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cost of electricity to run a pellet stove ?? newbie

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by lecomte38, Jun 6, 2008.

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  1. lecomte38

    lecomte38 Feeling the Heat

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    I am a newbie here so be gentle with me. I just ordered a Harman Accentra pellet insert. How much electricity do these things use? Is one particular brand or model better then others? (its not to late to cancel my order)

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  2. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    in general they pull around 5.5-7 amps on startup and 3.5-4.5 running.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Pook, based on the 4 amps it is much more than that! I think you are speaking about stoves with smaller motors and blowers.

    4 amps would be almost 500 watts, wouldn't it? watts=voltage times amps, or x = 110 x 4.5

    Given rising electric prices, this should be figured in! Thanks for the question - since most people do dismiss it......

    Given a future electric cost of 20 cents a KWH (which is very likely soon), that would be 10 cents an hour, or $75 a month.....not insignificant, for sure. At current prices, say 14 cents, it is about $50 a month.
  4. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    I read where the Harman P38 uses 75 watts on low speed but that`s probably aimed toward the distr fan only. The comb fan must draw around 50 watts and the auger motor maybe up to 100 watts.
    Total is less than 300 watts . I believe it`s fused for 3 amps.
    Some day I`ll put a meter on it .
    John
  5. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Wow, I don't know pellet stoves, but 500W continuous blew my circuit breaker. That does add up, as Craig already noted/figured. This should be another input when one is deciding what fuel type they are buying into. What the heck is using all that power, is the auger working that hard?

    Given the rate increases last year for electricity, I'd not be surprised to see 20 cents per KWH next winter here in NJ. Even that would make the increase in electric rates more moderate than has been the case for oil.
  6. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    jerry,

    i am no electrician, this probly mor in john's field of knowledge , but i would say it is both the combustion and room air blowers drawing all the juice.you figure, the combustion fan is running as long as the stove is lit, and if you only shut down once a week, that fan alone is running 24-7.

    like i said , i am no expert on the juice ,only if its coming from a welding gun.


    mike
  7. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    It`s a bit warm right now and I won`t start the stove today to find out but my manual states the Harman P38 use 300w--2.5A---125v AC 60 HZ. That`s printed directly under the electrical schematic. And I`d have to think that`s at max speeds and with the auger turning.
    I did recall reading that the useage was as low as 75 watts running on the lowest settings.
    Based on this info and at $.17 per KWHR I`m going to estimate my cost at $30-$40 a month in mid winter but I`ll be saving some electricity with the oil furnace and circulator and zone valves cycling on /off less often and using about 400 watts.
    Other pellet stoves could very well use considerably more energy and be electricity hogs, I`m not sure , but that`s certainly a good point to consider when purchasing a new stove isn`t it?
    John
  8. MoeB

    MoeB New Member

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    I have noticed no appreciable change in my electric bills with operation of my two stoves. One was installed just last summer, and the other three years ago. In fact, in comparison to the fan running on my furnace, it's probably a wash.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the key here is that is uses somewhat about the same power as the furnace fans and burners it replaces (per delivered BTU)......or at least that seems like a good rule of thumb.

    It should be considered, though, since if a person was weighing it against a wood stove that difference would come into play. Most wood stoves don't have any electric use and even the blowers on some stoves are typically 100 watts or less.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, to summarize and answer the question honestly:

    Maximum Wattage 440 Watts (Start cycle and test)
    Start Cycle Wattage340 Watts
    Normal Run Wattage255 Watts

    that is Harmans information and specs....I'm certain it is fairly accurate.

    And, yes, stoves will vary greatly - I suppose that some models use less than 100 watts and some may use as much as this one or more. Depends on a lot of factors. A Harman gear motor must be stronger to push pellets up from the bottom. An insert back in the fireplace needs good fans to get the heat out into the room. A circuit board and sensors uses a small amount.

    Whether it is 100 watts or 300 watts......it definitely would have a measured effect on an electric bill 24/7. If it was 100 watts, it would cost about $13.00 a month, at 300 watts as much as $39.00 a month (at .15 KWH)
  11. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    That's for the Harman Accentra, correct?


