# You and a BTU

May 7, 2013
You and a BTU
• By Webmaster:

For many years, I promised I would write this book, but I have finally been driven to it. It is a simple tome, consisting really of just five words, but I will write some of the usual fluff around it.

A BTU is a BTU
A BTU is a BTU
A BTU is a BTU
A BTU is a BTU
A BTU is a BTU
A BTU is a BTU

Ok, that is the book. Now here is the fluff. Whatever the fuel, a delivered BTU into the living area is the same as far as getting the heat to a certain level. Yes, a wood stove might warm your heart and hearth, or a pellet stove might have an exciting flame, but a gas stove, oil stove, electric heater, solar panel, nuclear reactor or any other source of heat is still not going to take more or less BTU's to do a given job.

Ok, the book is getting too long already. Please see our fuel cost calculator for more:
http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator/

Here are some "rules of thumb" ways to decide how much heat you need or want in a given area- but comparing to items which you may be familiar with (electric heaters or kerosene heaters).

With Pellet Fuel, if you can get it to burn at 1 lb an hour (and this is more difficult with some models than others), you will be burning at the rate of approx ONE plug-in electric heater (5000 + or - BTU per hour). This is a good figure to keep in mind when trying to determine the output you need to do a certain job.

DO NOT PLUG IN A BUNCH OF ELECTRIC HEATERS TO TEST THIS.

But, doing the math from there, 2 lbs of Pellets per hour (which IS a good low output), is about 10,000+ BTU an hour OUTPUT, which equals 2 plugin heaters or 50 lbs of Pellets or Corn used in a 24 hour period. That (10,000 BTU) is also about the lowest that a small woodstove can operate at. Most woodstoves are run at 15K to 30K, which equals the equiv of 2 bags or more (of Pellets) in 24 hours.

Another method of comparison (for those familiar) is with kerosene heaters. The bigger kerosene heaters put out 17,000 to 22,000 BTU, so to get the output of the bigger ones would require 2 bags in 24 hours.

All just FYI. In the end, the heat load (needed heat) of various rooms and houses if very different...and affected by weather, wind, letting the dog out and many other factors.;You_and_a_BTU