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    Thread: Wood fired pond heater?

    1. #1
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      Wood fired pond heater?

      Anyone built or used one? A quick search on the forum did not show anything of the kind, so apologies if there is anything please point me in the right direction.
      Anyways, as here in the country there is always a lot of wood based waste that needs burning anyway, I was wondering why not let the resulting heat go to a good use.
      I have seen a few off the shelf household wood fired water heaters but they seem to be too small for an agricultural/pond purpose. I was thinking more the size of a 55gal drum.
      My first concern is that using copper pipe as a water coil could result in copper levels in the water that could harm the koi.
      The second issue is should the drum be vertical or horizontal?
      In the first photo you can see a copper coil inside a vertical drum, in the second a horizontal drum with a serpentine made with regular iron threaded pipes and 90į elbows.
      I think for my needs I would prefer a vertical drum (so I can put in long olive prunings and fruit tree branches without having to cut them) with a copper free serpentine or coil.
      My welding skills are rudimentary but willing to give it a try.
      Suggestions extremely welcome
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    2. #2
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      The system holds over 12k gal so I doubt the temperature would swing wildly, also I would have the water going from the surface of one settlement tank to a dedicated and temperature controlled pump to the heater then back to the other settlement tank, where it would mix with colder pond water before going through the two huge bog filters (each holding about 100 cu feet of more cold water and gravel) before going back to the pond proper. I think even with the fire burning for hours it would at best moderately increase the pond temperature. I think it would be interesting to try out the concept, worse case scenario I'll use it for a redneck hot tub!
      As mentioned my main concern is if using copper pipes could be harmful for the fish

    3. #3
      batman's Avatar
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      Fish are healthiest in a stable temperature environment. Can't foresee your activity contributing to this.
      The real Batman wears polyester! Don't be fooled by the plastic imposter.

    4. #4
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
      Fish are healthiest in a stable temperature environment. Can't foresee your activity contributing to this.
      Fair point, will definitely keep that in mind. At the moment the pond temperature overnight drops on average from 59 to 56f. Still not sure if I want to try this out, at this stage I think my main goal for this first winter will be to put in place a reasonably sturdy cover to keep frost, very cold rain and snow out of the pond and watch the water temperature, ideally I would like to keep it at 55 or above but I have absolutely no idea if or how much supplemental heating I will have to put in place. What would you say is a reasonable temperature swing? -besides absolute temperature this is a thing I had not sufficiently considered so information would be really welcome.
      The pond is all in ground, in full sun, sunny most days throughout winter; snow or hard frost on the ground usually no more than a dozen days a year.
      Goldfish in my in ground 250gal tubs have got over several winters with just a cover but they were not worth the $$$$ these koi are.
      Thanking you again for your opinion and voice of reason, probably left to my own devices I am inclined to think out of the box...but boxes have been used for a very long time so there must be a reason!

    5. #5
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      Paul,

      This sounds like something I would do. I'd have a lot of fun doing it, and it would fail spectacularly!

      Here's a rocket stove water heater: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9BQGamXLMk

      They say the thermal siphon only works if the water reservoir is above the level of the stove? Or are you planning on using a pump?
      .


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      https://www.woodwaterstoves.com/external-heaters.html

      I think, if your pond's not covered, it won't have much effect. Between the pond surface, and the soil, and those two bogs, you'd be trying to heat the world. On the other hand, if you do have the cover on the pond, you won't need it.

      But it really does sound like fun!

      Best,

      Bill

    6. #6
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      Thanks Bill, I have always been a great fan of the coyote in your avatar and would always try something that could have come in an Acme box, with forseable outcome. I was definitely thinking of using a pump also because I could plug it in an Inkbird 308 just to make sure I am not boiling anything.
      Any thoughts about copper pipes being potentially harmful for the fish?
      I know even low copper levels in the water can cause potentially serious gill problems.
      The pond cover is definitely going to get built first, got a few hundred bucks of wooden beams and box steel waiting to be put together. I think for 95% of the winter the greenhouse effect should be enough to keep the pond and bogs at a reasonable temperature, I will probably get a greenhouse electric heater to warm it up on the odd day of snow.
      Just wondering if the weather stays cold for an abnormal period a heat source for which I have plenty of fuel would be applicable. As you say it may be worth trying just for the heck of it
      Ciao
      Paul

    7. #7
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      Don't koi hibernate in winter type cold water like goldfish?

    8. #8
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      I agree with Batman on this one, but if you still want to test it out, then consider stainless steel tubing. The home brewing community would be a good source. Here's an Amazon link to HomeBrewStuff Stainless Steel Tubing Coil - 3/8" x 50'.

