FAQ – Shop Heaters

How much can I save by using wood as heating fuel?

If you heat your facility and have an inexpensive or cost-free wood source in your operation, there is no question you will save money by converting to industrial wood heating. Every BTU produced by wood is one less BTU you need from expensive fossil fuel. Generally, our customers experience a two year return on investment (ROI) for single shift operations and a one year ROI for two shift operations. There are a range of Shop Heater environments and we are happy to connect you with one of our customers to get more specific, first hand information.

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Are there incentives or tax credits for the Shop Heater?

Please check your state to determine possible incentives.

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Do I need on-site wood residue to make the BCS Shop Heater cost-effective?

With the recent unpredictability of fossil fuel prices, an external source of low cost wood fuel may also prove to be cost-effective.

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Is there visible smoke coming out of the stack?

A clean, well-maintained Shop Heater that is up-to-temperature should not emit visible smoke. Smoke is simply an indication of unburned gases and particulate and once the system is up-to-temperature, these elements will be burned. A minimal amount of smoke may be em?tted during start up, but if operated properly and up-to-temperature, the system will not smoke. As evidenced by its stack test emission results, this clean-burning, smoke-free system is also representative of exceptional wood burning efficiency. By burning these gases and particulates in the firebox, the system optimizes the heating value of the wood fuel. All that should be seen coming out of the stack may be water vapor from the moisture in the wood. The lack of smoke represents the systems' full conversion of wood to heating fuel.

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Which BCS Shop Heater will heat my building?

There are many operation-specific variables that impact wood heating requirements: plant location and size, ceiling height, desired target temperature, frequency of door openings, spray booth exhaust, building construction, wood fuel used, and the frequency of furnace loading. We are happy to answer any specific facility questions you may have or direct you to one of our customers with heating operations similar to yours. However, in general, the following guidelines are a good starting point for prospective customers who intend to use the Shop Heater as a sole source of heat:

  • 250,000 BTU furnace: Shops under 6,000 sq ft*
  • 500,000 BTU furnace: Shops 10-12,000 sq ft*
  • 800,000 BTU furnace: Shops from 12,000– 25,000 sq ft*
*These BTU guidelines are based on an insulated facility with standard ceiling heights (approx 16'), infrequent door openings, and a target 60 degree temperature. These shop size estimates are based on using a BCS Shop Heater as a sole source of heat. BCS has many larger facilities using more than one 800,000 BTU furnace to reduce energy costs from fossil fuels, take the chill off an unheated building or to decrease the moisture in a facility.

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How much stack do I need?

The amount of stack required depends on where the stack is located compared to other buildings. We recommend that the stack penetrate a flat roof by at least four feet if there are no other buildings around. On a slanted roof, the stack should be as high as the peak to ensure that wind coming over the peak does not create a downdraft. If another higher building is within 25', it is a good idea to take the stack above this nearby building. As stack requirements are situation-specific, please feel free to contact us directly.

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Our plant requires an air make-up system; can this Shop Heater be used for air make-up?

Absolutely. The Shop Heater can be used to replace air that is pulled out of the plant by a dust collection system or spray booth. Ideally, the furnace should be located in its own furnace room so that the radiant heat from the furnace can preheat the outside "make-up" air before it enters the furnace. The hot air from the wood furnace directly replaces the air loss from the dust collection or spray booth exhaust fans. The Shop Heater is able to perform air-make up in certain negative pressure environments, but not all. If you have problems with negative pressure drawing cold air into the plant, please contact us for more detailed installation instructions.

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Does the Shop Heater require a separate furnace room?

Not for effective operation, in fact over 80% of our BCS Shop Heaters are operating directly on the plant floor. However, it is worthwhile to check your own state or local building and/or fire regulations. If you are interested in creating a furnace room, please refer to these furnace room guidelines, or contact us for questions.

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Can I hook the Shop Heater up to my hot water pipes?

No, the Shop Heater is hot air only.

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Can a Shop Heater be used to heat a kiln?

Hot air systems can be used for heating kilns as long as the kiln does not require consistent precise temperatures. Please contact us to describe your needs.

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Do I need a special permit to operate?

