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Old 08-03-2010, 11:03 AM
 
Location: NW. MO.
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Default Pellet stove opinions??

I'm still looking at different heat sources. Can anyone tell me how happy or unhappy they are with the pellet stoves? Was looking at corn fuel but might just do the wood pellet.

I need a heater to vent out the wall without a huge amount of chimney required so a woodstove is not an option. If I get gas, I have to rerun the gas lines yuck, so I am looking to see what other options are workable. Need a fairly low cost but decent heat source for the winter.

We have a smallish house. Two story of about 1500 ish sq feet. Old with little insulation, higher humidity area with periods of pretty cold weather in the winter.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Alaska
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We have a pellet stove to supplement the heat in our basement. Ours had a hookup for a thermostat so it automatically cycles with the temperature settings. During the winter, we fill the hopper about every 2-3 days and clean it once a week (will depend on the model), which takes about 5 minutes tops. One to two times a year, you'll need to clean out ash from the flue pipe and inner parts of the stove. You'll also want at least 5' of rise on the flue pipe (either inside or outside the house), in order to create a positive draft so smoke will be pulled out in case of a power outage.

For the most part we love the warmth it provides. It keeps the family room the warmest room in the house. Two drawbacks are that it's a dry heat, so you may need a humidifier and we do see some fine ash dust build up in the area around the stove (probably from cleaning and some ash pan leakage). One other potential problem is pellet storage. You'll need a dry area to store them.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:09 PM
 
Location: NW. MO.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akck View Post
We have a pellet stove to supplement the heat in our basement. Ours had a hookup for a thermostat so it automatically cycles with the temperature settings. During the winter, we fill the hopper about every 2-3 days and clean it once a week (will depend on the model), which takes about 5 minutes tops. One to two times a year, you'll need to clean out ash from the flue pipe and inner parts of the stove. You'll also want at least 5' of rise on the flue pipe (either inside or outside the house), in order to create a positive draft so smoke will be pulled out in case of a power outage.

For the most part we love the warmth it provides. It keeps the family room the warmest room in the house. Two drawbacks are that it's a dry heat, so you may need a humidifier and we do see some fine ash dust build up in the area around the stove (probably from cleaning and some ash pan leakage). One other potential problem is pellet storage. You'll need a dry area to store them.
Oh true on the storage area, that will be another issue to fix. I don't know why I forgot that. I am looking for drier heat because we have moisture issues in the house so I hesitate bringing any moist heat into it.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:20 PM
QIS
 
Location: Redlands, CA
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I like them,but, have seen problems with the flue/vent pipe configurations/installations and terminations not being done correctly!
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misplaced1 View Post
Oh true on the storage area, that will be another issue to fix. I don't know why I forgot that. I am looking for drier heat because we have moisture issues in the house so I hesitate bringing any moist heat into it.
Our first year, I wanted to have a winter's supply of pellets stored (80+ bags). We cut back some last winter (approx 50 bags), and bought some over the winter. This winter, we'll likely keep only 20-30 bags in the garage, re-stocking when it drops below 10 bags. While the supplier here gives quantity discounts, we're thinking it will be better for our storage situation if we let them store the pellets until we need them.
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Cinco Dinero
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My dad installed one when I was a teenager. (90's) It really did keep that old drafty house warm and toasty. Infact, we stopped using the electric baseboards all together.

One con, it vented outside but the smoke deeply stained the side of the house (white siding) ...

Another issue... It seemed to need weekly maintenence. All I know, is every saturday morning, while I wished to sleep in, my dad would vacuum it with the wet/dry vac and have to bang the ash/soot free with a hammer.

Just sayin,
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:45 PM
 
Location: NW. MO.
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Thanks you guys for all the info!
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:54 PM
 
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A couple of things I always wonder about choosing wood pellet stoves over traditional wood stoves:

Is the price of pellets cheaper than buying regular wood?

What happens if for some reason wood pellets are not available or one cannot travel to buy any. Can the pellet stove be converted to run on regular wood or are you stuck without a heat source?
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:07 AM
 
Location: Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
Is the price of pellets cheaper than buying regular wood?
It depends on your location to the sources. I do think that pellet stoves are more efficient and produce a more even heat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
What happens if for some reason wood pellets are not available or one cannot travel to buy any. Can the pellet stove be converted to run on regular wood or are you stuck without a heat source?
No, it cannot be converted to wood. Pellet stoves have a small buring pot that is filled via an auger system. Wood would not fit in it.
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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You'd be ideal candidate for an anthracite coal stoker, check to see if there is any coal dealers in your area. I'll have to emphasize you'll want anthracite and the cost should be in the $300+ per ton range, if you get prices significantly less than that it's not anthracite and unsuitable. If you do find a dealer it will most likely be bagged, either Reading or Blaschak brand but there are others. Missouri would be pushing the limits for availability and cost savings because once you start getting that far away from Pennsylvania the cost is too much because of shipping.

The smaller stokers which are no different than a wood pellet stove can be power vented. The fuel takes up less space and can be stored anywhere including outside on the ground. It will burn wet and any product you get will have some dampness to it which is good thing to keep dust down. One big upside compared to wood or pellets is there is no visible smoke and very little odor. You'll have a difference with ground level vented stove but on standard chimney you won't have any issues at all with odor.



Quote:
Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
Is the price of pellets cheaper than buying regular wood?
You can make comparisons of any fuel here:

Fuel Comparison Calculator for Home Heating

One thing to note about wood is the BTU value varies widely by species, I have intentions of adding options for that in the future. On the bottom of the calculator you can get a rough idea of for other fuels based on your current costs.

Couple of things to consider for wood vs pellets. Pellet stoves are mechanical, no electric = no heat, same thing is true with coal stoker. They are easier to use and more efficient. Probably biggest downside is storage of fuel, if wood pellets get wet they turn to mush. Both require a lot of space for storage compared to any other fuel.

I'm not a fan of power venting for a variety of reasons, long term you are better off just building a chimney. Standard clay lined chimney will last you a lifetime with coal. I know with the coal stokers the life expectancy on a power venter is somewhere in the 5 year range which can really put a dent in the cost savings. I'd imagine the life is not much more for pellets. Here's a quick tip, if you have an existing system hooked to the chimney see if you can power vent that and hook your coal stoker/wood pellet stove to the chimney.
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