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Gas Water Heaters Heated With Wood
Dan Yoder uses three old LP-fired water heaters to supply hot water - but he doesn't use any propane. They're fired with wood.
The water heaters sit on top of a 275-gal. fuel tank he lay on its side and modified for use as a stove. A piece of 1/4-in. steel welded to the top has three holes in it large enough to seat the ends of the water heater tanks.
"Gas-fired hot water heaters are perfect for this because they have a pipe running up through their centers for the gas-fired heat," says Yoder. "Those 3-in. pipes serve as chimneys for the stove."
Water in the tanks is heated through direct contact with the stove and waste heat captured as the smoke exits.
Yoder utilizes a combination of water pressure and convection to keep water moving through the tanks. A cold water line is divided three ways to enter each water tank near the bottom. Hot water lines come off the top of the three tanks and are teed into a line that goes to the house. At the house, hot water can run through an auxiliary propane-fired water heater to house water taps or direct to the shower.
"There is enough hot water in the three tanks for eight people to shower," says Yoder. "The volume also is enough that the hot water tanks have never overheated. I have a pressure relief valve on the line, but it has never popped."
When hot water isn't being used, it recirculates through the tanks via convection. Yoder runs a water line from the top of each tank at an angle down and to the front of the stove. The lines run through the stove and return to reenter near the bottom of each tank. He stresses there can be no dip or bend in the pipes that allow air to be trapped or the convection system won't work.
With all the water volume, we never have to fire the stove that much," says Yoder. "We can cut off the air and leave it smoldering for up to two days before it will go out. When we want hotter water, we just open the draft a little, and it heats up fast."
Yoder says the entire apparatus cost him no more than $400 to set up. It would have been less, but he used copper flex pipe for the water joints. "It saves a lot of time spent cutting pipe, and it helps reduce the chance of an air lock," says Yoder.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dan Yoder, 8099 18 Mile Rd., Marion, Mich. 49665 (ph 231 743-6093).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1