      Alternatively, if you're still convinced that heating is required, then perhaps consider a commercial heater designed for this application. I realize that this approach takes all the fun out of it and doesn't utilize your "free wood" source, but you've got a lot invested in high quality koi, so it might be best to lean towards a more predictable, and potentially far less costly approach.

    9. #9
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by spkennyva View Post
      I agree with Batman on this one, but if you still want to test it out, then consider stainless steel tubing. The home brewing community would be a good source. Here's an Amazon link to HomeBrewStuff Stainless Steel Tubing Coil - 3/8" x 50'.

      Alternatively, if you're still convinced that heating is required, then perhaps consider a commercial heater designed for this application. I realize that this approach takes all the fun out of it and doesn't utilize your "free wood" source, but you've got a lot invested in high quality koi, so it might be best to lean towards a more predictable, and potentially far less costly approach.
      Thank you for your input, I had looked at the steel serpentines but the ones for home brewing here in Italy are all quite small (we tend to ferment grapes with not much need for external temperature control ...). Anyway the project is on the slow burner (ugh!), for this winter I am going to get the cover done and have a greenhouse heater to keep the poly sheet warm if it snows. I'll see how it goes and if any supplemental heating is required
      Last edited by Paul Sabucchi; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:10 PM.

    10. #10
      zek is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
      Fish are healthiest in a stable temperature environment. Can't foresee your activity contributing to this.
      While Iím not certain it gets cold enough in Italy for Paul to worry about temps, I could see this easily working at a minimum during extreme cold spells. Itís hard to get extreme temp swings when there 12,000 gallons. Figure out how many kcals it takes to raise this mass 2 degrees C and you will find your concerns nonsense.

    11. #11
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      Reverse cycle swimming pool heater with a titanium condenser coil.

      Just pay the power bill
      Find more about Weather in Durban, ZA

    12. #12
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by zek View Post
      While I’m not certain it gets cold enough in Italy for Paul to worry about temps, I could see this easily working at a minimum during extreme cold spells. It’s hard to get extreme temp swings when there 12,000 gallons. Figure out how many kcals it takes to raise this mass 2 degrees C and you will find your concerns nonsense.
      Hi thanks that was my line of thinking, also considering that besides the 12000 gal of water there are a few tons of gravel acting as thermal mass so a hypothetical wood-fired heater would be unlikely to cause any sudden temperature swings. Mine was more like one of those unhealthy thought associations during having a bonfire while looking at the koi pond.
      Fabrication of the brackets to hold together the pond cover are proceeding slowly (because I suck at welding and plenty of other stuff to do keeps cropping up). Anyway I have tacked 7 of 9 brackets, hopefully tomorrow will do the last 2 then will start cleaning and going over the welds again, may even put some gussets/braces to further reinforce.
      Definitely considering a pool-heating air source heat pump.
      It has been raining, at times really hard, practically non stop for the last 3 weeks and the pond temperature is still 55-58f so probably once the cover is on and I keep cold rain/snow out of the pond it should not bee too difficult to keep the temperature at 65f
      Ciao

    13. #13
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      My comment was based on first hand observation from those that have tried the exact thing. Never have seen a DIY wood fired heater work safely for a pond. Too difficult and time consuming to keep the water flow and fire regulated. Too easy to deliver water at boiling temp directly to the pond. Plus who wants to be outside at the coldest and worst time of the year trying to maintain a consistent fire?

      For your climate you could easily float high density foam sheets on 75% of the pond or use a solar cover and smooth out the temperature swings.
      Last edited by batman; 1 Week Ago at 11:17 PM.
      The real Batman wears polyester! Don't be fooled by the plastic imposter.

    14. #14
      coolwon is online now Senior Member
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      I thought we were into planting trees?
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      Don't tell Greta!

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      The real Batman wears polyester! Don't be fooled by the plastic imposter.

    16. #16
      coolwon is online now Senior Member
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      Your heat exchanger would have to be made of titanium to guard against corrosion.
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    17. #17
      coolwon is online now Senior Member
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      And that stain on her shoulder?

      No,no it's not dirty yet, it does not need washing.

      I will decide when.
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      Orlando is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by coolwon View Post
      And that stain on her shoulder?

      No,no it's not dirty yet, it does not need washing.

      I will decide when.
      That's the shadow from the microphone
      Last edited by Orlando; 1 Week Ago at 01:45 AM.

    19. #19
      Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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      Considering the grimace it could be a giant caterpillar she must have collected in an excess of tree-hugging.
      Anyway was not thinking of cutting down any trees for the purpose but just burn the prunings from all the olive and fruit trees that need disposing of regardless

    20. #20
      coolwon is online now Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by coolwon View Post
      And that stain on her shoulder?

      No,no it's not dirty yet, it does not need washing.

      I will decide when.


      Ah no, you spoiled what I anticipate the answer from her might have been.

      Never mind.

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