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Wood Stoves vs. Pellet Stoves?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Dave M, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Get a good Genny that produces Pure Sine wave and a pellet stove will run for days without feeding..

    I love both pellet and wood. But Pellet is much easier than wood. For me. :)

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  2. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I understand pellet is easier the thing is you need to run a generator 24/7 to keep a stove running.. This is why I stayed with wood but I think to have both would work well like you do:cool:

    Ray
  3. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    I burned 4-4.5 ton a year until last year. I added the bottom 30-NC and only burned a couple bags over 2 ton. So a 50% reduction in pellet consumption ain't bad :)

    The wood stove provides quite a bit of our heat. But it and when it done (or i am lazy). The pellet eater takes over. Right now in the shoulder season's, I am using the freestanding Quad upstairs. Pellets have been cheap and I have only had to load the hopper. Burned about 8 bags so far. Or less than $30 worth.

    I keep a few yrs of wood and pellets on hand. Helps me keep my yearly costs down. Buy pellets when they are cheap :). Saves me quite a bit of money :)

    Everyone has there choices for doing things. Had I not bought my splitter, saws, woodstove, fiskars, and other misc equipment . I could have purchased about a truckload of fuel (21-22 ton). Or 4-5 yrs worth of fuel (pre wood).

    Hoping to reduce my consumption more with better wood. Didn't have Locust last year (I did, but saved it and let it go another year). I love both wood and pellets for different reasons :)
    raybonz likes this.
  4. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Yep, just like I keep booze and beer around here.

    pen
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  5. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    If I were in town without room for several cords of wood, I'd have looked more closely at pellets, but only for that reason. Dealing with cordwood is hard work even if you buy it, it's messy, takes a lot of protected space and you have to make sure it's dry enough to burn well. If that doesn't concern you, then go for a stove.

    As for power concerns, IMO anybody concerned at all about power really should have a small inverter-style generator anyway for power failures. Mine is a Honda 2000i, plenty good for refrigerators, freezers, TV, lights, computer, etc. and is very quiet (for a generator!) I don't know the power requirements for pellet stoves, but they should be fine for that kind of generator. I wouldn't think that you would necessarily have to to run a gen 24/7. You could run it intermittently just to keep the fridge/freezer cold and run the stove often enough to keep the house reasonably comfortable. Small generators in the 1600 watt class are quite efficient anyway.
  6. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    I know pellets and wood are what this thread is about, but I think if I had only one source of heat that wasn't wood, I would go to a coal stove before a pellet stove. You can burn wood in a coal stove if you had to and you don't need any electricity to get heat out of a coal stove. But as many have stated, everyone has to get what makes sense for their specific household and family dynamic.

    Edit: that being said if I ever get around to finishing my basement, my plan is to stick a pellet stove down there.
  7. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    One comment I didnt see.

    Wood burning inserts! All the hassle of the wood stove, with the power requirements and noise of a pellet!

    I say that only partially jokeing. i have one, its great! But I wish i had a free standing stove (couldnt due to house layout). Without the blowers running (ac power) you get nearly zero heat out of it. So i am running the blowers at a flank bell 24/7. This is why i have a generator also (which is awesome for everything else in life, my 45 year old fridge, and not a cheap one at that, will be about 45F after 3 hours without power). between the fireplace, sump pump, fridge, chest freezer, lights etc, its darn nice having a generator.

    I really like my insert, but would prefer a free standing stove. My parents are likely moving in the next few years to a area with only oil heat. When they do i will highly suggest a pellet stove. Its the lifestyle, I dont want them to be messing around with logs when they are retired.
  8. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Be careful. Are you talking about having this covered with a permanent structure? If a tarp or such, and you get a major wind storm or some freak thing happens that blows the cover off, or a pet gets at the pile, or whatever, a rain or snow storm could be very costly for you. Those pellets are gone if they get wet....won't dry off like wood. If you are buying by the ton be certain you have a really dry safe space to store them. Otherwise it could get very expensive and very old very fast
    raybonz and pen like this.
  9. jjs777_fzr

    jjs777_fzr Feeling the Heat

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    Did anyone mention its just a different type of heat entirely ? Walk by a wood stove while its burning full tilt - walk by a pellet stove that's doing the same. The radiant heat hitting you at the speed of light (no really) is radiant energy from the thermal mass of the stove. A pellet stove - or the ones I'm familiar with, are relying on convection - a fan blowing air around a firebox. A coal or wood stove warms you to your bones - it really does. That's radiant heat at work. I still think having both is nice and if anyone has the opportunity to do so - then its a blessing at times. I choose between coal,wood and pellet depending on price and availability. If I can scrounge free wood then the wood stove gets the nod.

