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Iowa: Corn vs Wood Pellets vs Propane?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by PastTense, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. PastTense

    PastTense Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Iowa
    Any thoughts about the relative economics of using corn vs wood pellets vs propane in Iowa? What kind of pricing do you find for wood pellets in Iowa?

    Thanks.

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  2. Ridge

    Ridge New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2010
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    Loc:
    N. Wis
    My neighbor used some corn last year in his Country stove and after a few bags mixed 50/50 with pellets he took the corn back for a refund, he had Clinkers the first day and did not enjoy cleaning them, Here in Wis. Lp is $1.55/Gal (switched suppliers this year and got first 1000 gal. for $1.29 summer price), pellets are $185/ton and up and not sure of corn prices here.
  3. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

  4. daydreamer

    daydreamer Member

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    East Central IL
  5. PastTense

    PastTense Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    44
    Loc:
    Iowa
    Thanks, everyone.

    I got some numbers and plugged into the formula above. My LP furnace
    is 90%. If I got a pellet/corn stove I plan to buy a used unit from
    Craigslist... so assume the formula default 70% efficiency for that.
    Corn-bulk $14.79/Million BTU ($4.67/bushel, thus $167/ton-local elevator)
    Wood pellets $18.60/Million BTU ($210/ton at Tractor's Supply)
    Propane $19.73/Million BTU (contract at $1.60/gallon, 90% furnace)
    Corn-Bagged $24.18/Million BTU ($6.83/50 pound bag thus $273/ton-elevator)

    Overall my reaction is a 25% savings is not worth it for something less
    convenient, plus the installation cost.
  6. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Don't know if this will make much of a difference, but most pellet stoves run at least 75-78% efficiency.
  7. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,849
    Loc:
    Salem NH
    Hello

    In the Northeast here with the newest oil boiler and wood pellet stove, I found the break even point is Oil for $2.50 a gallon is equal to $4.00 per bag of Wood Pellets! So I use whichever is cheaper!

    Does anyone know with the newest LP Boiler how much per gallon of LP gas, the above would be equal to??
  8. rona

    rona Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Loc:
    southwestern Minn
    A good multi-fuel stove will burn corn with very little problems- some will burn corn better then pellets. Basically it comes down to location. Pellet use is more prevelent on the eastern end of the country and stoves built there were designed to that purpose. Then when it was discovered corn was cheaper and would burn some companies modified pellet stoves to burn corn with some degree of success. Other companies built a stove designed for corn and later modified them to burn pellets.
    I have burned corn with a Harman PC45 and got clinker build-up on the stirrer which I switched every couple days dumping the dirty one in water to clean it. Some varieties of corn were worse then others for this problem.
    Later I bought a Quadrafire AE which was also a multifuel unit only it dumped the pot automatically and there was no agitator.
    Later I seen Bixby advertised cheap on E-Bay and bought one of them. They were designed for corn and later upgraded the software to burn pellets as well.
    My point being you can blend some corn in with pellets for moderate success but a pellet stove just isn't designed for both. You should have a multi fuel stove or one designed to burn corn if that is your fuel of choice.
    Location will also be one factor of which fuel is cheaper. Corn has gone up in price this fall but it does vary and it is renewable anually.
    I like having the ability to choose what I heat my home with rather then reamed by the gas company.
  9. Turbo-Quad

    Turbo-Quad New Member

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    Illinois
    Satisifaction of telling the propane man "No Thanks!".............PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!
  10. rona

    rona Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
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    431
    Loc:
    southwestern Minn
    The Country side stove will burn corn a lot better by getting rid of that agitator system and replacing it with a pot. It will not throw out so much soot and ash out the exhaust either. You can't judge the whole stove industry by using one stove.
    Truth be known I think most of the people that frequent this website are from the eastern end of the country and most burn pellets. This year corn is going to be high priced because of world wide problems due to weather plus Iowa and Minnesota just got hammered with torrential rains.
    The satisfaction I get from having a alternative source of heat versus LP or fuel oil is worth more then words can describe.
    There is a furniture company in Iowa that makes a very good pellet. I think they are close to Waterloo.
  11. Former Farmer

    Former Farmer Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    259
    Loc:
    NE Wisconsin
    The high efficient LP boilers are 95 to 96%. Assuming 80% and 8,000 btu for the pellets, LP would equal at $1.35.
  12. poconoman

    poconoman Member

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    +gazillion
  13. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    MAINE
    80% efficiency for non condensing lp boiler, 95% for new condensing lp boiler...
  14. PastTense

    PastTense Member

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    Loc:
    Iowa
    "80% efficiency for non condensing lp boiler, 95% for new condensing lp boiler….=5.3% actual increased efficiency for 80% boiler..80/15= 5.3 "

    Explain this. I would think it would be the reverse .15/.80 =18.75% increased efficiency.
  15. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    standing on my head while thinking out my ass != inversional dyslexia of sorts 4me. ure right & thanx
  16. PastTense

    PastTense Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    44
    Loc:
    Iowa
    Did you note my local corn price of less than a month ago of $4.67? It's gone up about a dollar/bushel since then. I didn't recheck the elevator but on the internet I see figures like $5.63/bushel:
    http://www.quotecorn.com/

    So corn and wood pellets are now about the same price.

    (The reason it has gone up is that the Department of Agriculture released much lower estimates of corn production this year.
  17. spoilermaker

    spoilermaker New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Iowa
    Bought 3 tons of Indeck Pellets from Local Menards for $189 a ton about a month ago. Got 45 bushels of corn two weeks ago for $4.50 a bushel. I usually mix corn/pellets 75%/25% in my Harman PC45. I will still look at purchasing corn and mixing it unless it gets up to $6 a bushel which would be the break even point for me between pellets. Even then I get more heat out of corn then pellets so I may go higher. Will not shut the stove down completely with high prices because I also like the fire in the house. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but I love burning.

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