    I looked into an inverter and battery back up system for my Englander, it was drawing a hair over 3 amps at a mid setting. As John said above, I'm expecting the Harman P38 I recently purchased to draw less, especially since I plan on running it pretty low.

    One other thing to consider (and this applies to any space heater) is if you're running additional fans to help distribute the warm air, these will certainly add up as well.
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Accentra Insert.

    Englander has two augers, doesn't it? Makes sense that it would use more than 300 watts max.

    I looked up a bunch of other pellet stoves and see a range from 200 to 300 watts as normal. I'm certain there are a few exceptions at either end.....
  13. lessoil

    lessoil Minister of Fire

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    Yes, this could be considered a "hidden" cost.
    But, remember 2 things about your oil heating system:

    1) The oil burner motor will/should be running a lot less.
    2) The blower motor or circulator pumps will be running less.

    Hopefully these will cancel the increase in cost to run the blowers/augers on the pellet stove.

    Thanks for this thread as I for one had not considered this!!
  14. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, it has two augers... although they are not in constant motion.
  15. Res5cue

    Res5cue New Member

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    Well you could look at it this way...

    Almost all electricity in the US is produced from coal in the U.S. so your still not giving your money to the oil sand sharks.
  16. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    I'm not an expert....but it doesnt take one to answer :) I can only go by my light bills for facts. I ran my stove 24/7 and my bills rose approx. 20 bucks or so.....but it really didnt even rise that much because my furnace didnt run so I guess it all averages itself out from where I see. Also depends on you power companies cost as well.
  17. lecomte38

    lecomte38 Feeling the Heat

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    Good responses, great board, thank you. "about $20 a month", " "range is 200-300 watts", "normal run wattage - 255" for the Accentra. gives me what I need. At $.16/kwh @ 255w = $32 per month. LESS - oil burner run costs 100 gal/mo at .85 gph x 265 watts for the burner and 50 w (? no info) for the circulator and controls.= $6 per month. It should cost an additional $26 in electricity per month to operate, an extra $182 for the heat season. Certainly a consideration, but it looks like all makes and models are about the same and still beats the h*** out of $3500 for fuel oil.
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, not much electric produced from oil these days......BUT,

    If you want to be "real" about Pellets you will have to figure in all the truck transportation of everything from the raw logs to the finished pellets.......or somethings by train.

    As an example, a LOT of pellets have been brought in on train from the west coast......if a ton is 300 MPG on a train (that's good mileage!), then it cost 10 gallons of oil to get the ton across the country. That does not include energy to make them or transport locally or the fans, etc.

    A truckload coming down from Canada to Mass, for instance, would travel about 400 miles - at 5MPG on a tractor trailer, that would be 80 gallons (one way), 160 both ways if no return load can be found. Divide that by 22 tons for 4-8 gallons of oil per ton, again not including local delivery, production and the electric for fans and augers.

    I would guess that, depending on the situation, from a low of 10 to a high of 30% of the energy in Pellets is "conventional" oil or electric. Or, more accurately, 10 to 30% ON TOP of the energy content of the Pellets. Obviously every other form of energy has a "cost" also, even if it is firewood from the woods behind your house. The ATV or pickup and the chain saw (and your body) all use energy.

    It is not silly at all to figure all this stuff in - in fact, it is important to do so! Any form of energy that we look at has a life cycle, a cost, etc......and that figures into the payback...both in dollar cost and in (our case) the Green-ness of the fuel.
  19. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    good point web, but oil would have to be transported in a similar fashion , and then used as a heating fuel , so even though the manufacturing and transport relies on fossil fuel , the fuel handling the heating load is still a "green" fuel and at least that side of the equasion is not ending up in "bigoil" pockets. even cordwood is harvested and transported in virtually every case using fossil fuel, but tossing splits on the fire has the same effect of limiting money to bigoil while burning a natural "green" fuel.
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    All a matter of percentages........the transport component of oil is very small since much is pushed through giant pipelines. Even the final trip in a 10,000 gallon fuel truck does not burn any real percentage of the fuel....maybe 1%.