Most of our installed systems have not required air quality permits because they are below the permitting threshold. However, it is worthwhile to check with your local and state regulations to determine your requirements. Industrial wood furnace regulations are state-specific and often managed by your local air quality and building inspector offices. When contacting your air quality department, please provide our stack test documentation and be sure to indicate to the air quality office that these Shop Heaters:

  • Are under a million BTU/hr input
  • Burn only clean wood
  • Are used for plant heating and not incineration

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What will my insurance company require?

The Shop Heater design has been in the marketplace for almost 30 years and has developed a remarkable safety record. Generally, insurance companies want to ensure that the installation meets all local and state codes and sometimes request documentation that the local fire marshal will approve the installation.

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How long will the burners last?

Designed and built in 1985, many of the original Shop Heaters are still in operation. The Shop Heaters were designed for dual purposes, maximum wood burning efficiency and industrial durability. All Steel Durability The all-?teel Shop Heaters are constructed with heavy, industrial strength steel for long term use. The 36" firebox is reinforced with 3/4" steel end plates to withstand repeated wood loading, BCS furnaces use no refractory brick so there is nothing in the firebox to chip or crack when wood is thrown into the firebox. Additionally, the unique "cylindrical" firebox contributes to its durability. Stress from the natural contraction and expansion caused by repeated heating and cooling is equally distributed around the cylindrical design. Whereas, a rectangular firebox is susceptible to increased stress and cracks on their welded corners. Wood-Burning Efficiency BCS Shop Heater technology is designed to ensure optimum wood fuel heating efficiency. The more efficient a wood burning furnace, the more heating BTUs obtained from your wood fuel. A short primer on combustion efficiency-For starters, solids do not burn, but in fact release combustible gases when exposed to very high temperatures. The key to combustion efficiency or heat production is exposing these released gases to high temperatures for an extended period of time while continually mixing the gases with oxygen. To achieve this combustion, the BCS Shop Heater After Burner Chamber design creates the environment for the ideal combustion process. In the main chamber, wood gases are released and are then drawn through the After Burner Chamber. The narrow hot chamber creates a concentrated high temperature for an extended period of time while maintaining a constant flow of oxygen to mix with the gases. Unlike traditional wood burners, this represents a multi-stage, thorough combustion process. For users, it ensures a system that converts all of the wood to a viable heating fuel and eliminates smoke.

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How frequently do I need to load the Shop Heater?

This depends largely on the moisture content and particle size of your wood. The lower the moisture content the more effective heat production, so large dry blocks will produce the most heat for the longest time. To get the most out of the furnace, we recommend you load the furnace between five and eight times over an eight hour day.

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How long does it take to load a Shop Heater?

Less than five minutes! Again, we are prepared to connect you with existing customers in similar businesses to yours to get a first hand account of the BCS system's ease of operation.

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I intend to have this in my shop; will smoke come into my plant while it is being loaded?

No, there is an induced draft fan located at the top of the Shop Heater which puts the firebox under negative pressure when the door is opened for loading. When the door is opened, air is pulled into the firebox which prevents smoke from escaping into the plant.

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How do I regulate the heat coming from the burner?

The system is equipped with two separate external hand valves for heat regulation that control over fire and under fire air flow. The over fire air valve is calibrated during start-up to maximize the wood fuel being burned. The under fire air valve is simply the fire's throttle. Just like a regular wood stove, the BCS Shop Heater can be turned up or down by the amount of air allowed under the fire. See pages 4 and 5 of the operations manual.

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What system management devices are there?

For daily management, the Firebox Temperature Monitor (see page 8 of the operations manual) displays temperature to conveniently check on fuel-loading needs. This unit also keeps track of the stack temperature, an indicator of when the heat exchanger needs to be cleaned. To conserve electricity, a thermostat monitors the air temperature flowing through the system. When the air cools below an acceptable temperature (on weekends or nights), the fan automatically turns off to prevent cool air being circulated and from using unnecessary electricity.

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What do I do with the furnace when my employees leave for the night?

