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Pellet Boilers.... Where are you????

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Mack The Knife, May 3, 2008.

  1. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    Hello All!!
    I am new to the site and am loving all the information. I registered late last night when I saw a request for locating Harman dealers and was able to pass along a source tip for the Harman PB105 to another member.
    My personal desire is to find a pellet boiler that I can install in the basement alongside the existing oil furnace to cover our 3000 sq ft heating and maybe domestic hot water needs. We may just install an electric hot water heater for the domestic side, so that the boiler will not need to be run/cycled throughout the warmer months. The boiler will just be used for the central heating through HWBB. I think that I'd prefer to burn wood pellets and perhaps leap beyond corn burning (sounds like folks in the midwest are moving to wood pellets for a reason.... called $$$$ in ethanol sales) to the other available grain pellets. We are trying to stay away from wood burning, but are there any recommendations to convince me otherwise?
    What manufacturers are building units that I can install indoors? I've found the Harman PB-105, the Traeger 150, LDJ 100,00, SAR Furnace, Orlan Pellet Boiler, Tarm's, Next Gen Bio-Max, CPC's BioMax, and the Froeling P2 unit (mid-summer arrival). Are there other options to me?? What about pellet gasification units?
    Unfortunately outdoor boilers furnaces will cause me to perform site work... there's a heck of a drop off out the back of the house!! Although, I am impressed with the little information I read on the Genesis II (need to get more info) and may have to cave in.
    Why is the Harman PB-105 not UL rated yet?
    Thanks for your assistance and guidance! I am posting this request on other sites as well.
    Mack The Knife

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    How about the Tarm Pellet boiler - from right there in NH - top of the line unit from maker with 100 years of experience......

    UL does not, to my knowledge, rate anything....they do "list" certain products, but not pellet boilers. These are too niche of a product for a standard to be fully developed here. That's my guess!

    Sounds like you have plenty to choose from - my typical advice is to buy from a manufacturer who has been in business for a while, so as to assure longevity, parts and service.
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A belated welcome to the Boiler Room, Mack.

    I think pellets are a great way to go if you don't mind seeing their price closely track that of heating oil. I'm hopeful that someday we'll have a pellet distribution infrastructure in this country that will make what you're trying to do commonplace, and really give fossil fuels some competition in the marketplace.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Living in Southern NH......at this point at least - you can get bulk delivery from NEWP. That helps a lot.

    Also, with Pelletsales.com operating out of Manchester, it should be pretty easy to get competitive prices there also.

    Of course, one or two suppliers does not make a perfect market, but it certainly helps!
  5. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    On pellet boilers, look for a Warnock Hersey listing, which is similar to UL (just a different company, doing the same thing).

    Joe
  6. Oregon8888

    Oregon8888 New Member

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    Mack the Knife, you posted several boiler models. I'm also interested in converting to a pellet boiler (from a OWB Taylor, aka, smoke maker). However I would like one that has an auto start feature, unlike the Tarm which requires a human to light the pellets, then it "idles" after temps are reached. What units have you found that fit this category?
  7. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    My apologies for the slow response. I have been busy. The Harman boiler looks like a nice unit and sounds like it will do a decent job. It is also reasonably priced and has minimum maintenance. I actually saw the price go up $600.00 over a weekend. I'm shocked at the price increases that I received from Tarms (I'm talking thousands... and I live in NH). Other than initial cost, a big concern for me is the variability or limits of what a boiler can or cannot burn. That really is the major concern of any unit I am researching. The pellet manufacturers are increasing their prices each year too. I went ahead and prebought 8 tons of wood pellets at $230.00 for this coming winter. Obviously I've committed to finding a new system. I think the option to burn corn in New England will get too expensive (nationwide farmers will get a better dollar return for selling the corn for ethanol fuel), so I need to prepare for other pellet fuels. I just don't want to deal with wood and the mess and labor associated with it. In the big picture it seems that the European boilers are now beginning to be available. But, the prices are over $9000.00. $*^&%$ Crooks!!! Maineenergysystems.com just added a Janfire unit that it is promoting in New England... Are you sitting down?? for just $12,500.00..... There'a a Genesis II unit being built in Wisconsin that caught my eye, but I believe that it is an outdoor unit. My preference is for an indoor unit. I did add a 55 gallon electric hot water heater last weekend, so there's no more oil being burned here. So I'm still searching.
    I could ramble some more... If you would like more info just ask.
    Best of Luck!
    Mac
  8. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Actual price of boiler starts @ $8100.00. $12,500 is ballpark for bulk storage ,auger to boiler, boiler, super store for DHW and pro installation. Price will vary with differing installs.Pro install only.If our dollar was in shorter supply on the world market it would be worth more against foreign currencies and the Euro boilers would be cost competitive.But they might not even come over then. Just priced a Harman PB 150 out today, $6300.00 plus $210 for DHW coil. Self installable if able. Can be wall vented due to power vent. Demand is thru the roof. Has anyone priced out a gas or oil Euro boiler lately ? Their technology is years ahead of us due to their longer higher energy prices. The Euros have a whole different approach to engineering than us yanks.

