1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Big box store Pellet comparing! List and mini review!

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by jtakeman, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    My Testing is Complete! Check post 348 for Benski's testing!

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/42511/P330/#539204

    Link to new test:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/50101/


    I have added another Top performer to the list. There is now BrandX which is a Softwood and BrandY which is a Hardwood. Both are one of the best in there classes.

    Temperature will be tested at the heat exchanger and compared to BrandX and BrandY. I want to compare what the local bigbox(HD-LOWES-TSC-Wallymart-TrueValue). Due to they have the better deals. But I don't expect them to be anything more than shoulder season pellets. I will burn 2 bags and take several temp readings. Throw out the highest and lowest readings and average the temp.

    Ash content isn't an issue for us multifuelers. But I will try to give some ash feedback for the pellet heads.

    I will note the amount of fines. No one wants to pay for sawdust! Pellets are screened and fines measured in cups. When its all done I will get actual weight of the ash amount. We can figure the total ash content from the different brands.

    I will note if the brand has the PFI label on the bag.

    I will try to gather what I can. And compile a chart of some form. I will attach it and try to keep it updated.

    Check attachment to see list!

    Results

    1.) Rockies are done. There was about 15 oz. of ash. Over all not a bad burning pellet at all. Glass stayed clean just started to haze at the top. And I really like they way they smell. Temp was 235°F

    2.) Fireside Ultras are done. Temp aver was 228°F More than a cup of fines. 20 oz. of Ash. No clinkers, But I did get a bit of scale stuck to the burnpot. Black soot haze on glass.

    3.) Prest O Logs are done. Lower flame compared to the Firesides and the Rockies. About 25 oz. of ash! Temp was 225°F. Heavy scale in the burnpot, But no clinkers.

    4.) Inferno's are done. As very woody fines. These pellets crumble in your hands. Low heat output! About 20 oz. of ash. My 1st clinker of the year and scale in the burnpot Temp was 185°F

    5.) Bayou's are done. There was about 16 oz. of ash. Glass hazed within an hour. White ash on glass and sides. Burned OK, But lacked the heat 223°F to me is on the low side. Some scale in the burnpot

    6.) Pennington's are done. There was about 20 oz. of ash. Glass has a gray haze. 1½ Cup of fines and Dusty. Temp was 227°F I expected more heat from them. 1 bag was very beat up do to mishandling at the bigbox store. Even though screened 1st I still had fines in the hopper. Very small pellet lenght over all.

    7.) Marth are done. There was about 16 oz. of ash. Very little fines in the bags, Maybe a ¼ cup from both bags. Not much dust either. Temp was 247°F. Consistent flame. Light gray film on glass. Seem to burn pretty clean. I really expected them to be much worse. These may be the sleeper!

    8.) Michigans are done. Almost a full jar of ash, At the 31 oz mark on jar. Fines were low(less than a 1/4 cup from both bags) Temp was 232°F. Consistent flame. Light brown film on glass but whipped right off. Lenght was average But I did find a few longer than 2 inches.

    9.) Instant Heat are done. Ash was at the 18 ounce mark on jar. Fines were low(less than a 1/2 cup from both bags). Temp was 224º. Light gray film on glass.

    10.) Lignetics hardwood are done. Ash was at the 16 ounce mark on jar. Fines were low(less than a 1/2 cup from both bags). Temp was 250°F. Consistent flame. Light brown film on glass but whiped right off. Some scale in the burnpot. Lenght was average.

    11.) Tidy Timbers are done. Ash was at the 20 ounce mark on jar. Fines were low(Slightly more than a 1/2 cup from both bags). Temp was 229°F They are pretty dusty! Consistent flame. Light gray film on glass. Lenght was average.

    12.) Maine Choice are done. Ash was at the 16 ounce mark on jar.Temp was 228°F Fines were very low(1/8 cup both bags). gray film on glass.

    13.) BrandX=Okanagan's are done. Ash was at the 10 ounce mark. Temp was 262°F Fines were very low(less than 1/8 cup both bags) Nice consistant flame. Lowest draft air setting. Smoken HOT! Nice Pine smell!

    14.) BrandY=Barefoots are done. Ash was at the 15 ounce mark. Temp was 265°F Fines were very low(about 1/8 cup both bags) Light gray film on glass. Smoken HOT!

    15.) Greenway are done. Ash was at the 12 ounce mark. Temp average was 234°F. Fines were low(about a 1/4 cup from both) Nice Oak smell. Light gray film.

    16.) MaineWoods are done. Ash was at the 16 ounce mark. Temp average was 224°F. Fines were low(about a 1/4 cup from both).

    17.) AWF are done. Ash was at the 12 ounce mark.Temp average was 240°F. Fines were low(about a 1/4 cup from both). found some long pellets 2". There were a few damp pellets in 1st bag. Good heat!

    18.) Curran are Done. Ash was at the 20 ounce mark Temp average was 228°F. Fines were low(about a 1/8 cup from both).

    19.) Eco Flame are done. Ash was at the 16 ounce mark Temp average was 232°F. Fines were very low(about a 1/8 cup from both)

    20.) Green Team are done. Ash was at the 15 ounce mark Temp average was 245°F. Fines were almost non at all.

