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wood pellets not generating enough heat

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Brokk, Dec 9, 2008.

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  1. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    So I'm a new owner. I have a PelPro 120 that was just installed this summer in an old victorian house. The room it's sitting in has been re-done with more modern windows (double paned and doors). We have curtains hanging over all the glass to help insulate it. The room has an apartment above it and to one side, with the house on the other side. There are crawl spaces with insulation under the floor. 10' ceilings. About 600 sq ft total. I'm burning premium hardwood pellets. The web site claims this unit will heat from 800 sq ft to 2000. Thus 600, should be no problem, right?

    If I let it run all day long, from day break until we go to bed, it will raise the temperature of that room about 10 degrees (from 50 up to 60 with an outside temperature of 30/40)

    Yesterday I had it running for about 8 hours, from 1pm to 9pm and it raised the temperature from 45 to 50.

    When I talk to other folks with wood pellet stoves, they claim they are nice and toasty. Heats up the room in no time and keeps it warm. We are sitting around in our sweatshirts and sometimes our winter jackets. The room temperature goes up about 1 degree an hour, maybe less. The room is not drafty. Does this sound right?

    I called the manufacturer and they see nothing wrong with it. The stove is burning well, everything is within tolerance. It just doesn't sound right to me and my wife. This investment has been a huge disapointment. I get the same amount of heat from a $20 space heater.

    Brokk...

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  2. rayttt

    rayttt Feeling the Heat

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    what pellets are you using? i would try another brand to compare them too.
    I have a harman p38 ...and 800 sf to heat and I can crank the stove so high that the living room is
    95 and it could still go higher..but I have to turn it down.
  3. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Brokk what setting is the stove on? Crank that bad boy
    up and then let us know how warm it is in that room.
  4. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    I am using Energex American hardwood pellets. I tried the same brand in softwood pellets, but it only seemed to generate more ash, not more heat.

    I've tried it at every setting (1-4) for feed rates. The weekend I tested it out at full feed rate, I ran it all day long (only daytime) for both days on feed rate 4. I used about 3 bags of pellets, but not any more heat that I could notice. I typically run it on feed rate 2, since that seems to give me the same amount of heat with slower rate of pellet use.

    Brokk...
  5. rayttt

    rayttt Feeling the Heat

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    energex should be good enough pellets... at least they should be putting out a fair amount of heat.
    somethings not right with whats going on.
    do you have a digital camera that you can take a picture of the fire?
  6. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    Sure. Let me clean out the glass and take some pictures for you.

    I clean the exchangers (since it's so easy to do) several time/day. I clean the glass and ash out every 2-3 bags of usage. So once/twice week.

    Brokk...
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It might simply be the heat loss of the room.

    I know I repeat this too often, but pellet stoves do not put out heat - only pellets do.
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/You_and_a_BTU/

    We often have people here telling us they are heating their home with a bag a day.
    Yet one bag a day.....means less than two lbs an hour, which ends up being the output from about two plug-in space heaters (electric).

    So if a pellet stove with a bag a day heats your house, so will two electric heaters...period.

    There is no magic involved.

    In general, if you are burning the pellets...you are getting the heat - or at least most of it. This assumes that you see a decent fire and have no real smoke coming out of your pellet vent outside. Sure, you can often make adjustments, but it just may be that the heat loss of that room....considering that heat flows out of it to others also....is just too much to counteract with a pellet stove IN THIS WEATHER. It may do fine when the temp is 40.

    Most pellets stoves are run at vastly lower outputs than wood or coal or even gas stoves. Based on those reporting here, many people run their pellet stoves at 10,000 to 14,000 BTU output, which is probably 1/2 of a typical wood, coal or gas unit. In an insulated space....or running 24/7, that adds up....but it does not represent Brute Force.

    Hope that helps...somewhat.
  8. Jambruins

    Jambruins New Member

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    Webmaster, what does it mean if you have smoke coming out of your vent outside? Are you talking about constant smoke or smoke every few minutes? If I have smoke coming out of my vent should I open or close my damper? I have played around with my damper to get a good flame but I haven't heard/read about smoke coming out the vent.
  9. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    Other than what everyone else has said, do you have a ceiling fan in the room. If so are you using it and in the winter setting? They do help with tall ceilings.

    Eric
  10. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    I do have ceiling fans, but it just seems to make the room colder. My thermometer is actually hanging where a tall picture would go, so it's about 7' off the floor and within 10' of the stove itself. It *should* be in a relatively warm spot and reporting hot temps. Yet even in that ideal location, it's rare that it goes above 60 degrees, even when it's 40+ outside.

    Here are some pictures of the stove and the fire. I tried taking them in a variety of ways in case you were looking at something in particular. I shrunk them so let me know if you need a larger one of a particular picture.

