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Wood pellets...pellet size matters

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ChrisWNY, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. md2002

    md2002 Member

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    Very interesting post... I just bought a ton of LeCrete pellets and they seem to burn good, with allot of heat and not much clean up. The glass stays crystal clear for at least 4-7 hours of burning. I didn't notice the pellet size in the test bags I bought. I now have a ton and notice that there are some big pellets in these bags. Some pellets are an inch to 2 inches long. So far I haven't had any issues (since Friday) but I was asking myself if these long pellets are going to cause an issue with the auger. This is a good read. I assumed the pellet size has allot to do with how your stove reacts.

    I also find this article interesting because I was going to go with the Oakies ( which are very small pellets) the dealer had me try the LeCretes because he said they are bigger pellets and therefor will last longer and put out more heat. The LeCretes put out a little more heat than the Oakies so I went with LeCretes... reading over this article maybe the smaller Oakies were the way to go. They were both the same money to buy.

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  2. HD41

    HD41 Member

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    I think "clean burn" is the key to good pellets, as has been said adjustments may be necessary from one pellet brand to another. I see no particular problem with longer pellets so long as they burn clean, feed ok even if you hear an occasional crunch. Pretty difficult to determine BTU's received per lbs over time.
  3. countk

    countk Feeling the Heat

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    Your last two sentences are a liitle confusing. The way I read it is that the LeCretes would be better, am I missing something? If they were better, it would refute most of what has been written on this thread.

    The funny thing is I was just thinking about this issue yesterday, before reading this thread. I would concur that the author is spot on. I have a combination of Green Team (Very long pellets) and Okanangans. As yesterday was very cold, I broke out the Okanagans for the 1st time this winter, as I have less of them. After burning them for the better part of the day, I noticed a lot higher output on a similar setting then when I was burning the Green Team. I also noticed they burnt much faster.

    In conclusion, I have been happy with Green Teams, especially this winter as it has been pretty mild, but if we get a cold snap, I will break out the Oakies. I could use that overused term for the Green Team pellet (shoulder), but I think it is a little better than that, especially for what they cost me last summer!
  4. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    When the stove turns off it does just shut right down. It goes through a cooldown cycle. Unlike your overfire safety which will kill the power to the whole unit. One reason I stress proper stove sizing. Overfiring in my book is a big no-no!

    Use your fuel gate to adjust for the small pellets in your quad. Its what its there for.

    Just like you sig! “If it ain’t broke, fix it until it is†that ought to work! ;-)
  5. md2002

    md2002 Member

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    Yes, I found the LeCretes to be a bit hotter and cleaner than the Oakies. So, yes they are better in my opinion. It has only been 4 days though, reading this thread it just makes me wonder if I made the right choice with the longer pellets rather than the smaller pellets. So far so good with the longer pelltes but only time will tell.
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    In addition to length there is also density which is somewhat related.

    Consider two pellets each coming in 1/4" spheres pellet A weighs in at 1 ounce and pellet B weighs in at 1.10 ounces both are made of the same fiber.

    Which one will produce the most heat?
  7. md2002

    md2002 Member

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    Pellet B?
  8. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    There should be no question mark after the B!

    Pellet B is the same size and weights more. So yes!, It will feed more to the fire. More fuel=More BTU's.
  9. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    While were at it, Think we ought to mention fiber quality? ;-)

    Does the quality of the fiber these pellets are made from make any difference in what they produce in BTU's?
  10. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Welcome back Chris... Glad to.see your trying different brands. Sounds like your not using a stat on that furnace? If there is.one thing I can suggest, its to spend $25 on a cheap programmable stat.

    Other thing, are you running it 24/7 yet? Last Winter you were an evening burner. Which doesnt allow the unit to auto clean while running (takes 9 hrs in between cleanings on Premium pellet) Large ash reduction if its shut down nightly. Doesnt allow the pot to build up or accumulate any ash....

    What are you favorite brands? Somersets by me are by far the shortest and hottest pellet around. Short pellets = more volume, more volume = more heat. There are a few others that I have burned in it. Most of those created the same temps.

