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Do you wish you went with a wood stove instead?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by iamdrumming, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Great thread. @ Dreamboater, you'd have to be silly to pass up on free heat. Pellets are not, nor will they ever be free! Of course there is a place for pellet stoves in this world. Those who can not do the work or don't care to do the work, perhaps don't have the time to do the work or can't tend to the wood stove can benefit greatly from a pellet stove. In my case I rent so putting in a class A chimney would be out of the question. In my opinion, the work that goes into wood processing is enjoyable and cleaning the pellet stove is a pain in the rear end. I cleaned the wood stove far less. With my cat stove a load of wood usually took 15 minutes from a fresh re-load to coasting for an 8 hour cycle or up to 12 hours in the shoulder season. It was a medium sized stove, with a T6 you should get longer burns than 8 hours in
    the cold days. Another thing is once you get into a cycle the wood is not all that dirty. At least in my case it wouldn't take up anymore time than my frequent clean ups after every 3-4 bags. I understand better pellets can cause less frequent cleaning, but they also cost more. I can't complain about my pellet stove. It keeps us warm and is easy to operate and clean, but given the choice I would pick the wood stove.

    Quiet operation,
    No extra parts to worry about,
    Penetrating heat,
    Beautiful flame that can't be matched by the best pellet stove,
    Operates during power outages,

    Cutting, splitting and stacking is also enjoyable to me. Not for everyone, but I enjoy the exercise and fresh air, even in the winter. I used to like going outside to split wood, now I just go down to the basement to get bags. The noise of the stove is also a major factor.

    I advise that you go to the hearth room and ask the same question.

    I could see a future with both pellet and wood stove once we buy our own house. If I had the choice between one or the other wood takes it.

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  2. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    Thanks for the replys. The wood obviously isn't free, fuel in my truck chainsaw and time but still cheaper than pellets. My issue is the upfront cost of the wood stove and chimney is what got me to start thinking about a pellet stove. My climate during a normal winter is mid 30s-40s 90% of the time and 20-30s at night. It would take a while to recoup the money invested in the wood stove. Obviously I like the fire of a wood stove better. Friends of mine with older stoves say 15 yrs tell me their house is pretty dusty during the winter. Are the newer stoves as bad? Also will the OAK setup on a wood stove prevent the house from being really dry?
  3. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    You can always look in Craigslist and find woodstoves and often the pipe..
    However, a pellet stove is a great option as well..
    I find dust with both stoves.. I would assume the wood stove might be worse?
  4. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    I mentioned the T6 but I think that's overkill for my climate in an open 2 story house. Although I want long burn times naturally, I am away from my house 12 hrs during the week. I used 570 gallons of propane last winter from oct to march...I used more but factored 40 gallons per month for hot water and stove based off of propane usage from April through sept. That's really not bad and if my math is right that works out to be 14k btu/hr on average for 150 days. Based off that the t5, Harman tl2.6, quad Cumberland gap should be very capable of heating my home. However 6-8 hr burn times would not work great. As for pellet stoves anything in the 40-60 btu range would also due. I figured about 3 tons of pellets would work for me
  5. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    In most cases it good to get the biggest wood stove. You can always put less wood in it.
    However, in your case I think you will be fine with a t5. It doesn't seem like your house is that big.
    Really you are in a win-win as either choice is fine..
    Do you lose power often? If so is it more than a couple of days?
    That will prolly be the deciding factor.. Are others going to use the stove?
  6. grendel336

    grendel336 New Member

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    See my issues: Castile Insert Dead

    In previous house I had standard wood stove.

    I wish I could have both to be honest. If I had it to do over again I'd have gotten a free standing pellet stove and wood stove insert for my fireplace. Hindsight is 20/20.

    Having both is best option.

    If it's one or the other, I'm taking pellet stove though.

    I do not have access to free wood. I'd have to purchase chords of wood from somebody.

