November 17, 2020 Coal Gun, Wood Gun

The leaves are changing colors, temps are dropping, and frost covers the ground most mornings leaving some of us longing for warmer weather, and some of us excited for the holiday festivities that are just around the corner and others dreading the cold weather that results in higher heating bills. For some, those heating bills can create a sense of dread and anxiety – we all want a cheaper, efficient way to heat our homes, but how?

When it comes to heating your home, there is no short list of ways to do so. Some expensive, some inexpensive, some convenient, some inconvenient, but all are great options. The question is, what is best for you?

It is no secret that we are biased towards wood or coal stoves. Each adds charm to your home as well as provides cost-effective heat so that you can stay warm all winter long!

Let’s talk about the true cost savings you can create when you burn wood or coal.

Understanding to two types of coal: Bituminous and Anthracite

Before diving into why coal is cost-effective, it is important to differentiate between the two types of coal. In a previous blog, we discussed the two different types of coal: Bituminous and Anthracite. Bituminous is the cliche coal – black, dirty, and leaves soot everywhere. Anthracite on the other hand is a hard coal – producing virtually no sulfur or smoke, which results in little particle emission.

Burning quality anthracite produces nearly 25 million gross BTUs per ton. It can conveniently be used in areas where wood stoves are banned or restricted due to factors such as air pollution or forest fire risk from chimney embers. Anthracite has both a higher relative energy density than bituminous, as well as a lower percentage of volatile matter. It has a higher percentage of fixed carbon, stemming from the fact that anthracite has a longer development history than bituminous. Its chemical composition also results in even heat output. When this is accompanied by good stove design, high heating efficiency will follow.

To learn more about the differences between these two types of coal, click here.

Coal as a cost-effective energy source

Coal is one of the cheapest sources of stable energy. While global warming and the overall impact of burning coal has been on the minds of scientists everywhere, incredible advancements have been made when it comes to using and burning coal responsibly. Today, coal provides 56% of the electricity used in the US.[1]

Generally speaking, coal stoves can burn significantly longer than other fuel stoves – that includes wood. Yes, coal stoves can sometimes generate heat for up to 48 hours (TLC 2000), which is longer than the average wood load can do. In some cases, coal stoves come with a stoker that allows the stove to automatically feed the fire with coal, provide the correct amount of combustion air to keep your house within 1 deg of the desired temperature, and removes the ash from the fire into an ash pan.  Coal is a dense fuel meaning it burns efficiently, producing more heat per ton. It also means a coal room heater stove is capable of producing 2x more BTU/hr. than a wood room heater stove. Essentially you can burn less coal for longer, giving you more bang for your buck.

Our coal-burning stoves

 At Alternate Heating Systems we offer a variety of coal-burning stoves. Our Coal Gun is the most cost-effective stoker boiler on the market. Most Coal Gun users report saving up to 70% off of their conventional heating products. We have four indoor models and two outdoor models – providing you with different options that best fit your family and your needs!

Designed to burn Pea or Buckwheat-sized Anthracite coal, each Coal Gun unit ensures minimal labor, nominal expense, maximum fuel efficiency, and marathon burn-time. Our signature Thermo Ash-Monitoring Control System automatically regulates burn rate and air intake, ensuring that every ounce of coal yields its fullest heat potential. This technology makes it possible for the fire to burn for days at a time, even during low-use periods.

Click here to shop our Coal Gun offerings.

Click here to shop our Legacy Stoves coal room heater offerings.

When in doubt – wood stoves are a great option

 If you are not sure a coal stove is the right fit for you, a wood stove is a great option! Burning wood, and woody materials, has been going on since prehistoric times and still provides a great source of heat for you home today. Before anyone knew about coal or other materials, wood and things like wood chips, brush clippings, and even grass were used to keep families warm on even the coldest nights. While it started with prehistoric people using outdoor fires and eventually moved to colonial and Victorian homes using wood in their fireplaces and wood stoves, today, people all over the world continue to use wood to heat their homes. And while there are other ways to heat your home, including gas fireplaces that can mimic the ambiance of a fire, there is nothing homier and more comforting than a nice fire in your beautiful fireplace or wood stove.

Moving from fireplaces to wood stoves or boilers

 Many homes still have the classic, yet timeless, fireplace at the center of their living rooms, and some still use them on a cold wintery day. However, it is no secret that the design of a fireplace is extremely inefficient. Unfortunately, the natural current of a fireplace sucks indoor air into the fireplace and out through the chimney – both heating and cooling at the same time. It can also suck in cold air from the windows and doors in a home, creating a vortex that sucks in cold air, heats it, then recycles the warm air outside again.

Not to mention, fireplaces only use about 15% of the potential energy stored in wood.[2] To compare, our Wood Gun line of boilers capture and burn up to 66% more combustible matter – all while transforming it into clean, consistent heat.

The pros of using wood as a heat source

It goes without saying that, unless you live in a suburban neighborhood, access to wood and wood materials might be easier than you realize. Some people choose to chop down trees at the end of summer to split into wood that is easy to burn in the winter months to come. If you do not have access to trees or wood products on your property, wood can typically be purchased locally at a reasonable price.

Wood is both a renewable and sustainable fuel source, and the price for wood is relatively stable. Plus, when engineered properly, wood stoves actually emit fewer pollutants into the air which is a huge positive for environmental conscious individuals (as we should all be). Not to mention, biomass is a carbon-neutral fuel source.

And if you really want to help the environment, utilizing wood and wood materials improves forest health, therefore reducing risk of forest-fires.[3]

Finally, wood is relatively inexpensive, especially when sourced on your own property. On average, it costs less per BTU than oil, gas, or electricity.[4] Utilizing a wood stove can save you hundreds of dollars on your heating bill per year.

Our Wood Gun

 Our Wood Gun line of boilers is one of the most fuel-efficient options on the market. While typical boilers waste two-thirds of your fuel’s energy potential, the Wood Gun, as mentioned above, captures, and burns 66% more combustible matter, transforming it into clean, consistent heat.

Easily handling full logs of up to 10 inches in diameter, the Wood Gun spares you considerable wood-splitting work; with the ability to burn logs of up to 30% moisture, it cuts down on wood curing time; and, thanks to our signature Exhaust Scrubbing technology, the Wood Gun’s heat exchanger is self-cleaning—so the only cleaning you’ll have to do is weekly ash disposal.

The Wood Gun line can be used with any heating application (water-based, steam, forced-air).

Wood vs. Coal

 Whether you choose wood or coal, know that you are choosing both efficient and cost-effective options for heating your home. If you have a forest of trees at your disposal, and the time to chop them down, maybe a wood stove is the best option for your family. Do not have a forest in your backyard? That is okay! You can always purchase wood locally, and if that does not feel like the right fit for you, a coal stove works just as well!

Click here to view our Wood Gun offerings.

Unlike other fuel sources, both coal and wood offer the most bang for your buck – burning less fuel, longer.

And at Alternate Heating Systems, we offer up to 20-year warranty on our products, ensuring your home and families are well heated and taken care of in the years to come!