Bad News on Pellets Stoves???

AlaskaCub Posted By AlaskaCub, Apr 14, 2008 at 4:24 AM

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  1. AlaskaCub

    AlaskaCub
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    Apr 4, 2008
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    I had a long discussion with the guy that runs the biggest wood stove dealer in Alaska and he basically told me that I would be an idiot to buy a pellet stove at this point in time as they will soon be obsolete. He explained to me that China is gobbling up all the raw materials that Pellets are made of and are wiling to pay pellet produced prices for the raw materials. He basically said that the supply will die out within the next year or two and then it will be very difficult to even find pellets. Understand that at one time he sold many pellet stoves but will not sell anymore so as not to leave someone high and dry with a stove they cant use. Does anyone know more about this? Really bummed me out as I was considering a Harmon P68.
     
  2. berlin

    berlin
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    Mar 6, 2006
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    it's possible, being in alaska though you may want to look into coal, there is a company in (or close to) ankorage taht makes a good coal stoker furnace to burn your local soft coal.
     
  3. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey
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    Mar 7, 2008
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    Yup. We buy everything from China so they're buying all the world's oil, gas, steel, fertilizer, wheat, corn, wood, copper, lead, granite, land, dirt, sand, gold, hogs, aluminum, rice, soybeans, coffee, sugar, cotton, zinc, silver, nickel, and cheese, effectively cornering the market in everything and leaving us with nothing. So stop buying stuff, it's a waste of money.
     
  4. kilarney

    kilarney
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    Mar 1, 2008
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    This guy doesn't sell pellet stoves. Methinks there is a reason other than this. He's just trying to get your business. Be wary.
     
  5. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner
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    Jan 29, 2008
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    There could be some truth to that. When China started building that dam that would be the largest in the world, they started buying all the concrete and they created a shortage. In 6 months, concrete went from $45 a cubic yard to around $120. Prices stayed up for several years.
     
  6. BubbRubb

    BubbRubb
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    Dec 19, 2007
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    I wouldn't go to a Toyota dealer and ask him what he thinks about a Honda Accord. I doubt he would say the Accord is better than anything on his lot.
     
  7. kh395269

    kh395269
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    Mar 27, 2008
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    Hmm... I don't know, but I don't really see it though. What would China want with all our sawdust? Isn't that the primary raw material for pellets? And it just doesn't make sense to me that they would pay a ton of money for it and then all that shipping as well from here? The demand for pellets here in the U.S. is rising faster here then the companies can keep up with already - hence why they had the shortage of pellets a few years back. As long as there is a demand here, I would think they are going to keep producing here.

    If anything, I would think there would be more of a shortage of pellets due to less building going on (due to the recession)and the increase in pellet stove sales driven by the price of oil, not shipping overseas of the raw materials.

    I also thought I heard though that we are trying to develop a new pellet out of grass. If they could do that or out of leaves, imagine the possibilities. That should make them cheap. Here's a quick article I just found:

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March05/grass.fuel.ssl.html
     
  8. webbie

    webbie
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    Nov 17, 2005
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    Uh - sawdust= particle and OSB board = Homes and packing crates!

    Sawdust, as Eric has explained many times, is an international commodity. At the same time, it often does not pay to transport it over land unless by RR car - but over a ship? Yeah, no problem.

    Pellets are very likely to track with oil to a degree - just enough cheaper to make it worth while for those who want to burn them. But I doubt you will see really cheap pellets prices (as a whole).
     
  9. mkmh

    mkmh
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    Jul 15, 2007
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    For the most part I agree with this. I think i'd hesitate to buy a pellet stove if I lived more than 150 miles away from a pellet mill...and i'd certainly hesitate to open a pellet mill if I didn't have a source of raw materials available somewhat nearby. The rising cost of oil is changing the playing field with almost all products and services as we speak.
    I really don't see all our raw materials and/or pellets going to China....but the fact that China will want some of the goodness will certainly impact prices. Pretty sure we see that impact with barrells of oil and most other stuff as well.
     
  10. mkmh

    mkmh
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  11. smirnov3

    smirnov3
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    Feb 7, 2006
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    two comments:

    1) Grass pellets don't work in 90% of modern stoves, so unless stoves are modified to burn them, there is no incentive to make grass pellets.
    without grass pellets on the market, there is little incentive to make grass pellet stoves

    2) canada has whole forests of dead trees that it needs to harvest before they rot (due to borer beetles), so they have enough sawdust for pellets, which is why, as a whole, pellet prices are very reasonable, even with the down turn in construction and the insane surge in oil costs (over 300% in the past 5 years for heating oil in MA).
     
  12. ugenetoo

    ugenetoo
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    Apr 7, 2006
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    from what ive seen and read, grass pellets perform about the same way as corn or any other grains. they form clinkers that have to be dealt with in some manner.
    if you have a stove designed to burn grains, you should be able to burn grass pellets.
     
  13. Shooter

    Shooter
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    Feb 17, 2008
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    I've read pellet stove owners burning cheap (dry) dog food and others burning cherry pits. I'll be burning corn if pellets go nuts.
     
  14. AlaskaCub

    AlaskaCub
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    Apr 4, 2008
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    Thanks for the responses. The Pellet stove seems like a much easier option for us as opposed to a wood stove ,even though the Pellet stove and pellets are more expensive than a wood stove and wood. Right now we have 2-3 box store suppliers for pellets but stock on hand and prices fluctuate so much that its scary and if Lowes, Sams or Home Depot were to stop supplying them we would be screwed in a big way. So this worries me a whole bunch. We have two potential local pellet suppliers that may be online this summer/fall. but both have been saying this for several years, and one of them will only sell you pellets if you buy the stove from him so its really a heck of a risk right now. Corn is a no go up here too though the PF65 will burn Barley but I am told the BTU count is lower and a little more messy. I sure do like those Harmon pellet stoves though, but am thinking a Blaze King wood stove is probably a safer investment right now. Will have to decide I guess.
     
