AR15.Com Archives
 Pellet Stove
Vinny  [Team Member]
11/12/2008 12:20:12 AM
So me and another friend are thinking of getting pellet stoves to heat the house over winter. The guy at the stove place told my buddy that the best idea is to put it in the basement and cut some floor vents. The 40lb bags of pellets are around $3 a bag. Anyone hear have one? If so I have a couple questions:

How do they vent it from the basement? I have no exposed walls...

Is it worth getting the automatic feeder option?

Is pellet better than wood?? SHTF senario I'm thinking no, since i won't be able to get pellets and the pellet stove needs power...

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ColtRifle  [Member]
11/12/2008 12:27:30 AM
I use mine to supplement my heat pump.

I think you could vent it out of the basement with a vertical rise along with a vent through your wall. Make sure the vent is away from any windows.

Not sure what you mean about the auto feeder option. I have to fill mine by hand. Holds about 40lbs. Takes a bag per 24 hr day if running full time. I like to use it in the evening over night then let it shut down during the day and run on the heatpump...when it's more efficient.

The pellets are very neat and clean....a lot better than a wood stove.
'
I like mine.
scrachline1  [Team Member]
11/12/2008 12:54:43 AM
vinny - you have already answered your own question - SHTF no more pellets - also during a power outage unless you have power backup your stove is just a big hunk of metal sitting there - burn real wood like real men did 100 year ago lolol - If I lived in a place where I could not get free wood I would consider one - But here in the middle of WV - there are lots of dead trees and lots of live ones.
stuckincal  [Member]
11/12/2008 7:17:26 AM
i would not waste ur money on a pellet stove. i looked into one. we have a wood one now. when its cold and u loose power how are u going to heat ur house? they need power to feed the pellets and after u run out of pellets then what? i know some run on corn and pellets but u will run out some day and then ur up the creek. u can always get more wood. during normal time u might be able to turn on ur heater off and just run ur fan. just depends on were the intake is

stuck
J_Smith  [Member]
11/12/2008 7:24:18 AM
I purchased a pellet stove a few months ago. It really depends on your situation. I'm still living in a trailer park (albeit a nice one). Though I could legally have a wood stove, the neighbors might complain and I have no room to store regular firewood in bulk. My storage shed will hold 1-2 tons of pellets which will last a few months at least. Can the power go out? Yes. I live within city limits so it's highly unlikely in this area. When it does, it's for a few minutes to an hour at most. I have oil heat as a backup - and yes, that still requires electricity.

Pellets burn much cleaner then regular firewood and there is very little maintenance required of the stoves. Normal prices on pellets are around $240-$250 a ton but they've gone over $300 this year. One ton should last me 2-3 months. Really depends on your situation. If I lived in the country (working on that), I'd opt for a wood stove. Being in a mobile home, I feel a little safer with a pellet stove as well.

As far as getting pellets, I've had to network with my Dad and his friend to order them in advance or track down suppliers who have them in stock. They are very popular and there has been supply issues with pellets with demand being far in excess of the supply.

If you have access to a wood lot or your own land, then firewood is great. If you have to buy from a dealer, it's not much different then buying pellets - you're dependent on someone to come through.
1LTfptg  [Member]
11/12/2008 8:36:02 AM
Originally Posted By Vinny:
So me and another friend are thinking of getting pellet stoves to heat the house over winter. The guy at the stove place told my buddy that the best idea is to put it in the basement and cut some floor vents. The 40lb bags of pellets are around $3 a bag. Anyone hear have one? If so I have a couple questions:

How do they vent it from the basement? I have no exposed walls...

Is it worth getting the automatic feeder option?

