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Good old "Powerpile"

Tim McElwain
Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,608
Please don't misunderstand I am all for saving energy and what that entails.



The recent snowstorm left me with out power for about 30 hours (back on at midnight last night) thanks to National Grid. I was however nice and warm with my old warm air furnace 60 years old and still working great. Many years ago I converted it to powerpile. When I lose the power I remove my door to the blower and add my extended piece of duct work to the opening on the blower door. The reason for that is you do not want return air and air for combustion coming from the same space. The house stayed between 65 to 68 all the time. In addition I have an old Temco thru the wall direct vent heater also powerpile. I lit the pilot on that and it kept the family room at 70 all during the snow storm. It is funny I had an energy audit done several years ago and the furnace and space heater were condemned by the company doing the audit as very dangerous and possibly making high volumes of Carbon Monoxide (they never tested with a combustion analyzer) but relied on a report they had read about old gas equipment. By the way the CO reading on my furnace in the flue sample taken in October was 35 PPM air free. I was curious so I checked it at the peak of the snowstorm and it was 42 PPM air free.



I will not be installing a 90 plus furnace any day soon. Probably will have to if I sell the house to satisfy the folks who just do not know how good some things were and still are.



I normally heat most of the house with my Pellet stove but without power it will not work.

Comments

  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,808
    "Like"

    If there were a "like" button I could hit for your post Tim, I would.
    Steve Minnich
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,392
    Tim, there...

    is something to be said about simplicity, isn't there. :)  kcopp
  • HDE
    HDE Member Posts: 225
    Seems like a hassle

    Why not have a good generator that would power the pellet stove, give you light, keep the food from spoiling, Internet connection, TV, and other communication with the outside world?



    You have a point though, the house would sell much better with a modern heating system. I have a suggestion, we all never know when our time will be up, please consider not leaving mechanical upgrades required to your loved ones after your gone.
  • pipeking
    pipeking Member Posts: 252
    HDE,

    REALLY DUDE, I'M REALLY?
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,608
    Generator

    say I might just look into one of those someday, perhaps before I kick the bucket and leave all the mechanical upgrades to my wealthy son and daughter.



    Truth is many furnace manufacturers and several boiler folks have offered me a freebie just to try there product. I prefer to put them in my training center for training folks on them.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    Amazing

    The slight tweaking you did seems to be considered a lot of work by HDE.  However running a loud expensive generator at the cost of as much as a gallon per hour of gasoline and annoying their neighbors is not.

    Maybe if I think about it long enough I'll understand that logic but I doubt it. 



    Thanks for posting Tim.  Unfortunatly I'm stuck with a modernized steam boiler so no powerpile for me. :( 

     As I said in another post on the steam section I'm planning on making a little setup that uses alligator clips,16AWG wire fused very low and a tiny 120W inverter to run my steam boiler from my car if things get bad.  I do have a generator but do not want to have to run it all night.  Obviously a deep cycle battery would be best but then I have to maintain that all of the time for something that may never happen. 
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • bill_105
    bill_105 Member Posts: 429
    Back to Tim's original thought

    Simplicity is wonderful. Stay warm out there. This world needs more Tims
  • HDE
    HDE Member Posts: 225
    edited February 2013
    Been there

    I myself having lived in a freezing area with power outages lasting 1-7 days have lived it.

    I had a standing pilot gas fireplace insert and a power pile heater in the basement. The generator did the rest. At first I was the only guy around that had one, hence parties were at my lit up house. Later most the street got one.



    To the poo poos, yes shame on me for being the only one prepared. Also, I'm not that old but, I make it a goal to not leave my wife in a shambles or any loose ends to deal with when I depart. I know it will be appreciated. That's called love. It's the last nicest act you could ever do for a loved one!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    Yea

    I can just picture my wife standing out in the snow, starting our 8HP IC B&S powered generator when its 10F outside.



    I guess I'll be leaving my wife in shambles if I die.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
    Generator

    Get a diesel generator. I bought a military mep002a diesel from govliquidation.com and it kept me going for 11 days during sandy. Using home heating fuel from my tank that I do not use anymore. Burned barely 20 gallons of fuel in 11 days. Worth the piece of mind with a gen set that is basically built to go to war.

    The gen set has an aux fuel pump that when hooked up to external tank will fill itself.
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
    Generator

    Get a diesel generator. I bought a military mep002a diesel from govliquidation.com and it kept me going for 11 days during sandy. Using home heating fuel from my tank that I do not use anymore. Burned barely 20 gallons of fuel in 11 days. Worth the piece of mind with a gen set that is basically built to go to war.

    The gen set has an aux fuel pump that when hooked up to external tank will fill itself.
  • GusHerb_2
    GusHerb_2 Member Posts: 3
    Your oldie

    What kind of furnace is your oldie? Do you have a high limit to keep it from overheating?



    Nice to have heat after the power is out. Someone once questioned my desire for keeping a natural draft standing pilot water heater. I said "how will you shower when the power goes out you don't have any hot water?" He just blew me off and laughed at me.