    21.) Somerset are done. Ash was at the 10 ounce mark Temp average was 251°F. Fines were very low(about a 1/8 cup from both)

    Test Complete.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Running out of room in 1st post. I am adding the weights here!

    Rockies= .36 lbs or 5.76 ounces. Or .450%

    Fireside Ultras= .74 lbs. or 11.84 ounces. Or .925%

    Pres to Logs= .74 lbs or 11.84 ounces Or .925%

    Inferno= .80 lbs. or 12.8 ounces. Or 1.00%

    Bayou= .38 lbs. or 6.08 ounces. Or .475%

    Penningtons= .50 lbs. or 8.0 ounces. Or .625%

    Marth= .32 lbs. or 5.12 ounces. Or .400%

    Michigans= .64 lbs. or 10.24 ounces. Or .800%

    Instant Heat= .50 lbs. or 8.02 ounces. Or .625%

    Lignetics= .47 lbs. or 7.52 ounces. Or .5875%

    Tidy Timbers=.39 lbs. or 6.24 ounces. Or .4875%

    Maine Choice=.50 lbs, or 8.05 ounces or 0.63%

    X= Okanagan's =.22 lbs. or 3.52 ounces or 0.275%

    Y= Barefoot's =.38 lbs or 6.08 ounces or 0.475%

    Greenway =.30 lbs or 4.8 ounces or .375%

    Maine Woods =.52lbs. or 8.32 ounces or .650%

    AWF =.28 lbs. or 4.48 ounces or .35%

    Curran .38 lbs or 6.08 ounces or 0.475%

    Eco Flame .28 lbs. or 4.48 ounces or .35%

    Green Team .44 lbs or 7.04 ounces or .55%

    Somerset .30 lbs. Or 4.8 ounces or .375%
    End Test


    Old post.

    I had to go out this morning and I stopped by the local TSC. I picked up 5 bags of Rocky Mountains. I think these will be the best found at any of the big box stores.

    I scored them for $4.99 per bag. But I have to say the bags were beat up. 2 bags are pretty bad and pellets are crunched up and broken. All the bags have a bit of fines. I will rate that as medium.

    The house was at 66º so the test begins! I hooked up my Oak and unplugged my exhaust and loaded the hopper. Waited about 1/2 hour and took 1st temp reading with stove on medium.

    Rockies average temp is 235º

    Also the attachment to the first post is going to be in Excel format. FYI. EDIT will have to post an image. It wont let me attach .xls

    Do you want me to continue??? I need input.

    jay
  3. SXIPro

    SXIPro Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    486
    Loc:
    Northern MA
    Continue, yes. What is a TSC?? I have read many good things about Rocky Mt on this forum. It was actually gonna be my second choice behind Okanagan/Dragon Mountain. If you can find a cheap clean one for the shoulder seasons, that would help all of us. Then we would only have to blow the big $$ for Dec-Feb when we wanted the highest output lowest ash stuff provided by the better brands.
  4. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    TCS =Tractor Supply Co. another bigbox.

    I may also expand to other brands. The ones for the extremly cold days.

    I am going to keep brandX underwraps for a while. But it will be a good one!

    I suppose I should also add a disclaimer about that all stoves are different and your results may very.

    I will try to keep it interesting!

    jay
  5. SXIPro

    SXIPro Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    486
    Loc:
    Northern MA
    It is already interesting and I thank you in advance for doing this because it will help all of us out. It is getting frustrating where I am. I just can't stomach buying from the box stores, but even my local places like Agway now carry Inferno and Maine Woods (both garbage) and the only decent pellet they carry is NEWP. I was not impressed with NEWP last year. In previous years, ok. I'd love to find a nice clean softwood pellet at a reasonable price. Okanagans are like $365.00 for 1.3 tons, and I may kill my truck picking them up!!
  6. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    How much would humidity effect the burn? I wouldn't even understand how to do a correction factor. It probably will only effect the heat output.

    There is also the batch factor. Batch A has 8275 BTU/LBS. Batch B has 7785 BTU/LBS. I test A you buy B. Please don't yell at me too much!

    And the stove factor. My stove EPA'd at 83% yours EPA'd at XX%.

    Yes there will be variables beyond my control!!!

    We would not need to do this if there was a true lab doing it for us!

    Just trying to help.
  7. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    No need to thank me. Just go to the local big boxes and tell me what they have and stay tuned.

    Get those Okanagan's for the really cold ones. I will try to help you sort thru the others.

    I need to do this for myself anyways, So I will just share my findings!

    jay
  8. CAMAROPEP

    CAMAROPEP New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SOUTH EASTERN MA
    just got some potomac's at the local lowes. they are softpine. seem to burn ok so far
  9. Stentor

    Stentor Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2009
    Messages:
    337
    Loc:
    North of Boston, Mass
    Definitely continue. You'll be helping people just by pulling together information about what's in the big box stores. What exactly do you want from us? Brand names of pellets at the stores and their prices?
  10. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Just the brand names So I can try to get them. It will all depend on what I can get locally.

    Also anything I should add to the test procedure?