    Brokk...
  11. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    I do have ceiling fans, but it just seems to make the room colder. My thermometer is actually hanging where a tall picture would go, so it's about 7' off the floor and within 10' of the stove itself. It *should* be in a relatively warm spot and reporting hot temps. Yet even in that ideal location, it's rare that it goes above 60 degrees, even when it's 40+ outside.

    I can't seem to post with the pictures. It keeps telling me there is an error in transmission and it can't be accepted at this time.

    Brokk...

    Attached Files:

  12. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    If you're burning three bags a day, that thing should be putting out some significant heat. Is the blower working and set correctly? I don't know anything about your stove, but it should be very hot to the touch and the blower should be forcefully blowing hot air burning when set to burn 3 bags a day. Is it doing these things? Is it burning cleanly? Grey ash, no smoke, fairly clean glass...

    I have 9' ceilings and my little P38 was plenty to keep about 900 sq ft at around 65* last night at a setting of only 2.75 (out of five) with outside temps around 10*. Your stove should have no problem heating the area you describe burning 3 bags a day!
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Other than startup - and perhaps when running very low....there should be very little smoke at all. A good flame - and no smoke - that really indicates the same thing. If you burn with a good flame, you will have very little smoke.
    The one pic that uploaded....looks like a pretty low fire.

    That ain't enough to heat much....that baby should be like a blow torch.
  14. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Again, I don't know anything about your stove, but if that's at the high setting, you should be seeing more (bigger) flames. It looks like it's burning fairly clean though... Can you take a pic of the burn pot area and the flames coming out of it?
  15. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like something wrong to me. Cranked up to the highest setting
    you should be able to at the very least heat that one 600
    sq ft room on a 30F/40F degree like you mentioned.

    Also, the stove should throw more heat on a higher
    setting. You said #2 and #4 settings throw the same
    amount of heat yet you go through more pellets.


    If you paid a dealer to install it I'd have them come and
    check it out.
  16. cac4

    cac4 New Member

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    well...I wish I'd bought 2 electric space heaters.

    maybe the apartment above was toasty warm?

    sounds like the keys here are: "Old victorian", "10' ceilings", and "crawl space". insulated or not, that is a big heat suck...

    I swear, with God as my witness, that I burned 1.5 bags of pellets yesterday, (and nothing else), and kept my whole house heated. It was about as cold as it gets, here...teens most of the day, single digits at night, and windy as heck.
    When we got up yesterday morning @ 6am, the stove was off and cold...ran out of pellets. house was 60 degrees. Put a whole bag in, and fired it up. last night, before bed, put 2 coal hods of pellets into the hopper. (each bucket holds about 1/3 of a bag.). At 6am this morning, there were still pellets in the hopper.
  17. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    I'll turn the feed rate up (that pic was on two, and shortly after starting it) and take some pictures.

    The three bags was not used in one day, but over two days (36 hours). So more like a bag every 8-10 hours.

    Brokk...
  18. Lance1

    Lance1 Member

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    I feel flame tuning is important for maximizing heat output. I tune my flame with a digital thermometer on a tube output.
    You didn't mention if you have an OAK installed, if you don't, this draws your room heat out.
  19. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    You might be at least partly right. I've had my heat shut of on my second floor for the last week and I noticed it was 45 degrees on the 2nd floor and almost as warm on the 3rd (heat off there as well). So I'm sure a lot of his heat is migrating upwards and a good amount is warming the walls (which probably aren't insulated very well). But, that stove should at least be a able to heat the room it's placed in more than it is... he should be able to get that room uncomfortably warm if he wanted to.
  20. Brokk

    Brokk New Member

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    It's hard to show the inside with the camera. This is the best I could do.

    Brokk...

    Attached Files:

  21. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    If you have that thing burning over two bags of pellets in a 24 hour period, you should most certainly be feeling some warmth in that room!
  22. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    It's hard to tell what it is I'm looking at, but that still looks like a fairly small flame for the stoves highest setting. With my stove on high, the flames just about fill the fire box area (to the top) and the room is really lit up with the lights out. What I think I'm looking at in this pic appears to be a low or med-low burn.... certainly not a high burn (based on my stoves at least).
  23. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    How hot are the sides and top of the stove? I can't touch mine for more than a millisecond when the stove has been running on high for a little while (500* F +). How about the hot air blowing out? You should feel the air really blowing out on high and that air should be very warm...
  24. LuckyDad

    LuckyDad Member

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    Have you tried feeling around the room for a particularly cold spot? If you have something siphoning the heat out of the room, like the crawlspace, it will appear colder than everything else, even if the room is cool (like 40F instead of 50F).
  25. Lance1

    Lance1 Member

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    It would help if you mention the pellet feed rate in PPH (pounds per hour) when you post flame pics. Assuming you have this at 3 PPH now, it looks to have too much combustion air.
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