission, otherwise it's theft.

Common land - I'm not so sure but South Lakes district council used to allow collection from common land in their control under their guidance provided it was for conservation purposes. SLDC used to run courses in woodland conservation for which we were paid in free logs - a great scheme.
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Offline PeteHall

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2021, 08:18:24 pm »
There was something in the news the other week about the asthmatic society calling on government to ban wood burning stoves (possibly on the basis of the above-mentioned research).

The thing that caught my eye was all the commentators complaining about the smell of wood smoke meaning that they couldn't open their windows or sit in the garden in summer!
Clearly these people have no idea what a wood burning stove is, or what it's for. Presumably the real problem they are facing is people burning damp sticks in a chiminea (or whatever they are called) in the garden on a summer's evening...

As Pitlamp says, a properly installed and operated stove produces a lot of heat and not a lot of smoke.

I have a tiny stove and it uses very little fuel, but keeps the whole house toasty. When it's cold, we normally light up as it starts to get dark and stuff the last load in before bed. In the morning, the chimney breast (which is in the centre of the house) is still nice and warm, keeping the whole house warm.

It's also great for humidity, as it draws air through the house as it burns, keeping the damp at bay.

Then, there is the thermo-electric fan on top that helps air circulation...

Anyway, here is me a couple of weeks ago (before the latest lockdown) thawing my feet and drying the drill after a productive evening underground  :)

Offline Chocolate fireguard

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2021, 09:16:29 pm »
Does anybody have any thoughts about biomass wood-burning boilers, from the point of view of efficiency, cost and polution?

In May 2019 I spent a peaceful week in a bothy on the island of Gometra. The bothy had a free standing wood burning stove which also heated water and stored it in a tank.
There was a cast iron bath (the most luxurious bothy I have ever stayed in!) and inside a couple of hours there was enough really hot water to give a good depth.
The stove also heated the place well at the same time. Certainly the bothy mouse seemed to appreciate the warmth.
Finding and carrying wood took a couple of hours each day, was a pleasant way of exploring the island and there was nothing else to do.

According to a source on t’ interweb dry wood has a calorific value of about 19000kJ/kg.
Our combi boiler is rated at 30kW (30kJ/s) so in an hour on full burn it needs 108000kJ of energy from the fuel, which could be provided by about 5.7kg of wood.

Hardwood logs or sawdust briquettes seem to cost 50 to 70 pence per kg (bought in the sort of quantities that would be needed) so that’s 3 to 4£/h to run on full burn.
Gas seems to be about 3 pence/kWh, so about £1/h to run the boiler.
Electricity would be around £5/h.

None of that would bother someone who has access to a plentiful supply of fallen timber of course.

So far as pollution goes, I imagine it would be a disaster if everybody did it, but very few would.

Offline SamT

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2021, 09:27:54 pm »
Right - my relationship with all this started back in 2009/10, when I was made redundant from the banking (IT) sector and decided to go back to school.  Did a MSc on Renewable energy to compliment my original building services degree, and its served me well.

At the time, there was huge concern that there'd be power outages as the old coal fired power stations shut down, and yet nothing new was coming on line to replace them.  "Brown outs" were seriously on the cards.  There was also serious concern over fossil fuel shortages in the form of unrest in the middle east and putin threatening to cut gas supply from the east. 
That was all overshadowed with the biblical threat of global warming.

So renewable heat sources were very much flavour of the day, and 'biomass' was where it was at.

Now luckily the above didn't really come to pass (global warming notwithstanding).  Nobody in the industry, back in 2010 had any idea just how much Solar PV panels and wind farms, especially offshore, would actually take off over the past decade.  We've been very lucky really that it has, and its kept the lights on, literally.

Much of the teaching around biomass was concentrated on quality of fuel, so for logs, they have to be really well seasoned, to be clean, and burnt at a high enough temp, with enough oxygen to allow complete combustion.  'Smoke' and particulates are just unburnt fuel.

So, I installed a log burner.  Always enjoyed the one in an old family cottage in Wales.  Lovely things.  It made perfect sense in our lovely living room, allowing us to knock the fossil fueled central heating off a bit.  I'm a log chopper, and have a proud log store in the back garden, filled with well seasoned logs, I've never bought any.  Just relied on wind falls, helped neighbours take down trees etc. etc.

So I'm one of the cosy middle class suburbanites, from the muesli belt phils referring to.

