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Pellets have arrived at the box stores

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Aug 12, 2007.

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  1. WoodPelletGuy

    WoodPelletGuy New Member

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    In CT Walmart has pellets for 4.95/bag ~ 248/ton

    My local pellet supply source has pellets for $225-$230 per ton.
    http://www.btpellet.com/pricelist.html

    There seems to be a lot of pellets around for the upcoming season.

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  2. TedNH

    TedNH Member

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    I just paid 250$ per for 5 tons here in the southwest corner of NH.
    Lady said they were selling fast.
    I spoke with 3 stores and they all had the same story.
  3. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Hopefully I am just being irrational, but I have some concerns about Pellet pricing and availability going forward. I have 2 stoves now and have been (mostly) happy with things up to this point, but I have to say that it is a fair amount of work to keep the whole "operation" going.
    With the trends of

    1. More stoves being produced and sold
    2. Increasing international demand for pellets/pellet material
    3. Rise in transportation costs
    4. Alternative uses for pellet material (Biobricks/Ethanol)

    I'm wondering if this will still be a cost effective & sensible way to heat my home 5 years from now. I can live with 225 per ton..but after you factor in electricity costs, the effort associated with properly maintaining 2 stoves...and purchasing, storing and handling 3+ tons of pellets I do start to wonder what my "bail-out" price point will be on wood pellets. For now, I don't mind most of the extra effort involved in keeping things going, but i'm thinking it's going to get pretty frustrating as I start having to replace augers, circuit boards, igniters...etc. I guess in my mind as long as i'm saving roughly 15-20% over other options and I don't run into any personal fuel shortages (I buy in May) I will stick with it.

    It is hard to "win". I just pre-purchased 400 gallons of propane for the bargain price of 2.51 per gallon. Take away the 2 pellet stoves and i'm sure i'd go through 800-900 gallons. Sometimes I wonder how other new engladers are hanging in there with these prices!
  4. jqgs214

    jqgs214 Minister of Fire

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    We burn cordwood :) Get it for free!
  5. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Yeah, yeah rub it in :)
    Though we all know that it's not entirely free when you consider all the effort that goes into obtaining and handling the wood and keeping the stove running etc. Just depends on what value you put on your time (a moot point if you love doing it). I may well wind up going down that road in a couple years...and I think these pellets stoves are my wife of testing out the family's "appetite" for dealing with an alternative heating system ;-)
    If (as a family) we can't happily deal with pellet stoves...then we're probably a poor bet for dealing with wood stoves. This year will be very telling since we just added the 2nd pellet stove (replacing an old inefficient oil burner).
  6. jqgs214

    jqgs214 Minister of Fire

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    Part of the happiness comes from knowing you are saving money. If you not saving money with the pellets its going to take alot of fun out of it. Processing firewood is not my favorite task but it is good exercise (which we can all use more of considering the state of health in this country) but I abslutely love playing with the stove, trying to get it into the sweet spot and watching the beautiful secondarys with a nice glass of red wine and snow falling outside. Thats the romance of wood burning to me.
  7. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    as long as crown is available , im not going to panic.;)
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Nah, you are being totally rational!

    The folks who were driving 50 miles to buy 10 bags of pellets for $6.00 a bag last year were the ones acting irrationally. Unless it is 100% a labor of love, you DO have to figure in the service calls, cleaning, initial stove cost, hauling and storing of the fuel, and everything else. For instance, if a $3500 setup lasts 12 years (before stove dies), that is an extra $300 a year to add to the cost. If you can keep it going for $200 to $300 in parts, service and cleaning...then that has to be figured it.

    There are also some savings from space heat as opposed to central heat, but the same would apply to any fuel - LP, oil, etc.

    If biomass is to spread beyond the initial early adopters, there will have to be pellets made from other waste and alternative materials at reasonable prices (less than $225 a ton)....or maybe even cheaper ($150) for high ash stuff. Also, certain conventional fuels such as electric heat and LP can be pretty high, so a decent savings can be had.

    But my guess would be the "payback", if there really is such a thing, would be a fairly long time on a $3500-$4000 top-of-the-line pellet setup with Pellets are $250 or higher....especially against oil or natural gas or an efficient heat pump.

    However, the largest selling space heaters made are the ones with the most expensive fuel - ELECTRIC heaters, so that might tell you something about all the various reasons people have for doing things. No doubt the "green" and renewable aspect of biomass is part of the appeal.
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    When I started the original post It was not justification of one sourse vs another I realise all here make choices and if burning wood bio fuel,
    than it lessens dependence upon foreign imports.

    The corn pricing worries me ,It is a staple food not, just for humans but also livestock , which causes milk and eggs pricing to rise
    so the trade off is fuel for our autos or food and higher pricing for both. worse the ethanol production is almost an energy wash .
    If we can get resonable ethanol from other sourses , I would agree with increasing the percentage in fuels.

