Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pellet Forced Hot Air and Boiler Systems

(Harman rep with Bulk Fuel Bin and PB105- Reno HPBA March 2007)
Harman has long been the front runner in the pellet stove marketplace. It's underfired feed system has given us some of the largest btu, lowest maintenance pellet stoves available in the US. That coupled with Harman's strong coal, and wood furnace background lead to the introduction of their whole house pellet systems. The PF100 Pellet Furnace was first released in 2004. This innovative unit was the first pellet furnace to be made in and for the US market. In the fall of 2006 it was followed up with the PB105, the first pellet boiler manufactured in the US. The fall of 2007 showed continued innovation and promotion with the bulk fuel bin that Harman designed to work with both of their whole house units, as well as their P-series pellet stoves.
The PF100 contains the same control, feed, and venting systems as the Harman freestanding and insert stoves, just on a larger scale. It has an impressive heat range from 0 to 112,000 Btu's. The unit itself holds 160 pounds of pellets, or hook up Harman's latest innovation the bulk feed bin for 1400 pounds of hands free use. It's large ash pan means that cleaning needs to happen only after three or so tons have gone through. This is a great system that many people add to their homes for central heat. Some replace their old system entirely, while others leave their old system in place as a backup and simply install the pellet furnace in series by tapping into exisiting plenum systems.
Many areas use hot water, and forced hot water heat systems. While they had to wait a little longer it was well worth it. In 2006, Harman released the PB105. This unit will heat water up to 120C with a heat range of 0 to 112,000 Btu's. The optional hot water coil gives an added benefit of heating domestic hot water. Again using Harman's control, feed, and heat transfer system from their stoves and inserts. This unit has an extra large ash pan, and pellet hopper, as well as the ability to direct vent using a four inch PL rated pellet stove pipe. The bulk fuel bin may reduce filling to once or twice a month!
Harman's latest innovation gives us a glimpse of the future. The bulk fuel bin is designed has a small footprint, and is designed to be fed from bagged fuel, as the vast majority of pellet fuel is delivered in this manner. It is a step in the direction of elminating the bag, and moving to a bulk feed and delivery system. We may learn a great deal from Europe about bulk pellet fuel systems. They have pellet trucks that deliver fuel in much the same way as we have oil and propane delivery trucks here in the US. There are a handful of dealers and consumers who buy bulk pellets using bulk sacks, or other bulk deliveries such as rail, and I suspect that this method has room only to grow. New England Wood Pellet received a grant a few years back to purchase the first bulk pellet fuel delivery vehicle. Grain silos have been the predominant fuel holders in the US. Europeans often make wooden bins, or pellet closets that may be similar to what coal bins or closets were like in the late 1800 and early 1900's here.
In the coming years we may see other companies follow suit with similar boiler and forced hot air pellet systems. Central Boiler has recently released a multi-fuel outdoor system, Tarm offers an imported boiler or furnace system as examples. Europe's wood pellet leads the market as far as wood pellet boiler and furnace systems with many innovative and viable designs in place, but with people like Dane Harman behind the US market keep an eye out!

13 comments:

awoodsom said...

Very good article. I am have owned a pellet stove for 8 years and am considering a Pellet furnace. There seems to be very little information out there on them. I was very disappointed with Harman's web site. When I look up their boiler they have very little information about it. Is there anyone out there that owns one that could provide some feedback?

WoodPelletGuru said...

Here are a couple of online resources that may put you in touch with other pellet users:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pelletstove/
and
http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewforum/22/
Hope this helps!

Bryan said...

I bought the pb-105 boiler. Have been pretty happy with it. Theses units do require cleaning maintenance more that what Harman recommends to prevent issues. Harman's tech support leaves a lot to be desired.I'M A PLUMBING AND HEATING CONTRACTOR AND USED TO BEING ABLE TO CALL MANF. WITH TECH ISSUES THAT DEALERS may not be able to answer. Only way was able to talk to there tech people was to tell them I was installing unit for one of there dealers.They need to work on their customer service dept. As I'm able to sell these to some of my customers and want rep that will stand behind product with customer support.

WoodPelletGuru said...

Harman dealers, and other manufacturer's that do dealer servicing are thoroughly trained on how to service their stoves, furnaces, and boiler systems. Having a trained professional service a unit makes so much more sense to me over having an untrained homeowner diagnose and attempt to repair a burning heat source. We have seen some scary situations when people try to fix or modify their stove themselves. You may be a very unique individual who has a good enough background to understand how to service your own unit, but you might be surprised how knowledgeable your dealer can be. Some of us can give as good or I would argue better since we are giving face to face service and have our hands in real world situations each and every day.
Call center service wouldn't cut it for me...

WoodPelletGuru said...

I am glad you are happy with your PB105. I, too, use that as my main heat source and dhw heater and have been very pleased. I clean mine after burning three tons of fuel. I don't see that there is anything I do that is above or beyond what the owner's manual goes over. I am using a premium fuel that has a good reputation for being consistent. Sometimes the pellet can make all the difference. I am hoping to record a cleaning that I will post when we do our final cleaning this year.

Mack The Knife said...

Does this PB-105 has capabilities for burning grass &/or grain type pellets? Also and more importantly, why is this unit not UL Approved/Listed yet? Are there any recommendations for these types of pellet boilers out there?

WoodPelletGuru said...

I have heard of people mixing corn with wood (up to 40%). In my area (New England) wood pellets are prevalent, inexpensive, and plentiful. There is one company making a switch grass/wood pellet blended fuel that works fine in Harman's. I have also heard of folks burning cherry pits, walnut shells in their Harman's. You will find that wood pellets are going to require less cleaning and maintenance. In the case of corn you want to be careful because the acids in the corn eat metal. Even stainless although it does last a bit longer...
Harmans pellet stoves, furnace, and boiler appliances are all UL tested and approved. The PB105 is designed for residential use, but there are many cases where they are installed in series for larger applications. We also have some in townhouse complexes, etc. The PB105 can be used for any application that needs water heated. That is essentially what the boiler does- heat water to a set (by you) temperature. The circulation/distribution of heated water is outside the boiler and a plumber can help you design that end of things...

Jeff said...

WoodPelletGuru,

You seem to be in the business, do you sell Pellet Boilers? If so, how can someone contact you who lives in Northern N.E.?

Thanks ~Jeff

WoodPelletGuru said...

Harman's web site has a Dealer Finder on the main page, or you can follow the url below to find the Harman dealer closest to you.
http://www.harmanstoves.com/wheretobuy.asp
Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what PB105 cost installed?

Jeff said...

Has anyone had any experience using the Maine Woods Pellets yet?

Are they hardwood or softwood?

Premium?

BTU output?

Ash content?

Etc., Etc., anything else you can tell me would be appreciated.

Thanks ~ Jeff

Michael said...

I have gas forced air system in my house and I am looking to hybrid the system. What should I consider? Is wood pellets more cost efficient than gas? With the pellet furnace with forced air system just running hot water though a radiator of sorts? Do you have a dealer or tech in the Bozeman montana Area? Will these systems direct vent?

WoodPelletGuru said...

Michael,
You will want to consider cost and availability of pellets in your area. A cost comparison for pellets versus natural gas, propane, oil, etc. can be found on the Pellet Fuels Institutes web page. I would choose a dealer carefully. Check on their service policies and warranty coverage. Harman has a dealer locator on their site and they carry hot air furnaces, as well as boiler systems. Many people install them in tandem with their existing system.
As far as the venting Harman's whole house systems are direct vent with four inch rated pellet pipe.