How do I use an EconoDri/VAL6 Combo?
The EconoDri/VAL6 combo is positioned with the EconoDri narrow end close to the bin fan intake and the VAL6 radiant heater is centered into the flared end, until it is just short of touching the EconoDri. There is an almost infinite variety of aeration-bin sizes and corresponding aeration fans. EconoDri has been designed to be compatible with a variety of bin fan cfm ratings, and the primary intent is that the easiest air for the bin fan to take in, should be the dehumidified EconoDri air.
The secondary EconoDri/VAL6 benefit is the accompanying rise in air temp. What is important to keep in mind is that the EconoDri/VAL6 dry air available to the fan is relative to the amount of fan-cfm-air, and the resulting drier and warmer air will be relative to the amount of air (cfm) being moved by the bin fan. As EconoDri/VAL6 combos are used with larger and larger capacity bins and fans, there does reach a point where matching the fans capacity with EconoDri/VAL6 capacity takes the form of using multiple combos to feed the bin fan.
Another benefit of this is when the larger bin is dried, being able to split the combos to use by smaller bins, individually, or still use in multiples for higher moisture grain.
OPERATIONAL OPINION – PLEASE NOTE:
Regardless of fan cfm ratings, fans are NOT designed to be air-starved. Do NOT block the fan intake to force all intake to come through the EconoDri/VAL6 combo. If the easiest air for the fan to pull in is the dry air, the fan needs available “free” air to fill its performance spec’s.
Depending on the application, if the fan is capable of considerably more air movement than one combo provides, a 2nd combo can help.
How does the EconoDri / VAL6 Combo work?
DRAWBACKS TO PREMATURE COOLING / COOLER OPERATING SURFACE
The VAL6 operating surface temperature is typically +/- 1500 degrees F. Air coming into proximity of the VAL6 radiant surface is exposed to simply unbelievable radiant energy and heat, and experiences some humidity reduction, and VAL6 heaters have been reported to be limited-effective by themselves when positioned in front of a bin fan. Now, please bear in mind that the single most vital operating characteristic of VAL6 radiant heaters is the 1500 degree red-hot design.
ALL efficiency advantages are maximized when the VAL6 radiant is operating in this manner, and any conditions or variables that compromise this will also have a bearing on performance and effectiveness. Having said this, one variable is the fan type, whether axial or centrifugal and the second variable is the cfm design capacity. When the VAL6 is positioned (alone) at the bin fan intake, it is exposed to air-flow that it wasn’t designed to operate in, and this leads to the EconoDri design effect.
Early EconoDri cabinets did have the internal energy collector assembly but did not have the wedge cabinet design, and while they did accomplish some drying, they had more of a free-flow “wind-tunnel” effect. The most obvious symptom of the free flow air was that the VAL6 “signature” cherry-red front would darken to much the same extent as the VAL6 heaters that were standing alone in front of the fan. The darker operating surface was indicative of a cooler operating surface, with corresponding reduced heating / radiant / fuel consumption-relative-to-performance inefficiencies. To address this called for comparisons to a funnel for pouring common fluids. Similar to fluid passing through a funnel, the funnel typically limits the fluid pass-through rate, instead of free flow.
The EconoDri cabinet is designed to decelerate the air flow passing through the chamber. This slowed flow exposes the air to the extreme radiant energy slightly longer, while controlling the companion cooling effect of the air-flow, thereby maintaining the VAL6 1500 degree operating efficiency target. This is also magnified by the patented internal thermal energy collector assembly. The collector absorbs the radiant energy and heat through which the decelerated air-flow passes through.
The closest 60% of the EconoDri collector surfaces can temp-read absorbed temps from 250-350° F. and more depending on the VAL6 model used. Pass-through air typically experiences a 20-40 degree temp-rise, again depending on the size and capacity of the bin fan. This is where humidity drop and temp rise takes place, and this is where the patented wrap-around EconoDri design manages / controls the performance variables mentioned earlier. The unique 360 degree “wrap-around” collector design also functions to minimize “escape” radiant energy and heat, and in doing so, works to maximize the intended dry air that a bin fan pulls in and forces through the grain to be dried.