    What ever happened to switch grass?
  10. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Sorry about that. Bit of a rant on my part, but this topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Those irrational people Craig that was talking drive me crazy! If they weren't willing to drive the 50 miles to shell out 6.00 per bag then prices would settle back to where they should be. I'd swap in four 10 dollar electric space heaters from Walmart and fire them all up before I would shell out 6 bucks for a bag of pellets. Then you have the
    sellers like this guy --> http://cgi.ebay.com/Wood-Pellets-13...ryZ20598QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem
    He is providing pellets at about 1 dollar per pound! I'm not blaming him though, people are actually buying them! Good lord...if you can afford a buck per pound for pellets start funnelling some of the cash towards a solar heating system or SOMETHING. I know it must be painful to put your pellet appliance up on blocks but there have got to be better alternatives, right!?! Does anyone think 40.00 bucks a bag is reasonable :)

    I've been keeping up on the grass pellets effort, but it just doesn't seem like it's going to go anywhere. Some interesting stuff here...but what i'm reading makes it sounds like it's not viable on a large scale
    http://www.reap-canada.com/bio_and_climate_3_2.htm

    Anyhoo, I purchased my St Croix new (installed fall 2005) for about $2000.00 and then my Harman P61 was 600.00 used....so if we see 6.00 per bag pellets in NH/Maine next year or the year after I will chalk it up to a failed "experiment/investment" and look for something else. As much as I hate sending money to the LP guys I have 2 ultra-efficient, ultra reliable Rinnais I can go back to. I could always retire the pellet stoves and add a third Rinnai LP unit. Hopefully it won't come to that, as I do feel better about heating with a renewable fuel.
    <deep breath> Time to get back to the Sox game...that's always good for lowering my blood pressure ;-)
  11. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Maybe we need to look at ways to convert corn/pellet stoves to burn sawdust. There is lots of that around, I can get it free (in fact if I'm nice I might get paid to take it...) and the only downside is that it is more bulky. It can be fed with augers just like pellets and it can burn fiercely. That way, we cut out the pellet makers altogether.

    I know that in South Africa someone was making "logs" out of peanut shells. Instead of the tiny pellets he compressed the stuff to about a 3" diameter, so he had a fairly unsophisticated piece of equipment (big hydraulic fixture with a "breech" that opens to release the "log"). As long as the material is put under enough pressure, the internal binders and resins are released. Worst case scenario, one adds an additive like corn oil as a binder in small quantities.

    Its all a matter of availability of the raw material. I actually think the big pellet makers have a problem with transport costs of their raw materials and later again with the pellets themselves. One needs a solution that allows someone who produces the sawdust (sawmills etc) to directly produce the "value added" fuel product from what is (to them) a nuiscance waste material.

    Keith
  12. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Sorry...just wanted to take a chance to quickly pick on this e-bay seller again

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Wood-Pellets-13...ryZ20598QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem

    From the listing
    "Pellets are too expensive to ship by the ton
    So we were asked to try to find a cheaper way to ship pellets.
    Here is what we found out"
    Priority Mail Flat Rate Box Full of Premium Pellets Weighs Just over 13 Lbs $8.95 Flat Rate Shipping......$4.99 per box selling price.

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    So somebody please double check my math
    1 Ton of pellets = fifty 40 LB bags = 2000 LBS --> 1 (short) Ton
    The seller is selling 13 LB Boxes...so there are a little more than 153 of those in a short ton.
    8.95 per box

    1370.00 just for the shipping of this ton of pellets
    4.99 per box for those 153 boxes comes out to a little over $763.00

    Total cost, delivered to your door step (or local PO if you are really unlucky) in 153 neat little boxes.

    $2133.00

    I'm not in the industry...not do I know much about freight shipping etc...but i'm thinking there HAS to be a better way to get the pellets out there. Wow, just wow
  13. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Being a mill owner myself ,I can probably give a little insight here.

    First of all, all alternative fuels (wood ,pellets coal,cornetc) will adjust accordingly with the cost of diesel fuel because a huge portion of the cost of production is diesel fuel. In the last 2-3 years mill waste in any form has become a very valuable commodity. Don't look for pellets to drop in price over the coming years for several reasons. 1. The high cost of production (logging and milling) and transportation. 2. Demand. The number of mills(going out of business or bankrupt) supplying pellet plants is dropping drastically. 3. Downturn in the lumber markets. The lumber business has been fairly lucrative for several years until this last spring when markets tightened drastically.Most mills still in business have cut production at their facilities by 50%, some small mills by much more. Therefore 50% less raw product(sawdust) on the market. 4.With the cost of transportation it makes more cents (sense) for me to sell my sawdust (bedding) to farmers locally who are paying a competitive price to the pellet makers.
  14. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    KeithO,

    A guy posted on here awhile back about a pellet making machine. Get one and you're all set.
  15. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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  16. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    I just had 5 tons delivered by pelletsales.com. Pricing I have seen:

    -pelletsales.com: 220.00 per ton delivered
    Homies: 268
    Lowes: 270
    Local hearthsshop 1: 240
    local hearth shop 2: 250

    I am pleased with pelletsales and would buy from them again
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Just for fun, how much diesel does it take to make a ton of pellets - not including drying since that is done by burning waste, but all other processes including electricity. For starters, a guess as to what it takes FOB plant....then we can add in the truck freight.