Is pellet better than wood?? SHTF senario I'm thinking no, since i won't be able to get pellets and the pellet stove needs power...




this is why I have two WOOD burners, even though a pellet stove is a bit cheaper in the beginning.

it's worth the extra cost and hassle of wood to ME. YMMV.
Feral  [Moderator]
11/12/2008 9:54:14 AM
The neighbors have an auto-feed pellet stove in their basement. It's pretty slick and I know they're happy with it. Kinda bridges the gap between the pay-for-it-and-forget-about-it heating methods (gas, oil) and heating with a woodstove. Definitely a lesser investment in time than heating with a woodstove.
Vinny  [Team Member]
11/12/2008 10:04:38 AM
Thanks guys, I think I'll go look at some wood stoves or inserts
moajay  [Member]
11/12/2008 10:53:12 AM
I recently purchased a pellet stove also, I really wasnt looking to buy one but I got a very good deal.
I love mine so far, very easy clean up and install, they only need to be vented directly outside, meaning no riser on your flu. This worked well for me in our living room.
It takes far less power to run than standard furnace, I can run the pellet stove with the generator or ive got an inverter set up so I can run it off of batteries if needed.

Having said that if I didnt live in town, or didnt have access to a large amount of pellets, I would opt for a wood burner. You just cant beat em for true SHTF or long term use.
dmsmith_Sig  [Member]
11/12/2008 12:24:18 PM
I had a Regency wood burning insert installed in my fireplace about 2 months ago. The neighbors have a pellet insert in their fireplace. Both are located on the main floor of our respective houses, in the living rooms.

Why wood for me?
1. (as stated) it will operate fine when power is lost.
2. (as stated) there is always wood to burn. I pick up my own from a local mill about 20 minutes from the house. $80 a cord. I am thinking that <2 cords should suffice to heat my house for the winter.
3. The glass front makes for a nice fire scene. This makes the girlfriend want to cozy up with me, which in turn makes me happy.

I opted for the electric blower unit as well, vastly improves the efficiency of the wood insert to heat the house. I have a gas furnace that was previously the main heat source and now operates as the back up.
In the event of a power outage just the mass of the stove will radiate plenty of heat to make the living room comfortable and sufficient heat to make the rest of the house usable and prevent pipes from freezing (during and extended outage).
I'd like to get a back up power system (battery or generator) sufficient to run the blowers on the wood stove and the heater as well as power the fridge (on occasion).

The neighbors are very happy with their pellet stove to augment their heat in the winter, but they aren't the 'prepping'-kind.

-David
ColtRifle  [Member]
11/12/2008 1:53:19 PM
MY pellet stove was an investment in reduced cost heat for use during cold times (when the temps drop below 20 degrees). It was not meant to be a SHTF use although it will work for that as well. Mine uses about 160-200 watts running so it would be possible to run off a power inverter and batteries and solar panels but would take a lot to do that. I have it set up where I could attach my small generator and run it off the generator. I also have a large generator that I could also use in the event of a power outage.

I also have propane and kerosene backups so I can heat my house no matter what.

For it's intended purpose, it works great!!

Pellets are running about $180 per ton here...but that's because they are made right here.
overkill375  [Team Member]
11/12/2008 2:16:50 PM
I heat totally with wood with a back up forced air NG furnace. One thing people do not add in is you will need things like saws, chains, splitting tools/splitter and venting a woodstove is alittle more involved than the chimney pipe for a pellet stove (I think). But all that said in the long run with maintaining my own saws and only buying good deals on saws/tools and getting wood that is close to home. I figure it costs me about $26 a cord to get wood to the house if I get it in town (no labor). I need the exercise so the work is good for me. If it comes down to it you can burn leaves, paper, grass, corn, oil and alot of pallets and crap that you could never run thru a pellet stove. Just remeber if you are actualy going to use it it will require more work than your pellet option. And $16 dollar NG bills in the winter are a great side benifit. Thats only for the hot water heater.
ColtRifle  [Member]
11/12/2008 5:28:23 PM
Once you've owned a pellet stove, most people love them.

As a supplement heat source, they work great.

In my dream house, I'll put a wood furnace in the basement. Since the basement will be a walkout type, the wood will be stored near the walkout part. That way, the mess is away from the main part of the house.

I love wood heat but I hate the mess.

