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Old 10-12-2011, 07:10 AM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,257 posts, read 1,299,114 times
Reputation: 935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Safecracker View Post
...if you were going to use a wood stove to heat with, would you get a regular one to burn cut and split wood in, or one that burns pellets? which is better, and cheaper to heat with?
I'm sure there is analysis out there somewhere that could answer this question. I've heated with both, and each has it's advantages. You can't really compare the btu's between wood and pellets, because you waste a lot of heat when you burn wood. It's just not anywhere near as controllable. I've heated homes with both over the years and think that, if you shop around, pellets are less expensive and 10 times more convenient. It's true about a pellet stove needing electricity to run, but if you are worried about extended power losses, you should have a generator anyway. Pellet stoves also make noise. The only advantantage I see in wood is being able to stand next to the stove and warm up after being outside. Wood stoves radiate heat, pellet stoves don't.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Bar Harbor, ME
1,922 posts, read 2,118,025 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
You can't really compare the btu's between wood and pellets, because you waste a lot of heat when you burn wood.
Why is this the case? All EPA certified regular woods stoves now have to be ay least 75% efficient, and most are between 80 and 84%. Pellet stoves are generally just slightly higher. Pellets are wood.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,320 posts, read 26,148,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
I'm sure there is analysis out there somewhere that could answer this question. I've heated with both, and each has it's advantages. You can't really compare the btu's between wood and pellets, because you waste a lot of heat when you burn wood
Can you explain this please?

A good mixture of fuel and air will make for a nearly perfect combustion. Some stoves have a secondary combustion chamber to make sure that no volatile fumes leave the stove. So they can be extremely efficient.

Some heat is lost as it goes up the stove-pipe. However that can also be addressed. Our stove-pipe as it exits up through our roof is not terribly hot. Warm, certainly, but you can lay your hand on it. So long as 90% of the heat made from burning goes into your home and does not go outside; then that avenue of loss is under control.

So where are you seeing wasted heat?

I have read many things that do compare wood to pellets; they are seen as comparable.



Quote:
... It's just not anywhere near as controllable. I've heated homes with both over the years and think that, if you shop around, pellets are less expensive and 10 times more convenient.
I have not shopped for pellets where you have, I guess.

We have looked at pellet stoves a few times. Each time when we price pellets they seem to run about the same as cord wood [per BTU].

You are certainly correct in saying that pellet stoves are more convenient. That is their big marketing point, along with less dirty.



Quote:
... It's true about a pellet stove needing electricity to run, but if you are worried about extended power losses, you should have a generator anyway.
Agreed.

Or just go off-grid.



Quote:
... Pellet stoves also make noise.
I was not aware of that.



Quote:
... The only advantantage I see in wood is being able to stand next to the stove and warm up after being outside. Wood stoves radiate heat, pellet stoves don't.
We use our woodstove to heat water, which flows through our radiant floor system. So it heats our floors too
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Old 10-13-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,257 posts, read 1,299,114 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forest beekeeper View Post
Can you explain this please?

A good mixture of fuel and air will make for a nearly perfect combustion. Some stoves have a secondary combustion chamber to make sure that no volatile fumes leave the stove. So they can be extremely efficient.

Some heat is lost as it goes up the stove-pipe. However that can also be addressed. Our stove-pipe as it exits up through our roof is not terribly hot. Warm, certainly, but you can lay your hand on it. So long as 90% of the heat made from burning goes into your home and does not go outside; then that avenue of loss is under control.

So where are you seeing wasted heat?
Let me give you a few ways. When I light a fire in a woodstove, I'm making a commitment to generate X number of BTU's. It doesn't matter whether your house is at 40 degrees or 68 degrees, you are still going to produce X number of BTU's. Most of the time, the stove is going to bring your house up the temperature you want and beyond. Since you have no way to efficiently store that excess heat, much of it is wasted.

A pellet stove works like your furnace. If your house is 68 degrees, it will only burn until your house reachs the desired temperature, then it turns off. A pellet stove (at least mine) only burned about a tablespoon of pellets at a time, so no more than a tablespoon can be wasted.

Pellets have very low moisture content. It takes energy to evaporate moisture. That energy is lost evaporating water when burning wood.

Pellets burn at very high efficiency, and in fact sometimes have problems drafting because so little heat goes up the chimney. Wood (although it better with the new stoves) lose tons of heat up the chimney. That is heat not going into your house.

Pellets always burn at top efficiency (under a forced air stream). Wood stoves (the most efficient being "air tight") smolder to lengthen burning time and moderate the heat loss I stated earlier. This results in incomplete burning of gases released during combustion (the cause of formation of creosote in the chimney).


Quote:
Originally Posted by forest beekeeper View Post

I have read many things that do compare wood to pellets; they are seen as comparable.

I have not shopped for pellets where you have, I guess.

We have looked at pellet stoves a few times. Each time when we price pellets they seem to run about the same as cord wood [per BTU].
I'm sure you are right here. But since pellets are more efficient, you will realize a higher percentage of the theoretical BTU from pellets than you will out of wood. Therefore the cost per realized BTU will be higher burning wood.
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Old 10-13-2011, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,320 posts, read 26,148,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
Let me give you a few ways. When I light a fire in a woodstove, I'm making a commitment to generate X number of BTU's. It doesn't matter whether your house is at 40 degrees or 68 degrees, you are still going to produce X number of BTU's. Most of the time, the stove is going to bring your house up the temperature you want and beyond. Since you have no way to efficiently store that excess heat, much of it is wasted.
X number of BTUs is the context of three pieces of wood or six. It is all variable. Nobody is making you fully load a woodstove. You put in, what you wish to burn.

