Pellets vs. Cordwood--The true story

Basis of these facts:

1. Wood contains approx 8500 BTU per pound

2. Wood (seasoned) is approx. 20% Moisture: Pellets are approx 8% Moisture. There is a little difference between the heat value of wood at these two moisture levels.


2000 Lbs of Pellets at 8500 BTU per pound is 17,000,000 BTUs.

Divide this figure by 80% (the efficiency of the pellet stove) to get 13,600,000 BTU per ton delivered to the home.
One cord of White Oak (oven dry) contains 29,000,000 BTU. This is because the weight (oven dry) of this cord is 3500 lbs and the BTU content is the same as pellets (8500 BTU/lb).

Now, we will figure the BTU to the home for stoves of varying efficiency.

80% Efficient= 23,200,000 BTU into the home
70% ===20,300,000 BTU into the home
60% ===17,400,000 BTU into the home.
Therefore we can see that even in the worst case, a cord of oak is equal to 1 1/3 tons of pellets. In the best case, A cord of wood equals 1 3/4 ton of pellets.

We all don't have access to good white oak, so take a look at this chart stating the heat values of different woods. You can also compare the costs of different fuels burned at varying efficiencies using this calculator.

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