    Thanks

    jay
  11. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    I will add them, But I haven't seen them locally. You might need to be the Test pro on these!

    jay
  12. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Had to go to wally world do to extreme headache.(needed drugs!)

    Picked up some Penningtons Nature's Heat $5.30/bag. They where $5.97 last week.

    jay
  13. schoondog

    schoondog Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Messages:
    399
    Loc:
    dutchess county, n.y.
    Can't beleive I missed this. Keep going, I love this stuff. Any stove chow?
  14. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    OK, I will add to list. Haven't seen locally. Will keep my eye out for them.

    jay
  15. geek

    geek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    1,448
    Loc:
    Central CT
    jay, what about the pres-to-logs from HD or the Inferno/Maine Wood Pellets from Big Y.

    ..
  16. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Jay, my local Lowes (Newburgh) has Michigan Woods in stock. Keep an eye out....I bought 2 bags to test burn, but it's been too warm.
  17. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Prest-O-Logs and Michigans. Will be added to the list.

    jay
  18. pastera

    pastera Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    316
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    Also picked up two bags of Potomac's at Lowes - $5.38 each

    Fines - OK for a loose bag; particles were coarse
    Heat - no thermometor but stove seemed to pump out the expected heat level
    Burn - very fast start up; much faster than the normal big box brands

    The biggest issue I have with them is the strong smell - not really objectional but not what I want my house smelling like either

    Aaron
  19. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Thanks Aaron,

    Did you note the amount of ash??

    jay
  20. pastera

    pastera Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    316
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    I haven't burned enough of the Potomac's to say much about the ash content.
    With the small amount I have gone through, they are a little higher than expected but did not form clinkers.

    Aaron
  21. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    I just went to Home Depo and Lowes to get some more test stock. Lowes was interesting. the gentlemen was nice but miss informed. Ah there all the same he said. I said I don't think so and laughed. They had Tidy Timbers and Prest O Logs. I put 2 bags of each in to the carriage. And headed to the check out. He followed and Started saying there getting a Southern Pellet in next week. Supposed to be the hottest pellet they have gotten. And it's a softwood. I asked the brand and He didn't know. Said he did talk to the area rep and He is bosting about the heat out put. I rambled off some names(rocky mountain-eco flame-ect.) He looked puzzled and said you know more about these than me. I laughed again and said there all the same! Ha! His mouth hit the floor. I am still chuckling.

    Off to the HD store. No pellets in sight. asked a clerk at the counter. There bringing them right up. I had to wait 20 minutes for them to bash the skid thru the store. It was a ton of Fireside Ultra's. I asked the guy what other brands they were selling this year. He says there all the same. I had to laugh and said, I don't think so. Every brands is made in different plants on different equipment. I just got a stupid look. I asked again what else you got. He said he didn't know there all wrapped up and they only know when they open. I said OK, grabbed the 2 bags and I was out of there. Absolutly no clue.

    Can we get someone that has some clue on what a wood pellet is???? At least what brands they carry???

    There all the same!

    jay
  22. odlaw

    odlaw Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Fingerlakes NY Oct 2nd 2009
    Hd = Bayou, Freedom, Fireside, Pennington $229.00 a ton
    Lowes = Green team, Clean Energy, Michigan, Pennington dated June 2009 $4.58 a bag
    TSC = Eureka, Lignetics price??
    Private = Dry Creek $285 + tax
    Walmart = Penington $4.99 a bag dated mid 2008

    Interesting test but I don't see how you can do a legitimate comparison between brands as it has been my experience that
    alot of the results are are affected by the storage of the pellets and can vary pallet to pallet. I really think the pellets need to be in some sort of controlled envirnment and possibly even dried prior to testing. I think your results would be more accurate if you could burn more than one bag of each but from different lots. Keep in mind that the specs listed on the bags only have to be representative of the pellets at the factory and not after sitting in some damp warehouse for a year.
    Still interested in your results though. Keep up the good work
    Dave
  23. Scoop

    Scoop New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Messages:
    190
    Loc:
    Southern Ontario
    I fail to see the point of all this. Aren't there starving children in Africa we could be devoting our time and effort to?
  24. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Read My disclimer and post #5 at the bottom.

    But I will add to it. If we had a real lab testing them, At randum. I wouldn't have to do this. How often are the mills sampled?

    I am auditioning local pellets for myself. Just sharing the results.

    You would not need to dry the pellets. Just check for moisture content. If above spec say 5%. Reject sample not premium. Some day I may own my own moisture checker. But not in this economy we are in.

    Most of the bigbox store's will have a ton to grab from. I may return to a pellet that has promising results and do a follow up test. Maybe no promise!

    Hit or miss on what they have too! I wanted some Green Team pellets to try. None where at Lowes. I may have to travel for them. I would prefer to stay local. But I do have friends in other towns that may stop for me.

    Maybe we all could do this and compare the nunbers? Average all the tamps out. This would cover all the batches.

    jay
  25. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,463
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Just doing some comparing. Sorry it doesn't interest you. I will let you solve the hunger issue. I am a little busy looking for good wood pellets to keep warm this winter!

    jay

Share This Page