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Wood Pellets vs. natural gas furance

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Mike49024, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Wow, that is amazing. I have to say, given your circumstances, I stand corrected!!! Imagine how much you could save if you replaced that very old furnace with a 96% efficient one!

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  2. dragracer300

    dragracer300 Member

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    I agree and i plan on doing that hopefully this summer if the money holds out along with windows and doors and more insulation. Right now i;m just lucky enough to still have my house. There are 25 houses on my road and 15 of those are in foreclosure so the pellet stove was my only option to stay warm this winter. Our area has been hit pretty hard by the economy so I'm doing everything i can to stay afloat.
  3. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    My "space heater" heats my living room to a cozy 78 and the bedrooms to 68. My heat pumps have been off all season. They're dual fuel HPs but the furnace runs on propane. I got rid of my propane last summer. I've saved some money but I've also been more comfortable.

    Give me the price you pay for gas plus the efficiency rating of your furnace along with the price you pay for pellets and the efficiency rating of your stove. I can then tell you what you pay for each per million BTUs. That will help you to be able to compare apples to apples.
  4. Nicholas440

    Nicholas440 Feeling the Heat

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    My house is all natural gas, and I dont see much of a savings when using pellets, especially if the temp outside is below 35 or so, because my furnace still needs to run a few times at night to warm the far end of the house, but when the temp outside is 40 or above my furnace never runs. I like to sit back in my recliner on cold nights and watch the flames, to me its very very relaxing, like my fireplace was when I burned logs. And of course my Pellet insert is just a space heater, I didnt expect it to act like a central heat system, but for some of you your pellet burner warms your entire house, for me that just does not happen.



    Natural gas is cheap here in Northeast Ohio, my rate per MCF was reduced again this past August of 2010, so my cost per MCF is only $6.72 , and thats very reasonable. My only regret is that in hindsight I should have got the Harmon instead of this Quadrafire Castile, its nice, but it buzzes, rattles, vibrates, whistles, and growls at times. I'm very disappointed in the quality of workmanship for a $3,400 stove, and the blowers are so loud I have to turn the volume way up when I watch tv.
  5. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    Wow, that's cheap for gas. Depending on what you're paying for pellets your gas could very well be half the price of those pellets per million BTUs (output). Your gas price is also cheaper then a heat pump even when the outside air temp is in the 40's.
  6. littlesmokey

    littlesmokey Minister of Fire

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    I live in one of the cheapest natural gas service areas in the country. That said, we are actually cheaperthan anywhere else because we are at a different delivery rate and method of calculating use. I am not the engineer that made the calculations, but fact is, you can't get it cheaper. The only problem is the service provider is not what i would like to call "fair". Four years ago, because of their method of calculating use, I was charged an adjustment. Not because I used more, but because they screwed up. When I refused to pay, they sent me a bill for $750+ for a March, that historically had averaged about $40. and the year was warmer than usual. I said, "you have 48 hours to remove your line and meter from my property before I pull it from the ground with may van. Idly threat???? Hardly. They removed the service.

    That said, I am in an urban area with "cheap" NG, but it really isn't the loses the supplier has had are made up with connection fees and special assessment fees, and side of the road fees, and fees for size of your house or whatever, so there is no real measure. Their fees are published, but the actual billed fees for units are at least 20% more on the actual bill. That leaves me off grid, paying about the same amount by heating with pellets and wood, I do not cut my own wood, or make my own pellets.

    Frankly. heating to me is keeping the ice off the cereal at breakfast in the winter. I get overheated going to the grocery store. When you try and conserve, that doesn't mean cranking the heat up and expecting the new stove to save you money. If you have a high utility bill for electric or propane or natural gas, you think of conserving, right? When you add the spectacular efficient stove, you forget the conserve.... And now the truth begins.

    Anytime you burn your stove to supplement your heat, you are saving some. That is the issue. If you have propane or electric only, you are saving a bunch, if you have coal or natural gas, not so much.

    I can buy coal cheaper than pellets and almost as cheap as firewood (best prices), but coal stinks to me, kerosene was cheap in November, so cheap I heated the shop with unit heaters, last week it was up to $4.49 per gallon best price. Doubled in a month. Propane is actually cheaper right now than K1, we don't have heating oil out here under 300 gallons delivered (last price 3.39 per gallon). So pick your poison. I hate the smell of coal, but like the smell of the softwood pellets .
  7. rehabbingisgreen

    rehabbingisgreen New Member

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    I'll be putting in a couple gas ventless heaters because the pellet stove isn't keeping the house warm enough when it gets below 20. I'm cold.
  8. Spartan

    Spartan Member

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    Loc:
    ontario
    Here is some quick numbers.....

