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Considering Pellets....need some advice

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by nrosen, Jan 2, 2008.

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  1. nrosen

    nrosen New Member

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    Jan 2, 2008
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    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    I'm considering pellet fuel but I have a couple of questions...First some background, My house is about 4,300 SF, currently heated via an oil burner, hydronic raditors. Have 2 fireplaces.

    Would it make sense to replace 1 or both fire places with inserts that use pellets or add a pellet boiler? If I went with a pellet boiler can it be outside, or is it better inside? Any local regs? Long Island NY.

    Can I use a PB for swimming pool heating?

    Think that'll do it for questions, until I get answers and then have more questions

    Thanks in advance!

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Western Mass.
    As far as local regs you'd have to check with the town or city.

    First thing you have to do is step back and ask yourself exactly why you want to do this. If it is for the "green" angle, that is one thing. If it is truly to save money, you should do some calculations. Installing a Pellet Boiler of that size is going to cost a bundle, and my guess is that there are not many pellet manufacturers or corn fields on Long Island. If you become subject to the whims of the marketplace, the cost of Pellets could go up just like oil.

    Of course, if you have the room and the ability to handle them, you can get a decent price on a truckload of pellets from Pelletsales.com. That is 22 tons, and I would guess you could find them for about $200 if you timed it right. So that would be $4400. At that price, the cost of pellets would be about 1/2 of that of oil, but you do have to consider that you will be handling 22 tons of stuff!
    There is such thing as bulk pellet delivery - which could feed into a bin in the basement, etc to feed a boiler with.
    If a local outfit can set you up with a boiler, service (future), a bin and bulk delivery, that is a big plus!

    Yes, you could help heat a pool with any fuel, using a heat exchanger.

    I think you have to step back (as you are doing) and think about it. Why are you doing this and will it excite you as much after you load the first 22 tons? It may be that a very nice Pellet stove or insert in the house is the best way to start, and then if that makes you happy you could go to the next thing. If so, consider some of the larger BTU models (Harman?) for a house of that size.

    You also have to be quite concerned with service on either a stove or a boiler. Won't be as bad in your case, because you still have the oil backup, but in general there is only one outfit that can service pellet stuff (the place you buy it from).

    Oh, and also consider Hard Coal - there are a number of fully automatic boilers available that burn coal, and coal is usually quite a bit cheaper per BTU than pellets. Then again, it is not renewable!
  3. nrosen

    nrosen New Member

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    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks

    My concern with an insert or wood stove for that matter is that I have 2 small children, 3 -1/2 and 1 -1/2 worried about their safety.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Pellet units provide most of their heat as blown air, so it is not like a wood stove where every surface is really hot. You can also easily get stuff like gates and hearth "bumpers" which are designed to sit around the thing. Many of us have raised children for decades around stoves and had no problems....I figure if my dog knows better, hopefully my kids will! Usually it will be your adult friends who are more likely to put their hand on it and ask "is this hot?".
  5. davevassar

    davevassar Member

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    Loc:
    South Central MA
    I have an Empress insert. My son is 16 months old, and he doesn't go near it. For precautions, we have a fireplace grate in front of it sometimes. He'll look at it and point to it, but won't touch it.
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    "Usually it will be your adult friends who are more likely to put their hand on it and ask “is this hot?”. "

    Bah! That just happened to my 400 degree soapstone stove. One of my wife's lady friends couldn't believe that a rock stove could be hot, that is, until she placed her flat palm on it.

    I have a 5 YO and a 2 YO that have spent the last year around unprotected wood stoves. Neither has been burnt. They love to lay on the floor in front of it though.
  7. jamorris

    jamorris New Member

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    Loc:
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    I put in a pellet stove as a back up to a new high efficiency NG furnace/ electric AC main unit. I have been running the pellet stove 24/7 to learn its traits and to test it. I do not expect to save a huge amount on NG. I have more of a green outlook, myself. But, this pellet stove will heat my small home on its own. Which means, those winter power failures I used to worry over are now mainly a thing of the past, at least as they relate to heating. And I had experience back in the 70s and 80s with normal wood burners. There is no comparison in ease of operation. Feed the pellet stove once a day and it runs itself. And a whole lot cleaner.

    Jerry
  8. Kenny1

    Kenny1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Eastern ON
    4300 sq feet is a lot of space.

    As Web points out, you may want to put in a single pellet stove or insert to try it out before going whole hog.

    Why are you considering pellets? If you are looking to save money, you may want to check out the fuel price calculators at:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator/




    As for the kids, well here is another thread that deals with kids and pellet stoves:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/6567/


    Have fun with the project!