When you wish to lessen how much heat a stove is radiating you can close a damper. Less wood gets burned and less heat is released.



Quote:
... A pellet stove works like your furnace. If your house is 68 degrees, it will only burn until your house reachs the desired temperature, then it turns off. A pellet stove (at least mine) only burned about a tablespoon of pellets at a time, so no more than a tablespoon can be wasted.
Your pellet stove shuts off? Like 'off', no flame at all. And it re-ignites itself when the thermostat calls for heat?

I thought they regulate heat by the speed of the auger? Not shutting off/on, but fast burn/slow burn.



Quote:
... Pellets have very low moisture content. It takes energy to evaporate moisture. That energy is lost evaporating water when burning wood.
Assuming that you burn green wood yes.

Comparing green wood to dry pellets would make a big difference. As a comparison that is just as valid as comparing sailboats to cropdusters.



Quote:
... Pellets burn at very high efficiency, and in fact sometimes have problems drafting because so little heat goes up the chimney. Wood (although it better with the new stoves) lose tons of heat up the chimney. That is heat not going into your house.

Pellets always burn at top efficiency (under a forced air stream). Wood stoves (the most efficient being "air tight") smolder to lengthen burning time and moderate the heat loss I stated earlier. This results in incomplete burning of gases released during combustion (the cause of formation of creosote in the chimney).
I am not sure about 'tons of heat' going up the stove-pipe, if you extract nearly all the heat then it no longer goes up.

It is not hard to pull very nearly all of the BTU from the rising smoke. Cool enough that you can place your hand on it.



Quote:
... I'm sure you are right here. But since pellets are more efficient, you will realize a higher percentage of the theoretical BTU from pellets than you will out of wood. Therefore the cost per realized BTU will be higher burning wood.
Okay.

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Old 10-13-2011, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Sacramento, CA/Dover-Foxcroft, ME
1,782 posts, read 1,795,378 times
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I like wood but I've got to tell you, I'm never so hot and uncomfortable as I am in Maine in the winters. For example, my brothers cabin has a stove in the middle of the house that is so hot, I can hardly sit in his living room and watch tv without feeling like I'm in a sauna. He has to get it that hot to heat the rest of the house. My sister in the old family farmhouse has oil heat and she doesn't like it under 70 degrees and the furnace is going most of the time.

My cousin in town uses a pellet stove and even there I get uncomfortable. When I lived back there in an apartment last year for 9 months in the winter, I had electric heat. I soon learned that I could only afford to heat one room at a time and never above 60 degrees. Plus a space heater to isolate the heat near my feet. That was one cold winter in Maine. But I enjoyed my apartment more than my other relatives houses because I hate to sweat.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:11 PM
 
62 posts, read 88,988 times
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My parents pellet stoves have broken twice, cogs stripping....chain, etc etc. My wood stove has never broken.....nothing to break. My parents spend as much for pellets as I do for wood. Yet I can go out back and cut a tree down and have emergency fuel for a couple weeks....they can't.

The benefits of wood over pellet are simplicity and fuel availability.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,257 posts, read 1,299,114 times
Reputation: 935
Quote:
Originally Posted by The-Raven View Post
My parents pellet stoves have broken twice, cogs stripping....chain, etc etc. My wood stove has never broken.....nothing to break. My parents spend as much for pellets as I do for wood. Yet I can go out back and cut a tree down and have emergency fuel for a couple weeks....they can't.

The benefits of wood over pellet are simplicity and fuel availability.
What brand of pellet stove do you have? They are mechanical and therefore can break down. My daughter's hasn't had a problem in a couple years, but mine had all kinds of problems. Fortunately it had a long warranty. You really have to keep them clean.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,320 posts, read 26,148,901 times
Reputation: 8429
Quote:
Originally Posted by RMoore007 View Post
I like wood but I've got to tell you, I'm never so hot and uncomfortable as I am in Maine in the winters. For example, my brothers cabin has a stove in the middle of the house that is so hot, I can hardly sit in his living room and watch tv without feeling like I'm in a sauna. He has to get it that hot to heat the rest of the house. My sister in the old family farmhouse has oil heat and she doesn't like it under 70 degrees and the furnace is going most of the time.

My cousin in town uses a pellet stove and even there I get uncomfortable. When I lived back there in an apartment last year for 9 months in the winter, I had electric heat. I soon learned that I could only afford to heat one room at a time and never above 60 degrees. Plus a space heater to isolate the heat near my feet. That was one cold winter in Maine. But I enjoyed my apartment more than my other relatives houses because I hate to sweat.
Homes with one heat source in one room, no way to evenly distribute heat everywhere can be a problem.

One spot is too hot, the rest of the house is too cold.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
21,320 posts, read 26,148,901 times
Reputation: 8429
Quote:
Originally Posted by bangorme View Post
... They are mechanical and therefore can break down.

...mine had all kinds of problems.

... You really have to keep them clean.
So for the perceived [and debated] benefits they require much higher maintenance.

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