    For those reasons and may of the other points mentioned are worthy in the comparison.

    As soon as I mentioned speed of light I realized I really read too deep into one of several old books I picked up - one of them the Wood Burners Encyclopedia, Wood Heat, and yet another I cant recollect the name.
    Another good one for anyone interested in coal is one titled Coal Comfort.
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  10. WoodPorn

    WoodPorn Minister of Fire

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    Like Zap, I also have both. A lower end Pellet stove and a top of the line wood stove (on the way). I have reasons for both:
    for wood..
    -Wood is free and plentiful
    -Much higher heat output

    For pellet:
    -Ease of just buying and burning
    -more of a consistant heat (although not as high output)
    -MUCH less work

    Both have downfalls as well,
    The pellet needs to be shut down to clean/scrape
    Pellets cost $$
    Pellets require electricity, and an optional generator, or battery backup
    Wood is a ton of work (akin to a p/t job)
    More equipment needed for wood processing (unless you're going to support your local firewood dealer)
    You need storage areas for both wood and Pellets (pellets should be indoors)

    Do you want to load 40lb bags of pellets into a hopper or do you want to make trips to the woodpile and load 40lb armfulls of splits?
    Both options can and will heat your home, it's all about how you want to have it happen.

    Let us know how you make out...
    WP
  11. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Why does she hate it? It might be helpful to find out and see if it's just a cold feet omg this is going to be so much work and we'll be cold type reaction. It's a big step/change to switch from a gas or electric furnace to wood heat, for someone that isn't used to it. Stoves and running/feeding/lighting them can be intimidating to someone not used to controlling fire. It's easy enough to say "eh, I'll go light a fire in the stove" but I can imagine someone who hasn't before thinking "oh good lord I'm gonna burn the house down, or burn myself, or not do it right and it will be all smokey or go out". Especially if there was just a news story about someone doing it (burning down their house).

    I still say you need to visit a dealer or two with them burning in the show room before you decide. Had we not seen pellet stoves burning we might have considered them more and I know we wouldn't have been happy with that choice at all.

    You really need to keep your pellets dry. I wouldn't trust them to be sitting tarped in the yard (although I'm sure people do this)-once they're wet, they're junk.

    In the end though, it isn't nearly as easy as adjusting a thermostat and walking away. It takes more time, thought and work. It's not for everyone. However, pellet stoves aren't maintance free (yeah, I know furnaces aren't either, but changing a filter and calling the "guy" to do the once a year tune up is as close as it gets). There's still pellets to haul, load, ash to clean. Read about the maintance there too.

    I know you haven't mentioned it, but have you considered an LP or NG DV stove? One thing that comes up with the Pellet stoves is the need for electric. A DV won't need electric to keep you warm. you won't have the blower, but it will still radiate heat (we heated with them for about 13 years at our Old House, including through storms that knocked out the power for a few days). You get the flames without the daily work of wood or pellet (no hauling wood or pellets, no ash to clean). Some of the newer ones are downright awesome looking flame wise (even our older Berkshire is pretty "realistic"-as in like a wood fire-looking) . Just a thought.
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  12. Dave M

    Dave M Member

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    I love you guys, but you arent making things easy! Not so sure about outdoor storage for pellets now, no structure. Maybe I should just keep the woodstock hybrid I ordered. We know how to use a wood stove, its only a matter of convenience shes thinking of. She seems willing to sacrifice looks for convenience. Not sure what an LP or NG DV stove is, I'm still very new to this stuff. I feel like I want to keep my woodstock, and add in a cheap pellet stove as a backup. Thing is, I'm not sure if that would be the right choice. Thanks for helping though, I like having options, and appreciate all the advice.
  13. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    And it tends to light up the room its in in case of power failure. So you get heat and light along with cooking.
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  14. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Ooops, sorry, lazy typing. NG= Natural Gas LP=Liquid Propane DV=Direct Vent. So...either a natural gas or propane (I'm betting on Propane since I think I recall you're not exactly in town, we don't have natural gas lines available where we live) direct vent gas stove.

