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Another help me pick which stove post?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by pcampbell, Jan 3, 2008.

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  1. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    I've been looking into alternative methods of heat for sometime and recently stumbled upon pellet stoves. For some reason always thought this was a thing for people in the "sticks" (we live in the suburbs) but after seeing how pretty these stoves can be and did some cost analysis it could be a serious consideration. I did come up with that cost per 100,000 BTU is slightly higher on the pellet stoves than natural gas (we are paying $1.45/therm right now) but I think the effectiveness of the placement of the pellet stove and the efficiency could even this out.

    Our home is currently heated by natural gas with a Trane XR80 in the attic and the heating vents are on the ceiling of the 1st floor (living area), making it a little bit difficult to get the heat "DOWN" even with reversed ceiling fans.

    I'd like to consider a pellet stove for our living room which not only would hopefully heat the 1st floor more effectively at the same price, but add some nice ambiance as well.

    The 1st floor (living area) is only about 850 sq ft.

    Installation size is also a consideration. The corner where I'd like to put it is about 43 inches by 36 inches and we need to vent horizontally.

    I noticed the efficiency of the Enviro "Mini" vs the "Evolution" is 80% vs 83% respectively which seems significant considering their cost differences (negligible from what I can see?). What other brands and models should be a consideration? Harman Pro 38 Plus? I do like the idea of the models where you can just put down a hearth pad and not have to have a fancy hearth laid (as nice as that would be it sounds expensive!).

    Finally, I wonder if someone could point me in the direction of emissions comparisons, say, based on BTU or other basis so I might be able to see how pellets compare to natural gas.

    Thanks a ton. Hope to join the warmer side soon!

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  2. tmiraglia

    tmiraglia New Member

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    I saw a post on Chimneysweeponline.com -- in the FAQs, where it discussed environmental issues. The post basically says that wood stove emissions by regulation need to be under 7.5 grams per hour (I think pellets are around 1 or 2) -- the danger of wood emissions being the breathing in of the particles themselves not so much the CO2. Gas burning doesn't have the particulates but has a significantly higher CO-2 content. So if you're in the concern over global warming camp you would like pellet stoves a lot. Interestingly that website I mentioned doesn't sell pellet stoves for reasons it goes into on the site. Given that the pellet particulate emissions are so low, it seems to be a clear winner in my view for being greener than gas. Good luck on your decision making.
  3. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    Anyone else? I guess I would also consider a gas stove. It seems the reality is that gas per BTU is cheaper for me than pellets (at the price I can purchase them - locally have found $299 a ton!!!!!). I like the idea of diversifying: if gas prices goes out of control or becomes unavailable then we can use pellets and vice versa but I am not sure that is realistic. Also trying to figure out what size stove to get. House is 850 sq. ft and a little leaky. 1950s home. It seems to be insulated on the walls and ceiling but not floor.
  4. petejung

    petejung New Member

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    Am I reading right that 1) You don't want the pellet stove to necessarily be the main heat source of the home and 2) you are looking to add ambience ?

    If so, the pellet stove may be a good choice, although they are not "inexpensive" units. For example, I bought an England stove works PDVC25, and installed it myself, and it still cost me about $1900, including all of my installation materials and pellets for the year. I've been happy with my England's stove, and would recommend it to anyone.

    That being said, however, I really like the looks of the Harman stoves, especially the XXV. I believe that stove retails around $2800 or so.

    Depending on your financial situation and what you're looking for, there's a wide range of products out there...

    Your idea about the diversified heat sources is great - that's basically what we're doing. I set the gas furnace thermostat at 65, and then run the pellet stove. This way, we usually get the house up to about 70 during the day, and then it never gets below 65 at night. We're not saving a ton of money (on paper anyway), but we're a lot warmer than we were last year.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    There is a vast difference between a pellet stove and a gas stove as far as user input. So you should keep that in mind. With a pellet stove there are a lot more moving parts, fans and such....and cleaning/service are regular things.

