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Pellet Stoves: You got one?


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All this new house excitement has me thinking pellet stoves.  Been reading/hearing a lot of info on them.  Friend in Maine says he saves about $600-800 bucks a year by not using oil or electric forced air.  This falls in line with what I'm reading that a new stove/installation will pay for itself in year 3 or 4.  Anybody our there have them?  You like them?

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I don't have one, pellets are not cheap.  They may save over oil or electric heat.  I heat with wood, keep my house very warm and it costs me way less than pellets would but not everyone has access to affordable firewood. Natural gas would be cheaper than pellets.  I can see five gas wells from my house but none of it is available for me to connect to so I heat with wood.

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I didn't watch the video because I'm here at work, but just looking at that set up, I want to warn you about something...

Pellet stoves will feed pellets so you don't have to keep putting wood in the thing. That means they are burning while you are sleeping or out running errands

Either that stove doesn't put out heat like my wood stove, or that wall behind it is going to catch fire in a few years. I tried to get by with just tile underneath it, but the wood paneling dries out and then gets very flammable. I burned a hole int he wall last winter and so this year I put tile from floor to ceiling behind the stove.

so if that stove is safe to operate like that, then it isn't putting out heat like mine.

Also while it is nice to look at a fire, it is best to have solid metal doors.  that model just looks more expensive than it needs to be. Maybe its that around where I live there were several stove makers (including Fischer) and so we have a lot of options for used stoves, too. Definitely shop it. Remember, I got my stove for $150 just by finding somebody who was selling one locally. they are heavy as all hell. It took 4 guys and a furniture dolly to freight the thing in the house from the driveway

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11 minutes ago, dotman17 said:

My configuration would go on the hearth and replace the current wood stove.  It's not a for sure thing, I'm strongly considering replacing it though.

then you are all set. I just mentioned all that incase you were going from scratch like I did. I had to cut a hole in the wall for the stove pipe and everything 

if you already have a wood stove in the place, just use that the first year and see how that goes. the pellet stove might even be overkill. It all depends on how well the house holds heat.

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1 hour ago, Nate said:

if you already have a wood stove in the place, just use that the first year and see how that goes. the pellet stove might even be overkill. It all depends on how well the house holds heat.

Indeed.  

The thing is, the house needs chimney repairs and will require a masonry.  And the flue dampers are all corroded and unusable and I think they are left in the open state.  So one of the first order of business is to get functioning dampers and repair the chimney so a fire protection screen can be placed over the top.  But before I do that though, I want to investigate a pellet stove installation because it has it's own needs and I might be able to have the same contractor come out and do it all. The upper floor shares the same chimney as the lower one (where the pellet stove would go) and we'd like to reserve that for wood burning.  I doubt we'll ever use it but we may from time to time.  

 

As it stands now, there is a single chimney that needs mortar repair for both the downstairs and upstairs of the house.  It hasn't been used in a long time from what was reported and what I can tell and basic damper operation needs to be fixed.  It seems to me if I'm considering upgrading all this, it would also be a good time to do the pellet stove if they both can co-exist.  Bummer we can't get gas and I don't want to mess with an auxiliary propane tank if I don't have to.  So really it boils down to whether I want a wood stove or a pellet stove.  Advantages/disadvantages to both but I'm leaning towards the pellet one.  

 

A friend of mine in Maine just reported they save $600-$800 a year using their pellet stove and I've read stuff that says if you use it as your primary heat source, it'll pay for itself in 3-4 years.

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Those pellets are expensive.

We thought about putting in a stove, but our heating is cheap that it was deemed not important.  In a bad month, we pay about 80-100 for heat.  There are only about 3 bad months a year.  It didn't seem important for us.  Our home is small and very well insulated.

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I guess the ability to feed pellets is what really makes it able to be used as a primary heat source. Especially if you have a family.

 I use my wood stove as primary heat and I just let the fire burn out overnight. the house is warm enough for me to get a shower and get ready for work, but then I only have to look after me

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2 minutes ago, Nate said:

I guess the ability to feed pellets is what really makes it able to be used as a primary heat source. Especially if you have a family.

