Monday, January 02, 2012

Experimental Fireplace Door with Backboiler UPDATE


Experimental Fireplace Door

I have had a number of requests regarding this experiment. Some of these email requests want specific information sent to them. I say yet again PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT AND WILL NOT ACT AS A CONSULTANT OR ADVISOR. All such requests get binned so do not bother sending that email.

Others simply want to know how the experiment is going this winter. I am very happy to provide an update for those requests.

1. So far this winter we have used only the experimental fireplace to heat the entire house.

2. Apart from the Christmas week, when we had guests staying, we have not used the electric immersion water heater.

3. The fire burns 24 - 7 for 5 continuous days - then it has to have the ash removed and is re-lit within a couple of hours.

4. 11 rooms including 3 bathrooms are constantly heated to between 19C and 24C  24-7. The bedrooms are kept intentionally cooler. The warmest room is the living room in which the fire is situated. The only source of heat in that room is the fire itself the air temperatures vary between 22C and 24C.

5. There is sufficient hot water most of the time from the fire and back-boiler - except when we have guests.

6. During the cold spell, when the outside temperatures were -1 to 4C and windy - we used just short of 80Kgs of coal per week.

7. In milder external temperatures of 8 - 11C the usage goes down to 60Kgs a week or maybe just a tad less.

8. To answer some enquiries regarding the temperatures of the chimney breast - which I have just measured right now, here are the readings:

(a) 500mm above the fire the wall is at 45C
(b) 1500mm up it is at 35C.
(c) In the room backing the fireplace the temperatures are 1 meter from the floor and directly behind the fire the wall is 36C.
(d) At ceiling level it is at 32C.
(e) In the two bedrooms above and directly in line with the flue the wall is at 29C.

All temperature readings were taken twice using an infrared non-contact industrial type thermometer.

Technical Problems?

Only technical problem I have had to date is in the air control. I modified the under-floor butterfly valve to get a tighter fit using a silicone washer. The silicone sheet I used has not taken the heat too well and has partially melted. I will have to replace this and will use a piece of quality branded silicone baking tray - which hopefully should handle the heat better.


Am I pleased with the results? You betcha!! Everyone in the house is very pleased with having a constantly warm house 24-7. The room temperatures vary only a couple of degrees throughout the 24 hours.

€26 worth of smokeless coal per week during the coldest weather so far to give 24-7 constant heat and hot water seems to me to be very good value for money.


Cons: Tending a fire takes some work. Roughly 4 to 5 times in 24 hours. Then once every 5 days it needs to be let go out and we empty the under floor ash tray and re-light the fire.

Versus Heating Oil??

Would I use the Oil Fired Heating again? With home heating oil taxed to the limit in the Republic of Ireland - it is some 20+% dearer than in the North of Ireland - I would rather go cold than be robbed!!!

It would cost a lot more anyway to operate the oil heating 24-7 to give the same level of comfort we now have with the experimental coal fire.


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