    Pellets are much easier, although dealing with the mechanical side of the pellet stove does show off it's limitations.
  7. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Same here. I gave away two perfectly good wood inserts because no one would buy them. I would rather have free standing stoves too and keep the option of the wood burners. In that case, I probably would have a Bixby right now. They were very inexpensive at the time, very efficient, good support on the other forum, and plenty of heat when needed. Plus I love tinkering and the computer interface.
  8. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    The t5 would produce plenty of btus for my application but I would like the longer burn time that the 3.0 boxes allow for. Is it true that running a larger stove with a low air supply will give me more issues with creosote? Harman is claiming ridiculous burn times from their wood stoves. 15 hr burn from the tl2.6 seems way to good to be true.
  9. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    I run a large stove on the lowest setting , I could prolly go 2 years without cleaning my chimney..
    But every setup is different has more to do with quality of wood
  10. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    Good to know! Probably leaning more towards a 3.0 stove with a blower. Wish the T6 had a side door for loading. Would be a no brainier love the swing out cooking options
  11. skidozer

    skidozer Member

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    No Way, have a pellet insert ripped out the useless manufactured fireplace that wouldn't burn unless the kitchen window was open.

    Got me off the propane.

    I work and live alone so I can use my T-stat to come home to a warm house and even be gone overnight or 2 days and come back to a warm home.

    Love it will have one in my next house also.
  12. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    We had a wood stove in our last house. Was OK but a PITA to get the wood, stack it, split it and put up with all the critters that always seem to come in with the wood ANTS under the bark


    We switched to Pellet stoves and feed them nut shells.

    Easy to deal with and NO PROBLEMO.

    Older stoves without all the magic electronic touch pads and such.

    Only issue is when the power goes off.

    Working on that one.

    Snowy
  13. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    What is the square footage of your home? Are there any cathedral ceilings? Also if burn times are your main criteria no one can beat Blaze King, though I'm not a fan of the looks. The gas you would spend to cut, haul and split the wood wouldn't even buy a half a ton of good pellets. Plus, if you are worrying about drying out the house, I've never felt air as dry as I have now with a pellet stove. It is like having a hot air furnace in your living space. The difference in dust level between the two is not noticeable IMO. I get dust in the house whenever I dump bags in the hopper, which is about once or twice a day depending on how cold it is outside. Most people use
    1-2 bags/day. The cleaning of the burn pot and firebox once or twice a week also causes dust. Not to mention the deep cleanings that most people recommend at every ton burned. The interior exhaust channels must be vacuumed as well as stove pipe, convection blower and combustion blower, which usually results in some gasket replacements. With every ton, this must be done in order to keep your pellet burner working properly. If this was not enough, you have to worry about the two blower motors and auger motor working year after year. The vacuum switch, high temp shut off switch, fan thermostat and control board could also go at any time, rendering your heating unit useless until the purchase and replacement of one of these often expensive parts. Now I understand not wanting to spend $ on the expensive class A. The money you'd spend would be recouped in two to three seasons, at which point you would just be saving loads on heating compared to buying pellets.
  14. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I might have gone with a pellet stove if I liked the fire look (the typical stove I see looks too big inside compared to the size of the burn pot, making a fire just in the middle more or less). I chose wood for the look and very low cost of the wood (time, gas and maint. on saw, we scrounge). I don't find it to be uneven (really hot to really cold) and not too much work to maintain. The hearth requirements for my stove were about even with a pellet model-ember protection and I like the look of the hearth pad in the room anyway.

    HOWEVER, I would consider replacing the VF in the dining room with a Thelin Gnome. I LOVE the look of them and since it would run only as a backup to the Lopi, we shouldn't have issues with the hopper size. Plus it has battery backup now, so in the event of an electrical outage when we were away and unable to get home, we'd still be ok. The main issue there will be clearances though, plus then storing pellets on top of wood (which is easier for us, since we have no basement or garage, but a large enough lot for outside storage of many cords).

    I think all types of stoves (wood, pellet and gas) have their place.
  15. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    I would like to add the fact that my wife loves the ease of operation of the pellet stove and I'm also happy to be able to avoid the oil man! We've been able to heat the house with a little more than 1.5 tons in this unusually warm winter. I had to put an oil filled radiator heater in the furthest room upstairs, other than that the stove has heated the house well. Stove is rated to heat 1600sq ft and the house is just under that. I would suggest purchasing a stove that is rated to heat slightly more than the space you have, that way you can heat the house even during cold spells without help from the furnace.
  16. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    My house is 2460 sq feet. 2 story, 1st level about 1400 2nd level about 1160. My family room has 10 ft ceilings, the rest of the house is 9' upstairs and down stairs. My lower level is really wide open only enclosed room is dining room next to where the stove would be. Everything else is open. There is a foyer that extends into the second story where the staircase is. The stove would actually face the open stairwell into the foyer.