 I use my wood stove as primary heat and I just let the fire burn out overnight. the house is warm enough for me to get a shower and get ready for work, but then I only have to look after me

You single??  Nate, you lucky bastard.

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Just now, Dirtyhip said:

Those pellets are expensive.

We thought about putting in a stove, but our heating is cheap that it was deemed not important.  In a bad month, we pay about 80-100 for heat.  There are only about 3 bad months a year.  It didn't seem important for us.  Our home is small and very well insulated.

that's the one thing that you should really look into: the local price of pellets

that's is where the wood stove kicks ass....you can cut and split your own wood and not spend a dime. I did that for the first 3 years I had my stove, but then I had burned up all the available wood. Everything was still green, so I looked around for a place to buy firewood and found that one of my friends had a firewood business on the side, so I've been buying from Dave and Kelly for the last several years.

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7 minutes ago, Dirtyhip said:

That depends on what your time is worth.  

I'll be honest.  The older I get the easier I want things.  I'm not much into splitting or buying and stacking cords of wood anymore.

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Just now, dotman17 said:

I'll be honest.  The older I get the easier I want things.  I'm not much into splitting or buying and stacking cords of wood anymore.

this is true. This fall I had a separated shoulder and Dave and Kelly had their grandson along to help me stack

the day wood is delivered is now one of the physically hardest days of the year for me. When the day comes that I can't do it anymore, then I'll have to reconsider how I heat the place

but I have to say those 3 years where I split everything myself and didn't spend a dime to heat my house for 3 years....that's a bargain, and I finished the winter strong from splitting firewood all winter with an axe

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18 minutes ago, Dirtyhip said:

Those pellets are expensive.

We thought about putting in a stove, but our heating is cheap that it was deemed not important.  In a bad month, we pay about 80-100 for heat.  There are only about 3 bad months a year.  It didn't seem important for us.  Our home is small and very well insulated.

This place we are in the process of purchasing is about 2000 sq. ft and is forced air.  The furnace is reaching EOL.  At some point, we'll probably replace that but in the mean time, I reallly like the idea of an auxiliary source for a variety of reasons including never going to long w/o heat as well as prolonging our current hardware.

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1 minute ago, Nate said:

I have to say those 3 years where I split everything myself and didn't spend a dime to heat my house for 3 years....that's a bargain, and I finished the winter strong from splitting firewood all winter with an axe

Yeah, I'm approaching 50 in a few months.  I still think like a young man but the body doesn't seem to agree.  I could use the upper body chisel of some axe splitting and hauling.

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We heat with a wood stove. Fortunately we have our own woods and I still enjoy doing wood. It only takes about 10-12 face cords to heat our little home for the winter.

IMG_0396.JPG

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My kid has a big old barn of a house, older oil furnace was burning 300 to 400 gallons a year to keep the place barely livable (60 ish). Electric space heaters made a noticeable difference in the electric bill, but not a big difference in comfort.

He got a used pellet stove this summer. The two of us installed it in a day. A pellet stove is much easier to install than a woodburner, the flue temperatures and volume of air are much lower, and it can vent straight out the side of the house, doesn't need a chimney extending above the roof.

He loves it. Keeps a big chunk of the downstairs toasty warm, can be turned on & off easily, and very little mess. He pays about $5.00 a bag for pellets, a bag lasts him a couple days, depending on how high he sets it and how long he burns it. So it's not cheap to run, but it lets him turn the oil furnace down into the 50's and be comfortable in the rooms he uses, which saves money over all.   

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Again, I've read even when including the cost of pellets -- the stove will pay for itself over a 3-4 year period.  If we got it, I probably wouldn't even turn on the furnace but from time to time.

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57 minutes ago, dotman17 said:

Indeed.  

The thing is, the house needs chimney repairs and will require a masonry.  And the flue dampers are all corroded and unusable and I think they are left in the open state.  So one of the first order of business is to get functioning dampers and repair the chimney so a fire protection screen can be placed over the top.  But before I do that though, I want to investigate a pellet stove installation because it has it's own needs and I might be able to have the same contractor come out and do it all. The upper floor shares the same chimney as the lower one (where the pellet stove would go) and we'd like to reserve that for wood burning.  I doubt we'll ever use it but we may from time to time.  

