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Online coal forums are buzzing with activity, as residential coal enthusiasts trade tips and advice for buying and tending to coal heaters. And manufacturers and dealers of coal-burning stoves say they have been deluged with orders.

Coals vary in quality, but on average, a ton of coal contains about as much potential heat as 146 gallons of heating oil or 20,000 cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. A ton of anthracite, a particularly high grade of coal, can cost as little as $120 near mines in Pennsylvania. The equivalent amount of heating oil would cost roughly $380, based on the most recent prices in the state — and over $470 using prices from December 2007. An equivalent amount of natural gas would cost about $480 at current prices.

Mr. Buck said he could buy coal for $165 a ton. On a blustery afternoon recently, he was still studying the manual for his $2,300 Alaska Channing stoker, which gave off an intense heat in the den. An automated hopper in the back slowly dispensed fine anthracite coal chips into the stove’s belly, and every couple of days, Mr. Buck emptied the ash.

“Now, somewhere, you’ve got to take into account the convenience of turning up your thermostat, versus having two tons of coal to shovel and the hopper and ashes to deal with,” Mr. Buck said. But if the $330 worth of coal in his makeshift bin “heats the house for the winter,” he added, “you can’t beat it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/business/27coal.html
 

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so, he's a coal newbie?

i've used coal in the past. it's filthy, leaves a greasy film over everything, from the walls and ceilings to the roof. yeeeuck!!!
 

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I forsee many used coal stoves for sale in the near future.
 

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I switched to coal in 2001, I did it then becasue at the time I could no longer cut firewood due to a drunk driver...

I still use coal to heat the house and I don't think it is any dirtier then wood. I'm not getting a greasy film over everything...

Now coal is about $220 a ton in Lancaster County, PA, but I think a lot of that price was from the spike in fuel prices.. I will be getting a load today so I can then tell you what I had to pay per ton..
 

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We burned both coal and wood growing up. Coal put out a "hotter" fire, but I do think it left more of a mess and had a dirter "sooty" smoke from the chimney. The wood stove I use now has a catalyst for "reburning" the gases before it goes up the chimney, and when it is operating at peak efficiecy, I get a lot of heat from a little wood with very little (if any) visible smoke in the chimney. I wonder if the modern stoves can also reduce the particulate matter from a coal fire/smoke?
 

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I paid $52 a ton last month, for lump. Our coal around here runs about 13000 to 13500 BTUs.
We've been burning coal for 15 or 16 years now with great sucess.
The additional amount of ash an easy tradeoff for the longer burn time.
 

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We burn wood and coal and the coal is cleaner to have in the house than wood. If you come into our house and didn't see the coal bucket you would not know we were burning coal. The only place there is any more smoke or soot is outside. We burn it because of the cost of fuel. Sam
 

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we burn coal and wood in our outdoor furnace. Definitely better for banking a hot fire overnight. Since it's outside away from the house, the grime is no problem.
 

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I have often wondered how an outdoor furnace would do with coal, given that it was manufactured to accept the heat from coal.

Clove
 

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Chuck,
What are you paying for coal? How much do you buy at a time? Do you just have a huge pile of coal next to the outdoor furnace?

What are your likes and dislikes about burning coal?

Clove
 

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Chuck,
I am asking for my cousin, who is thinking about installing an ODF. I think he could buy coal in southern Indiana pretty cheap.
 

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It all depends on if you are burning hard coal or soft coal. Hard is around $175 a ton in PA and soft is $50 a ton. Hard burns almost cleaner than wood. Soft is dirty, sooty, cheap but smells like ass.
 

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Soft is dirty, sooty, cheap but smells like ass.
Wow, hoping that's a typo!

Anyway, I was wondering, since the prices went up, if it really is that much more efficient to burn coal. It takes us 3 1/2 tons for a 1800 sq. ft. home for the winter. It's up to $220 here in South Central, PA. Shouldn't the prices come down now that the gas is down? (I'm assuming that's why it went up in the first place). I'm not sure our stove is as efficient as it could be. I'd like to find a site where they rate efficiency of coal stoves.
 

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We burn 2 tons of anthracite a year along with wood. DH paid $135/ton at the mine in June. His hunting camp in NC PA paid $248/ton delivered in November. I don't find coal to be that dirty or inconvenient. Have been burning it for almost 25 years. Sure beats our electric heat pump.
 

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We burnt coal when I was growing up and the only thing I couldn't stand was the smell. Please tell me they have changed that problem. I went to pay my oil bill a couple of days ago and in the office there were pellet stoves and pellets for sale. They also had these brick things that you use just like wood. I tried them a few years back and and they were pretty good. They are shaped like bricks and burn well. It is cheaper than fire wood and oil right now. So we are going to get some as it is hard for us to handle the wood and this would be much easier for us. If I remember correctly these burn cleaner with less waste. Have anyone else used them?

RenieB
 

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We've used a coal stove for many years. Here in Wyoming we have low sulfer soft coal and we are paying $50 per ton this winter. A ton will heat our house for about 6 weeks so that's pretty cheap heat. I can life with the "messiness factor" for that price!
 

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I have several buddies that have burned hard coal, in freestanding stoves, for many years. In several cases these homes are ones that I built for the owners. The one common issue in all of them? Jump on a step ladder and rub your hand on the ceiling. See that black streak on your hand and the smear on the drywall? You want to pretend that toxic waste isn't ending up in your lungs all winter long? Guess again. One neighbor had a young girl who was constantly in the hospital for serious respitory issues. After a long interview with a doctor, the family was asked how they heat their home? The doctor advised them to get rid of the coal stove ASAP, the child's health improved immediately and dramatically. Coal is relatively cheap and plentiful here, but I'll pass.
 

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No, it isn't a typo. Coal does have a distinct odor when it burns. We burn it mixed with wood in our stove w/good results. We don't get soot on the walls, any more than from wood, since our woodstove is sealed, not an open fireplace. It is great for banking a fire overnight.

-Jyo
 
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