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Dr Bob

What is the best brand of solid fuel for a boat stove?

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This is our first winter on the boat so looking for some inputs on the best 'coal' to use. We've got a Villager stove and we have been burnning Supertherm for the last 2 months (24/7 when we are on the boat - which is 75% of the time). The supertherm burns really well, plenty of heat and stays in overnight no problem. The only snag I find is the amount of ash it generates. All very powdery ash and easy to remove - but what seems like an awful lot of it. We lived in Scotland for 20 years with a wood burner (but never burnt anything othe than wood) so am surprised at the level of ash. Doing a search on here, I read that supertherm was one of the better choices for low ash. Is it really?  We also mix in a bit of Anthracite in when it is cold - but only during the day

We get our coal from the local fuel boat so lots of choice. Are there any other 'smokeless' fuels that burn as well as Supertherm but with less ash?

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All of the familiar names are much the sameness. We are presently finishing some stoveglow off and then having a go at Excel. It's not always the cheapest we go for. Whatever we feel drawn to at time of purchase.

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Different stoves like different fuels, and different boaters have different needs, for example the quantity of ash is a bigger factor for some than others.

Taybrite is always popular but I suspect this is partly like the Squirrel stove and cassette bog syndrome, people use it because everybody else does.

Homefire ovals are very good but a bit expensive which puts some boaters off, but I reckon its better performance makes it better value.

Supertherm is ok but not my favourite. Had something call Glowbrite? from Norbury wharf this year, not seen that one before, quite good and very good value.

Note that some coals (Wildfire for example) are actually Petrocokes, these are good but can burn very hot (enough to damage grates) and make smelly fumes.

Buy a selection and test them.....and write down what you have learned else you will have forgotten by next winter.

Burning house coal gets boaters a bad reputation!

..............Dave

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We have tried em all over many winters and they seem to change from year to year. I think phurnacite is usualy the best but excel of late has been fine. I buy whatever the coal boats have to help keep them in business. HOWEVER there is no coal boat here so on advice from a fellow boater last week I started using Wickes Brazier obviously a car is needed to fetch it. It is excellent stuff stays in forever plenty of heat and average ash. There are several positives with it one major one for me is it comes in 10 kg bags so is light enough for the wife to carry :) also the bags are very very clean and its actualy quite cheap works out at 12 squids ish for 30 kg so cheaper than most.

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Like smelly, i like Phurnacite, but haven't used it for a few years due to price. Used Wickes stuff too for a few years but recently burning Newburn (lots of ash though) and occasionally Burnwell(technically not smokeless) 

Favourite however is kiln dried oak. 

Edited by rusty69

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20 minutes ago, dmr said:

Different stoves like different fuels, and different boaters have different needs, for example the quantity of ash is a bigger factor for some than others.

Taybrite is always popular but I suspect this is partly like the Squirrel stove and cassette bog syndrome, people use it because everybody else does.

Homefire ovals are very good but a bit expensive which puts some boaters off, but I reckon its better performance makes it better value.

Supertherm is ok but not my favourite. Had something call Glowbrite? from Norbury wharf this year, not seen that one before, quite good and very good value.

Note that some coals (Wildfire for example) are actually Petrocokes, these are good but can burn very hot (enough to damage grates) and make smelly fumes.

Buy a selection and test them.....and write down what you have learned else you will have forgotten by next winter.

Burning house coal gets boaters a bad reputation!

..............Dave

Dave, thanks for your input. I'll put Taybrite on the list to try. I will try a few differnt types.

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We are using Homefire Ovals at the mo. We tried Excel at first but on the recommendation of our supplier swapped as they are cheaper, seem to give out similar heat levels and last as long. We also burn wood at the same time on the bed of coals.

Only downside is they seem to leave a bit more ash.

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13 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

We have tried em all over many winters and they seem to change from year to year. I think phurnacite is usualy the best but excel of late has been fine. I buy whatever the coal boats have to help keep them in business. HOWEVER there is no coal boat here so on advice from a fellow boater last week I started using Wickes Brazier obviously a car is needed to fetch it. It is excellent stuff stays in forever plenty of heat and average ash. There are several positives with it one major one for me is it comes in 10 kg bags so is light enough for the wife to carry :) also the bags are very very clean and its actualy quite cheap works out at 12 squids ish for 30 kg so cheaper than most.

The local fuel boat usually has 4 or 5 choices but we have stuck to Supertherm as that is what the marina were selling when we first lit the fire. I will see if the fuel boat has some excel to buy. I remember in other threads the Wickes coal was recommended so I think we will try and get some of that this week to try. Thanks for the input.

Just now, MJG said:

We are using Homefire Ovals at the mo. We tried Excel at first but on the recommendation of our supplier swapped as they are cheaper, seem to give out similar heat levels and last as long. We also burn wood at the same time on the bed of coals.

Only downside is they seem to leave a bit more ash.

Right, I am now making a list - and the Homefire Ovals is on it. I'll get what the fuel boat has and try 3 or 4 different bags. Thanks for the inputs.

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Phurnicite for me both on boat and cottage, yes it's slightly more expensive but for us it burns better and longer. As for wood ash we empty the woodburner at the cottage once a year and use it on the garden.

