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So many choices, so little information

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Harvey Schneider, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Southbury, CT
    I see that the pellet vendors are all starting their early buy special pricing. Based on my two years of experience burning pellets I know that there is a difference in the quality of pellets. The problem is that there are so many brands out there. There is no way that I can sample enough of the choices to make an intelligent decision.
    I know that my Mt Vernon will burn just about anything. It even did a respectable job of heating with Inferno's. I know that I don't need super heat output, so the softwoods aren't a necessity.
    The amount of fines does bother me. Not because it is unused fuel, but because of the dust that spreads across the room when I fill the hopper. (The Mt Vernon insert hopper design sucks.)
    This brings me to an aside. Did you ever think about what 1/2% of 40 pounds looks like when it is dust? 3.2 ounces (by weight) of dust is a chit load of dust.

    Back to buying decisions.
    My experience to date includes:

    Inferno's (2 tons)
    Relatively poor heat output and moderately high ash.

    Lignetics (1/2 ton)
    Good heat output, lots of fines, very fine low ash.

    Greene Teams (2-3/4 tons burned, 1-1/4 tons in reserve)
    Good heat output, moderate fines, moderate coarse ash.

    So how do I decide where to invest this years heating budget? I know that the choice isn't going to change my life, but the Engineer in me wants the decision to be optimized.

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  2. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Are those your only choices? where are you ordering/buying from?
  3. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    No, those are only the brands I have tried.
    I can buy from anybody who will deliver.
  4. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Well, GT and Inferno's are basically 2 of the lowest respected pellets readily available in these parts... I haven't burned Lignetics in a few years (cost reasons) so don't know what they are these days. But basically you've burned the lower end of the spectrum primarily.
    You will probably look back and wonder why in a few years :)

    I've burned just about everything from big box garbage <200 to top of the line at 300+. I think the best way to go is in the middle of both price point and quality. The extra few bucks over the poor is worth it. the extra few above to get the uber premos, is not. In my opinion, of course and that is based on $ more than anything.

    I REALLY liked the Easy Blaze that I burned this year. heat out put was great, not too many fines, easy on the ash.... and best of at, at a good price point somewher ebetween the big box and the top of the line (240 ish). BT has 'em, but their prices are still up at winter prime pricing. Wait a bit for those to (hopefully) come down.

    Unless another brand surfaces this year for cheaper and of/at quality, i'll be buying another 3-4 tons of those for next season.
  5. Dollabill

    Dollabill New Member

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    this is only my second year burning pellets before that all i did was corn, what Ive found and works for me is the better ones seem to give off more heat and come cleaning time I spend less time and am a lot less dirty ! I also notice less carbon build up with the better quanity again this is just me ! Im from Maine Born and raised and am kinda embarassed by Maine Pellets but the price is a selling point !Id have to say if Im going to pay 240 or better for a ton of maybes Ill throw the extra 60 a ton for a good thing, on average i only need 3 tons a year so for 180 extra its worth it for me !Now if i was using 5 or more every penny counts !
  6. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    Interesting that you say that.
    GT's burn horribly in my PDVC, producing a gummy barrier at the edge of the fire.
    They burn quite acceptably in my Mt Vernon. My only complaint in the Mt Vernon is the amount of ash they produce. There is still the issue of so much dust.
  7. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I`ve been bitc&ing about the excessive ash with Lignetics in my Harman but the truth is the ash is quite fluffy and I can compress a full ash drawer to less than half full just by pushing them down with a flat utensil. I also have cleaned the stove every time I empty the ash drawer ,every 2-3 weeks. However given that the ash is so light these Ligs may not be any worse than the Heartlands or Dry Creeks I`ve used. They do heat pretty good.
  8. jslinger

    jslinger Member

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    Loc:
    Vermont
    You can check out:
    woodpelletreviews.com (Pretty much all the reviews you could hope for. Start with the "Best of the Best" and go from there.)
    woodpellets4me.com (Mainly a comparison between several brands. Less reviews, but still good info.)
    I have only tried Ambiance, Vermonts, Turman's, and Maine Woods hard/soft mix.
    If you have a chance, I would recommend you try the Vermonts or Turman's.
  9. Mike D

