Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Tristan, Sep 18, 2008.
Limit the supplies. Jack up the price. Does anyone know of a good solar panel forum?
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Welcome to capitalism 101. Economics 101 is down the hall at the solar forum.
Keep in mind, though, that the Pellet makers are digging their own graves (so to speak) by not being consistent with pricing. What goes up must come down (more of 101), and demand will tank.
Actually, I think the most important class we have is "planning 101", whereas many members here procured their pellets in the $200 range early in the spring. As they say "the early bird gets the worm before the worm goes up in price".
I doubt that any supplies are being limited - just that demand has outstripped supply (see 101)
And next year there will be a surplus and they'll have a hard time giving the pellets away.
Is there a "101" lesson on what to do if you order 3-4 ton of pellets.... and they turn out to be crappy? Yeah Yeah ... try them out before you buy ... heard that line many times. But for newbies like me, who has been only burning for 1 season, there wasnt much time to try many mnay diferent brands. The brands that I do like (Comfort) is no where to be found. So, what do you do when you "plan ahead" and order 4-5 ton, and turns out, that 4-5 ton burns like cat poop? Serious, I would love to get some sound advice on how to deal with the supllier who delivered 4-5 ton of pellet 5 months ago, which the pellets turned out to be inconistent and does not burn as hot. Thank you.
There's likely not alot that you can do in that situation. The pellet manufacturer will likely point out that their pellets were tested to PFI premium specs. The stove manufacturer will blame the pellets. The guy who sold them to you will likely state what the pellet manufacturer said, along with an obiligatory "I havent had this problem before". And you're going to be left holding a 5 ton bag. Fuel quality and pellet stoves ability to adjust to said "quality", in my opinon, is a leading reason that many pellet burners give up and don't make it past the "newbie" stage. Another problem we've seen is customer buys brand X one year and they burn great, buys brand X the next year and the quality is down. I think this has alot to do with material used. It's really the only variable, the machines are the same and the process is the same day to day, month to month and year to year. The only thing that changes is the material used.
Doubtul, high oil prices=high production and transportation costs.
Housing and financial market in the sheeter=no demand for high grade wood material=no low grade wood or sawdust on the market.
The only thing that will help boost the raw material supply that I can see in the near future is insect damaged timber forced into the market as salvage.
The burning of pellets depends not only on the pellets themselves, but on the stove and venting system. Some stoves put up with poor quality pellets better than other - for instance a Harman (bottom feed) will often put up with much worse pellets than some other brands.
The sad fact (and truths) are that Pellet stoves and fuel are still NEW and it is complete scenario of buyer beware - that means both with stove and with fuel. I have been accused many times of being "anti pellet", because I bring up the basic facts regarding these and other problems.....poor pellets, poor supply, high prices, poor service on stoves, etc. - BUT, they are a reality! Although it is my job to promote the industry, in the end I side with the consumer....if the industry cannot provide products which are trouble free and pay for themselves, then the makers of pellets and pellets stoves SHOULD get a bad rap. So far, the verdict is mixed.
BTW, I see you are in Central Ma. Did you get your pellets or stove from the folks in Palmer (Squire) - they run a top notch operation, and I doubt they would have poor pellets.
Also, the very concept of "poor pellets" may be a judgment rather than a fact. It might be that you got spoiled by some "great" pellets, and now these are just normal. OR (almost more likely), the stove may need some adjustment of air inlets, gaskets, etc.
I think you will be able to get some better answers if you post some info about the stove model, the venting and the exact brand of pellets. Maybe a new thread, since this one is titled wrong.
Quality of material I believe will be a huge issue in the future as more manufacturers try different types of biomass or "dirty" wood to supplement their "clean" feedstock. This material could come from punky wood(insect damaged trees),wood with a higher bark content,or other types of biomass mixed in with wood.
There is a juice and canning plant down the road from me and I have often wondered if their waste could be dried and made into a pellet. Peach ,cherry, and grape skins,seeds and pits. Could be interesting what pellet makers come up with in the next few years.
You might have a point. I am simply looking at history. 2005 the pellet industry could not meet demand, the inability to meet demand coupled with the high oil prices equating to high transport costs led to an overall impression (just like this thread) that pellet suppliers were simply soaking the public for all they could get. 2006 season rolled around and there were tons of pellets (and stoves) everywhere at fifty cents less per bag than in 2005. But with the added factor of the Housing Market your analysis could be spot on for the next couple years. That's why I left my pellet stove in my old home. I'm going with wood.
I couldn't agree more. Since leaving retail I've been able to step back and be a little more objective than in the past, and you're 100% right by saying that pellets and the stoves have a long way to come. They are definately a little past the Model T stage but not by much.
Interesting point - I just took a shot at identifying what makers claim to be the ash/BTU content of various pellet brands. The ash content claims range from a low of .2% (Ozark Premium Hardwood) to a high of 1% (lots of "meet PFI standard") so you might see a factor of 5 in terms of ash production. If you burned Ozarks and went to many other (still PFI premium graded), you'd have 5 times as much ash to deal with. It's not indicative of a "bad" pellet in this case but meeting standards vs. far exceeding standards.
The same is true of heat - the BTU claims range from a low of 7700/lb (Cleanfire Northern Blend) to a high of 9100/lb (Pinnacle Fir). If you start off with the Pinnacles and then burn the Cleanfires, you're going to think you're getting pretty lousy pellets because the Cleanfire aren't burning as hot. In reality those Cleanfires may have been burning that way for as long as they've been made, but your expectations were colored by the Pinnacles.