    Natural gas has 35,500 BTU per cubic meter (Canucks) and 1,020 BTU per cubic foot.

    I do not know what gas prices are like in the US, but here in Ontario, it's 13 cents a m3 but by the time you add up all the sub charges and taxes, it's about 33 cents a m3.

    Soo....taking Ontario figures......in the most basic calculation, assuming 8,900 BTU/pound pellets, then the pellets have to be 1/4 of the price of natural gas to beak even, or about $165 per ton NET (including delivery and taxes).

    If you want to break it down further and more accurately.....

    you take the gas price and DIVIDE it by the efficiency of the gas appliance (in my case $.33 times .90 (90%) and I get $.366).

    you take the of the pellet cost and DIVIDE it by the pellet stove efficiency (if it's $200 ton and the output efficiency is 80% then it's $250 per ton).

    So now let's see how it compares in my situation.....

    The effective price of ngas per m3 after my furnace has converted it to actual output is $.366. Divide that by 4 to reach equivalent BTU in pellets and it's $183.33 per ton. To compare it to pellets heaters net BTU output, I must MULTIPLY it by the pellet heaters efficiency of 80% to come to the actual BTU output cost. Now I have to buy pellets at $146.66 per ton to break even with gas. Pellets above that price, it's not worth it, below that price, it's worth it. Then there is the big elephant in the room.....labor.

    What you really want is to focus in is how many BTU"s you are getting for your buck.


    Couple of notes, gas is VERY CHEAP right now up here because of the recession. It was a 50% higher before and if the gas companies have anything to do with it, it will be up there again.



    (I'm doing this on the fly, if I have made any mistake, by all means let me know.)
  9. Spartan

    Spartan Member

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    Out of curiosity, are you simply charged by the amount of cubic feet by the set price or do they also tack on delivery charges, pipeline charges and taking thee vodka lunch charges?

    Up here, for a residence, they tell you it's 13 cents and it lands up being 33 cents after everything is added up and divided by the cubic meter. it doesn't get much better for commercial/industrial users either.

    BTW, my gas company "screwed up" my bill this month. Now how errors crop up from computerized systems and how it 's always in their favor, well, it's a mystery.
  10. XXV-AK

    XXV-AK Member

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    ANC Alaska
    This is a good thread and everyone has good points. The main reason i installed a XXV in November is a emergency back up heat in the dead of winter. I live in a area with a high demand for NG and if a turbine failed in winter months or a Good Friday earthquake which would rupture gas lines my house will stay warm at -20F. It's the coastie in me "always ready".
  11. checkthisout

    checkthisout Feeling the Heat

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    I would venture to guess that the heat exchanger efficiency in a natural gas furnace far exceeds that of a pellet stove. Especially a condensing furnace.
  12. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    Something about having the gas company blow me to kingdom come, just doesn't sit well with me. I refuse to put anything like natural gas or propane in my home, I have seen too many horror stories to take the chance, just to save a buck. I find the pellets to be a good trade off of savings to safety, I'll stick with the pellets.
  13. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    If I calculated it right I've got you at 92 cents US per therm. Using 16.5 million BTUs per ton for pellets my calculation comes to a price of $133.19 CAD per ton for it to equal your NG price
  14. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    This simply isn't true. From a safety standpoint I'd much rather have NG then any form of wood burning inside my home. Now if the NG wasn't installed properly then that's another story but the risk of carbon monoxide is greater then that of an explosion.

    Do you know that there are far more fires from electricity then explosions from NG? NG is not easily ignited. It requires just the right mixer of air for it to ignite. Too much air or too much gas and it won't ignite. If I remember correctly (it's been years since I had this in class) it's something like 8-15% gas.

    Have a professional install and maintain your NG furnace and you won't have to worry about it at all. You're far more likely to die in your car then you are from a NG explosion.
  15. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    Tell this to the people who's homes were demolished(Exploded!) or killed in the Boston area from leaks in the system, sorry buddy.......gas is explosive, I am not about to take a chance like that, I would rather put my life in my own hands, then that of a company who's hell bent on profits over human life.
  16. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    Far more homes are destroyed and more people are killed by fires that started from wood products being burned in the home. You're making an irrational decision based on emotion instead of based on facts. Do accidents happen? Of coarse and sometimes they happen from neglect but the statistical risk of your fear is very small.

