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Shoulder Pellets. Yea or Nay?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by AVIVIII, Jul 25, 2011.

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  1. AVIVIII

    AVIVIII New Member

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    Its been a while ladies and gents, but I have been focusing on the yard and the house and spending my computer time looking for tractor parts....

    But today, I just took delivery of my first order of pellets! Let it begin I guess...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So, I've got 2 fresh tons of Vermonts and 3/4 ton of Okies left over from last year in the basement. That will do me for the worst of winter and then some. But with the costs rising, would I be better off to get some shoulder pellets and save my 'good stuff?' Is it really worth it?

    I can get some MWP (if I buy tonight) from TSC for $214/ton and NEWP from a local stove shop for $239/ton

    Or I can just get some more Vermonts at $269/ton and my stove will be cleaner....

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  2. Pellet-King

    Pellet-King Minister of Fire

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    Go for the $197 Stove Chow at Home Depot if you can getum!!
  3. newf lover

    newf lover Minister of Fire

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    "Life is too short for cheap beer and crappy pellets"
    If you believe that, stick with your Vermonts. Although many would argue that Stove Chow are not crappy, if Vermont allows you to clean less often and not worry about your stove, and if money is not a huge issue, stay with the Vermont. While I still love to look at pellets everywhere, I didn't really enjoy experimenting last year. My time is worth the extra money; I'll give something else up to make up for the difference in price.
  4. imacman

    imacman Guest

    I agree.
  5. AVIVIII

    AVIVIII New Member

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    Well, since I only had until 8pm tonight, I jumped on the MWPs from TSC for $214/ton.

    I had minimal experience with them last year and wasn't terribly disappointed, so I figured, why not. I picked up 2 tons and plan on keeping 1 ton for next year.

    Besides that, I hate Home Depot.

    On a related note, the Concord, NH Lowes has Greene Team for $197/t as well, but I hate them only a little less....
  6. save$

    save$ Minister of Fire

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    you might want to get those pellets up off the cement floor. Less apt to have moisture/condensation issues. Good idea to have free flowing air around all side and bottom of all stacked pellets.
    mralias likes this.
  7. holstein

    holstein Member

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    Who had the Vermonts for $269 :).
  8. AVIVIII

    AVIVIII New Member

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    Save$- The Okies are up on top of the Vermonts now, which are up on pallets; just had to 'rotate the stock.'

    Holstein - The cheapest I have been able to find the VTs are $269 and thats through Home and Hearth in Hampton Falls, NH. I got this batch of 2 through A&B Lumber in Concord for $289 Delivered as my trailer is currently out of commission....
  9. Dougsey

    Dougsey Feeling the Heat

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    Howard, Fine & Howard

    LOL
    Eatonpcat likes this.
  10. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I am a Yea voter for shoulder pellets. Saves me some cash and the good pellets for when I really need them. Your P68 will handle them MWP just fine and you might be surprized with how long you can go before swapping them out with the good stuff. I know more than a few that ran the whole season with MWP without issues.
  11. sandpipe

    sandpipe Member

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    Resurrecting this old thread for a moment--
    I've been contemplating the concept of "shoulder pellets".

    Here is a formula to compare price/btu of two different pellets:

    MWP ($219) vs. CUBEX ($295).

    Formula: BTU's / cost per unit x 80% efficiency of unit

    MWP 8250 BTUs per pound, or 16,500,000 BTUs per ton = 60274 BTUs per $1. spent
    CUBEX 9000 BTUs per pound or 18,000,000 BTUs per ton = 48814 BTUs per $1. spent

    Other things that come to mind are:

    If the stove is running at top heat output and can't successfully warm up the living space then a hotter pellet would be necessary.

    If a person disliked having to load the extra number of bags per week required to maintain the same heat of the hotter pellet then the shoulder pellet would be disliked in favor of the more expensive pellet.

    So, correct me if I am missing something about shoulder pellets but if the shoulder pellets comes out yielding more BTUs per dollar than the premium pellets, if the stove can heat the house to the required temp during the coldest parts of the winter with the shoulder pellets, and if the user doesn't mind loading into the stove the extra bags per week to make up the lower btu's (per bag) of the shoulder pellets, then there would be no reason to buy the more expensive premium pellets except for convenience' sake. (I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with paying extra for convenience but just trying to get a more precise grasp on the concept of "shoulder pellet").
  12. SXIPro

    SXIPro Minister of Fire

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    If you are talking simply the inconvenience of loading a few extra bags, I'd say you are correct. But, considering the inconvenience of cleaning your stove more often, emptying the ashpan more often, looking at dirty glass, dusting the living room more often, etc etc, I'd vote for the better pellet that burns cleaner and burns hotter, even though it is more costly.
    CT Pellet likes this.
  13. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    While that math may be correct for the btu's, real world experience for me is different. I end up using about 2:1 ratio of bags on cheaper pellets than the good stuff. the higher feed rates use twice as much to keep it the same temps.