    With wood and pellets, it is all about being local. The pellets brought across the country were in some ways a false economy...oil was still cheap at the time.

    Given the population of most areas, it is easy to see how Pellet plants will eventually be within 200 miles or so of most of the population that uses the stoves.

    With every energy equation, from food to pellets to solar PV, you have to measure the energy in vs. the energy out over the whole life cycle - and, of course, compare it to other options. Pellets are relatively green when:
    1. Local harvest and production and use
    2. Burned in an efficient stoves

    Start fooling with those formulas...less efficient stoves, pellets from further away, etc and the "green" starts turning to brown. Where the line is - who knows? But look at it this way....if it takes 300,000 BTU of fossil fuel to produce 1,000,000 BTU of Pellet heat (producing and delivering pellets, electric to stove, etc.), that 30% is a TAX over and above the heat you get from the pellets....it's not "part" of the pellet btu!

    Well, it gets complicated....but it is good to know - because that last thing we want to do is oversell stuff like it's perfectly green when, in fact, there are caveats. In fact, some folks in our industry have started an org (I joined) just for the purpose of sorting some of this stuff out and determining how green particular hearth appliances are!
  21. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    What is green about burning wood, e.g., pellets and cord wood? Doesn't that combustion process also produce carbon dioxide? Isn't wood carbon?
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The carbon cycle of wood - the tree must grow in order to be cut.
    During that time it eats CO2
    when it dies or is cut down, it releases it - EITHER when rotting on the forest floor or in your stove.

    Fossil fuels have no "cycle", they are pulled from beneath the earth and give up massive quantities of CO, CO2 and other gases, without any way to mitigate them.

    So cleaning burning and renewable wood is a complete cycle that, used wisely, will not result in a net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. In fact, if we plant more than we cut, we may end up being part of the reduction!
  23. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Nice theory, but I suggest those who use, for example, 4 or 5 cords of wood a year don't do anything that results in the growth of 4 or 5 cords to replace them that year, or even the next several years.

    Given this is done year in and year out I suggest there is a lot of "carbon credits" going on, i.e., waiting for the new growth to catch up with the cords burned. If the trees were left to continue growing, much fire wood/pellets come from trees killed for their wood, and then to fall and rot over many years on the forest floor, we'd come much closer to a "clean" cycle, carbon out, carbon back in.

    I think there's more "feeling good" than deserved by some who burn wood instead of oil, which by the way, produces carbon that trees use just the same as burning wood does. Most of the talk I read is about saving money, and that has its own merits, green or not. Its buying American too, and that's another plus.
  24. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Has anyone factored in the electric starter that uses 400watts + to get the pellet flame going?
    Mine`s manual so I don`t know how long they stay on or if it warrants consideration.
    John
  25. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Do doubt, wood is renewable, my point was how fast? Also, note wood can be and is grown using carbon made available from the burning oil - why isn't this part of the renewable thinking? I have no idea or estimate of how much carbon a typical hardwood or softwood removes from the air to build organic matter. But I'd guess it takes as many or more trees than I have on 5 acres (I'd estimate 50 mature hardwoods and 100+ softwoods) to replenish 4 or 5 cords of wood per year. That said, if I were heating with oil, I'm not, I could easily rationalize that the trees I'm not cutting down balance out the carbon my oil heating is putting into the air. All I was doing with my comment was suggesting: lets not congratulate ourselves too much about being "green" (or less carbon foot print) because we burn wood and wood products.

    One managed way to assure we are reducing the carbon foot print from wood burning would be to burn the wood that would otherwise go up each year in forest fires, say somehow harvest trees and clear deadwood in such a way that it would help prevent forest fires, and when they start, make them easier to control. Of course the first problem that comes to mind here is the oil (gas and diesel) it would take to implement that program, the type consideration well observed above by Craig in accounting for transportation costs for pellets.
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