  15. Redox

    Redox
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    Feb 23, 2008
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    Sawdust exported to China isn't really a stretch if you consider that they are a large market for our recycled paper. I wouldn't a thought it either, but that "slow boat to China" is pretty efficient.... :lol:
     
  16. Ken45

    Ken45
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    Feb 21, 2008
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    I'm not sure that wood stoves are cheaper than pellet stoves when you consider the expensive chimneys that wood stoves require.

    But yes, wood is cheaper than pellets (and likely to be more reliable supplywise), especially if you have your own woodlot.

    Ken
     
  17. Shooter

    Shooter
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    Feb 17, 2008
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    I wouldnt want to go back spending the summer fighting bugs, handling each piece of wood how many times, beating up trucks and trailers, dirt on the carpeting, going out into the blizzard after firewood.....blah, blah, blah....

    Pellets are the bomb.
     
  18. Ken45

    Ken45
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    Feb 21, 2008
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    I was speaking to the economics. You replied with your personal preferences, a totally different subject.

    I don't understand your "back to the summer fighting bugs". Was that when you worked your firewood? It should be done well before then if it's going to be reasonably seasoned.

    Personally, we use both firewood and pellets. Pellets are nice for mild days and thermostat control but, in our experince, we want wood for real heat and comfort. A pellet stove just doesn't measure up to a wood stove. We just bought a new wood stove (not hooked up yet) for next winter.

    Ken
     
  19. kh395269

    kh395269
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    Mar 27, 2008
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    I think there are pretty much pros and cons to both a wood or a pellet stove, but in the end it pretty much evens out. It just depends on what features you like better overall.

    I don't know how much wood you burn compared to pellets in the same period, but a cord of wood here in CT is about $200 delivered and a pallet of pellets without shipping about $220 if you buy early enough. I have a friend that just built a house here and when she built they had to clear the land. Obviously, since she already had a ton of free wood, it just made more sense for her to buy a wood stove.

    Wood is much easier to store (covered outside) as opposed to pellets that have to be kept more dry in a shed, garage, or basement. Therefore, if storage is an issue, wood may be better.

    Pellets you are better off pre-buying which is alot to store vs wood which you can pretty much get any time of the year. I guess if you don't live close to a pellet mill or alot of suppliers, you also need to be concerned about supplies.

    Pellets make less ash vs wood that can be messier to deal with.

    I do like the idea of going to get a bag of pellets from my basement (or keeping a few bags even in the corner temporarily) as opposed to hauling out back to get the firewood on a snowy day. You can't really keep wood in your house with the bug and dirt factor.

    I'm not so sure on that price of installation. I still need to put a stainless liner in my fireplace with a pellet stove which is pretty darn pricey($250-$350 for a 15 ft if you buy it directly).

    It can be easier for a woman like me to pick up and haul some wood, rather than a 40lb bag of pellets, but I guess there are ways around that and it is still cleaner to have a bag of pellets rub up against your clothes, then a bundle of awkward wood to carry. And besides, I figure if I can lug around my 2 1/2 and 4 year olds, I can lug around 40lbs of pellets.

    I thought I had also heard that pellet stoves are overall safer and have a cleaner burn for the environment.


    In the end, I guess I like convenience and I'm a neat freak, and that's why I chose a pellet stove.
     
  20. AlaskaCub

    AlaskaCub
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    Apr 4, 2008
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    Please understand I have a preference to neither stove, with maybe a hint of pref to the pellet for ease of use. But I live in an unforgiving climate and really have to think more about long term reliability as opposed to comfort and conveneience, or I'd just burn the oil. Wood is everywhere here, pellets well...thats a whole nother story.
     
  21. kh395269

    kh395269
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    Mar 27, 2008
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    I agree 100%. The whole entire idea for me buying stove as well is to save $$$'s - hopefully lots. $700+ a month for 1/2 a tank fill-up during peak winter is killing us here and the prices are still rising. I don't even have a large house.
     
  22. AlaskaCub

    AlaskaCub
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    Apr 4, 2008
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    Yup and at one point this winter pellets were $8 a bag when supply was low. That would be quite spendy burning 1-2 bags a day.
     
  23. kh395269

    kh395269
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    Mar 27, 2008
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    AlaskaCub, It definitely sounds like wood would be the way to go for you...
     
  24. Ken45

    Ken45
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    Feb 21, 2008
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    Very true.

    But a cord of wood should weigh at least a ton and a half. Heat provided from efficient stoves should be pretty closely related to the weight of fuel burned (e.g. a ton of pellets should provide the same heat as 2/3rd of a cord of wood).

    Can you get seasoned wood in your area any time of the year? (I mean real seasoned wood, not something with salt and pepper sprinkled on it.)

    For many areas, I think the only way to have seasoned wood is to buy it far in advance.

    But cleaning out some pellet stoves is a real mess and they need it a lot more frequently than a wood stove.

    A modern EPA wood stove burning well seasoned wood is probably just about as environmentally friendly. You are right, wood stoves are easier to be dangerous with. OTOH, a wood stove works during a power failure and doesn't have expensive electronic boards and auger motors which can fail.

    Ken
     
  25. Shooter

    Shooter
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    Feb 17, 2008
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    I'm thinking that if reliability is a major player then it would be best to look into a wood stove. If pellets hit 8.00bag that would make the decision for me right there.
     
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