The best analogies for what then happens is to compare how standing grain dries in the field on a low humidity day, when the grain is exposed to dry ambient air, and releases the grain moisture to the relatively dryer air. Another comparison is the common clothes dryer. What really does dry the wet clothes? The first impulse is that hot air dries the clothes, but the hot air is typically a symptom of a heating function which drys the air that is forced through the clothes to be dried. The heat has a hybrid effect in drying the clothes, but the air was made drier by passing by and through a heating function, and was made hotter as a by-product of the drying.
Another comparison is if you had a sopping-wet sponge in one hand and a bone-dry sponge in the other hand. If you put them against each other, the moisture from the wet sponge would cooperatively transfer to the dry sponge. With the EconoDri/VAL6 combo, substitute dry air for the dry sponge.
POSSIBLE SEASONAL AND WEATHER RELATED CONDITIONS
In the case of a typical fall harvest season, there is a transition to shorter days, cooler days, and less conditions that are conducive to creating dry air. When natural conditions do produce very low relative humidity conditions, simply take advantage of the dry air “gift.”
Without the EconoDri/VAL6 combo, as the day becomes cooler and humidity tends to rise, leaving the bin fan running can have the effect of un-doing the drying accomplished during the dry air part of the day, by pushing the more-humid air into the grain. In contrast, the EconoDri/VAL6 combos were essentially designed to artificially create a longer drying day for the grain in the bin. This has also been proven with some grain bin after-market equipment options that operate by sensing humidity conditions and automatically operate fans as long as the days humidity is conducive to accomplishing drying, and automatically shutting off the fans when the humidity is not drying the grain. Either way, whether the EconoDri/VAL6 combo is integrated with automated fan systems or manually, the net result is for more economical, more cost-efficient drying.
The most popular VAL6 radiant space heaters consume between .85 to 1.1 gallons of diesel per hour. Compared to conventional drying systems that can consume much higher volumes of fuel, EconoDri/VAL6 combos typically translate into lower per-hour operating costs combined with a reduced tendency to over-dry and the possibility of drying significant amounts of test-weight out of the grain, w/ loss of income from lower pay weight.
NOW AVAILABLE IN NATURAL GAS AND LIQUID PROPANE / SOLVES MANUAL RE-FUELING INTERVALS
VAL6 radiant heaters have just introduced their new product additions that use LP (Propane) and NG (Natural Gas).
While these units only consume @ 140K of fuel per hour, (for example, at 1-1/2 gallon of LP, or the equivalent in NG) the heat production is phenomenal, -and answers the request for VAL6 radiant’s that don’t need to be manually re-filled at fueling intervals, as well as being outstanding facility heaters in the winter.
Please consult the accompanying product-info tab for more details.
How much is an EconoDri/VAL6 Combo capable of drying?
In Ag trade shows, we always watch for opportunities to provide demonstrations that let the interested public actually participate in the demonstrations where we simulate airflow through an EconoDri/VAL6 combo. We always start our demonstrations as early as possible so if there is a high humidity, dewy type of morning, or even rainy / drizzly conditions, this gives a starting point to understanding the EconoDri/VAL6 de-hydrate process and how to project applications. This demonstration uses an approximately +/- 2000 cfm fan to simulate a bin fan pulling air through an EconoDri/VAL6 combo.
Unfortunately, a farm show tends to limit facilities, and our earlier demonstrations were of a single EconoDri/VAL6 combo, and our digital “reader” for demonstrating humidity drop and temp rise. This made it difficult to display capacity expand-ability, and our new display model is a trailer-mounted double EconoDri/VAL6 combo, and illustrates versatility in adapting to varieties of bin fan cfms, and/or varying grain moisture.