 

As it stands now, there is a single chimney that needs mortar repair for both the downstairs and upstairs of the house.  It hasn't been used in a long time from what was reported and what I can tell and basic damper operation needs to be fixed.  It seems to me if I'm considering upgrading all this, it would also be a good time to do the pellet stove if they both can co-exist.  Bummer we can't get gas and I don't want to mess with an auxiliary propane tank if I don't have to.  So really it boils down to whether I want a wood stove or a pellet stove.  Advantages/disadvantages to both but I'm leaning towards the pellet one.  

 

A friend of mine in Maine just reported they save $600-$800 a year using their pellet stove and I've read stuff that says if you use it as your primary heat source, it'll pay for itself in 3-4 years.

...you can run an insert (either pellet or wood) through an existing flue if it's safe, but by far the best way is to just commit to your stove heater and run a metal liner pipe up inside the existing chimney and flue. Most times you need to bust out the dampers to do this anyway.  Having a fire in the fireplace loses more heat up the chimney than you can gain from the radiant heat it provides to your house, so that's kind of a luxury you can't afford if you want to save money.

The metal liner pipe is safer (the only way to inspect a flue in an olde chimney is visual, so you can miss stuff like cracks or mortar joints that are failing.)

 

Additionally, most of the insert stoves (either type) with which I'm familiar are pretty heavy, and down here in thePeople's Republic, they need to meet some stringent standards for pollution that involve catalytic thingies to burn up the finer crap, which we used to just run up the chimbley and call "that wonderful wood smoke smell".

As a temporary measure (if your flues and dampers are a fucked up as you think they are), you can just block the fireplace openings with some sort of tasteful plywood panel until you get some cash to spend on this..

 

I heated two houses here for many years on wood, but I never had to deal with catalytic thingies (I hear they can get plugged if you do it wrong).

 

Had a wood/coal furnace in the basement in TN, and out on the Hippie carrot farm, we were on 80 acres of lakefront woods, with some old pot bellied stoves we found in the barn retro-installed with some sheet metal on the wall for a "heat shield".  We were very fortunate that we did not set the house on fire.:blush:  Gas (both propane bottle and piped natural) is about the cheapest and easiest way to heat right now.  Pellets are kinda expensive here, too (IMO), and I'm not sure I believe that estimate on the payback for the system.  Real men heat with wood, but it's a lot of work.  Which is why I stopped using the wood stove insert down here when we sold the 5 acre house and wood lot up in Amador.  There are a lot of trees that get cut down in urban/suburban areas that people are happy to let you haul away for free, but you would need a truck.  I think maybe you are gradually turning into @Nate.

 

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3 minutes ago, Page Turner said:

 I think maybe you are gradually turning into @Nate.

That thought occurred to me.  We like similar things -- I'm just not a dick politically about it.    :loveshower:

 

 

Muhahahahhaaha

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Just now, Page Turner said:

...I was going to suggest some modifications to make the house more passive or active solar friendly, then I remembered where you live.:facepalm:

That's damn funny.

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6 minutes ago, Page Turner said:

...you can run an insert (either pellet or wood) through an existing flue if it's safe, but by far the best way is to just commit to your stove heater and run a metal liner pipe up inside the existing chimney and flue. Most times you need to bust out the dampers to do this anyway.  Having a fire in the fireplace loses more heat up the chimney than you can gain from the radiant heat it provides to your house, so that's kind of a luxury you can't afford if you want to save money

 

Absolutely.  I was thinking the same thing.  Just run metal pipe up the chim chim and mortar it off... which is where I thought having the wood stove or a pellet stove could use the same thing.  But that solves the fireplace issue downstairs. It sounds like you are suggesting I also hookup an inline one for the top floor too and share the same metal liner pipe?

