Chris Kott wrote:This issue seems to be a perfect fit for Rocket Mass Heaters. Build an outdoor RMH, or one for a shed that, incidentally, might hold stacked wood on its outside walls, drying in the waste heat. The burn works just like an RMH, a fast, high-temperature complete burn, while the mass acts as a heat battery and buffer for the transfer of that heat energy to the boiler. If a longer duration of heat retention is required, add more mass to the design. It will need more initial time to come up to temperature, but after that, it won't be the firing of the RMH but the opening of water valves that will instantly warm the neighbours' house.
Jordan Holland wrote:If it's the same burner and different people starting smoking all of a sudden, I would bet the new people are burning unseasoned wood. It probably smokes several hours as the water is being driven off, then clears up. My father installed one in the last house they built. It is a downdraft gassifier and it only smokes a minute or so after the fan shuts off. The neighbors had some kind of outdoor wood boiler, and it smoked like a freight train. Luckily they are over a half-mile away. I haven't noticed it as much lately, so maybe they figured it out or got a different one. I can imagine some people having one all of a sudden and not having seasoned wood on hand. Then they might have to burn unseasoned wood the first winter until they can let some season over the next summer.
Like you said, I would be careful burning bridges. It may be a simple issue they want to fix. Maybe asking out of curiosity, or safety concerns, or wanting to help might help. Being confrontational can be risky. You might mention the previous owners not having such issues. Good luck!
Many boilers employ thermal storage to improve efficiency by minimizing the amount of on-off cycling. This is usually a large, insulated metal tank (600 to 1500 gallons) that holds the heated water before circulating it through the house or building. Without thermal storage, any time the house calls for heat, the heater turns on, which means the heater cycles on and off fairly often. High efficiencies are only attained when the fire is burning hot, so every time the equipment cycles on and off, efficiency drops and emissions increase. With thermal storage, the boiler fires for a long period of time in order to heat the large amount of water in storage, and then it shuts down for a long period of time while the house draws the hot water off storage. This greatly increases efficiency and reduces emissions. But there is a cost: thermal storage can add about $1,500 to $3,000 to a biomass boiler system.