    The replacement parts is what bothers me about the pellet stoves although the ease of operation is a huge plus. As far as the class A if I can buy the material and just pay someone to install I will save a bunch. Just prices duraplus 6" chimney 25', through the wall kit and stove pipe with a 90 right at $1000 through Amazon. Hearth shop wants $2200 for that!
  17. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    Yea I know as far as operating my wife would much prefer the pellet stove!
  18. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

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    In my case, a pellet stove versus a wood stove is a no brainer:


    Pellets are better for the environment, as they are made from manufacturing by product and leave trees intact to help lessen carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    I don't need to spend anytime splitting wood (which I enjoy only for the first 30 minutes - and then hate for the last 5 hours)

    My wife has asthma and my son sometimes suffers as well - pellets burn cleaner and have less noxious substances - households that burn wood have increased asthma and lung cancer rates

    Pellet stoves are safer

    and I'm sure I could come up with a dozen more reasons.
  19. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    Thanks for the info. About being cleaner, how much cleaner than newer EPA stoves?
  20. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

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    Interesting Article:

    Pellet stoves vs. wood stoves: Which is greener?
    http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/pellet-stoves-vs-wood-stoves-which-is-greener.html

  21. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

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    and some other interesting numbers for Maine:

    http://www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/prep_display.shtml?163535
  22. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Dreamboater,
    Buying the chimney parts on line would save you tons, for sure. They are really easy to install also if you are at all handy. The pieces just get slipped on to each other and brackets attached to the house support the weight.

    With that much space to heat any medium stove would struggle, wood or pellet. The tall ceilings add an extremely large area heated that makes your 2400 sq ft even bigger. Most manufacturer's specs are based on 8 ft ceiling heights. Even with your milder climate a medium sized stove would be stretched out to the max and undersized, which is always going to be a problem. Buying the right size stove is the smart decision here, as you will be dropping some $ no matter what you go with. This translates to a wood stove with at least around 3 cu ft firebox or a comparable large pellet stove that is rated to heat 2000+ sq ft. The T 5 would be greatly undersized in your home.

    Check out Woodstock soapstone stoves, they have a new Progress hybrid stove that has the highest heat output and lowest emissions in 20 years of EPA testing. They had a great introductory price of $2400 going on and a six month money back guarantee to go with it. Easily the best price in the industry for a beautiful stove. No, I'm not a stove dealer, just a carpenter. :) That stove can have a 16 hour burn and with the soapstone holding the heat and spreading it very evenly. The T6 also had great reviews here on this site. Just use the search function to check.

    I guess, the bottom line is your preference. Wood or pellets, both require work and are harder than running the furnace. The question is how much money do you want to save in the long run? The availability and fluctuating cost of pellets is certainly worth thinking about. The work involved in wood processing is also another major factor. I enjoyed the work and the fire/heat that comes from the wood as well as the savings.
  23. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I don't know about better for the environment, that can be bent which ever way you want it to be.

    We scrounge all of our wood, meaning it comes from trees that were already taken down for one reason or another, or fell due to a storm.

    As for energy required, what about the electric to run the pellet stove? From a coal plant? A nuclear plant?

    I didn't look at pellet stoves, but I think their emissions data seems off. I know my stove is rated a 1.9 grams per hour and that's a tube stove. I thought cat stoves were better, but I'm not positive.
  24. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    BTW, the Woodstock Progress hybrid has 0.768 g/hr emissions, 87.16% efficiency rate, which is more efficient than EPA pellet stove default efficiency of 78%.

    Yes comparing pellet stoves to wood stoves in general you can make pellet stoves look really awesome! However, newer EPA stoves are less impactfull on the environment than their previous counterparts. There is little machinery and shipping cost involved in harvesting and getting wood to your door step compared to manufacturing pellets. Todays wood stoves when installed and operated correctly don't impact the air quality of your home any more than a pellet stove.
  25. Dreamboater

    Dreamboater New Member

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    I am pretty sure my insurance company will require a licensed pro to install my chimney. Don't know for sure need to call. Yea I surely don't want to make the mistake of going to small! The Woodstock ph looks awesome! Wonder what the price will jump too after their intro price? I could be wrong but thought maybe convection heat would be better in my setup? I have also read its not that important as most stoves have properties of both.

    The size issue is what also bothers me about the pellet stove. Would the m55 cast be big enough? It states 2500 sq feet but 55kbtu. The Harman p68 looks big enough but haven't seen this pellet stove yet.

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