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43 minutes ago, dotman17 said:

 

Absolutely.  I was thinking the same thing.  Just run metal pipe up the chim chim and mortar it off... which is where I thought having the wood stove or a pellet stove could use the same thing.  But that solves the fireplace issue downstairs. It sounds like you are suggesting I also hookup an inline one for the top floor too and share the same metal liner pipe?

...ask your sales guy and the guy who does your chimbley work when you do it.  My experience is that in most houses, the upstairs gets plenty of heat from the leakage through the floor/ceiling, because for a long time nobody ever insulated that space as a waste of time and money. Otherwise, you're stuck with some sort of  more complicated routing of the flue to let it radiate through that upstairs room. which you want to avoid if possible.  If you want something upstairs, there's probably two flues in that one chimbley to accommodate the two fireplaces.  If not, you can usually run a separate pipe.  Youi just vent it out the wall and up along the outside of the wall with supports.  It just depends on what you got, and what you want to do with it. But you will still lose a lot of heat from an open fireplace, however you arrange it.

 

There are some figures you can google up online that are estimates for heat loss through an open fireplace.

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what Page says is another thing....different locales have different prices. This sort of heat is popular in my region, and so they have a lot of customers. Also, I live in the flippin woods, so firewood is real easy to come by and there are a lot of people with side firewood businesses. Dave, who I buy from, is Rich's son in law, and he lives on 13 acres of wooded hills. He always has a good mix of wood. Soft wood burns fast and hot, hard wood burns long and even. Different weather, easpecially in late fall and early spring do better with different woods.

anyway, check out local price and what's available and how many places you can get from.

and LongJohn, that is one hell of a rig! :)

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...pellets used to be a byproduct of the timber industry here, so they were pretty cheap.  There is no timber industry here any more (no mills anyway, even if they cut some trees and truck them somewhere else.) So when that happened they got more pricey.  My 2nd marriage ex-Father in law (got that ?) had a swell wood burning furnace in the basement of an olde Wisconsin farmhouse with about 8 bedrooms upstairs.

He could toss  a 24" full unsplit log into the firebox, and there was a mechanism that would get it going using heating oil, then just let the wood burn.  I think it would take something like 12" diameter logs, maybe bigger.  That was some impressive piece of machinery.:)

 

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Quote

 

How much is a bag of wood pellets?
This question is from Premium Wood Pellet Fuel 40 lb. Bag (50-Count)
8 answers.
At HD current price point of $269 per ton, when one includes delivery, heating a home with Pellets is more expensive than using fuel oil at $2.44 gal.

 

...apparently, there are some pellet stoves that you can vent into the room without a flue, so that's  a plus.  Like I said, I never ever had one.
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3 hours ago, dotman17 said:

The upper floor shares the same chimney as the lower one

Check with your local codes, as it may not permissible anymore to connect two fuel/wood burning appliances into the same chimney as they are now.

I would recommend installing a stainless steel flue for each floor, in effect creating a dedicated chimney for each wood stove.  They're flexible and should fit down inside your existing chimney flue. 

Installing the stainless steel flue will help the pellet stove maintain a proper draft, particularly if two stoves are now connected to the same chimney.  It will probably eliminate the need to repair any corroded dampers, because you won't need them for the new flexible flues. 

If your existing chimney is large enough you may even be able to get a third flexible flue down the existing chimney to act as a fresh air make-up for the combustion air the stove uses.  You want this so the stove doesn't pull the air it needs for combustion from inside the house, using up the air you've already paid to heat, and creating drafts in odd corners of the house because the air will seep in anywhere it can to replace the air used by the stove to burn the pellets.

 

If you can get a copy of a year's utility bills for the new house, compare the monthly electric bills in April, May, and October to the electric bills in December, January, and February.  In April, etc, it's likely the heat ran minimally if at all (and the A/C was busted) so you know that's what they spent for lights, appliances, etc.  Average those three months. 

Then, average the winter months of December, January, and February.

Subtract the April average from the December average.  Because lights, appliances, etc will be about the same for each group, the difference will tell you how much they spent on heating with the electric furnace. 

 

This is your first 'go-no go' check for installing a wood stove.  I'll exaggerate to illustrate the point.