    Will
  9. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    My wife thought I was crazy just taking the time to look at the system. I'd probably buy the Janfire system if it was $8100.00 inclusive. Having another $4500.00 tacked on is steep. I'll contact the company with hopes of working out a deal.
    Maybe I can buy some of their stocks if available to the public.
  10. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    My wife knows I am crazy and ready to have me committed for observation due to my infatuation with not wanting to pay $4 + who knows what for oil this coming winter. I don't think I'm getting any + WAF at all. I would die as a salesman on straight commission. Give Maine Energy a call. Be prepared for a green salesman.
    Will
  11. harry

    harry New Member

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    hey mac the knife

    I'm in the same situation like you, looking for the right deal getting a wood pellet boiler????? you mentioned the Froeling P2 boiler and it's arrival in summer, which company is distributing it here in the U.S.? do you have a name, phone number or email?
  12. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Heres an email reply I got from Froling. Maybe you will get more info than I did.

    Dear Sir,



    thank you for your recent inquiry on Froling wood boilers.

    Froling is the biggest manufacturer of biomass boilers in Europe and we have been expanding quickly over the last decades.



    Now, we are about to prepare our products for the North American market.

    Froling boilers will be available in the United States and Canada within the next months, beginning second half of the year 2008.

    We will keep your contact and inform you as soon as we have any news.



    Kind Regards



    Werner Emhofer



    Mag. Werner Emhofer

    Bereichsleiter Export / sales area manager

    ------------------------

    Fröling Heizkessel- und Behälterbau Ges.m.b.H.
    Industriestrasse 12
    A-4710 Grieskirchen

    Tel. +43 7248/606-2400 Email: w.emhofer@froeling.com

    Fax. +43 7248/606-600 Internet: http://www.froeling.com
  13. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    Hi Willman,
    What are you using for a pellet boiler or do you have one? Do you have a recommendation? Why?
    I'm more than surprised that there is only a handful of people chiming in what is being found available in pellet boilers. The corn burning side isn't offering many alternatives either. I think that I've narrowed my selection to one of a handful and hope to make a decision in the next week or two. I don't know if European units will be much better than some that are already available.... especially at thousand$$$$ more.
  14. solarguy

    solarguy New Member

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    Mack,

    You're approaching a pellet boiler purchase with that good ol American mindset, looking at the bottom line instead of looking at what you're getting for your money. To clasiify European manufacturers as crooks because their product is thousands more than the stuff you've been looking at is short sighted on your part. Their products are thousands more for a reason. European manufacturers have been way ahead of the curve for decades & their boilers have a proven track record.

    The saying you get what you pay for has never been truer than when it comes to renewable energy products.....