    This is our @10 year old natural gas direct vent Lopi Berkshire, in our Old House

    [​IMG]

    Worked on a thermostat (wall mount, just like a furnace would).
  15. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    LP or NG Dv is exactly what I suggested several posts ago that you consider..Wodstock's Direct Vent Natural Gas or Liquid Propane Soapstone Franklin Heater. Take a look at their site. You get the beauty of a soapstone stove, the warm rdiant heat of a soapstone stove, the convenience of a nauural ags furnace, essentially, and it direct vents out the wall of the room it is in...no long chimneys. Take a look. If you don't want wood because of the work, I relaly think you'd be much happier with a gas stove...and guess what? If it doesn't work out for you, Woodstock has a 6 month warranty, remember? There is always a Progress Hybrid available. That, by the way, goes in the other direction. The difference is that you have to put the himney in for the PH...so if you really think a wood tove is more work than you want, talk with them. I suspect thye might recommend trying the gas stove first, because it would be less wasted expense for you if in six months you changed your mind a wanted a wood stove, than it would be if you put a chimney in now, and in six months didn't need one. If you already have a chimney in, that changes everything. I'd try the PH first, and then if you are not happy, send it back and get the gas stove...Just my two cents. If you work with Woodstock, though, if you deciude you have made the wrong decision you will get your money back. Not so with a pellet stove....WOuld be an easy decision for me...
  16. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I guess the real question is...what do you want from a heating "system"? How much work is acceptable?

    It's a balance, and sometimes you need to really review all of your pros and cons to find your answer.

    For us, the Old House was cut and dry. No clearance for wood. We don't like Pellet flames. It never had central heat, and with no basement and only 800 or so sq ft, there wasn't really a place to put a boiler or furnace. Gas stoves became the answer (truthfully, we probably could have done it with one).

    The Cottage was the same. The old central hot water system was SHOT. Again, pellets were a no go. And we were willing to do the work of heating with wood and had wanted a wood stove or fireplace for many years. We compromised on the vent free as a backup heat source. I do still want to replace it one day with a DV unit. But we really felt we needed a back up unit in case we couldn't get home to restoke the stove. Living with wood heat has been a learning experiance but for the most part it's been nice. Nice heat, nice look. Living at the Cottage has been an experiance anyway, lol. Again, we don't have a basement and there's less storage here so it's been a test of what we need vs want for "stuff". Occasionally I miss the on/off thermostat heat from the Old House, but not for long! I would never want to live in a house without a stove of some sort. Central heat just isn't me-I WANT to see a fire, be it wood or gas.
    raybonz likes this.
  17. suprz

    suprz Member

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    My first house had a VC Vigilante and i really liked it. Had it set up for coal one year and wood the next. My brother in lawq has a ventless LP stove in his "florida room" attached to the back of his house and it is nice, but is mostly for show with him. I havent even gotten my stove installed yet (monday) but for me and my wife the choice was easy, we wanted something to heat the house in case of a power outage, and something to help the furnace on the weekends. We have a gas forced air system that is efficient and works very well. If i had my way, i would put a pellet stove in my finished basement, and the woodstove upstairs (raised ranch home) my back is shot from years of abuse and i cannot swing an axe to split wood anymore so a electric splitter would be in the future, but for this year, it will be mostly biobricks and what little wood i have scrounged and split from local folks. I will probably by some "seasoned" wood in the spring as cheap as i can find it and let it season all year so i might be able to use it next year. I was thinking of howw easy a pellet stove is for installation and for loading , lighting etc... But i just couldnt do with it as my primary source of heat just because of the power outage thing. But i would have no objections to having one for the basement set and forget heat source.
  18. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I have a good wood guy that others have used here and last I knew he was still $185.00 C\S\D send me a PM and I will give you contact info if you want it but it is not seasoned..

