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Pellet stoves

:confused: There is no catagory for heat thought i'd try here instead of
the nov 2006 article. We would like to get a pellet stove but
do not know anyone who has one. Of course they make it sound
great when you go into the store . . .
It would really help suppliment heat in our house. We have to
check with building inspector on code (everything you do needs
a building permit) also have to check with insurance company.
Other than that does anyone have any pros and cons they would
like to share? We looked at a Quadra-Fire that just might do
the job.

A. Spruce
Re: Pellet stoves

Pellets are expensive, and they require electricity to operate - both to run the feed auger and run a circulation fan. If you're in an area prone to power outages, don't go pellet or you won't have heat.

That being said, they're pretty efficient and many can be direct vented, as opposed to full chimneys out the top of the roof.

Re: Pellet stoves

Keep in mind you will need a place to store the pellets. You can buy them by the bag or by the ton, but they do take up some space.

Re: Pellet stoves

I was in a similar situation two Autumns ago - and went to a local retailer that sold quite a few brands of gas, wood, and pellet stoves; inserts and freestanding. They also retailed the pellets.

I found that a quality stove costs virtually the same to buy and install - whether pellet or wood - and so the determining factor of one over the other came down to the price and availability of wood vs. the cost, shortage, and storage needs for pellets. You see - at the time - that particular store was already out of pellets for their regular customers, and there had been a shortage the winter before - where people learned to buy their pellets in the summer and fall - in bulk. To heat - or simply supplement heat effectively with a stove required as much as a pallet of pellets (pardon what seems to be the beginning of a lymeric).

I was hoping to heat my smallish house exclusively with a wood stove, and reasoned that the the cost of the stove and whatever it burns would be about as much as I had spent on heating oil the winter before.

With either stove - be aware that your local zoning requirements (fire code) will likely require some sort of fire retardant surface to within or beyond 18 inches from the front of your stove - out into your room, such as a flame resistant carpet or pad.

I went with a decent sized Jotul brand wood stove - which fit nicely into the opening of my fireplace and the technicians installed the flu and cap in about an hour. It's been very easy and/or affordable to either buy or chop firewood throughout the year - not to mention saving on costly gyms and therapy sessions. I believe it was Abe Lincoln who said : "Chop your own firewood, and you get warmed twice."

In any event - our old oil furnace still goes on to heat water, but almost never cuts in to heat the house - as we have learned how to efficiently run the stove 24 hrs. a day and maintain a nice even temperature (without it being too dry). Of course, the benefit of burning wood is that there is the added benefit of aesthetics - something you will not get to enjoy with pellets at all.

best of luck


Re: Pellet stoves

The cabin I have been working on came with a nonworking pellet stove. My immediate thought was to rip it out and install a wood burning stove. But I tinkered around with the electrical and got it working. I had no directions to speak of so had a bit of a learning curve on how to operate the thing.

I like it. I like it because I am not burning electricity in the supplemental baseboard heaters to take the chill off. I was really surprised at how little fuel is burned compared to the heat it puts out and also that once lit it does not need to be tended to.

But as Spruce pointed out it's not much more than a boat anchor if there is no power to it.

Re: Pellet stoves

Friends of mine have a top loading pellet stove, and they LOVE it. It comfortably heats their living and dining rooms (~60 sqft) to a balmy 73 degrees. They now only have to use their gas heater for the two small bedrooms.

The high efficiency pellets are made from sawdust at sawmills that would otherwise go to into landfills. It sends out a lot of heat with very little pollution. It's very cozy sitting in front of a fire. :)

I hope this helps!

Re: Pellet stoves
bp21901 wrote:

Keep in mind you will need a place to store the pellets. You can buy them by the bag or by the ton, but they do take up some space.

And they must stay dry as well.

Re: Pellet stoves

If you do decide to go with a pellet stove I would suggest the Breckwell "Big E" model. It will be the next one we buy.

Everything that was said about pellet stoves is mostly true. I would debate the idea that pellets are expensive based on the fact that oil and electricity are not cheap. We used out gas furnace last year and it cost on average $360. a month to heat the house with steam radiators. I suppose if the whole system was rehabilitated to the point where we could turn radiators on or off we might make out better.

We are using our pellet stove almost exclusivly this winter and have had good luck with it. We burn 1 to 1-1/2 bags a day on a 12 year old stove. At $5.80 delivered price per bag by the pallet ton we may be saving about $100. per month. $5.80 x 45 bags = $261. on the high end.

You do need to order early, and you need to be absoultly sure to buy Hardwood pellets not softwood. The big H is selling "Stove Chow" which is quite similar to feeding your fire creosote. It states that it is made from 100% "white wood" (pine?) Not a good idea.

My personal opinion is that the pellets are much more efficent than a regular fireplace.

Good luck!

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