    On level 3 (stat calling for heat) I get about 140°-145° measured 10" above the top of the furnace (probe stuck into plenum. With Somersets its about 150°-155°… The difference in heat output for the same pellets in my Quad is a much larger margin. Which may say something about the Fahrenheits efficiency. It does extract a lot of heat. My vent on it is much cooler than the vent on my Quad or Englander.
    Just started to really measure and monitor temps. Since I replaced the Combustion blower and put in 2 new updates that Fahrenheit has came out with, since my stove was made. A new Sail Switch (flapper right after the air intake) it opens from the side, instead of hinged from the top (more airflow) and a new exhaust manifold (higher flow unit). Dont know if your stove has these updates. But I can give you the # to Fahrenheit and if you talk to Matt Fitts (Senior Tech) he will tell you based on serial #. Or I can.post a pic of the.manifold when I get home. . The sail switch you can just look into the intake (remove OAK) and you will see if its flappin up and sown (stove running), if its not running, then stick a small screwdriver in, and if its hinged on the.side its new. If the hinges are on top, its the old one. These 2 updates really brought my furnace to Life...

    This last week has been pretty cold. I thought I might have to change the program for the stat (from 3 to 4) but have yet to do it. During the day it pretty much idles on level 1 (maintenance / pilot burn) if the temps are near 30°… If its warmer than 35°-40° we have to shut it down. Because it creates to much heat, even stick in a pilot burn (blower still has to come on every 10-15 minutes) and God Forbid it goes into a Pot Change!! The house becomes an oven!! ;-P. Mind you I do have a wood stove downstairs alsi (added this season too). Which I keep running most of the time.

    But I am leaving work now.. its been purring along all day. Its 33° outside right now. So we shall see how hot it is in a bit.....

    Glad to see you back around. There are a few more furnace owners now (some SCF-050's, Revolution's, and of course the Big Hormone (Harman) crowd ) :lol:

    Hoping you've been burning more, to keep the LP man at Bay. 2.5 yrs since my last fill and still have 40%-45% left. Cant say enough about pellets.
  11. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    ironpony is gonna get you for that! :lol:
  12. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Feeling the Heat

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    I'll contact Fahrenheit about those updates, will have to check and see if they apply to my model/SN. I generally speak with Mark Graham, he's a real good guy and also one of their senior product engineers. I know I have the newer "flapper" that is hinged on the side, but I've never had to adjust it.

    Favorite pellets so far are the AWF. They're supposedly made of hardwood, but as others have referred to in past posts, they seem to be the most dense and they're short with an avg. length of 1/4-1/3". They burn hot and clean and leave a white/light gray ash behind that is super easy to clean and vacuum. When I ran the leaf blower at the end of last season, as well as running a brush through my 4" PL vent, hardly any ash came out. That may be due to how I burn. I know running the furnace at a lower setting for longer durations of time will produce more ash and soot in the long run.

    I'm still an "evening" burner for the most part, which is one of the reasons I haven't installed a stat on the furnace. I have however run the furnace beyond 9 hours (sometimes it seems to clean every 4 hours), and overnight quite a few times especially on weekends. When I return home from work, I head down into the basement, run the vacuum, brush out the entire burn chamber, and every couple of weeks I remove the baffles and vacuum/brush the exchanger thoroughly. Every month I pull the burn pot out to vacuum up all that ash I can't get to, and scrub the burn pot clean in hot water with dish detergent. Comes out shiny every time. I start the unit at Level 3 or 4 (depending on how cold it is), then reduce it to 2 or 3 once it has been going for an hour or two. I've made the mistake of leaving the unit on Level 4 which absolutely roasts my entire 1st floor.

    We've cut our LP costs by nearly $2000 annually. If we were heating the house to the same temperature on LP, we'd be running an even higher tab, so it's tough to quantify the total savings. We never heated the house to 75°F when we were on LP! We would heat to 62°F most of the time unless we were having guests, then we'd bump up to 66°F. With the Fahrenheit, the indoor temp soars above 74°F, and I can't stand an indoor temp above 75°F so I shut the unit down or turn the feed rate down to Level 2 when it gets too hot upstairs. If I burn overnight I'll leave the furnace at Level 2 which allows the blower to cycle on and off, and it maintains a nice temp of 71°F downstairs and 65°F throughout most of the upstairs (except bathrooms which we keep closed).

    Glad to see you kept your Fahrenheit, installed some upgrades, and are putting it to good use. It's a great unit and I've been extremely happy with it.
  13. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Nice... Glad to hear the savings and happiness it still brings you. Mark Graham (owner/engineer) is the one who referred me to Matt.

    The flapper I am talking about is not the damper thats adjustable. Its a plate inside the inlet. You need a flashlight to look inside the inlet (must remove OAK from inlet 1st) then using a somewhat long.screwdriver (over 5") look inside and push the flapper in. Hinged on top is old. Hinged on side is New. This Sail Switch is designed to stop the reversal of air and/or smoke in the event of a power failure and also doesn't allow air to infiltrate the stove when off (at least from the inlet side). Not adjustable by any means. But the new one has much better flow #'s, along with the manifold.