    Cheers


    Kenny
  9. nrosen

    nrosen New Member

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    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    I guess I will never complain about saving money, but the idea of helping lessen our dependeance on foreign fuel and my own impact on th environment are my main motivators.

    I'm warming (forgive the pun) to the idea of an insert over a boiler but I'm still unconvinced...I still have a concern about the kids and i know that if I put a boiler in the basement, I have a much better chance of keeping them burn free. Also, I like the idea of being able to use the boiler during the summer to heat my pool. Does anyone make a small boiler?
  10. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

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    Ah, where is that post with the pictures of the neat looking "fence" around it that someone put up a couple of months back? I can't find it. Hopefully someone else knows where it it.

    There are attractive & practical ways of protecting the kiddies from accidental falls or bumps into a stove but frankly, if the little tikes are determined to get to it they will. This might be a good time to teach them "No!" ;-) Growing up in a house with a wood stove and space heaters I was 5 before I quit thinking that the name for everything I shouldn't touch was "Hot". lol
  11. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Southern, Maine
    I completely agree about kids and stoves. My kids are 6 and 3...and the 3 year old is a boy. Last year and the year before I had screen in front of the stove for my own piece of mind, but the screen itself got pretty darned hot so I really just had to teach the kids to "respect" the stove. They both wound up with a minor "ouchie" or two when they got too close, but they've since learned to be more aware of the stove.
    This year I removed the screen and have had no issues. Believe me, our 3 year old is ALL over everything else, but he has absolutely learned not to touch the stove.
  12. Ridgefire

    Ridgefire New Member

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    I have had more of a problem with the cat touching the stove then my son. I dont know if the cat likes the heat or what but he lays right in front of the stove. The dog only burned her nose once touching the stove now she gives it a wide berth.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You would need a BIG boiler to heat that house! My initial guess would be at least 120,000 - 180,000 BTU input.

    Or, you could get something smaller and have the oil kick in when it got cold.

    Tarm, among others, makes a great Pellet Boiler:
    http://www.woodboilers.com/pellet-corn-heating2.asp
  14. debbiels1979

    debbiels1979 New Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern Shore, MD
    I too have the issue of heating a very large house, over 4000 sq feet, and believe or not we use our Mount Vernon to heat the front part of the house and a propane wall unit to heat the back part of the house. They both do very good and we keep quite warm. However, with such a large home our propane unit runs constanly and can use over 4 40lbs bags of pellets a day (especially when really cold usually 3 on average days and we keep her usually on the 2nd or 3rd setting and really cold days 4th setting). Like I say, we do keep quite warm! My Mount Vernon is a couple years old and I know they make bigger pellet stoves now and ones that will hold many more pellets than mine does for less toting of pellets. I figure we use a ton (sometimes a little more) a month which equals to $225 per ton and then roughly our propane bill is $200 per month. As I am sure you are well aware it is very costly heating a large home. You have many options and I wish you good luck!!
  15. debbiels1979

    debbiels1979 New Member

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    I meant to also add we have two small kids and many animals and NO ONE has ever been burned. The front of the stove and the front part of the top of the stove gets quite warm, especially if she is up high, but it has never been an issue for us!
  16. wpessin

    wpessin New Member

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    Loc:
    Boston Metrowest
    I just installed a Harman PB105 Pellet Boiler in my house--last Saturday. It runs "in series" with my oil boiler so that if the pellet boiler isn't running for whatever reason, or the demand is too great for it, then the oil boiler kicks in until the demand is met. My house is about 6,000 SQ FT with 3 hydronic zones, 1 baseboard zone, and an 80 gallon superstore/water tank. Still working out some kinks...mainly my own inexperience in running a pellet appliance (have posted a few questions across this board and the boiler-room board), but otherwise am very happy with the result. It hit about 3 degrees last night and the house stayed plenty warm--without the oil boiler kicking in, and everyone had hot showers to boot.
  17. staplebox

    staplebox Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    I need to chime in here, for my first post, about the kid issue. I put in my wood burner a couple of years ago. At the time my boys were about 2 and 3 years old. My father was over one day evaluating my installation, as fathers do, when my wife asked me about putting a gate in front of the stove. My old school, politically incorrect, father asked why we would need a gate. My wife responded we needed it so that the kids wouldn't touch the stove. My father thought for a moment and said, "Well, if they touch it more than once, you'll know there retarded."

    I am happy to report that my kids have never touched the stove, never even come close. I wouldn't, and haven't, worry about it too much.
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