While our display is for demo purposes only, our simulated conditions would reduce air humidity 25%-50% and raise air temp 25 to 65° F with this airflow cfm and depending on the VAL6 model used in the demo.
NOTE: We are frequently asked about operation when it is actually raining or snowing, and we feel, as in any grain drying type, the farmers judgment is necessary as to whether to shield or shelter the EconoDri/VAL6 combo to minimize or eliminate pulling in actual rain or snow to keep running, or if it makes more sense to consider shutting down until conditions let up. As with any other grain drying styles, judgment is also needed as to how much grain to dry at a batch, and across the board, probably the most vital part of the decision is at what point the airflow is becoming restricted by the accumulated moisture-related grain weight.
Grain weight is proportionately heavier with higher grain moisture, and regardless of the drying style, NO grain can dry if air cannot make it through the grain, though as airflow slows, dry air to grain moisture ratios can be argued to improve, but it is still a fact of life that air flow needs to be maximized for ANY system to function.
Is there only one size EconoDri/VAL6 Combo?
The most popular VAL6 radiant options have been the KBE5L-2 and the EPX models. The KBE5L-2 model has a slightly higher radiant capacity than the KBE5S (standard) model and has a 15 G fuel tank, which simplifies re-fill timing, such as every 12 hours.
While the EPX model is rated a considerably stronger performer, the EPX model doesn’t consume much more fuel per hour than the KBE5L-2 model, but if maximizing grain drying is the deciding factor, you will get more performance from the EPX model.
All three larger VAL6 diesel models are compatible with the EconoDri cabinet (as well as the LP & NG), and are designed to maximize humidity reduction and air-temp rise proportionate to the VAL6 model, while each model consumes approximately 1 G of diesel fuel or less per hour. While customers have told us about using the EconoDri/VAL6 combos on varying size bins, 5000B to 12,000B bins were the most common size reported with one combo per bin. Obviously with higher grain moisture, the variable in time to dry was directly proportionate to grain moisture. We have had producers telling us that they used EconoDri/VAL6 combos on larger capacity bins, and happy with the results, but this seemed to be consistent with less extreme grain-moisture levels. In the case of larger bins and / or higher grain moisture, we recommend capacity expansion with multiple EconoDri/VAL6 combos per bin fan (as pictured) to provide an increased volume of dry air.
Just as 25% moisture grain in the field rarely naturally dries to 15% moisture in a week, the same allowance is reasonable for the EconoDri/VAL6 combo, though it needs to be pointed out that EconoDri/VAL6 combos typically continue to deliver dry air into grain when daily air conditions can turn humid and stop natural field drying.
EconoDri/VAL6 Tooling Considerations—
Again, if the producer’s goal is to have their shop space heater help with some grain drying, an EconoDri will help their VAL6 do this. If the producers goal is to maximize the good that their aeration & storage bins can provide to to keep harvest moving, reduce damaging grain from other systems’ increased handling / moving, and ideally, reduce the cost of drying grain with an EconoDri/VAL6 combo, this is another harvest tool.
We are now seeing (spring-summer 2014) a surprising amount of 2013 field-loss related volunteer corn from the 2013 harvest year, that could have been harvested earlier but drying costs seemed prohibitive. For crops that are displaying weak stalk strength and/or weather-type lodging, the EconoDri/VAL6 combos are another tool to start limited harvest instead of losing precious field yield losses because of prohibitive drying costs. Even in a time of GMO crops that can be sprayed for volunteer old-crop, there is clearly competition between crops that can delay, retard or weaken the following crop plan. This is a cost and expense related to the field losses that can be another downstream cost consideration for the EconoDri/VAL6 system.
We have had discussions with producers who wondered if the EconoDri/VAL6 combos can work on continuous flow systems. While the dry-air-to-grain principles should still apply, we know of no one who has gotten that far, though stacking or banking the EconoDri combos to create adequate dry air to a continuous flow fan (instead of a gas-fired higher humidity heat drying) is a project that we look forward to getting involved in.