    Mike D Feeling the Heat

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    North Haven, CT
    For me the GTs have been just fine. Yes, more ash than I care for but respectable heat and for the price I paid (less than $170/ton) they did the job just fine for the shoulder seasons. For the colder months, Jan-Feb, I burned Hamers which are a super premium hardwood. I've used Hamers in the past as well and they have great heat, low ash and fines. Those will run you about $295/ton outside the early bird specials going on. Someone on this board is running a special at $279/ton for the next few weeks.
  10. Harmanizer

    Harmanizer Member

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    Wow.Where did you find GT's for that price?$275.00 around these parts.For $170 I'd be all over them.
  11. Mike D

    Mike D Feeling the Heat

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    Big box store late summer special. Plus I bought them with my father who used his military discount to get them down to ~$167/ton, plus flat delivery fee. This was before you guys up north started mentioning that they put a "platinum" label on them and jacked the price up to $275/ton. So I'm not sure what I'll see this summer. At least HD was steady at $209/ton all season long, so I may have to go there next summer.
  12. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    What are the Heartlands costing in the east?
  13. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Heartlands are $320 a ton delivered.
  14. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    I'm looking for a good pellet at a good price.
    I copied this review from a resource on the web:

    That was just one of many negative reviews for last year's heating season.
    Also, $320 delivered is no bargain, Considering that I am going to buy 3 tons, the delivery charge isn't that significant.
    I do appreciate you posting your opinion and I don't want to seem ungrateful. I want to know what people consider their favorite pellet and why.
    I am somewhat surprised at the lack of responses to my query. There seem to be no lack of opinions on this forum, so why so little enthusiasm for what people consider their favorite pellet.
    Let me propose this. If you were going to by one ton each, of three different brands, what would you chose?
  15. jgrz0610

    jgrz0610 Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Eastern CT, Andover
    One ton Turmans, One ton Country Boys, Another ton Turmans. For a fourth ton...probably turmans...
    Harvey Schneider likes this.
  16. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    Harvey,
    We burn the Heartlands exclusively and haven't had a problem with clinkers or unburned pellets. Very happy with the heat produced. Glass is slightly dirtier than the hardwoods but I've only been able to try Indeck from Menard's and Lumberjacks. Haven't tried the LaCretes but supply is not stable as it is through Wal-Mart. FireMaster have varied greatly from batch to batch and again no stable supply through Canadian Tire. No Hearth store here so limited options. The Lumberjacks are the same price as the Heartlands and do not have good quality control on length of pellet, more ash that is denser and don't throw as much heat (hardwood vs. softwood). We need the heat for our more extreme winters :( Difference may come from the stove itself that is why members recommend getting a few bags to try in your stove... find what satisfies your price point and cleaning routines.

    $320 a ton or is that the price of a pallet. Heartlands come with 66 bags on the pallet so more than a ton... $360 a pallet here ($5.99 a bag)
  17. Augmister

    Augmister Minister of Fire

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    Socialist Republic of RI
    Hi Harvey:
    Box stores here have dried up their pellets for now, in my area. I keep some Class A pellets (Barefoots and Somersets, about 3T) on hand and supplement with the best of what I can find in the box stores. GTs work (not at $250 T....got them last year at $209 at Lowes) and found Stove Chow here for the first time here and liked them too. I was short a ton to finish this season and begin in the fall and got some MWP via Tractor Supply, which are a 65/35 mix of hard and soft wood. They work!
    I would look for a three ton deal and surprised that Barefoot's have not been mentioned. Easily one of the top 3 or 5 in NE as others on this site will attest. I have seen two spring "buys" where they were going for between $230 and $260 which are good prices. Delivery prices often add another $50-60 which is a reasonable time and logistical saver. Usually, BFs are priced in season at $289+..... Check ALL the pellet houses in CT as there is a low keyed owner here who posts here regularly and his offerings will steer you in the direction of goodness!
  18. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    South Shore MA
    I am stocking now for next season and will have three tons
    here. Okanagan, La Crete, and Black Hills Heat.
    That said, the only way I've ever come to this conclusion
    was by trying a few bags of each first. If you follow that
    rule you'll do well. Don't go by what others like. Try first...if you can!
    Have you checked out CT Pellet? He's a member here and has
    a nice selection of top shelf brands and is a reputable pellet house dealer.
    I'd buy from him if he were in my area. I don't know if he delivers
    to your town but worth a look. CT Pellet
    jtakeman likes this.
  19. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    If you're going to buy 3 tons and want variety, i'd suggest
    1 cheapos for fall/spring
    1 med for late fall/early spring
    1 hardcore for dead of winter