Load up the furnace (see pages 6 and 7 of the operations manual) with the largest pieces of wood available and damper down the under fire air. The furnace hot air distribution fan has a thermostat which will cycle the distribution of warm air into the plant to ensure the firebox and air blowing into the plant maintains a minimum temperature.

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How do I start the Shop Heater up in the morning?

(see page 7 of the operations manual)

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What are the maintenance requirements?

BCS Shop Heaters are designed to be very easy to use and maintain. To ensure efficient combustion, we recommend this straightforward cleaning schedule:

  • Weekly firebox ash removal
  • Bi-weekly heat exchanger cleaning
  • Bi-monthly back of heat exchanger cleaning
About once a week (generally on Monday morning when the burner is cool), ash will need to be shoveled out the front door. This ash can be placed in a 55-gallon drum and haled away to a landfill or other appropriate disposal site after it is cooled. In addition, the heat exchanger will need to be cleaned every few weeks to maintain efficient heat transfer to your building. To make this job easier, BCS provides easy-access doors above the firebox loading door and a properly sized brush which fits on a ½" drill. The drill spins the brush as the operator pushes it through the heat exchanger tubes. This tube cleaning should not take more than ½ hour. It is also recommended that ash be removed from the back of the heat exchanger twice per heating season. The heat exchanger is also accessible for cleaning through access ports.

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What resources do I need for a successful installation?

Most users do their own installation with the detailed installation manual that comes with the system.

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What’s the lead time?

Lead time depends on the time of year the order is placed. BCS maintains inventory, but often has a 2-4 week lead time during our busy fall season.

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What does it cost to ship a furnace?

All furnaces are quoted F. O. B. Contoocook, NH. Upon request, BCS will include shipping costs with the Shop Heater proposal.

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What are the additional installation costs beyond the purchase price?

In addition to delivery, the system will need to have two fans wired (magnetic starters are not included), some duct work for air distribution, a sheet metal roof shoe for where the stack penetrates the roof, and stack erection.

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Does this furnace radiate heat?

Our shop heaters do radiate heat some heat off the furnace skin but, by design, the vast majority of heat is blown from the furnace by the large fan mounted on top of the furnace.

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What kinds of wood can I burn?

The hand fired BCS Shop Heater will burn a wide range of wood types from kiln-dried lumber to 45% moisture content green wood. When extremely green wood is burned, we recommend an additional "forced draft kit", available through BCS, to increase the air flow through the firebox. It is dangerous to hand-fire fine, dry dust because it can flash back on the operator. Man made woods such as particleboard, MDF and OSB burn extremely cleanly at high temperatures. Below about 800 degrees, these fuels do not burn completely and will produce odors. For states that permit burning particleboard, MDF and OSB, BCS recommends that customers start fires with virgin wood and only add this fuel when the firebox temperature gets above 800 degrees. In addition, before leaving at night, we also recommend stoking the fire with virgin wood to ensure the system does not produce odors when the fire burns down over night.

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Can I burn sawdust, a combination of sawdust or wood chips or chunks?

The BCS Shop Heaters are not designed for sawdust as a fuel source. We do not recommend dry sawdust and shavings. When incinerated, these elements turn into a gas and will flash back at an operator when thrown in by hand. So shoveling this fuel into the firebox is dangerous and not recommended.

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Can I burn cardboard and paper?

The BCS Shop Heaters are designed to burn wood efficiently and safely, we do not recommend burning paper and cardboard.

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Can I burn whole pallets?

No, BCS Shop Heaters do not burn whole pallets. Our experience is that wood chunk fuel or partial pallet burning is a more efficient and clean fuel source for combustion. BCS has experimented with systems which burn whole pallets and decided not to offer one for sale. All designs of "whole pallet burners" have inefficient combustion and so generate smoke. More importantly, these systems just do not last under the stress of hand firing. If you find a company offering a whole pallet burner ask them to talk to someone who has had it more than?five years. BCS has many references that have had their Shop Heaters more than ten years.

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How do I know if wood burning is economical for my plant?

The first step is to determine what wood waste streams you have available and how much net income per ton this represents. The second step is to take your natural gas bill or oil bills and determine what you are actually paying per therm or per gallon for fuel. Then give us a call and we can quickly give you an idea what savings you can expect.

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