    Bob
  15. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Hi Mack,I do not currently have a pellet boiler. I have looked at the Harman so far. Will take a look at the Pinnacle (Traeger) and the Bosch.
    Will now check out the Genesis you mention in another post. My interest in the Froling is piqued by it being able to convert to round wood for fuel.I can possibly hedge my energy bet as well as insure my aging in place with it. Might not be able to work up wood in 10/15 years or so. Who knows though.
    As far a cost of Euro technology goes. IMHO they are many years ahead of US in solid or pellet fuel burning. This is due to many reasons. This being said the cost would be less if our $ was not way down against the Euro, pound, etc. This is another reason why they cost more. Who is to blame for this is a topic for the Ash can. Check out the value of the buck against the Euro. If it was closely matched the price wouldn't be an issue. OTOH due to the extremely favorable (to them) exchange rate more of the Euro burning technology is starting to come over.It wasn't worth it to some of them in the past. Just think how much these units will cost next year.
    A comparison would be a Mercedes / BMW versus an American car. They will get one from point a to b, but the Euro cars in some aspects excel over the US cars.
    Will
  16. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    I'm really enjoying this purchase process and the research associated with it except that I think more than anything that I'm frustrated that there are so few pellet boilers on the market and those companies that are producing pellet boilers have so little information posted on their web site. When I request literature I get a one page/card with the same or so little additional information on it. When I asked one company rep for a price, I got a sheepish and underbreath "about $9000.00" response and then from another I was quoted a price that was a couple thousand higher than their currently posted sale price. These forums have been a great additional source of information.
    As far as costs to purchase and install I really do recognize and appreciate the longevity that the Europeans have in this market and commend them for it. And I do agree that the European units are probably worth a little more. They must be working hard to get their boilers marketed in the USA. Maybe I felt these two American companies were just trying to put the screws to the consumer which no one appreciates having happen.
    There are new pellet factories being built in New England, but the price is still increasing instead of the competition driving it down. Perhaps there will be a shift. I heard the pellets are being shipped to Europe. Heck, I already prepurchased 8 tons of pellets before the "increase".
  17. MrEd

    MrEd New Member

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    I just can't see how pellet boilers in the long run will save a lot of money (assumoing that is your goal). I can't produce wood pellets any easier than producing my own oil - I can produce my own firewood, so in the long run that was a much better choice for me.

    There is a huge amount of oil distributors, but that really hasn't kept the price down; more pellet distributors won't either. I agree with the other poster who said pellet prices will roughly track the price of oil.
  18. harry

    harry New Member

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    hey guys
    good to know that a bunch of other guys is struggeling to look into alternative fuel heating as well, Mack how the heck can you enjoy this mass? I feel more frustrated than enjoying this endeavour, for the same reason you mentoined: just a few companies offering that technology (pellet/corn boiler) here in the U.S. and when you compare their technology to the European products than they are 10-15 years behind. the Europeans either not marketing in the U.S. or are very expensive for various reasons. after extensive research just like you guys it looks like the best units are TARM (very expensive as well), Pinnacle/Traeger (did anybody get a quote?), the Bosch/Janfire (from maineenergysystems, but they just starting their program and who knows when they starting to cover NH and MA???). has anybody checked out the Orlan pellet boiler? any quotes?h
    the European products looking great and their cost are probably worth the money, any concerns that their technology is so advanced (electronics) that the installation and service might be a probelm here in the U.S.? has anybody checked out the VITOLEG 300 from Viessman (established in the U.S. for oil and gas boilers) and it's availability her in the U.S.?
    hearing about the rising costs for wood pellets, I start wondering if switching from oil to wood pellet really will be as cost saving as it is promised now??? we might find as back in the same situation like now that the they continue to rise the costs for the wood pellets because of demand and porpularity and we again spending thausends of dollars for keeping our house warm??
  19. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    Less work, no need for storage, metered burn. I have a woodlot too, but if I didn't, I'd buy a pellet boiler in a second. I think it's the way wood burning is headed.
  20. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    Here are the units that I'm researching (trying to) and their listed/quoted to me prices;

    1. Harman PB105 - $6300.00 - Indoor installation
    2. Pinnacle/Traeger PB150 - $6000.00 - $7000.00 - Indoor installation (local distributor in place and contributor to Forum)
    3. Orlan Pellet Boiler - $7580.00 - Indoor installation
    4. Pro Manufacturing LLC Genesis II Multifuel Burner - $9000.00 - I think it is an Outdoor installation
    5. Janfire/Bosch (Maine Energy Systems) - $8400.00 (100,000 BTU) - $9500.00 (150,000 BTU) + installation to $12,500.00. - Indoor installation
    6. Tarm MH 2.5 - $11,000.00+ - Indoor installation
    7. BioMax 40 - $6390.00 - Indoor installation - Unit is not "just" a pellet boiler (I love the versatility of fuels and gasification concept), but it has no automatic feed system (bummer).

