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Converting 10% homes to Pellet Boilers!?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by mainemac, May 9, 2008.

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  1. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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  2. Turbozcs2003

    Turbozcs2003 New Member

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    Interesting.

    I wonder if he has the smarts to offer pellets for sale throughout his service area, other than to people who buy his expensive imported boilers. He would proably make more money selling pellets than they will off the boilers.

    No way would I invest 12K$ in a pellet boiler and rip my oil boiler out.

    THe have 2 flaws in their plan, removing the peoples current oil boiler and using an expensive german boiler. Plus it seems they use the term local contractor a little too often, ie you depend on the local contractor, not Maine Energ Systems to maintain and install you pellet system and boiler.

    Good luck to them though. I do hope they dont drive the price of local pellets up.
  3. kilarney

    kilarney New Member

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    Interesting indeed. This quote sums up my concerns:

    "Another question is whether buyers will balk at spending $12,000 for pellet heating systems, an expenditure that's nearly twice as high as a typical oil boiler.

    The initial cost also raises questions for Patrick McGowan, Maine's conservation commissioner. He wonders if Mainers instead will choose less-costly pellet-burning stoves over new central heating systems, for supplemental heat."

    I'm also concerned about the market effect on pellet prices. I'd be really worried if I were a European. As the market for pellets grows in the United States, a lot of pellets that would have been bound for Europe may stay close to home.

    An increase in demand, if it's met with an increase in production, may actually be a good thing. I'd like to see mills come on-line that make pellets from pulp. This will get us away from having to depend entirely on the sawdust market.
  4. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    Harman makes a pellet boiler. Costs a lot less than $12,000, provides American jobs, and is serviced and supported by a local dealer. Europe eagerly takes our pellets, and now wants to send us their boilers? No thanks.
  5. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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    1) I think this is great news as it shows that an entrepeneur is willing to put up big bucks to achieve on a meaningful scale what everyone on this forum has done is trying to do on their own. That is not be beholden to fossil fuel from away. Especially in the NE we need ALTERNATIVES to gas and oil to keep warm, I thinkg this is huge step in the right direction.

    2) The details of course can be nitpicked, why buy European Boilers? I agree we all would rather have a domestic maker . Perhaps they would not be able to crank up the numbers quickly enough?? Also shipping is cheap compared to trucking long distances, I would wager it costs less to ship across the Atlantic than to truck across America.

    3) I like the idea of Pellet Trucks rumbling through the neighborhood filling customers up with several months worth of pellets, though I imagine it would take up my entire basement !



    Tom
  6. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    I think the plan is the beginning....of course they'll be doubts etc......but Les Otten has the finances to start this off the ground. And his plan is for all of New England, not just Maine. As for if people will pay the price for the boilers...were people against paying 700 for the first VCR's? How pricey was Hybrids when they were first introduced? All things are $$ when they are relatively new and introduced. I think its a great idea he has....time will tell on the results.
  7. MoeB

    MoeB New Member

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  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It certainly is an ambitious plan. To start from scratch is going to require not only staffing up for qualified installers and repair people, but he has to create infrastructure from scratch. That goes from logging, to processing, to storage, to bulk delivery. It is a big investment and risk, but will be very interesting to watch. Our neck of the woods also has potential for bulk pellet boilers. I could see it working here if it succeeds in Maine. The Swedish systems systems have impressed me since I first read about them about 5 years ago.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/16/
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I hope the poor homeowners don't get taken for a ride. People who are desperate for solutions are sometimes too easy to sell to - and this entire scheme may rely on one foreign manufacturer who may be here today, gone tomorrow. Maybe the state should get involved and have some sort of bond or guarantee about parts and service for "x" years (10-15) just to make sure the consumers are protected. Those of us in the HVAC field have seen some European equipment come and go and the parts/service situation dry up quickly. With a wood stove you can usually make do, but these electronic pellet boilers are not going to be able to be easily repaired except with original parts.

    Personally, I'd rather take the independent route - fill one side of the equation (the boilers, etc.) and then get Pelletsales.com, etc. to fill another part, etc.
  10. Richardin52

    Richardin52 Member

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    If fuel prices stay high people in the Northeast will have to change to something other than oil to heat their homes. That should be abundantly clear to everyone by now.

