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 10-09-2007, 12:24 Post: 146673
candoarms



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Dear friends,

In a recent discussion on another topic, I mentioned that I was interested in purchasing a corn burning stove. Due to the negative comments I received on those things, I'm now considering a bio-mass furnace, instead.

I checked with the local Tractor Supply outlet in Devils Lake, North Dakota. They are selling wood pellets by the pallet (50ea 40lb bags) by the ton, for $190.00 + sales tax.

As a comparison, I'm wondering if this price is higher than any of you might be paying for wood pellets.

Any feedback on this would be much appreciated, as it may make a difference as to the fuel source I end up using.

Joel






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 10-09-2007, 19:49 Post: 146708
DennisCTB

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Premium wood pellets (whatever premium means I don't know) delivered for $219 per ton in NJ.

How does a ton of pellets compare to a cord of wood?






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 10-10-2007, 01:26 Post: 146724
candoarms



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DennisCTB,

Wood pellets DELIVERED? Delivery service? Incredible. No such service here. I suppose most people in Jersey don't own the vehicles necessary to haul anything much bigger than a child safety seat.

A cord of wood is a stack of wood measuring 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long....including the air space between the logs......or 128 cubic feet of neatly stacked, split wood.

If the cord of wood is from a White Oak tree, it will weigh in at 4000 pounds. White Oak produces about 25 million BTUs per cord, or about 12.5 million BTUs per ton.

Wood pellets produce about 8500 BTUs per pound (depending on the wood they're produced from), or about 17 million BTUs per ton.

There isn't too much difference between the two, but for the price. A cord of wood can be had for as little as nearly nothing.....to somewhere around 100 dollars per cord, if purchased from a supplier.

Wood pellets cost nearly twice as much as even the most expensive split white oak.

Data available upon request. (See the link below for some very surprising and valuable information on choosing the best trees for heating your home.)



Joel






Link:   Wood Species BTU Chart -- Very Interesting! 

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 10-10-2007, 02:02 Post: 146725
candoarms



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DennisCTB,

PREMIUM WOOD PELLETS defined.....

(Source: Warming Trends, Inc., Onalaska, Wisconsin)

"Pellets are standardized by the Pellet Fuels Institute. There are Premium & Standard grades. Pellets are measured by the amount of ash produced during burning, the BTU output produced per lb of fuel, & the amount of dust in the bag (fines). WE CARRY ONLY PREMIUM GRADE PELLETS!"

Joel






Link:   Wood Pellet Makers and Product Info. 

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 10-10-2007, 08:32 Post: 146731
yooperpete



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 Wood Pellet Pricing

There is no doubt that burning cordwood is much cheaper.

If you are comparing a woodburning stove to a sophisticated pellet furnace there is no comparision with regard to creature comforts. The woodpellet furnace like I had, was thermostatically controlled meaning that it started on its own and shut off when it didn't call for heat. It also increased and decreased the burn rate as conditions dictated. Cleanup was next to nothing only requiring once a month maintenance. As an alternate to conventional gas/propane/fuel oil heating it provides the best solution being that you can leave it run all day and night or even the weekend without intervention.

A woodburning stove has fluctuations in temperature and requires stoking and loading during the night and during the day. You also have lots of ashes to cleanup while the mess collects on furniture and drapes.

Outdoor woodburning units that use a hotwater principle also require more maintenance. Some people think there location in the yard is unsightly and often the chimney smoke blows at the house. A few neighbors didn't pay good attention to location and it blows smoke directly at the entrance and others have soot all over the siding.






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 10-10-2007, 09:00 Post: 146734
DennisCTB

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Yooper,

I already have a Jotul Oslo wood stove, so I was just wondering if the economics of pellets vs wood has changed to make pellets more favorable.

I can buy log rolls for little under a $100 a cord that I then split in addition to what I cut around the property.

The storage of wood has to be handled carefully to get the maximum BTU out of the stove. I age all of my wood in single rows for plenty of ventilation on elevated skids in a sunny location with just the top row covered to prevent rain drainage directly through the rack, and then store as much as possible in doors in the late fall. I then stage the rest from outdoors into the garage before it gets burned so that it can dry some more.

With my Jotul with the side door load and ash pan we really don't have any problem with soot or ash any where. I do keep a shop vac with a filter bag for clean up of anything that needs removal from the hearth when it is cool.






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 10-10-2007, 09:31 Post: 146735
Murf



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Generally speaking, if you compare apples to apples, the pellet stove and the wood stove there really isn't much difference.


Taking for example Joel's situation, if you reduce the $190/ton for pellets by the factor of 73.5% that is the additional BTU's you get rather than the White Oak firewood the pellets now have an effective cost of about $140/ton.

If you compare and factor in efficiencies of the wood burning units themselves now, it changes things again, a 'typical' wood stove is about 63% efficient, and a 'typical' pellet stove is about 78% efficient.

So you gain about 15% more BTU's in the house from the same amount of BTU's going into the burner unit. So the $140 of pellets is now reduced by another 15% to about $120.

Now that we're comparing apples and apples, the 'handy factor' enters into it as well. With a pellet stove loading ranges between once every 24 hours on low, to once every 6 to 8 hours on high.

All in all, even without the convenience, it sure looks like pellets at $120 and firewood at "somewhere around 100 dollars per cord" are pretty close. If you add up the costs of the backup system coming on when the wood stove isn't making enough heat, overnight or during a short absence, I'm sure they're pretty much even.

Best of luck.






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 10-10-2007, 09:44 Post: 146736
DennisCTB

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The pellet stoves I saw at the dealer were pretty impressive, the one I saw was burning like an oil burner as if it had a blower in it.

Without a doubt I bust my butt with wood by comparison, and you really have to fiddle with it to maximize its output. It does have the advantage that I can burn any trees I harvest on the property for free, adding my sweat equity.

And for us (meaning the wife had something to say on this ) converting the Masonry Fireplace to a wood stove, with the nostalgia/charisma of a pile of split logs next to the hearth with interesting wood fire flame, as opposed to a stack of bags pushed us in the wood direction.

But me being the main operator of all this stuff, those pellets do look nice Wink yeah right








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 10-10-2007, 10:31 Post: 146737
Murf



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I think Dennis that's the difference between heating for effect or utility.

I know of several people who have pellet stoves that are purely there for utility, i.e. cheap heat for the house.

One I know of in particular has both, a pellet stove in the main part of the house which provides the bulk of the homes heating, and an air tight insert in the family room for appearance and ambiance where they spend most of their time.

Wood / oil combinations are making a come-back, years ago they were very common around here, in fact I still have one in my shop at the house, the wood burner provides the main source of heat and when the output from the heat exchanger doesn't cut it, the oil burner kicks in. I can keep the main room of my shop (40' x 50' with 16' ceilings) at 60+ regardless of outside temperatures or wind with not much more than an armful of wood.

Best of luck.






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 10-10-2007, 11:42 Post: 146741
candoarms



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Murf,

Many thanks for the efficiency comparisons. I'm leaning heavily in favor of a pellet stove, and you've now convinced me that I'm headed in the right direction.

Much appreciated, Sir.

Joel






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