    Would it pay for large pellet operations to burn wood waste and generate electricity (and do some of them do this?).

    I don't think it is the production cost which is driving the price up - it is usually supply/demand, trucking, and lack of proper distribution. A small local stove dealer is just not used to the idea of making a 10% profit and moving hundreds of tons of products. That is where Pelletsales, harryback (our resident pellet-moving guru) and other large operations come into play.
  18. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    To many variables to figure. Like distance from stump to landing,landing to mill and mill to pellet plant. All machinery used in logging and milling will use 5 - 15 gallons of diesel/hour (thats $12.50 - $37.50/ hour x 5 times handled).Being a byproduct of another process is what has kept the price of pellets from soaring.Wood products are handled a minimum of 5 times before being loaded on a truck to be shipped from a mill.

    You're right supply and demand plays a bigger roll in the price of finished product as stated in 2-4.The price of alternative fuels ( gas ,propane,coal,etc.) also plays a roll as well with the profits going to the manufacturer.
  19. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    PelletSales.com is pretty much just a contact point for buying the pellets, right? I ran the numbers on their site before buying from Home and Hearth...and it looked to be the same pellets, same delivery charge, same prices taht were coming up as the best deal. I was figuring that PelletSales.com must just collect a small "finders fee' from Home and hearth when they get them a sale.

    I am really glad that the big box stores seem to be unable to beat the local shops on price. I'm sure this is due to teh fact taht they get there pellets from Montana, georgia, Canada...just to name a few location.
    I wonder if it will get to a point where NE Wood Pellet will work a deal with the big guys to offer their product in New England big box stores. I hope not.

    I suspect that the key with pellet fuel is that manufacturers are going to keep tinkering with the "formula" to keep the prices from getting to a point where nobody is going to buy a stove. This could involve mixing in more corn, grasses, who knows what else. As stove technology continues to improve it'll open up even more options....

    In any event...the days of 100-150 a ton are probably gone forever. Those were a product of 99 cent per gallon gas/diesel and Pellet manufacturers buying up wood byproducts for next to nothing.
  20. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    mkmh - You hit the nail right on the head with your last paragraph.

    4-5 years ago we couldn't give sawdust away. Now we get paid a fair dollar amount to cover the extra handling of it. Another $5 /ton would go a long way toward maintaining equipment and required storage facilities. I'm not complaining about the price we get just wishing for an extra dollar to cover our costs.
  21. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    mkmh:

    I think you are missing the point with the big box stores. They will only undercut prices if they NEED to. Charging the SAME as everyone else means that their PROFIT is more than likely higher than everyone else based on their ruthless negotiation, price fixing and volume demand. They already have the cheapest warehousing, distribution and transport available, period. Hell, they own the warehouses, the truck fleets etc.
  22. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Yes, I suppose that is true. I guess I was thinking that they would ultimately try to drive out the little guys by undercutting them. Your right though, they seem to selling the pellets just fine at prices 20% or more than what the small shops sell them for. Pellets keep pretty well, so I guess until they start having 100's of pallets left over at the end of the year they can charge what they want.
    I guess I would have expected more price competition between Walmrt, HD and L*wes...but then again, they're all selling out year after year.
  23. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    I placed my order with Darlene at Pelletsales.com several months ago and got locked into
    a price for 2 tons of Pinnacle pellets delivered to my home. They have not been delivered yet but I expect it will be soon.

    Price Per Ton: $179.00
    Quantity: 2 tons
    Total Product Price: $358.00
    Delivery: $79.00 ($39.50 per ton)
    Taxes: $0.00
    Total Order Amount: $437.00
    Payments Made: $0.00
    Balance Due: $437.00
  24. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Exactly KeithO,

    When it comes time to negotiate a price for service( trucking or warehousing) they tell the contractor "our company can do this (service) for cheaper than what you are quoting". The mom and pop trucking co. is gonna' cave to them just to get the backhaul even if they only make a few bucks. Because a backhaul or empty warehouse space is king!
  25. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    That seems like an excellent deal. I just checked my invoice and I paid 210 per ton for 3 tons plus flat rate 75.00 for delivery about 30 miles from the store. As mentioned these were NE hardwood pellets. All in all a fair deal and roughly what I paid last year.

    Slightly off topic, but I just decided to pass on my pre-buy contract with the propane company. After laboring over the decision for a couple days I asked the question "What is today's LP price for a 400 gallon user. Answer = 2.24 per gallon. Pre-buy lock in price (pay 100% today) = 2.37
    This makes zero sense to me, so i'm going to take my chances and run without a contract. Also buying some extra fans to move the pellet heat around!
    Anyone have any experience with Vornado fans?
    http://www.vornado.com/products/circulators/540b.htm
    I have no doubt that they are "over selling" the features a bit, but if they are relatively quiet and move more air than the average walmrt fan..then that'll do
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