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  1. #1
    Silver Member
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    Oct 2013
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    178
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    Southern Maine
    Tractor
    Kubota B2320

    Default Firewood versus Pellets

    I have burned firewood for 20 years and am thinking about switching to wood pellets. My house is single story with full basement, and the wood stove is in the basement. The basement ceiling is insulated (hot water radiant floor heating under floor between the floor joists), so I have a hood over the wood stove with an 8 inch round duct into the living room.

    I burn 3 cords of wood a year and the 1400 square foot house is about 72 degrees during the coldest winter nights without burning propane in the boiler.

    May go to pellets because: won't have to buy and stack wood; can buy pellets and stack them in the basement at my own convenience; no bugs with pellets; consistency of pellets compared with wood; wood is getting to be between $245 and $275 a cord and seasoned/ dry wood is getting scarce. Not to mention, wood delivery truck usually leaves ruts in yard, or I have to schedules delivery only during mid summer when I don't have enough time for it to season.

    Has anybody made the change, and what has been your experience? I know I will need a new stove, and will have to retrofit my duct to get the heat upstairs. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member Lloyd_E's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
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    1,494
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    South Shore Nova Scotia Canada
    Tractor
    2008 Kioti DK 45 sc

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    My sister bought a pellet stove - actually an insert. She asked me what I thought of it after the fact/purchase.

    Here were my concerns:
    - there is only one manufacturer of pellets in our area... they dictate price and supply.
    - if the power goes out how do you get the auger to supply pellets - - generator purchase.
    - What happens if pellet stock is low and hard to find / this actually happened, people lined up(for hours 4-6) to get them and suppliers only offering so many bags to each person. Some suppliers were out of stock for weeks.
    - a wood-stove in the basement would have heated the whole house not just a section. She has fans everywhere trying to direct the heat to all parts of the house.

    With a regular wood stove it doesn't matter if the power goes out... you got heat and can cook, boil water etc. If you run out of wood you can burn pallets, limbs etc.

    She went with the pellet stove for most of the reason you are considering. I would keep the wood stove if you can and add the pellet if you desire. Have you looked into cost of pellets vs. wood for the same amount of btu's?

    A lot of people up here are converting to heat pumps. If you have an open concept house they work great. They say it cost $1 per day to run them for heat/winter and AC/summer.

    Good luck... huge decision.
    Work hard to get it down - play like tomorrow may end!

    Small Horse Farm: 12.5 acres: 2008 Kioti Dk 45SC with Cab, FEL, BH, 6' snow blower, 7' back blade, 7' box blade, 6' bush hog, 9"& 14" auger, 8' chain harrow, 4" chipper, sand spreader, 7' landscape rake, 3pt quick attach & coffee holder.

  3. #3
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
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    Industry, Maine
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    New Holland TC40

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    Never have had a pellet stove, so I can't compare directly.

    Along with Lloyd_E's concerns about power outages, I have heard that the pellet quality can vary a good bit. I don't think you would have trouble getting pellets, from what I see around here, but I'd hate to have 2 tons (pallets) of pellets that turn out to be not so good quality.

    The electronic control boards and blowers are expensive to replace; can be very expensive.

    The pellets have to be stored where they cannot draw moisture if bought by the pallet. If stored in a basement, it should be a dry basement.

    If you have them delivered on pallets and want to get them near the basement entrance, like the firewood, you still have ruts maybe.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."

  4. #4
    Elite Member
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    Apr 2005
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    3,448
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    nicholson, pa
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    John Deer Lt160

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    I was the same way, I was going to go with a corn stove with a battery back up thermostat. But we went with a jotule lp stove (battery thermostat) and wood stove in basement as a back up.
    www.stormspoons.com my website
    http://www.etsy.com/people/Forgeblast?ref=pr_profile
    Is where I also have spoons listed.

  5. #5
    Elite Member
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    Jul 2006
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    Meridian Idaho
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    Kubota B7100D

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    I grew up burning wood and when I bought this house I put a pellet insert in place of the open hearth fireplace they had. I think you have just a much manual work with pellets are you do with wood. Both hauling in wood/pellets and filling/cleaning the stove. Pellets are a little cleaner in that you are not shedding bark, sawdust, etc. all over when bringing in bags of pellets.