Pellet stoves have a little dust but that's it. Nothing like a wood stove.

Even after I put in the wood stove in the basement of my dream house, I'll still consider putting in a pellet stove in the main part of the house. I just like them.
Zoarboy  [Member]
11/12/2008 6:47:14 PM
IMHO, bad idea. There is a bad shortage and purchase restrictions here in WNY.

A co-worker who ridiculed me for installing a conventional wood burner due to the extra chore of cutting and splitting ect, is now looking to change it over.

I have 40 or so acres of my own wooods to work with, so I may have it easier than some more suburban or urban dwellers, but I still would not subject myself to the possible availability or price fluctuations of another comodity.

BustinCaps  [Team Member]
11/12/2008 7:39:48 PM
The correct answer is that you are looking to get one for next year. Everything I sell is back ordered to Jan. Prices for pellets have been going up here as well. (as far as I can tell.) Make sure you shop around. I would not recommend buying the cheapest thing out their. Ensure you get a nice warranty and that replacement parts are easily available. Around here in N.E. Ohio three things are easy to sell right now. Wood stoves, pellet stoves, and AR's.

Pellet pro's:

Neat and easy fuel storage.

Less operational maintenance. Many go 50-100 hours between reloading.

Cheaper and easier to vent from odd locations. Very clean burn.

Good ones have auto-lite and thermostatic controls. Digital, etc.

Con's:

Price of pellets can vary dramatically depending on area. CHECK FIRST!

Best pellet prices are usually in spring/early summer. Sucks to store them all summer taking up space.

When the power goes out, some units will leak smoke into the house. They have mechanical draft unlike wood which uses natural draft. Turn off the fan and your house is smoky. Pellet smoke does not smell nice. (Solution: Install a nice vertical vent portion outside the house. This should give just enough natural draft to clear the smoke.) I have also heard of people using computer battery backups. These only work long enough to shut the unit down properly

No heat without electricity.

Lots of mechanical stuff. They have repair costs that generally exceed wood.

Did I mention no heat without electricity? I strongly prefer a secondary system that is fully usable. Back-up both as cost reduction AND a hedge against power failure.

How do they vent it from the basement? I have no exposed walls... It should go straight out the foundation toward the top. Installation is very different than wood. A whole different type/size vent with much less heat. From the outside they look like a dryer vent on the wall.

Is it worth getting the automatic feeder option? Only way to go. I don't know if they have them without it?

Is pellet better than wood?? SHTF senario I'm thinking no, since i won't be able to get pellets and the pellet stove needs power... It is a matter of preference/lifestyle/objectives. Wood is ideal, especially if you find a good source. It is more work, dirtier, and for some people, more hazardous. Pellets are more convenient, but with convenience comes more expense. You also do sacrifice the real reason for a secondary heat source: HEAT when the primary fails.



With all that said, wood is what I deal with, but I always bump into these systems day to day.
StagPower  [Member]
11/12/2008 9:32:48 PM
I have an auger coal stove. My BIL has a pellet stove. He was told that pellets may very well dry up come Dec because of the bad construction market not producing saw dust.

I was also told that a major producer was burnt to the ground as well.

You might want to think about a stardard wood stove or some other alternative.

StagPower
ColtRifle  [Member]
11/12/2008 10:30:48 PM
Originally Posted By StagPower:
I have an auger coal stove. My BIL has a pellet stove. He was told that pellets may very well dry up come Dec because of the bad construction market not producing saw dust.

I was also told that a major producer was burnt to the ground as well.

You might want to think about a stardard wood stove or some other alternative.

StagPower




Contruction sawdust is primarily pine. Pine does NOT make good pellets.

The best pellets are hard wood such as oak. Where I live, we have tons of oak trees and lots of mills processing oak trees. As a result, there are about 3 pellet mills that I know of within 100 miles. The cost margin for pellets is small so it's not cost effective to truck in pellets from far away as long as fuel prices are high....now that they are droping, you might see more pellets in your area.