    There are numerous qualities that I am considering in my purchase. Those would be BTU ratings, Multiple fuel uses, Efficiency Rating, electrical requirements, hopper sizes, burner pot (stainless steel or boiler plate steel), off-season shutdown, venting requirements, customer support and of course $$$$ etc, etc.....
    Our home is about 200 years old and 3000+/- sg ft. My preference is for an indoor installation alongside the oil burner. The Harman is a direct vent unit which to me is a huge advantage because I want to keep my oil burner as a backup/standby and can't have both vented to the same chimney. I could add a power exhaust ($400.00 or so) to the oil burner and then pipe a pellet boiler to the chimney, but that obviously adds cost.
    All the above units have pluses and minuses for my needs. If you are looking at any of these I have listed please let us all know why or why not. Together we can make smarter decisions if we are educated. Sales people don't scare me either, so please tell us why your unit stands above the others.
    I'm learning more information everyday and hope to make a sound decision in the end.
  21. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    After burning wood for over 40 plus years I purchased a Harman pb105 pellet boiler to heat my home and to supply hot water. I installed it in March, it's been running around 7 weeks now, I really like it but....... it does have an issue with the combustion blower never shutting off. The combustion blower has to shut off, running all the time sends the heat from the boiler water that was just heated out the stack. I have been working with the dealer and the Harman Co. to resolve this. The controller and the thermistor probe have been changed, thinking that maybe one of these was the problem. IMO, the thermistor probe is the problem. I say this because the rating of this is 90 degrees, meaning that the combustion blower will not shut down until stack temp reaches 90 degrees. This will never happen with the low temp setting of the boiler set at 150 degrees, the boiler fires up before the stack temp reaches 90 degrees.

    The cost of pellets has increased, easy to calculate why, the cost of fuel for trucking pellets ( or anything) has increased so this must be passed on to the consumer.
  22. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Pellet and boiler thoughts..........aimed at no one in particular and everyone in general.

    I think that you are going to see more of the large timber producing companies get into pellet production. Georgia Pacific has a large plant here that used to make OSB but is currently being converted to pellet manufacturing. (No demand for OSB around here as there is virtually nothing happening in the construction market) The initial capacity of the plant is supposedly 80 tons /day with the capability to hit somewhere over 500 if demand warrants. If that happens in other locations, I think we'll see the price stabilize around $200/ton at retail. That assumption is based on what forestry operators around here tell me they need to break even per ton of chips produced, plus GP's manufacturing costs, transportation and retail mark up. Just a WAG but I would say it's probably close. The major variable in that picture is the fuel cost related to harvesting and processing the wood into pellets.

    Comparing the pellet boilers available here now to those made by Froeling, Viessmann and other European manufacturers is hardly valid. Saying it's like Chevy and Mercedes is off base too, more like a Model T to a present day auto. The features and benefits are on a completely different scale with the better brands of European made pellet equipment. Some of you have questioned how they get a Lambda sensor to work in a wood fired flue gas environment and it's pretty simple really. The sensor can work because it's there in the first place, controlling combustion to the point where it is not in danger of perishing itself and keeping the boiler at peak performance 24/7/365. Without the sensor, corresponding controls and mechanisms controlling combustion, you simply have a box burning wood. BTW, why would you use the boiler for only part of the year? Maximize your investment and use it to heat your domestic hot water year round. The more automated pellet boilers will do that easily.