The EconoDri/VAL6 Combo is not feasible when?
Agricultural operations have been orienting themselves to aggressive, high-speed operations, and harvest capacity is no different. High energy input drying systems do deliver a faster dry down with companion side effects: possible grain damage, potentially lighter grain test weight, and drying fuel over-costs from occasional over-drying, etc. High input systems that can burn 20-80 LP GPH (or NG equivalent) heavily rely on micro-monitoring crucial grain moisture.
With grain moisture that can vary, with over-drying—
–Excessive fuel is burned and the cost that goes with it.
–Over-dry grain can easily lose test weight, equaling less sale weight.
–Over-dried grain can also become damaged more easily from handling, which can show up in sale weight deducts.
As producers evaluate their harvest plans, the EconoDri/VAL6 combos can more gently dry grain, with only true shrink, much like grain dries when standing in the field when humidity is low. Natural field drying obviously has weather and seasonal limitations and weather risks where the EconoDri/VAL6 combo is less affected, or not affected, by rising day and night humidity, and, like natural field drying, much less shrink. The alternative, delivering wetter grain over the scales, typically gets hit with a +/- 1 1/2 % shrink per point of moisture.
Producers consider +/- 1/2% of shrink to be closer to true shrink, or a 1% per point shrink penalty. In a scenario where farm cropping costs rise, and grain prices come down, a smaller potential net profit per acre would appear to dictate a long look at whether high-speed / high-input-cost / high-grain movement drying costs eat up too much per-acre-net, or if it can be complemented with moderate-drying speed / low-input-cost / less grain-movement drying philosophy. In the EconoDri/VAL6 combo version, it should be reminded that, at the end of the drying season, the producer will still have a radiant space heater for the shop, calving barn, mobile repairs or cold weather sporting activities, etc, whereas the high-dollar drying equipment is simply single purpose only, grain drying.
What are anticipated EconoDri/VAL6 Combo applications?
As stated in prior FAQ’s, EconoDri/VAL6 combos have a clean operation characteristic, having no more monoxide evidence together than VAL6 heaters have when operating solo, i.e., essentially next to none. This is compatible with VAL6 heater preference by home building contractors, specifically applicable to sheet-rocking applications. As reported earlier, other inefficient space heaters exhale varying amounts of un-burnt fuel, known as monoxide. When drywall is being installed and seams are taped and “damp-mudded,” the drywall and damp-mud is typically susceptible to monoxide fumes attaching and fixing to the drywall and this simply rarely or never airs out, with a noticeable fuel smell apparent from then on, suspected of causing headaches and varying levels of monoxide type symptoms. VAL6 space heaters function so thoroughly monoxide-free that install crews as well as inhabitants of the finished building rarely, if ever, report ill effects from VAL6 radiant heater work site operations.
Following excessive rainy weather activity, house and basement dampness frequently ripple into the necessity for damp area restoration before dampness can escalate into destructive and dangerous mold and resulting rot and health risks. Dampness-related mold is a serious health risk, as well as structural risk, and home and building owners / managers / residents are, or need to be, knowledgeable of the limited time window to intercept dampness conditions and the related repercussions. While VAL6 radiant space heaters are recognized for their clean operation and incredible ability to heat and dry areas, their effectiveness is anticipated to be increased and expanded through the use of EconoDri cabinets.
Just as EconoDri/VAL6 combos can create huge volumes of de-humidified air for drying wet grain, the same principle logically applies to damp basement and house conditions. Simply substitute wet grain that needs high volumes of dry air moving through it to dry it, for a damp / wet basement, house or building that needs high volumes of dry air moving through it to enhance and speed drying the interior. The expected application would be to position an EconoDri/Val6 combo into a entry door or window and situate air blocks so any air has to go into the building through the combo, which has a fan positioned to pull outside air through the combo and push the dry air into the building. Dry, warm air in a wet environment instantly super-hydrates to the extent that air can hold humidity. This is where a de-humidifier has always been employed to take humidity out of the air and condense the humidity into water form, which then needs to be manually or automatically pumped out or poured out. This is where the use of exhaust-type suction fans need to be positioned on the other side of the building. The faster that the super-hydrated air can be evacuated from the building will dictate how fast the dampness conditions are dried out and neutralized before mold activity can begin.
