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burning pellets in my Vigilant

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by Ducky, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. Ducky

    Ducky Member

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    Nov 4, 2010
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    Loc:
    Buffalo, NY
    So being that I am almost completely out of firewood, I decided to try pellets.

    My first attmpt was a bust as pouring the bag directly into the stove turned out to be a bad idea... it didnt work well at all. then, after poking around my shop for a container to use I came acrossed this nice little wire basket... PErfect! stuck that in there, loaded it up with 20lbs of pellets, started a small wood fire on top of the basket.. to get the pellets lit took about 30 min before the pellets were good and hot...

    some observations as I have been burning pellets almost exclusively for a week:

    1) pellets last a LONG time in the stove... Like, I load my basket (20lbs) come back 18hours later, and I can relight the stove from the coals alone. the stove is warm to the touch but open the lid, and its toasty still on the inside, and thats with the primary damper open... and my pipe damper shut at 30-40% closed.

    2) the stove itself when running at 'normal' temp... seems ALOT hotter than when burning with wood. Like I can keep the stove steady at about 650F with out much effort, where as wood seems to ride the temperature roller coaster.

    3) a close eye at about the 30 minute mark is required as flue temps can easily exceed 1000F 4ft above the stove. I am still working out the kinks in this, and adjusting airflow to keep those temps in the 5-700 range... I couple times tho, the needle on my thermostat was majorly pegged to the red... Shocking to say the least.

    4) draft is hugely more important with pellets than wood... especially when lighting. However once its lit, burning good and hot, you can just about turn off all air to keep the temps up...

    5) I rarely use the main damper in the stove when burning wood, as my pipe I think is one section too short... a problem which ahs arisen thanks to my Magic Heat box you all hate. It smokes too much, and just about puts the fire out lol. However with the pellets, it seems to have the reverse effect of making the stove itself skyrocket in temps... and hold those temps over longer periods. I am currently trying trial and error on this finding the right mixture of flue openess and primary damper... open or closed...

    anyone have any suggestions, would be appreciated.

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  2. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Feeling the Heat

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    Very interesting.... sounds pretty cool. I'm going to keep my eye on this thread for other replies.

    Any thoughts on using fire starting gel instead of a wood fire?

    Any chance you can post some pics/videos of this set up? I'm interested in trying but worried about pushing my 20 yr old stove with those temps.
  3. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    You should try some of those compressed wood bricks (Bio-Brick or the equivalent) and compare the way they burn with the way the pellets burn. I'll bet you'll be even happier with them. Burn more like real wood, and a lot easier to load and get started as well.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's an impressive long burn for pellets in a basket. Normally they tend to smolder, how was the smoke from the flue? Are you using the stove in bypass mode or straight through? Theoretically, 20 lbs of pellets will provide about 164000 btus or about 9111/hr over 18hrs. That's on the low side for house heating, but might work well for shoulder season burning.

    Do you have a picture of the basket in the stove. I'm trying to visualize it. It must be pretty big to hold 20# of pellets. It this tall like a wastebasket?
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Sound like wet wood more than it does a short pipe.
  6. Ducky

    Ducky Member

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    it could be wet wood. the wood I got this year which was free, about 8 cords of wood out of a friends forest... Id just about gone... Though I store my firewood in a shed, right off the back of my shop... Its like a cold storage room thats never heated. Makes going to get more wood so much nicer than having to go outside.

    the basket is actually a small storage basket P icked up at Target about 2 years ago...

    Ill try to get pics. Most of you will prolly scream at my pics tho. My stove isnt pretty... Not in the least bit LOL
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Do you reload the basket during that 18 hr run? 20 lbs is a half bag, which is a pretty large volume of pellets.
  8. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Go ahead and post the pics- if you ever saw the condition of my Vigilant you would know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Mine just needs some paint, a new fireback, an new left door....you know, nothing major :)
  9. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    8 cords at this point in the season is impressive. I live south of you but my temps aren't that much different, especially when you consider I heat from the basement which increases my lack of efficiency.

    I too am impressed with what you are getting out of a 1/2 bag of pellets. I think pics are definitely in order.

    pen
  10. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Needle pinned to the red, flue temps above 1000, all sounds pretty unsafe. Cool burn time from a half a bag, though. I would not do it at the expense of those dangerous extreme temps in your stove. Pics though, I agree! :coolgrin:
    What kind of stove is this?
    I agree with Battenkiller, compressed wood brick would be safer with a wood stove!
  11. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Remkel, I love maple syrup. Let me know if you get a good batch next year and I'll buy some from you! No chance you still have some from last year?

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