    Does it cost more? You Betcha!! I'm guessing you'll see a boiler like the Froeling or Viessmann hit the market at $10-12K. They are so automated that if you give them a continuously available fuel supply, they require no more interaction than a gas or oil boiler. Annual service plus cleaning the ashes out maybe 2-3 times per year. The question is not how much does it cost but rather what do you want your boiler to do? If you can live with having to fill it, clean it, adjust the combustion when you get a new load of pellets, then by all means buy any brand of "manually operated" boiler currently out there and save yourself $3-5K. If burning fewer tons of pellets, less interaction with the boiler, (think WAF here) and long trouble free operation mean something to you then maybe you better wait and see what comes across the pond. If your fuel bill is in the$600-$1000 per month category through mid winter, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that even at a $12K initial investment, the return is pretty darn quick. What else can you buy right now that will pay for itself within 4-5 years. What kind of return did you get on your last vehicle? Or that TV you bought? Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. It's better to spend a little more and have something that you are satisfied with than spend less up front and wind up chucking it within 5 years because you're tired of the hassle.

    Do pellets make sense in the first place? Let's compare costs and see. ..... Pellets at $200/T burned in a Euro type boiler that modulates will provide 1MM btu's output for $13.77. The same pellets in a non modulating type boiler will run you $17.56. Burning a full cord of wood through a good wood boiler will provide that same 1MM btu's for $7.86 Just for kicks......... a current model top drawer US made ground source heat pump will do that same 1MMbtu for about the same cost as cord wood. Number 2 fuel oil in an 80% appliance will tag you for a little over $30/MMbtu.

    Using the heat loss calc you have all done for your houses ;) do the math to find out the difference in cost and payback.

    Gotta go put the splitter on the Kubota.
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Mac, I don't think the Biomax is a Pellet Boiler!

    Explain.......

    If it is a wood boiler with some kind of a grate that accepts pellets....well, I would say to decide to go one way or the other (Pellet or wood gasifier)

    There would be a vast advantage to having a local (I assume Brownie) helping you out with size, installation and advice. Huge! In fact, one of the biggest downfalls of the current central heat (solid fuel) situation is lack of such. Whether Brownie or some other local expert, I'd put a lot of weight behind that.
  24. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    *first post*

    Thanks Mack for starting this thread! I, too, am in the market for a pellet boiler. I would probably go with the Harman PB105, but have read too many posts about issues (though most minor) with those. THEN again, even though they have lousy customer service, there IS service. There is a distributer/installer about 30 minutes from me in NH. That is my fear about the European models, no support service ~ at all. To me the Tarn just doesn't make sense without the auto-ignition, though I am a noob, so maybe I am missing something. The Pinnacle/Traeger PB150 is enticing, I just have not seen anybody who has one comment on it. I would love your "local distributor in place and contributor to Forum" to comment on on the Traeger, and what one can expect from the unit. There is a distributer/installer in Old Orchard, or if I am close enough I would certainly support a contributer from here.

    I ONLY WISH I knew someone who knows this industry ~ since I do not, I will rely on all of you ~~ Thanks, Jeff
  25. Mack The Knife

    Mack The Knife New Member

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    Hi Jeff,
    I had to start getting my information somewhere. I sat up one night until 2:00am going through every string that mentioned pellet boilers.
    Someone said it best in an earlier post and I'm paraphrasing.... Basically that all the units that I am reviewing have pros and cons depending on what you and I are after to fulfill the heating need. So, start a list of what you need in a heating system. Maybe a wood burner is a better fit for you. I believe it's less expensive to have logs or cord wood as a fuel in comparison to pellets or corn.
    You are right about the Traeger distributor in OOB (I used to live in southern Maine). There is also a guy in "taxfree" Northwood, NH that contributes to this forum. I believe his name is Browning. Personally, I like his philosophy stated on his web site.
    As other manufacturers want to get their units onto the U.S. market they will need distributors throughout this great land. When will they arrive on these shores, I don't know. I can only imagine the influx that is about to occur before October 1st when the sun gets lower in the sky. If you can do your homework now, you should be ahead of many others who haven't. I'm still trying to get information on the Genesis II pellet boiler manufactured by Pro Manufacturing LLC in Wisconsin. Another source of information is the Iburncorn.com forums. Obviously there are many midwest owners of those corn burning units. There are also people in New England too.
    The wood burner guys on this site are a wealth of information too. Everyone seems to want to help the next guy along. What a great country!

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