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I have a woodburner at home and a solid fuel stove on the boat. Lots more ash with solid fuel than you're used to with a wood burner Dr Bob, but some fuels produce more than others and some also produce slag which can be a problem. 

Popular as it seems to be, I really don't like Taybrite. It seems to produce really noxious fumes which are troublesome in a chesty kind of way whenever the door has to be opened.  I'm currently burning Excel because of easy availability, and it performs well enough but is also a bit noxious for me. The search goes on for the perfect fuel but, from the list above, Supertherm and Homefire ovals are probably my preference.

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We use Homefire ovals at £13 for 25kg from the coal boat. It suits us and our squirrel but wish it was a bit cheaper, free would be best. I did once see a website that gave calorific value, may have been BTU of different smokeless fuels but cant find it now.

 

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3 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

I have a woodburner at home and a solid fuel stove on the boat. Lots more ash with solid fuel than you're used to with a wood burner Dr Bob, but some fuels produce more than others and some also produce slag which can be a problem. 

Popular as it seems to be, I really don't like Taybrite. It seems to produce really noxious fumes which are troublesome in a chesty kind of way whenever the door has to be opened.  I'm currently burning Excel because of easy availability, and it performs well enough but is also a bit noxious for me. The search goes on for the perfect fuel but, from the list above, Supertherm and Homefire ovals are probably my preference.

Yes, the fumes (unless the fuel has been in there for an hour or so) are a bit strong compared to wood but managable as long as you dont open the door (just get gassed on a windless day in a lock). Useful to hear your comment on how the fuels compare on fumes.

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49 minutes ago, bizzard said:

There should be a ''Smartheat'' for folk with Smart gauges. :)

I wouldn't be allowed to buy it.

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2 hours ago, bizzard said:

There should be a ''Smartheat'' for folk with Smart gauges. :)

This would tell you when your coal scuttle was full without knowing how big it was, but might not be right as you empty it. Mike the Boilerman would have two and neither would work properly.

2 hours ago, rusty69 said:

And "ecoheat" for those that care about the environment. 

This would definitely glow, but folk would argue for hours about whether it made their boat warmer or not... and no-one would ever really know.

  • Greenie 2

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1 hour ago, rasputin said:

I recon burning coal generates at least 5 times more Ash than wood 

unless you are burning Ash.

I started off using Taybrite until the concrete content was so much I was taking lumps of slag out of the grate on a weekly basis.

I then used Excel, but couldn't get a consistent supply due to location and coal boat stock so used supertherm, stoveglow, normal coal, anthracite and others.

Best one I had was Ecoal 50 from B&Q - not available on the canal.

I then tried a bag of a new fuel called Winterblaze from Jules on Towcester when buying 10 excel.

I have burnt Winterblaze since for the last 3 years - and will choose it for keeping in, ash, heat , and cost over the rest.

Mark on Callisto says it isnt good for stoves, eating the grates - however, my annual stove service over 3 years shows no damage other than expected wear on fire bricks.

Edited by matty40s

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49 minutes ago, matty40s said:

unless you are burning Ash.

I started off using Taybrite until the concrete content was so much I was taking lumps of slag out of the grate on a weekly basis.

I then used Excel, but couldn't get a consistent supply due to location and coal boat stock so used supertherm, stoveglow, normal coal, anthracite and others.

Best one I had was Ecoal 50 from B&Q - not available on the canal.

I then tried a bag of a new fuel called Winterblaze from Jules on Towcester when buying 10 excel.

I have burnt Winterblaze since for the last 3 years - and will choose it for keeping in, ash, heat , and cost over the rest.

Mark on Callisto says it isnt good for stoves, eating the grates - however, my annual stove service over 3 years shows no damage other than expected wear on fire bricks.

We get ours from Jules so I will look out to see if they have Winterblaze on. Thanks for the input.

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I perfer to use compressed sawdust logs in my stove, One burns for about 4 hours, As I buy a pallet (96 10 kg bags it's only £2.59 per bag), the pallet is spit between three boats.  

 

nielsen heat logs.jpg

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We have a Villager (Puffin) and have always liked Excell but when we moved onto The Chesterfield there is nowhere to buy coal along the canal so we went to a local suppliers and have been using something called Newheat which is very like Excell but cheaper - mind you everything we buy there is cheaper, I think perhaps it's because they are not on the canal!

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For many years I have used Firegold (previously called Pureheat) and always find this performs well. Every year I think about trying another brand to see if I can better it but never bother and end up sticking with it.

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For the past couple of years we've been using Stoveglow which burns quite slowly if the Epping is shut right down, but gives off a reasonable heat. Bought from Midland it's £54 for 6 bags or £9 per bag. This year we've been able to keep the fire going by loading up for the evening then chucking a few sticks on with a bit more coal about 1pm to 2pm the following day and away it goes again.

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We've been using Stoveglow which burns well in our stove giving a good heat and not too much ash. Our marina only sells Supertherm so just started a bag of that and the stove doesn't seem to burn as hot and it went out overnight leaving lots of unburnt coal. Will give it another try when next on the boat but may have to go and pick up some Stoveglow in the car.

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