    Definitely glad I kept it. I was contemplating selling it for a few months..... Love it....

    See ya.....
  14. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    That's exactly what I do and have been preaching, J. People just ass-u-me that one pellet brand is 'hotter' than another because the pellet length is shorter and they get more lbs/hr into the burn pot and then fail to readjust their stove for the new input. Yes, some brands (Harman) supposedly do it automatically but with quads it takes readjusting the gate. Not readjusting is a possibility as long as they don't hit the high temp limit but how close, really, do you want to be running your stove to that limit? That's the question. Look at the post about the US Stove 2400 on here now!
  15. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Here is a pic of the two manifold side by side.

    The angle starts sooner. But the easist way to tell if the new one is on, is to see if there are 3 bolts holding it on or 4 bolts.

    The old one you see all for nuts. The new one has a hole for the 4th , but its actually inside of the manifolf and only 3 can be tightened (or seen).

    Old manifold is on the left. New one is one the right (bigger throat).

    The sail switch I never took pics of. But I can snap a pic of the old one and show you what I mean about where it hinges from.

    Later Chris......

    Attached Files:

  16. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I'm surprised at the number of stoves that have no means of adjusting the fuel curve. Some are just one set heat range and no means to adjust the draft air. Then you have the ones that only have draft/damper adjustment and no feed trim. Having both is good, But feed trim should be your best means of adjustment to equalize the density.

    I got spoiled with my Omega. Having a means to tweak both fuel and draft/damper air. I can pretty much adjust/tweak for white hot burns. Except pellet testing where all brands are at a set feed/trim rate. Draft/damper air is all I play with due to being a fair timed test. If I play with feed/trim I ruin the time/length of burn.
  17. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for posting the photos, Dexter. Appreciated all the info. I spoke with Mark at Fahrenheit this morning and the updates don't apply to my 50F model. I have the single square exhaust port behind the ash pan, so my model falls into the "newest" category meaning that it already has Fahrenheit's latest and greatest heat exchanger system.

    Here was Mark's response:

  18. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Figured. Since you bought yours last year. Mine was over a year old at that point.

    Just passing along info. Just in case.
  19. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Feeling the Heat

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    I remember reading somewhere that Fahrenheit also updated the burn pot some time in the last 2-3 years due to warping issues. I'm guessing your model is probably new enough where you already have the latest burn pot installed. If it ever becomes a factor however, Fahrenheit swaps them out free of charge from my understanding.

    What pellets have done the best for you in your furnace? Are the Somersets the hands-down winner in your case? I think my local Lowes sells them so I'll have to give them a try one of these days.
  20. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Yes. Somersets. Are hands down the best for heat and ash. Next up are a shoot-out between Pro Pellets, Lignetics Green Labels, Lignetics Presto-Logs, and Greene Gold (Greene Team). Those all do pretty well. Some ashier than others, but heat wise about the same.

    Rhe burn pot was given to me with the furnace (newest edition) along with 2 older models, the 1st generation 2 piece and the solid one piece. The one I have now is a 2 piece, thats got a small flat spot at the bottom of both halfs (latest design), I also got the newest board revision this Summer. The newest version is 1.2 and got rid of the 600 CFM option on the Blower. The last board was the same.digital board, but you could choose between 600 and 800 CFM (600 would give higher temps because of slower air through exchanger, also more ideal of it was a freestanding unit with the diffuser / less noise).

    So as far as all the updated parts, it has them all now. All excpet the new exchanger. But compared to the other 2 units I have seen run. Mine by far has a better burn. The one, has yet to be cleaned since last year. The amount of ash inside the furnace is amazing. He empties the ash pan once a week and gives the exchanger rod a couple pulls. But thats it. Still fires every time.

    Ive cleaned mine once so far. About 3 weeks ago when I put all the new parts in. But other than that, Im gonna stay on at least a bi-weekly schedule. Empty the ash pan once a week and pull the cleaning rod back and forth every day. But cleaning the firebox, isnt needed that often. The temps in this dont drop out like my Quadrafire upstairs (only cleaned it once this year too).

    Have ran about 75 bags total. So each has only seen maybe 30-40 bags. Its about that even as to the bag count for each. Going 15-20 bags between cleanings isnt bad. This Winter has been so Mild, that not one week have I been on a bag a day schedule. In past years, it was about 2 bags a day (14 bags between my Weekly cleanings). Now it takes almost 2-3 weeks to burn the same amount (also using a woodstove). So its not like Im really neglecting the stoves. There being cleaned at the same bag intervals. Just not time intervals.