The reverse is true as well, if you start out with a (relatively) high ash and go to the Ozarks, you'd be thrilled with what "high quality" pellets you were getting although the Ozarks only claim 8400 BTU/lb so you might be cranky because they weren't as hot as your Pinnacles.
Bottomline is the standard is <1% ash, 40lbs/cu ft. There's no PFI standard for heat output but about 8100 should be average. You do better or worse on average by whichever brand you choose - and the same brand isn't best on both measures.
I have a Harman XXV - best of of the best IMO. What i meant by poor pellets is just its physical proportites - right out of the bag. I realize that judging pellets on bottest or not....high or low ash ... BTU rating ... stuff like that is dependent on stove performance. Bad pellets to me start right out of the bag. Factors like too much fines (hence my pellet duster contraption), uneven pellet sizes, as long as 6 inches sometimes, and soft wet pellets that have exploded. That kind of stuff drives me nuts. What if i get 5 ton of crap that has too much fines, gotten wet somehoe and blown apart? Does anyone have ratings for different brands of pellets based on those criteria. Forget the ash, the BTU etc...thats based on stove performance. In my experience, Lignetics are the worse so far, and Comfort is the most consistent. Thank you in advance.
is this alleged harman advantage of being able to handle "almost any" pellet due to its automatic adjustment of the air/fuel/feed rates, etc? (I hope its not simply "alleged"; thats why I bought one...).
the thing that really puzzles me is all the statements on ash and stuff..."everyone" seems to say hardwood is better; even my buddy that owns a harman, and is mostly responsible for me buying a stove, said that he used softwood pellets, and found them to be more "ashy". But in the analysis doc posted previously, many of the softwood brands report very low ash content...lower than many of the hardwoods. It doesn't add up. either the reported analysis numbers are inaccurate, or people's reports are based on impression and not fact. Or, maybe its all just a big crap shoot, due to the normal variations of the product.
"Factors like too much fines (hence my pellet duster contraption), uneven pellet sizes, as long as 6 inches sometimes, and soft wet pellets that have exploded. That kind of stuff drives me nuts. What if i get 5 ton of crap that has too much fines, gotten wet somehoe and blown apart?"
Those are supplier issues, not initial quality problems. Excessive fines are an indication of being handled too many times, dampness means poor storage. Your supplier sucks, not the pellet manufacturer.
YOu are 100% right there, buddy...
If you are having trouble with a properly functioning Harman...and it is fines and wet pellets.......It probably IS the pellets.
That said, the wetness could be a problem that happened AFTER the manufacturing. I know that does not do you much good now. Nothing much does, unless the dealer or wholesaler you purchased from wants to help you.
There are a LOT of Mass. vendors located at this link:
I have gotten decent pellets from Tractor Supply. As I said before, Squire is well known...but out of stock now. Still, it is a good resource for next year.
I have not heard of bad pellets from Pelletsales.com - although they have had some price and supply problems.
I feel for you in terms of having that many bad pellets. Although you might not get anywhere, maybe you should try to trace down whether or not they got wet at your dealers, etc...because, honestly, if the manufacturer made and shipped them correctly it may not be their fault.
I have found it to be true that bottom feed is one way of handling higher ash pellets.....I can't say that about moisture, but it was true with higher ash. I attribute this to the larger fuel bed and the fact that mechanics (physical push) is responsible for removing much of the final ash. Top fed pellet stoves rely on the ash blowing out of the pot, and most do not have as large of a burning mass.
This is not a black-white issue, as there are many variations of top fed stoves.
As to softwood/hardwood - it is also a generalization, but my (dated) opinion is that premium WESTERN softwood pellets were better than the first eastern hardwoods I used.....in top fed stoves. I think it is more of a crap shoot these days - BUT, using a KNOWN vendor (NEWP, ENERGEX, ETC) may give more chance of success since they have been doing it longer and hopefully have more experience and QC.
Pellets still $220 a ton in N/E Ohio.
Do you have a copy of this or can you point me to where it was posted. I lost mine a couple years ago and have been looking for it since. I email the PFI but they couldn't even be bothered to respond to me let alone actually help me.
230 a ton here in western nys
Personally, I buy pellets for their BTUs - that's what heats the house. A PFI premium pellet can have 1% ash. So, I'm looking for the highest BTU with a PFI Premium rating (I'd take standards if the price were better than 3% lower but they're not available where I am). That being said, Softwood is better. By their nature they get the added kick of the resins to burn. I don't care if they have more ashes than the lowest ash content as long as it's in that 1% range (e.g. clean the stove 1x/week).
I burn Hardwood because the local vendors don't sell Softwood pellets.
I'm putzing around looking for claimed ash/BTU content of various pellets and of the 30 I've got, the top 4 BTU performers are all Softwood. Of the top 8 only one is Hardwood. Corinth & Granules LG are both softwood and both near the bottom of claimed BTU performance but near the top for low ash content. But, like I said, I don't heat with ashes (either ones that are there or ones that aren't). It's all about BTUs for me.
I agree with this observation. Suppliers are limited around here in urban central MA. Robbins, Lowes, HD, Higgins all have NO PELLETS TO SELL. Thats the problem. i know for a fact that Rbbins has at least 100 pallets of Canadian Green Supreme in the back of their lot - But they wont sell them to us. They claim that those are all for other people already. Really? All of them?? Same brand??
Great info. i totally agree with you regarding the ash-BTU debate. i too clean my XXv once a week. Now, if only I can get my grubby fingers on some decent pellets to burn with.
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