    A year later a tornado came through and took our power out for 24 hours (longest it's ever been out actually). I went and turned the shower on the afternoon the next day without thinking anything of it, and then remembered that conversation, then proceeded to enjoy a warm shower (without electricity) while having the last laugh.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2013
    Water Pumps:

    Every house I have owned and lived in had a well and water pump. Without power, I had no water.

    Potable water safety devices depend on an available water source to be 100% effective. If you loose power, and you do not have municipal water with a continuous supply, to be 100% safe, one might consider turning a gas water heater control, that is not an electronically controlled control system, to set the thermostat to "Vacation" or the gas control to "Pilot". It may be overkill but for those under the influence of fear mongers it might help to lower the stress level.

    During last week's storm. I was without power for 30 hours. My decorative gas fireplace log set kept the house at 62 during the day but I turned it off at night while sleeping in the dark.

    It doesn't matter how I plan because the national LP gas provider I have used for 12 years, (and I am on automatic delivery,) has let me run out. They called me and told me that they would not deliver me any product until next week. But they would bring me a tank with some product in it and bring my old tank back later. It's my fault I ran out. I only have a gas dryer and the log set for emergency use. I connected it with a 20# grill tank.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,442
    vented?

    Icesailor, is that fireplace vented?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    portable LPG tanks

    I was tearing out an old Orangeburg sewer main with a small excavator.  The line passed under a concrete fence footer near the 160 gallon LPG tank.  The soil was quite rocky and hard so we decided to remove the first foot or so using the bucket.  Big mistake.  The LPG company had buried the line less than 6" below the surface.  It caught on a tooth and lifted the whole segment, snapping off at the upturn elbow near the house.  In order to get the dryer running, I hooked up a 40# cylinder temporarily.  Seven months later, the cylinder ran out.  I bought another 40# cylinder and never looked back.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,028
    backup heat

    Most of the current generation gas direct vent fireplaces now use an IPI ignition system with a battery powered backup. They come with a plastic battery pack that will accept 2 D cells, 4 AA or a 9 volt depending upon mfr and system but you can run a fireplace for a day or two off batteries. Just no convection blower but these things are heater rated and do transfer a lot of radiant heat as well as some convective heat on the models with a convective chamber. Also, most of these units use ceramic glass which transfers about 3x the radiant heat of ordinary tempered glass. This makes a nice selling feature for these units.



    You can run many pellet stoves off a deep discharge marine battery with inverter but just understand not all control modules, whether a pellet stove or furnace are happy with square wave inverter signals. Timmie could probably speak to that better.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Vented:

    Its a vent free decorative log for installation ONLY in vented masonry chimney with the damper removed (Massachusetts) it a clip installed to block complete closure of the damper.

    I installed two last month in a old house because the owner wanted them in fireplaces that I wouldn't trust for a fire. Massachusetts has strict CO detector requirements that are part of the installation.

    For poops and whistles, I fired both up before I removed the damper and tested the CO with my digital analyzer, after 20 minutes on high, the highest CO I got was 8 PPM. I went into the kitchen and fired up the new $5,000+ gas stove, After a few minutes, the top burners were over 250 PPM CO, I stopped.

    How much CO is given off by a tribe of candles during a long power outage?
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2013
    Fireplace heating:

    These are NOT for primary heating but for suplimental heating and asthetics. Their biggest use is for older summer cottages on cool Spring or Fall days when you just want a little heat and a fire.

    They are Massachusetts approved and must be intstalled as per special massachusetts regulations.

    http://www.fmiproducts.com/prod_detail.cgi?prodnum=4.2.0.06
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,028
    fireplaces

    Yes, fireplaces are Not primary heat sources. The heater rating means they are allowed to be controlled by a thermostatic control for unattended operation. It is pretty hard to sell a new home around most of the country without a fireplace. A gas direct vent turns what used to be a negative into a plus. The negative was from an open hearth fireplace exhausting 400-600cfm on avg., using room air for combustion and subject to house pressure regimes for venting versus backdrafting smoke, odors and carbon monoxide. Direct vents have none of those defects. Instead, they use outdoor air for combustion. They use sealed combustion technology. They only leak CO if damaged or have a major defect.

    A DV fireplace makes for a great zone or supplemental heater. Many homeowners have discovered they can zone heat the fireplace CAZ for a large part of the day then use the central heat to bring the rest of the house up later in the day and save on energy bills.

    Ventfree are highly restricted by code, must be installed exactly per mfr. and maintained, which is rarely done. Just keep in mind YOU are the chimney. Most VF have an offensive odor associated with them. They are allowed to produce 200ppm AF of CO per ANSI. You should ensure you have plenty of fresh air when burning ventfree, which negates much of their highly touted efficiency and do not burn them for more than 4 hours at a time without plenty of off time and ventilation between. Almost all VF I find are grossly oversized, totally neglected with logs damaged and out of position covered with more hair than the cat and installed in an inappropriate fireplace in too small of a space that is of tight construction.

    Regardless, get a low level CO monitor that is unlisted.
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