    All in all... I think the Fahrenheit could easily burn 2-3 ton without doing anything. Letting it run constantly (empty ash pan only). The Previous owner of my stove only vacuumed the firebox and ran something like 5-6 ton through it. It was "plugged" to say the least. But safely, I feel it can go awhile without.

    Matt at Fahrenheit said they have ran them through the ringer. Running them without emptying the ash pan at all, untill the ash stopped the auto clean cycle because the front flapper door couldnt open. He said it still wanted to run!!!

    Im still impressed with mine though. Im only using half the.ducts in my home. So the air coming through the registers is still as much as my Regular LP furnace (half the ducts with half the blower size). But it still does a great job of heating the whole house because of the layout and how the retuen air flows through the rooms without registers.

    Long post again. Nice talkin to ya though....
  21. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    Nah, Dex is a fellow Buckeye
    we are all "nuts"
  22. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Nice.... Im gonna be a BIG PIG one day like you. ;-P (10 ton aint enough) Im hoping to get at least a ton of Northern Lights this weekend.

    Kinda like my Idol.... :lol: I just dont talk about you as much as OMV. ;-P

    I would love to know of your contact info for Somersets. I have tried 2 different emails. Did you haul them yourself (Have your own rig)? If you would share? If not, I completely understand.
  23. stellep

    stellep Member

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    Most folks here agree that smaller pellets produce more heat because more pellets get moved by the auger into the firepot. This theory seems to be common sense and I want to believe it. But the reality to me in my old Whitfield is entirely the opposite. When I run tiny pellets, the auger cycles and cycles and few pellets drop into the burnpot. I have to crank the pellet feed to keep the fire going. "Normal" pellets, 1/2, 3/4, 1 inch no problem. Some of them depending on quality, I can crank the feed way down and still get plenty of fire. I guess for me, 1 longer pellet = 2,3,4 shorter ones. Or auger design. Or density of the particular pellet. Or ? But when I see tiny pellets, I know I'll be abusing the auger motor.
  24. 1Dtml

    1Dtml Feeling the Heat

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    I've been following this thread, and it inspired me to do a bit of on hand research.
    I've been burning Somersets in my Enviro Maxx, and the size of pellet is pretty consistent on the smallish side.
    To my knowledge Somersets are all hardwood, so this is what I presume for this experiment.
    My temperature readings have been from 280*F to over 300*F, but the most consistent reading I get is 289*F with the flame optimized and the stove running for over an hour. When optimized I get very little ash, and very little build up on the burn pot.
    After a stove cleaning I went to MWP for the first time, and noticed that these pellets are consistently smaller than the Somerset pellets, so these should burn hotter according to this thread.
    For the first run I left the stove adjusted the same as for the Somerset pellets, and the temperatures were 230*F- 250*F with the most consistent temp being 240*F.
    I could tell from the flame that it had too much air for this pellet, but I continued the experiment because I noticed a bunch more ash, and carbon build up.
    I gave the stove a cleaning to proceed with my experiment.
    I then ran the MWP pellets with the flame optimized to find that the temps ran from 250*F to 280*F with the most consistent reading being 263*F.
    I was more amazed that the ash amount with the flame optimized was much less, and very little burn pot build up with the glass staying cleaner than with the Somerset pellets burning at optimum.
    It appears that ash build up has more to do with an optimized burn than the quality of the pellet.

    Some have mentioned pellet density being a factor in heat production, and I believe my experiment may give this theory a boost.

    I have also noticed that there is a hardwood vs softwood heat production argument going on with many threads, but after my experiment I think that hardwood/softwood blends in general may be the pellet that produces less heat, any thought on this???

    The MWP is a hardwood/softwood blend, and I have run many other blends from other manufactures, and all have produced less heat than any of my straight hardwood or softwood pellets, but I will definitely be tuning each of my stoves for optimal burning from now on, for more heat and less cleaning sounds good to me.

    1D
  25. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    OK the variables got you!

    1st. is density, Although the MWP pellets are smaller. They are not as dense as the Somersets. The more fuel in is greater with a dense pellet. You can prove this with a common scale. Fill a jar or box with Somersets. Settle it slightly. Then weigh it and note the weight. Do the same with the MWP and compare. The heavier weight should be Somersets because of the higher density.

    2nd. Is fiber of the wood species. Seeing the Somerset is mostly oak fiber. You see more heat even if they were about the same size/density. Although minimal it is a factor. Many don't believe that, But I do. Just hard to prove without a lab and special equipment.

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