    You still have to clean the stove, possibly more often than with wood. One of the downsides to pellet stoves is the relatively low BTU output. I think mine is 40 or 50k, you can get wood stoves that put out two or three times that. (A quick search shows Harmon now makes a pellet stove that puts out 68k.) You can't just 'throw another log on the fire' when you need more heat, if it is on 'high' that is all you are going to get. If my house gets cold it can take most of the day for the pellet stove to warm it back up, my propane central furnace can do it much much faster and no doubt so would a wood stove of much larger BTU capacity. I have to fill my stove twice a day. I pull the heat exchanger cleaning rods each time to get optimum output. Sometimes you can instantly feel the difference if the heat tubes built up a coating of ash.

    Pellet stoves also warm the air, not the objects. No radiant heat with a pellet stove so you have to be able to push the warm air around. Power outages etc have already been addressed so I won't cover those same with expensive replacement parts. I will say I put in an outside air kit after having the stove a few years and that made a world of difference, no more negative pressure to draw in cold air. Cut my pellet usage and the house feels more comfortable, especially in remote rooms.

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
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    Mar 2002
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    822
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    N.E. PA
    Tractor
    BX22

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    It takes close to 1500 lbs of pellets for the same heat as a cord of typical hardwood. So you would need somewhat over 2 tons of pellets to match your wood usage. Just be aware of a couple of things. Without power, your pellet stove will not work. So a small generator is needed in case of outages. Also watch where you store the pellets. I few people in our area had a ton or two of pellets in the basement when they got some water in the basement. They ended up with a ton or two of wet sawdust. Completely unusable in the stove and a pain to get rid of.

    paul

  7. #7
    Elite Member
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    Jul 2006
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    Meridian Idaho
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    Kubota B7100D

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    Quote Originally Posted by dave1949 View Post
    The pellets have to be stored where they cannot draw moisture if bought by the pallet. If stored in a basement, it should be a dry basement.
    My first winter I had to store my pellets outside on their pallets and I was really sweating one day waking up to a couple tons of wet sawdust. Since that time I have always broken the pallets down and re-stacked the bags on pallets in my garage (mainly because I fetch the pellets with a trailer but don't have a forklift to move the pallets into my garage without breaking them down). However I have since noticed many places that sell pellets around here store them outside and often through the winter/summer and sell them the next fall and they are fine. They are in a sealed bag (unless it has had a hole poked in it) and the whole pallet covered with a heavy plastic cover. Even with bags that have a hole punched in them and get wet the pellets near the hole turn to wet sawdust but the rest in the bag are usually fine.

  8. #8
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Industry, Maine
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    New Holland TC40

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    Quote Originally Posted by charlz View Post
    My first winter I had to store my pellets outside on their pallets and I was really sweating one day waking up to a couple tons of wet sawdust. Since that time I have always broken the pallets down and re-stacked the bags on pallets in my garage (mainly because I fetch the pellets with a trailer but don't have a forklift to move the pallets into my garage without breaking them down). However I have since noticed many places that sell pellets around here store them outside and often through the winter/summer and sell them the next fall and they are fine. They are in a sealed bag (unless it has had a hole poked in it) and the whole pallet covered with a heavy plastic cover. Even with bags that have a hole punched in them and get wet the pellets near the hole turn to wet sawdust but the rest in the bag are usually fine.
    Yep, I see them stacked outside here too at the hardware, stove shops, etc. They will obviously take some weather as long as the bag is good, and/or covered. I don't know if different brands/makers have better or worse bags. Bag quality would be something to evaluate.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."

  9. #9
    Silver Member
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    Oct 2009
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    111
    Location
    Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
    Tractor
    Kubota BX1850

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    I have a pellet stove in my basement and a wood stove on the main level. As mentioned above there is pros and cons to both. I like the pellet stove, fill it once a day, clean it once a week, it's been issue free for 10 years ( Harmon model). What I don't like about it is the fan, it's loud, or too loud for my liking. If I had to pick one, I'd probably pick wood, just can't beat wood heat.

    Good Luck
    Harvey

  10. #10
    Silver Member
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    Oct 2013
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    Southern Maine
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    Kubota B2320

    Default Re: Firewood versus Pellets

    Wow, better information from all of you than I could have hoped. I will say that my setup for wood is pretty efficient--- I have a shed that holds 6 cord so I keep it stocked 2 years ahead. If I shop around I can probably get a better price on green wood. I tried log length years ago and that's not worth the trouble of handling it too many times. I was not considering the change to avoid work because it really doesn't take that much time.

    I definitely like wood heat, and I spend a lot of time in the warm basement during the winter on fix-it projects that I save specifically for winter down time.

    As for now, I might just stay with the sure thing that I know and not change to something that may not be as good. Thanks to all of you for your help.

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