Simplest Pressurized Storage
This was originally posted on Hearth.com. It's the result of many discussions with people who were daunted by the prospect of designing heat storage into their system.
This topic has come up many times, and I don't think I've been able to explain this well enough. Here's an attempt to explain storage plumbing and control for the simplest and most bulletproof design that I've been able to come up with. Bottom line: Storage does not have to be complicated.
This example is based on a simple parallel wood/oil system with zone valves. This is a very common approach, and is typical of wood/oil systems. The same basic approach would work with other system designs such as systems that use a circulator for each zone rather than a zone valve.
Theory of Operation
1) Heating from storage
If there is any heat demand, then the corresponding zone valve(s) are open and their limit switch(es) are closed. This energizes the Load Circulator. If the storage is above 140, and the wood boiler is cold, then the load circulator will draw hot water from the top of the storage and return cool water to the bottom of the storage. At this point, there is a clockwise loop from storage through the zones and back. There is no flow through either boiler.
2) Heating from Wood Boiler
If the wood boiler is fired up, then the wood circulator will come on. If there's still demand, then the load circulator is still running and the bulk of the flow will be from the wood boiler through the zones and back. Depending on the relative flow rates of the two circulators, there may be some flow into or out of storage.
3) Heating storage from the wood boiler
If the wood boiler is running and there's no demand, then the load circulator is off and there is no flow through the heating zones. In this case, the flow is from the wood boiler clockwise to the top of the storage and back from the bottom of the storage to the wood boiler.
4) Heating with oil
If there's demand from one or more zones and the storage is below 140, then the storage aquastat contacts are closed. This passes the zone demand signal to the oil boiler demand relay, which will turn on the oil boiler. At this point, the primary flow is from the oil boiler through the zones and back to the oil boiler. As in the case with the wood boiler, there may be some small amount of flow into or out of storage based on the difference in flow rates between the oil circulator and the load circulator. This should be minimal and not be a big concern.
With this approach, storage adds one circulator, one aquastat, and two relays. The system does exactly what you would want - heat from the wood boiler supplies zone demand first, and heats the storage whenever there's excess heat produced. Heat demands are satisfied by wood if it's running, then by storage if it's available, then by oil as a last resort. No additional controller is needed.
There are no components that are particularly specialized. The relays, aquastat, and circulator can be obtained almost anywhere. If you have the time and inclination. eBay is a great source.
Any 24vac relay that can switch a couple of amps will work fine - Omron's LY2-AC24 (sold by Digi-Key as Z-788-ND) for example - they're about $8 each, and you can get plug-in sockets for them that simplify connections.
The aquastat needs to be a break-on-rise model. For example, the Honeywell L6006A1145 would work well, and it has an adjustable differential temperature. It's about $80 from PexSupply and other sources. Installing a well for it is an exercise left to the reader.
The load circulator should be similar in size to the existing circulator(s), or smaller if the heat loads are much smaller than the output of the boiler.