And Phil is right.  I've been running of an evening round nether edge, and its thick with smoke and at times, most unpleasant.   However, I think some of that is still coal,  and a lot of it will be down to un-seasoned, wet wood being burnt, which 'water cools' the fire box, bringing temps down, leading to incomplete combustion and smoke.   

Quote
Made me pine for some coal if I was honest

How you can say that I'm not sure.  A neighbour of ours across the way still burns coal (FFS).  When they light it at about 4pm, the plumes and clouds of white acrid horrible smoke that billow and pour out of their flue is beyond belief.  I'm surprised by the number of people that do still burn coal to be honest.  Horrible stuff, if rather energy dense.

(and I do find it bemusing when smokers moan about such things, perfectly happy to take huge great lungful's of concentrated tar, ash and carcinogens repeatedly deep into every bronchioles, repeatedly, multiple times a day, but happy to bleat about some disparate wood smoke in the street.)

I think there is probably an issue in urban areas though.  Far different if your in north wales, or the yorkshire dales.

I saw the research about indoor pollutants too.   I cant say I'm too concerned, or convinced its a bigger threat than all the diesel fumes kicking around outside. 

Offline Boy Engineer

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2021, 09:30:37 pm »
Quote
Made me pine for some coal if I was honest.

You’ll be relieved that someone has spotted your apposite pun.

Offline Ed

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2021, 10:00:24 pm »
Legislation on the sale of none smokeless fuel and unseasoned wood is about to be tightened

There is likely to be more smoke control zones extending into rural areas - air quality here is now often worse than inner cities on winter evenings

Offline pwhole

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2021, 11:31:40 pm »
I was kidding about the coal, but not smart enough to notice my own pun ;)

And yes, point taken on smoking Sam - it does sound rather hypocritical to moan about it on one level, but it is only my lungs I'm risking, whereas the Nether Edgers are risking everyone else's whilst they're tucked up safely indoors. And my smoke smells slightly more pleasant. I think this is part of the problem with woodburning though - done well it's a very good idea, but done badly it's rotten, and not much of an improvement. I suspect much of what's being burnt is unsuitable as it's really choky.

I spent a lot of time pondering this when I was working on a long job at Drax, opening up the biomass unloading section - the replacement infrastucture was astounding, and going up very quickly, but all the time this giant pile of coal on the other side of the site was still being topped-up. The trains of biomass were arriving almost nose-to-tail by the time we finished, and we were told that economically it made sense, but it from underneath the rail tracks it was difficult to get much perspective - too much to comphehend. I admit I haven't kept up with progress there in recent times, so I'm not sure if the maths has tilted in its favour yet. The giant pile of coal's still there though.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2021, 08:34:49 am »
Cheer up folks; Trump no longer has access to the nuclear codes!   ;)

Offline Hunter

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2021, 09:35:33 am »
Love the smell of a coal fire!
Been burning wood on a stove for years. As others have said, as long as you open the doors carefully the natural convection current keeps the air flow going up the chimney.
This can be a problem if you have a stove in more than one room as I discovered years ago.
Our main stove was alight in the sitting room when I tried to light the smaller one in the dining room.
The drag from the main stove was actually pulling a strong draft down the dining room chimney which completely filled the house with smoke before I realised what was going on.
Lesson quickly learned, shut the room doors until both fires are burning well and the heat is rising.
It does demonstrate how much air movement is created though.

Offline SamT

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2021, 09:36:07 am »
Re burning biomass on a large scale for electricity generation, I'm not sure this is a 'sustainable' road to go down. 

I was dismayed to hear once that the big new shiny biomass generating plant in Port Talbot was taking ship loads of brash coming across the atlantic from south america i.e. read Amazon.

I also heard a guy talking (lecture) about his high yield crop he'd being growing to supply drax.   I think it took about 10 sec for drax to burn his entire years harvest of crop.

People really haven't the faintest idea just how much energy we consume as a nation and what has to go into the system to maintain that level of usage.

Offline ChrisJC

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2021, 09:59:13 am »
I believe you are right about Drax.

When you take a holistic view of the operation (i.e. growing tree to flue emissions), it's a disgrace. You might as well burn coal.

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Offline SamT

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Re: Wood burners
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2021, 10:14:24 am »
it's a disgrace.

Bit strong.

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You might as well burn coal.

And that's where you let yourself down.  That's that attitude that over the decades has gotten us where we are,  the "Fuck it" type of attitude that pumps my nads.

 

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