    So,
    1, some presto logs, stove chow, sommersets, mwp big box variety, etc for the cheapos
    1, easy blaze for the medium
    1, turman, Vermont super soft, barefoot, etc for the dead of winter.
    vakory likes this.
  20. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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  21. Central NH

    Central NH New Member

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    Sad part is pellets are like electronics....a company builds a brand and then quality goes down once the brand name is established. Names like So#y, Pion!!r, RC@ and T#shib@ were good once upon a time but now are junk or technology never changed with times they just rely on selling the name.

    One year pellets are great from one brand and the next year that brand is 80% darn ash or clinkers. I think fuel should be fuel. Like gas, someone regulates that 87 octane is 87 not 80 or 90 its 87 octane. Pellets should be tested and regulated to protect us the consumer. Wood is regulated a cord is a cord. If someone sells you a cord of softwoods and says its hardwood you can report them to the state or if you get swindled you report them to weights and measures. With pellets there seems to be no regulations on crap (clean regularly… ash pellets). I know we all have to clean our stoves but some pellets might as well say 30 lbs. pellets.10 lbs.ash.
    gbreda and briansol like this.
  22. jgrz0610

    jgrz0610 Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Eastern CT, Andover
    I think the government has done a chit job regulating fuel personally. They took our gas and added corn to it which destroys my lawnmower, atv, boat, weedwhacker etc. CT wants to tax heating oil. Electric regulation triples my electric rates in CT versus other parts of the country. And the list just goes on. If you buy a ton, you get a ton. If you buy junk you get junk. Buying a cord of hardwood doesn't guarantee you a BTU output of a certain amount, nor does it guarantee ash, dryness, density etc. The same is true for pellets. They are wood. They are hardwood, softwood, or a blend and they are 40lbs per bag. Other than that...the differences between them are the same as the differences between a cord of properly split, seasoned, and stored oak and a cord of the pine tree I cut down in my backyard last week...logging lengths. There are certain brands that control the fiber better than others and they have the consistency...and the following. When a brand goes to junk people run for the hills and they go under (most of the time). Leave the gubment out of it and let the market pick in this case. Some guys are fine with high ash low heat low price and others pay a premium for consistency. I've done both and probably will continue to do so. If I get a junk pellet, I light it on fire and throw away the ashes. Even the crappiest ones burn, just have to do your homework and inform yourself is all. My opinion. Now if they advertise 10,500 btus with.00000001% ash...they better back it up. I agree with that aspect of it.
  23. Mike D

    Mike D Feeling the Heat

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    Are you really advocating more government oversight and intervention? If what you describe here happens, then we are all looking at $9-10/bag if not more and the per ton price would also go up on all pellets. The manufacuters would have to pass along to extra cost of the government red tape, form filing, that the government forces them to go through. I think we all know which are the better pellets, and most of those can command (and get) the higher price. Remember, what is a terrie pellet for my stove might be just fine in yours. Keep the government out of any more areas of our lives.
  24. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Preface: I'm an anti-big government libertarian. :)

    Why should the government do this? could not a private entity (PFI?) do this instead? But, all the testing and certifiications costs money. Which means you and I pay for it every time we buy a bag.

    That's not worth $1 a bag to me. Is it to you?

    Even a crappy pellet still produces 'some' heat for my dollar.
    A fee paid for some label, does not.

    I try a few, if they suck, I move on.

    If not, they earn my business in a full ton. and next time, if they suck, I rant about it on the internet. and my money goes elsewhere and hopefully others follow suit. Those that fail to research end up as 'poor consumers' do in every other niche (like the tv example above). It's capitalism at its finest. buy stuff that other people hae tried, liked, and remember that your results may vary.

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