    You sound like the people who won't fly because there's a chance that the plane might go down but then they'll jump in their car and drive around town. The risk of death from flying is far smaller then the risk of death from driving but many people make decisions based on emotions instead of logic.
  17. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    You keep missing the point, either you trust yourself, or you trust the NG company delivering explosive gas to your home with only profit in mind, not your safety. I don't care how someone else decides to keep up maintenance on their stove, electric, etc ......but I do have control over my maintenance of systems in my home, I give up that right when I choose NG, I'll stick with pellets for now, much safer and I trust the guy taking care of upkeep!
  18. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    Last response:
    I'm not missing the point. Mistakes happen but I'm not going to make an emotional decision and condemn a whole industry because of something bad that happened. What you're referring to is the exception rather then the rule.

    I have a very good friend who works for the local gas company and I know how serious they take safety. Even the hint of an order and they respond immediately 24/7.

    You talk about trust. Do you have electricity? A problem on the grid could cause a surge that could cause a fire in your home not to mention other problems. Do you have city water? Contamination of your water could affect your health or even cause your death. Have you ever seen the inside of the pipes that your drinking water flows through? There're disgusting.

    Do you go out to eat? How about the stories of what goes on in kitchens across the country. Do you buy food or medicine in the store? How about the tainted Tylenol years ago? Do you drive on the roads? You're trusting your life to every driver that you pass on the road.

    You trust people and companies everyday with your life. Your fear of NG is a fear based on emotion, not facts.
  19. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    Water I have under control, I don't drink water from the tap, ever! Electricity isn't going to level my home in one blast, I do have fire alarms and CO detectors, so I am OK there, I'll have a chance at getting out of my house beforehand. Plus with almost everything you are stating, I have a choice, with NG you have one choice! There isn't multiple suppliers to your house, just one, and they decide everything! I can choose what airline, I can choose what meds, I can choose what food, I can choose what water, I can choose less dangerous roads to drive on or better times to drive, etc......NG? Nope, one supplier who decides your fate.....Not interested.
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In a general sense, Pellets will not save much money (if at all) over Nat Gas prices on much of the country.

    Using the calculator at:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator/

    you can see the basic fuel prices are close.
  21. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    Thank you for the link :) , I see the Pellet efficiency is at 70% is that typical, I thought it was closer to 80%?
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I really doubt that the average Pellet stove out there has an AFUE higher than 70%......many years ago, they did an "in the field" test of the first generation of Pellet Stoves - these were advertised at 80% plus efficiency. The results came in from 45% to 72%.

    Some Pellets stoves have come a long way since then...but some have not. I say that 70% is probably in the realm.

    Newer gas furnaces are tested at 84-92%.....so I think the comparison is fair in the calculator. Of course, if you are the wishful thinking type, you can edit the numbers in the forum before you submit it!
  23. lordgrinz

    lordgrinz New Member

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    I'd be interested in an in field test of newer units, or at least my XXV ;-)
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not a highly technical person, but a lot of the problem in the early units was "excess air"......which I think means that the combustion air flow through the units is very difficult to control perfectly in all ranges of heating.

    The highest efficiency, as we would imagine, came from a Quadrafire (back when) which only burned on one setting - very high - and turned off and on to achieve the desired heat output.

    Sorry to say, but the worst efficiency came in from a bottom fed unit (Earth Stove).......

    70% is probably safe...or maybe even high considering all the various brands, types and installs.

    As a comparison - nofossil, and engineer, has tested his super-high efficiency gasification boiler and system and came in with a less than 60% total efficiency.......

    I don't think you will see a valid field test for the obvious reasons.....although Canada may eventually come through!

    If you look, for instance, at their gas fireplace tests and ratings:
    http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/business/manufacturers/search/fireplace-search.cfm?attr=4
    You will see that fireplaces advertised as MUCH higher tend to come in at 40-70% total.

    So, as with everything from sales pitches to EPA mpg labels, let the buyer beware (or round down)
  25. chris288

    chris288 New Member

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    I dont know how much money I'd put on it, but I'd be willing to bet my 14 year old Whitfield was more effecient than my new XXV. Dont get me wrong, we love the XXV but I don't think it does as well extracting every btu possible from a lb of pellets. I used to be able to hold my hand on the vent of the whitfield, the xxv vent is quite a bit hotter so I feel I'm losing more heat out the vent with the new stove.

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