2021-2022 Lancaster, PA Pellets?

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Sep 27, 2021
Lancaster, PA

I just recently got a Quad Santa Fe and I am new to pellet stoves. From what I have read here if you have the option to get Softwood Pellets at a reasonable price this is the way to go as they produce more heat.

With that said, it appears in my area most pellets are Hardwood. However, Kingdom Biofuel does have Softwood. They are a bit far from me, about 45 minutes, but they will deliver at about ~$390/ton. This seems a bit pricey. Has anyone used their pellets? I see an older thread where someone compared them to Ironstone and said the Kingdom's were much better.

We don't have much options for brand variety within a 30 minute drive distance from my exact location (Marietta/Maytown area). It seems Lignetics from one store, but their bag prices are quite silly. Almost $10/bag and there was no good price break when buying a ton. I forget the exact amount, but it wasn't worth writing home about. Tractor Supply has their own rebadged brand. I am unsure the make, but they are much cheaper at about $5.29/bag and about $250/ton. I purchased 4 bags this morning but have not had a chance to burn them yet. Ironwood Mills makes their own locally here in Leola, but it's about 45 minutes in the other direction!

Right now, I have a few bags left of AWF 'Ultra Premium White Pine' Softwood Blend pellets and they seem to be doing OK. For kicks, when I was at Tractor Supply I bought a bag of shelled corn, put some of the AWF pellets in the pot to get the fire started and switched over to the corn and let it run for an hour. It does produce much more heat than the AWFs. However, corn is like $10/bag here so I may just keep corn for doing a 50/50 mix or running it straight on very cold nights where I want to get up to temp quickly. I have read the warnings on here, and in the manual about having to keep on top of the maintenance when using shelled corn. Particularly with keeping the fire pot clean and having proper exhaust tubing that can handle corn. My tubing can handle it OK so I am not worried about it.

In any case, anyone else out there from the Lancaster, PA area that can recommend some good pellets at reasonable prices this season? Is Ironwood worth the drive? How about Kingdom? Is Lignetics just fine? Is TSC's rebadged brand "good enough"? Is there other stuff out there I'm not aware of that I can find locally? I'm not opposed to driving to York, PA for pellets if it's close to the Emigsville area as I have to drive out there for work occasionally.
I'm a few hours west of you, north of Pittsburg, but we have the same issue around here. Not too many options. Lignetics have been ok in the past. I've burned several tons, they might produce more ash than some other brands. It is very uncommon to see the softwoods.

Our local TSC hasn't done rebadged bags in several years, but I typically buy from them for their summer sale. In recent years we've paid around 160-180 for Lignetics and Cheat River. Closer to $200 when not on sale.
There is a place in Gap, PA called Lanchester grill and hearth that sells premium softwood pellets. I believe I paid around mid 300's for a pallet. They seem like quality pellets stored in a warehouse and never had any ripped or soggy bags, but I think my stove burns the hardwood blends better

This season I switched to the green Supremes from home depot after I got a few bags for early season and didn't notice much difference in heat output for 270 a pallet.

Currently looking to get my second ton of pellets so I grabbed some cheat river bags from TSC and I've only burned one bag but seems to be burning hotter and these are also about 260 a pallet.

Will have to make the decision of what brand to go with for my next ton, but moral of the story from my viewpoint depending on how your stove runs softwood pellets may not give you the performance increase you expect for the increased price. And I will probably stick with one of the cheaper hardwood blends.
I forgot to update this thread since September, but the search is over and I burn EasyBlaze Softwood's exclusively that I get from North Forge Heating in Annville, PA.

Gap is kind of far from me. The EasyBlaze out in Annville/Hershey area are a great price at $5.80/bag. Cheaper then the hardwood crap you get a box store and burn hotter.

The cheat rivers from TSC keep leaving cakes in the burn pot after I burn a couple of bags. When it was milder a week or so ago I burned the last few bags just to get rid of them and the stove actually went out on me because the cake was a pretty decent size that prevented new pellets from burning nicely. The cake isn't hard, it's easy to break up, but was annoying. Maybe they work OK in your stove? Any pellets I've gotten from TSC in the Lancaster, PA area have been universally awful. I've burned other brands like Lignetics (Hardwood and Hardwood/Softwood blend), AWF, Kingdom Biofuel, and Ironstone Mills and all of these burned just fine in the stove. The AWF, Kingdom Biofuel Softwoods and EasyBlaze burned the best, as they were all softwoods, but AWF and Kingdom Biofuel are pricey where I am. I'm fortunate that the EasyBlaze's are relatively cheap that it's a no-brainer for where I am located.
That's an awesome price for the easy blaze I do believe that is what lanchester sold last year and sounds like you get them at a better price anyway.

I may try them again in a more controlled test, get 6 bags of every kind and monitor temp output, ash build up and burn times.

With my GCI60 my running theory is in order to reach an optimal draft pressure you pretty much have to close the dampener all the way so this thing moves some air haha. I've bumped the draft open a little more than optimal pressure with the softwood and the hardwood pellets seem to be performing on par with the softies. But I've yet to do a clean out. I'll have to monitor the clinker situation.
I wouldn't call them clinkers because it was not a hard substance that required significant effort to remove. Just like an ash cake. With that said, I have a Quad Santa Fe which does not have a damper and the manual specifically states not to use one except in very unique circumstances. The only air/fuel controls available to me are the feed rate which is a simple sliding door in the hopper that blocks or allows more flow of pellets to the hopper. The High/Medium/Low switch on the back stove changes how frequently pellets drop in to the burn pot.

If you're able to fine tune your air/fuel mixture then burning the Cheat River's may work fine in your stove.

Yeah, very fortunate I found North Forge. They're about 30-35 minutes from me, but worth the drive out there once a month to stock up.
I also forgot to mention with the Cheat River pellets I had to adjust the feed rate to be higher to get decent heat from them. Only these pellets and the awful TSC badged ones (see other threads for info on this) have I had to do this. And yes, my stove is clean, including baffles, burn pot air holes, exhaust passageways, use an OAK, etc.

Keep me updated on how they burn after 3 days of continuous use. I mostly burnt them on low or medium. The final day I burnt them on high at night just to finish it off.