    A gas stove, once installed, is likely to go years without any problems.

    I would not compare the efficiency of pellet stoves since there is no independent lab which can verify this stuff. Rather you should use 75% as an average efficiency, about the same with a gas stove (on a seasonal basis).

    Pellets are very clean in terms of emissions - not as clean as gas, but vastly cleaner than even clean wood stoves.

    Another consideration is that Pellet stoves make noise and use electricity, gas stoves will usually work when the power is out.

    Just listing some of the considerations. As you can tell from some of the other posts here, Pellets are somewhat of a "lifestyle" decision, in terms of being a renewable fuel, etc. - Also, they appeal to folks who like to fiddle with their heating.....getting pellets, loading stove, cleaning stove, etc.

    You are correct in that space heat often saves over central heat - but that is the same with a freestanding gas stove (BTU for BTU).

    So, my opinion in your case is that it is more of a life style decision....if you are going to get aggravated the first time you spill some pellets on the floor or the blower starts rattling, go for the gas. But if you want the feeling of looking at that pile of pellet bags and thinking "There sits fuel for the entire winter", they consider the Pellet option. You can also shop around and probably end up with a lower price for Pellets. At $300 a ton vs. NAT gas, a lot of people would not make the switch. I like the idea of $200 -$230 pellets!
  6. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    Thanks for the info. It's all very interesting. I don't think I have any issues with the work involved with the pellet stove... but am having a hard time justifying it. The ambiance factor is nice but money and efficiency are big factors also. I do think there is some added ambiance with the gas stove (vs nothing!) even if it is a fake log! My wife thinks it might be an eyesore for half of the year but... I think they look nice and I think she might reconsider when she sees some of them in person, not to mention not being cold :) I am an efficiency nut and I hate waste so I want to have some enjoyment while keeping my wife warm, making less pollution and save some money (in the long term-- I am willing to look at a 5 year pay off).

    I would ideally like to shut off the Trane XR80 gas furnace up in the attic. I don't know why but I feel like it is just not delivering the heat as well as a stove could: maybe just the proximity of the stove to the rest of the house and being on the same level versus trying to force hot air down which naturally rises. The stove would be in the living room and this is where we spend most of our time ...

    Without taking into consideration efficiency, I came up with something like:
    $250 per 2000 lbs of pellets = 12.5 cents per lb = 12.5 cents per 8500 btu = $1.47 per 100,000 BTU

    I am paying $1.45 per 100,000 BTU of natural gas. That would be pretty darn close if I could find pellets for $250. I haven't looked around too much but I have a feeling there aren't a ton of suppliers in Northern NJ. But if you are saying the efficiency is more likely 75% vs 83% AFUE, which I assume can be trusted if it is indeed an AFUE figure, then we are talking about $1.96 per 100k BTU of actual heat on the pellets and $1.74 on the gas.

    Of course this is the price of gas and pellets today. I have no clue what will happen in the coming years.

    Now I guess I need to start looking at gas stoves :)
  7. petejung

    petejung New Member

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    Personally, I like the ambience of the gas stove better than the pellet stove. My Englander 25pdvc's burn pot is pretty small (I think all of them are) and there's no firebrick or logset in there, so it's kinda boring. Our old gas fireplace was 36" wide and had a nice firelog set in there, lots of flame... BUT I wanted to try to eliminate or reduce my need for my gas furnace, and at least have heat source diversity, so I achieved those goals.
  8. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    I wonder if you all could recommend any gas stove manufacturers that are known for high quality and efficiency? I noticed a lot claim to be 82% efficient, but the ones that actually give you an AFUE rating is more like 70%! WOW! I wasn't expecting that...
  9. petejung

    petejung New Member

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    Sorry, I cannot help you there. I had a cheap builder installed Heat-N-Glo. It looked nice, but I'm sure it wasn't good quality.
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