    Given that fact we need to look at alternatives to oil. Some people will opt for the tried and true firewood option. Some people just can't or won't go that rout.

    Many people will turn to wood pellets just because it is the next cheapest way to heat their home. Some people will turn to LP gas which will be cheaper to install but not so cheap to heat with. Some will go for geo thermal, solar, heat pumps or electric but the way it looks right now wood pellets are a very good bet in many ways. It's clean, it's renewable, it will help drive the US economy and it's cheaper than most alternatives.

    Boilers from Europe will not be a hot item or a long term solution because manufacturers in the US and China will be able to produce them cheaper. We are in transition right now. There may be a few bumps along the way but pellet fuels are here to stay if oil stays high and all indications point toward high oil prices.
  11. compressedwoodsupplier

    compressedwoodsupplier New Member

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    I spoke with the gentleman doing this prodject and it seems like he has no intention of bagging or selling bagged product but just bulk. So that being said you would have to buy a silo and have the pellets blown into your silo. $$$$$$$$$ no the real question is how much for a silo??????
  12. MoeB

    MoeB New Member

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  13. wahsega

    wahsega New Member

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    Having meet him years ago hes out for one thing cornering the market in his favor and making big bucks. He tried to do the same with the Northeast ski industry. Watch out and approach with caution.
  14. Richardin52

    Richardin52 Member

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    He's doing just what should be should be done by anyone that wants to cash in on the coming oil crises years.

    He can see a need and he is trying to fill it and make some $$$ doing it. If any of us had the money we'd be doing the same thing. He is going to make a bundle just wait and see.

    The only way he will make money selling the pellets however is to sell lower then someone else, or offer something no one else is offering. With bulk delivery and silo sales he is out in front of the curve right now for sure.

    The Bosh boiler he is offering is a very good boiler and no one I know is selling them in the US right now. I'd be interested to see what he is selling them for.

    The way I see it, even if we never buy anything from him he's gong to help us. The more people burning pellets the more pellets plants there will be. The more pellet plants the more compitition there will be in the market. If the guy in Strong making pellets trys to mark them up too high then we can go someplace else and thats a good thing. One thing to look out for will be price fixing however.

    Rich
  15. nchezy

    nchezy Member

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    Man you guys are a tough crowd...I have reviewed the Maine Energy Systems web site and spoken to the admittedly green sales associate on the phone - I am ready to send my $500 deposit tomorrow. The actual cost of the burner/boiler combo is $8100 and 8,800 for the larger unit. I think he said the units are rated for 100k Btu/hr and 130k btu/hr, respectively. I haven't researched pellet stoves much, but someone else told me they are generally $2,500 or more, so I don't think these prices for boilers are out of line. The cheapest pellet boilers I have seen are at least 6,500 or $7,000 so I really don't think these prices are bad at all. The other european pellet boilers I have researched are all priced higher: Tarm - $11k, Verner - $10.5k, Orlan - $9.5k (and the Verner and Orlan are essentially not available, with extremely limited track record). They said the bulk storage equipment (essentially a 6'x6'x6' box connected to a fill pipe and a 10' long screw auger is supposed to cost $800-$1,000. The quoted "price" of $12,500 is an estimated installed cost - every system will be a little differnent (They are NOT suggesting replacing oil boilers). They also said they are offering a capped pellet price of $250/ton delivered (bulk delivery) for the 2008/09 season. So my response to the various previous posts on this subject...
    - Price is too high? Their proposed boiler system price is far less than the installed cost of other exotic european boiler options. The boiler unit cost does not seem that high when you consider what an average pellet stove costs.
    - Unproven technology - the manufacturer and Maine Energy Systems might not be around in 15 years to fix the units? Aside from Harmon and possible Tarm, none of the available pellet boiler options have practically any experience or US presence. I am quite sure the others all have less than 100 units installed at this point (they discuss lots of 5 or 25 coming over from europe at a time). The Maine Energy Systems equipment mates a Janfire AB pellet burner and Bosch Boiler. Janfire seems to have been doing pellet burners for 10 years or more with pretty good success in Europe. Half of us have Bosch plugs in our cars and wish we could afford the quality tools and appliances they make - so I feel pretty comfortable that this manufacturering team will be around for the long haul. Even if these units don't turn out well, if the Maine Energy Systems venture initially succeeds, there will be hundreds or even thousands of these units installed and I feel comfortable that some industrious souls will figure out how to keep these things going for us.