Suppose you check the bills, and April/May/September average to $50.  December, January, and February average to $950.  The difference is $900 per month and about $2,700 per winter.   The electric heater won't run if you have the pellet stove, so your odds of saving $2,700 each year, or saving $8,100 in three years are good.  And the odds of getting your money back on your stove investment are good too.

Suppose you check the bills, and April/May/September average to $50.  December, January, and February average to $150.  The difference is $100 per month and about $300 per winter.   With such paltry savings - $300 per year and $900 for three years - your odds of getting your money back on the pellet stove investment are really pretty low, so don't bother buying the stove.

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1 hour ago, Thaddeus Kosciuszko said:

Check with your local codes, as it may not permissible anymore to connect two fuel/wood burning appliances into the same chimney as they are now.

I would recommend installing a stainless steel flue for each floor, in effect creating a dedicated chimney for each wood stove.  They're flexible and should fit down inside your existing chimney flue. 

Installing the stainless steel flue will help the pellet stove maintain a proper draft, particularly if two stoves are now connected to the same chimney.  It will probably eliminate the need to repair any corroded dampers, because you won't need them for the new flexible flues. 

If your existing chimney is large enough you may even be able to get a third flexible flue down the existing chimney to act as a fresh air make-up for the combustion air the stove uses.  You want this so the stove doesn't pull the air it needs for combustion from inside the house, using up the air you've already paid to heat, and creating drafts in odd corners of the house because the air will seep in anywhere it can to replace the air used by the stove to burn the pellets.

 

If you can get a copy of a year's utility bills for the new house, compare the monthly electric bills in April, May, and October to the electric bills in December, January, and February.  In April, etc, it's likely the heat ran minimally if at all (and the A/C was busted) so you know that's what they spent for lights, appliances, etc.  Average those three months. 

Then, average the winter months of December, January, and February.

Subtract the April average from the December average.  Because lights, appliances, etc will be about the same for each group, the difference will tell you how much they spent on heating with the electric furnace. 

 

This is your first 'go-no go' check for installing a wood stove.  I'll exaggerate to illustrate the point.

Suppose you check the bills, and April/May/September average to $50.  December, January, and February average to $950.  The difference is $900 per month and about $2,700 per winter.   The electric heater won't run if you have the pellet stove, so your odds of saving $2,700 each year, or saving $8,100 in three years are good.  And the odds of getting your money back on your stove investment are good too.

Suppose you check the bills, and April/May/September average to $50.  December, January, and February average to $150.  The difference is $100 per month and about $300 per winter.   With such paltry savings - $300 per year and $900 for three years - your odds of getting your money back on the pellet stove investment are really pretty low, so don't bother buying the stove.

TK you are the man.

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8 hours ago, Page Turner said:
 
...apparently, there are some pellet stoves that you can vent into the room without a flue, so that's  a plus.  Like I said, I never ever had one.

This is like my propane stove out on the sun porch.  It's a Vermont Castings ventless.  There are a couple of problems with these.

First problem:  My sun porch is not a 4 season room so the windows are not thermal glass.  A ventless propane stove puts a lot of moisture into the air (a byproduct of burning propane) and I cannot use it when the outside temps are significantly below freezing or I end up with sheets of ice on the inside of the windows.  Above freezing and I can heat most of my house with it.  This probably wouldn't be a problem with a ventless pellet stove.

Second problem:  And this one is a killer.  You have to be careful what's in the air the stove is using.  My wife is a crafter and likes to stain things.  If there is stain drying on the sun porch and the stove is used it seems to poison the catalytic converter in the stove and the exhaust smells noxious.

The stove is very efficient as you get the heat from everything but were I to do it again I'd buy a coaxial and vent it to the outside.

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19 hours ago, dotman17 said:

This place we are in the process of purchasing is about 2000 sq. ft and is forced air.  The furnace is reaching EOL.  At some point, we'll probably replace that but in the mean time, I reallly like the idea of an auxiliary source for a variety of reasons including never going to long w/o heat as well as prolonging our current hardware.

remember if power goes out your pellet stove shuts down

although I don't know if there is  a manual feed there also

tl:dr  what FROS said

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