    Ray
  19. Dave M

    Dave M Member

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    Well, it looks like I am gonna cancel the woodstock hybrid, and go with the enviromax pellet stove. The wife cant deal with the mess of the wood, insists on the giant hopper the max offers. I'm not so sure thats the way to go, but I wanted a second, cheaper unit as a supplement/backup anyway. Thanks again, and good luck with the storm, everybody!
  20. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Dave good luck with your choice! Feel free to check in and let us know how it works for you and pics are always welcome here :)

    Ray
  21. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Good luck with it. I'm sure you'll be happy with it.
  22. argus66

    argus66 Feeling the Heat

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    wood is better.
  23. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

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    have had both , prefer wood
  24. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    Dave,

    I went though the same issues of which was best, but I had the advantage to weigh out which was best for my needs when my wife's cousin moved from California to North Central Texas back in 2007.... I did laugh at her when she said she brought her Pellet Stove in her SUV while sleeping on the floor, waiting for the power company to turn on the house's account, and for the movers to bring her household in a moving van. Then, I saw the glitch in the "Pellet" stove: electricity and pellet supply.

    A neighboring state had a large furniture company to close up shop, for good. The local pellet makers suddenly found themselves short on hardwood to make their pellets. A rather large stove dealer is just 20 miles away, but because of the pellet shortage, he was only selling to his stove customers he'd sold stoves to. When the cousin went in to buy pellets, there were none for her....

    The stove vendor survived the shortage and now sells to all pellet stove owners in a rather "creative" way. He will sell pellets by the pallet full. In the slow days of hot summer, at somewhat of a discounted pricing, he brings the pallet, or pallets, of bagged pellets when he sends his Installer out to clean the flue and take apart to clean the pellet stove, itself. He says a pellet stove must be cleaned at-least once a year.... That's a larger view of the cost and pellet supply worry of a pellet stove that offsets the big "Plus" of convinence/away from home for work of living with it.

    I chose a woodburning fireplace insert with a dual blower. With the variable blower speed on full, it is noisy, but unless the temps are below the lower 20's, the blower isn't always run full speed. I am still young enough to cut my own wood, so that's a plus. I live a mile from a city park that's filled with tall and old Pecan trees that do come down when a bad storm. The park supervisor is glad not to have to deal with the large pieces, and I get free wood for the cutting.... The word "Free" means I'm still out about 3 gallons of fuel/oil mix, 2 gallons of bar oil, and the cost of sharpening three or four 20" chains, but it's nothing like $180-$225 a cord....dumped delivered and usually not a full cord. Also, because I'm building my own solar electric system, I bought a $25 meter called a "Kill-a-Watt" meter to measure different appliances and their wattage draw. I found that the dual blower running on high actually pulled low wattages. So, to still be able to get the most BTU output on a full load of wood, and prevent any worry of over-firing the insert, I bought a 400 watt 12v to 120v battery inverter to run the blower in case we lose grid power.

    Lastly, should some health issue become a problem for me, and I can't cut my own wood, I've seen a special grate you can buy. If the economy doesn't crash in the coming 3 to 9 months, and pellets are still available at the local stove vendor or Walmart, this unique grate is designed in such a way that you can burn a pile of wood pellets and add more pellets as needed, inside your wood burning stove or insert.... Goggle to find it as I can't remember its name.

    Do what's best for your needs,
    Bill

    Attached Files:

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  25. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    That raises an interesting point. I may be wrong, but it seems that the price of a ton of pellets is roughly the same as a ton of the Biobricks, or Energy Logs, or Homefire Logs talked about on the forum. If your primary objection to a wood stove is the inconvenience, messiness, space, etc of cordwood, you could still have a wood stove and burn those bricks or logs exclusively if you wanted, or just get a small amount of nice, neat, hardwood to supplement. Best of both words, it would seem, with the fuel costs being about the same. Plus, you have the flexibility of burning wood when you want or need to.

    If you stick with the pellet stove, though, the reasons are good ones. But you can still use a stove to burn alternate, manufactured fuels. May have been mentioned here before, but I think you do have to be more careful not to burn too much of this rather rich, dry material at once, to avoid overheating the stove.

    Good luck either way.

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