    Sorry to be so reactionary, but I was surprised to read the negativity of your thoughts on this venture. The plan is radical but it is also everything I want in a pellet heat option. My calcs tell me that replacing 1350 gallons of #2 with pellets will save me $2500 a year - a 5 year return on investment is fine by me. Personally, I like the idea of a bunch of local plumbers and contractors being trained and mobilized to install and maintain the systems. This forum has been a godsend for me and has allowed me to independantly become relatively well versed on the topic of solid fuel heating, but on a cold night in January, when my boiler won't start, I'd rather see a yellow pages listing for my Janfire/Bosch repair man than have to wait for responses to my post on this site.
  16. ugenetoo

    ugenetoo New Member

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    exciting times are ahead for the pellet fuels industry.
    there will come a time when pellets will be thought of as being as easy to use as fuel oil. when you think about it, pellets can be transported and stored just as easily as fuel. its only a matter of using a different "pump". pellet infrastructure is at the point where range oil was when our great grandparents first switched from wood fired cooking appliances. they also had to transport and store the product in small quantities. then came along the oil distribution companies to do it for them.
  17. compressedwoodsupplier

    compressedwoodsupplier New Member

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    Well i find it very interesting that bulk pellets are going to be $250 a ton and my bag pellets are the same price... Shouldnt bulk be less expensive? I always have been giving prices and the comment is that bulk is cheaper so please tell me how is it a deal to get bulk pellets for$250 a ton????? I know that the prices of boilers are going to cost you between 8,000 and 12,000 dollars but I know as a working man i cant afford a boiler but i could afford a stove costing around 2,000 dollars. Just a thought
  18. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Anthracite coal is pretty much the same way bulk vs. bagged and I honestly can't tell you why.

    I sell seasoned retail for twice as much as green bulk because of the extra handling and time I have to sit on my "money".
  19. ugenetoo

    ugenetoo New Member

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    how else do think les otten is going to make any money??
  20. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Great! You be the Beta tester then.
    Me? I`ll jump on that bandwagon if and when the pellet boiler business gets a better foothold here than it presently has.
    Til then I`ll be content using a pellet stove with simple proven technology , a substantially smaller cash layout , and most importantly knowing that I (or my local dealer) can fix when something goes wrong.
    I do however wish you nothing but success and good fortune with your new pellet boiler from Europe.
    John
  21. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    I talked to the company and was told that the price of $250 would be the cap for this year. No telling what the price will be. They are having the trucks built right now. A large local oil company will be the first installer. Talk about irony. No sales to self installers though. Maybe in the future if they don't get enough sales.


    Will
  22. nchezy

    nchezy Member

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    I share your concerns about pellet boilers lacking a track record. My problem is that my house does not lay out well for pellet stove (I would need 2 or 3 minimum to warm entire house), and switching to pellets will save me $2,500 a year or more at today's prices, so I feel some urgency to make the change sooner than later. We'll see how it turns out...
  23. ugenetoo

    ugenetoo New Member

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    there are quite a few pellet boilers being produced domestically. im not familiar with the harmon boiler, but their other products are extremely good quality, and service is good also.
    i would prefer to deal with a us company with a small track record here than with a foreign company with none. your urgency may lead you down the harder path.
  24. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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    Nchezy


    Good luck I hope you do great!
    Keep us posted


    Tom
  25. nchezy

    nchezy Member

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    Now I'm going to sound kind of like a heat snob because the other reason I want to go the boiler route rather than a stove is that I have quite a bit of radiant floor heat in the house that I would like to continue to use. I'm getting older and softer - I need warm toes to get through 6 months of winter.
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