This calls for a calculation of cubic feet of area volume matched with a greater cfm fan capacity, so that
a) the air that has accepted humidity thanks to the EconoDri/VAL6 Combo (s) is whisked out of the building and
b) the positioning of multiple exhaust fans on the opposite side of the building draws air (more or less) equally from the building, maximizing dry-out, and minimizing stagnant damp spots.
Our preliminary game plan would also be to vacuum the floor with a Rug Doctor type of equipment, to reduce the total volume of dampness needing evacuation and in so doing speed the process. With the costs associated with water damage restoration continually escalating, EconoDri/VAL6 purchase costs could be rapidly recovered, and ideally intercept wet conditions that could otherwise escalate into health risks and / or excessive physical building damage.
This scenario proposes EconoDri/VAL6 combos as a component for timely and aggressive damp building rescue activity. Just as no other single tool for building-rescue or restoration implies that it alone will treat the problem, EconoDri/VAL6 combos also accept the challenge to help be part of a timely rescue but offer no warranty or guarantee, expressed or implied, for the frequently complex task of wet or damp building rescue or restoration. The manufacturer and management and sales and marketing personnel assume no responsibility for any imagined or miss-interpreted abilities or capacities of our equipment.
Please use judgment and discretion in using our equipment or any equipment. Practice diligence in researching the use of any equipment for the intended job. If you are unconvinced of your ability or judgment to safely and conscientiously complete the proposed task, we strongly urge that you defer to professionals.
We have been asked about our clear Val6 preference, and will try to clarify, here. With the advent of the Val6 portable diesel radiant heater line, and growing Val6 popularity, there are imitations showing up, and hoping to become a “similar-but-different” product that we approve for use with EconoDri cabinets.
From the earliest association that we have had with the Val6 line-up, product quality, reliability and versatility has never been an issue. I repeat, never, and as the list of uses and applications continues to expand, the Val6 track record for versatility grows and expands with it. Val6 products have always been the kind of equipment that satisfied what we looked for to join our existing product-sales line-up. We have never had a problem with ill-conceived design, component unreliability, or failure of product support / factory support after the sale. It is probably accurate to say that we are prejudiced toward this type of product. As far as a track record for the recent-arriving competitors, we are in business that frequently acquires trade-in equipment, which is usually the result of some level of dis-satisfaction, hence the trade. In short, we feel that we deal with the truest form of market research, equipment that customers are unhappy with to the point of trading it off.
Our Val6 product line is considered to be without equal, so unhappy customers shop with us, not just because we carry the line that has the best reputation and track record, but we also have a reputation of trying to ease the sting of a poor equipment purchase, and keep their investment affordable. It has paid dividends in making friends and hopefully, customers for the long term. This has also given us the benefit of seeing the market competitors “in their everyday clothes,” so to speak, plus gives us the chance to see what makes the competitor tick, what it takes to fix it, and compare it with our Val6 history and experience. By comparison, we feel that Val6 equipment has never let us down, in any sense of the word. Our retail and wholesale history of our Val6 equipment is having a model line-up to fit any application and excellent customer feedback to support this belief.
Whether heating a farm or commercial shop, a calving facility, mobile repairs, cold weather athletic and competition, to even tailgate parties, we feel that we have an excellent history to base our faith in Val6 equipment to operate with EconoDri cabinets.
We feel like we should recommend OUR preference in radiant space heaters, and are pleased to do so with the Val6 brand. This is not to condemn or disparage competitive brands, and as described above, we consistently have the opportunity to evaluate equipment in the field, and we are open to new comparisons, as well. This is our position until proven otherwise.