    So, until good stuff is $5, and cheap stuff is $2.50, I feel a good pellet is the better buy as you will use less of the good ones which in turn means a less TCO.
  14. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    I used to be in the $/BTU camp but, after going from Infernos to Lignetics to Greene Teams, I think that the features of the better pellets are worthwhile. I suspect that with a stove that stays clean I may be getting more of the BTU's that I have paid for extracted from the fuel and into my house.
    I know that some of you would consider even the Greene Teams to be only an adequate pellet, but that is currently the limit of my experience. I don't know if Hamers or Barefoots are worth an extra 30-35%. My approach is to find a fuel that meets my needs at a reasonable price and stick with it through the heating season.
  15. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I think this depends on the shoulder pellet you use/choose compared to the good stuff(I call em cold season). Variables that are hard to keep track of. Example: Somersets at $209/ton will run the dog out of about any brand out there if you can get em.

    But this also depends on weather you rate a shoulder pellet by cost or by brand name. I go by cost as I have seen a few(no names mentioned) brands that had a cold season cost but had a hard time keepin up with even the decent shoulder pellets. ::P
  16. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I hear your wife has put a good layer of cold resistence on ya(AKA ::P) , So you'll get no pitty from me! :p
  17. CT Pellet

    CT Pellet Minister of Fire

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    I understand the theory behind the "shoulder season pellets" and I have some customers who swear by this. But I (and most of my customers as well) burn the "good stuff" all year long. And when the temps are not as cold, I turn the stove down a bit. When temps dip, well I crank her up a bit. But she stays clean as a whistle all season long :)
    briansol likes this.
  18. JoeS

    JoeS Feeling the Heat

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    If your time is money then the quality pellet is the way to go.

    I just got to the point of being tired of cleaning my stove so often with the cheaper lesser quality pellet.

    I have seen a noticeable difference burning better pellets when it comes to the stove staying cleaner longer and better heat output.
  19. sandpipe

    sandpipe Member

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    I'm into three tons of MWP this year. There is more fly ash and burn ash than optimal but the glass stays pretty clean, there are no clinkers, not much carbon in the burn pot, and what so far seems like decent heat. I have about 3/4 ton of cubex, okies, and lignetics green which I plan on using during any cold snaps later this winter. I guess I'll find out then if these shoulder MWP pellets are the way to go or if the extra $1.58 per bag is justified. Dumping the ash from the bin is not a big deal for me but extra stove cleanings may be the thing that changes my pellet strategy.
  20. LMPS

    LMPS Feeling the Heat

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    Are we all not trying to find the optimal pellet which is one that produces high BTU's with a low price? I think in the spring there were many threads on here looking for and talking about pellet deals and while maybe no one come out and said it I always have taken it to mean, does anyone have a high BTU pellet for cheap.

    I for one like the shoulder concept as I am in this for one reason and one reason only, saving $$$, so the more lower cost pellets I can buy saves me more $$ when I compare to what I would be spending burning oil. I will put up with the extra work for more savings. And as many around here I would burn the lower cost pellets all year if not for the wife being in my ear when the house gets below 70.
  21. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

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    I'm of the mindset that you should burn quality all the time. Better burn, less maintenance, etc.

    However, my stove is 42k btu - so I'm trying to maximize heat at all times.

    Your P68 is obviously a beast - and maybe a shoulder pellet makes more sense- but you'd have to run some down & dirty numbers to see.

    You'd have to run in stove temp (for consistency), and measure how long a bag (or 10lbs) of pellets lasts (assuming a better pellet will take less pellets to keep the esp probe at temp) and then factor in costs, etc. etc.

    Someone in here has probably broken it all down, but not me.
  22. SXIPro

    SXIPro Minister of Fire

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    My time on weekends is worth $100 an hour MINIMUM. So if a decent pellet saves me a few cleanings a year, sign me up.
    CT Pellet likes this.
  23. Eatonpcat

    Eatonpcat Minister of Fire

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    Dejavu???
  24. CT Pellet

    CT Pellet Minister of Fire

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    According to your sig, it looks like you learned the hard way....but just once;)
  25. ScotL

    ScotL Feeling the Heat

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    You'd have to use some serious additives to produce 9000 BTU/lb with wood pellets - unless that number comes from the "moisture and ash free" results instead of the "as received" results, which is likely the case.

    The labs really should only include the "as received" result since "moisture free" and "moisture and ash free" are just calculations based on moisture and ash content. I've seen tests come back at 9150 BTU/lb for the "moisture and ash free" results but it's not a useful number.

    It's the same with the ash. The only number anyone should care about is the "as received" number since that's how the pellets will be used. Nobody is going to remove the ash and/or get the moisture to 0% BEFORE burning the pellets.
    mepellet likes this.
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