Around here, there is plenty of pellets and the going rate is $180 per ton...a few places will also deliver for that price within 25 miles. I saw prices as low as $160 per ton locally before fall. I bought some then.

Also, don't vent it straight out the wall. It will work but if the power goes out while it's running, you'll smoke up the house. You want about 3 ft of vertical rise outside along with an outside air kit. That way, the residual heat will carry any byproducts of combustion up and out of the house.

Also, hard wood pellets burning produce very little smoke and the smoke produced smells nice.
Local  [Member]
11/13/2008 1:21:07 AM
I always question those who think that wood stoves are a good idea because when SHTF they can just go out and chop down their own wood. Most have never tried it.

Felling trees, splitting logs and transporting them is hard, sometimes dangerous work. My family went through 2.5 to 3 chords a winter heating our old house with one wood stove and baseboard heaters. Without a lot of help, it'd take someone most of the summer and fall splitting and stacking all that wood, and a great deal of gasoline doing so. I doubt one family could do it with out chainsaws and hydraulic splitters.

If the SHTF, move south. With out electricity, gasoline or people who do nothing but cut and split wood you'll either run out of wood or spend every free moment cutting and stacking the stuff.
shibumiseeker  [Member]
11/13/2008 7:33:11 AM
Originally Posted By Local:
I always question those who think that wood stoves are a good idea because when SHTF they can just go out and chop down their own wood. Most have never tried it.

Felling trees, splitting logs and transporting them is hard, sometimes dangerous work. My family went through 2.5 to 3 chords a winter heating our old house with one wood stove and baseboard heaters. Without a lot of help, it'd take someone most of the summer and fall splitting and stacking all that wood, and a great deal of gasoline doing so. I doubt one family could do it with out chainsaws and hydraulic splitters.

If the SHTF, move south. With out electricity, gasoline or people who do nothing but cut and split wood you'll either run out of wood or spend every free moment cutting and stacking the stuff.


Old houses that are drafty and have no insulation will require a lot of heating
regardless of the source. A well insulated house with a properly installed high efficiency
stove will not require as much wood to heat. My firewood is essentially free as a
byproduct of my sawmill, but even without it, it takes about a cord of wood to heat
my house for a season (Mid November until late March) and I have an old clunker of
a stove that sends 2/3rds of the heat up the flue.

I can cut, split, and stack a cord of firewood (hardwoods) in a single 8hour day,
by myself. This isn't theory, I've done it. I'm talking a full cord (4x4x8' stack).
I once did a test to see what it would take for me to do the same thing with
a cheap bow saw from Sears. I cut smaller diameter wood than I would with a
chainsaw, but I then didn't have to split it. It took about 20 hours and I was a lot more
tired, but it is still very possible.

I'll put in a vote for a high efficiency woodstove if you have a wood source. If
you have to buy wood then you might as well put in a pellet stove, they are indeed
much cleaner, more efficient, and the ability to heat for a couple days between
fillings is nice.
BustinCaps  [Team Member]
11/13/2008 7:35:25 AM
Originally Posted By Local:
I always question those who think that wood stoves are a good idea because when SHTF they can just go out and chop down their own wood. Most have never tried it.

Felling trees, splitting logs and transporting them is hard, sometimes dangerous work. My family went through 2.5 to 3 chords a winter heating our old house with one wood stove and baseboard heaters. Without a lot of help, it'd take someone most of the summer and fall splitting and stacking all that wood, and a great deal of gasoline doing so. I doubt one family could do it with out chainsaws and hydraulic splitters.

If the SHTF, move south. With out electricity, gasoline or people who do nothing but cut and split wood you'll either run out of wood or spend every free moment cutting and stacking the stuff.


I've done it my whole life. It takes maybe a few gallons of gas and a weekend worth of time with 3 people. sure beats freezing your ass off. If the world ends, oh well. Guess i'll use an ax.

One thing is for sure, a woodstove is better than nothing.

ETA: if cave men stayed warm with fire, i'm sure I can.

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