- May 2, 2012
My stove has been resting for the past 4-5 years while it was cheaper to burn oil in my area. That all changed last March when due to what I believe is mostly greed oil prices went crazy. I needed oil but wasn't going to pay $5 a gallon, so I got a ton of Northeast Pellets from Home Depot at the spring clearance price of $199 before they realized they didn't have to reduce the price to move them. Last pellets through the stove were Somersets which were mostly great but occasionally horrible depending on the wood species they were making flooring from. The Northeast pellets were not that good - they produced a dense, heavy black ash that choked the burn pot on my Harman Accentra insert, so I had to swipe the ash lip 3-4 times a day to keep the pot cleared. They also had a lot of fines, and didn't smell too good. On the bright side, they produced decent heat and I was able to avoid buying oil until summer when prices were unreasonable but not ridiculous. Last October it became clear that oil wasn't coming down in price so I started researching pellets as the Somersets are no longer shipped to my area. Availability was not good, as many dealers had little or no stock, and none of them wanted to deliver (diesel fuel too expensive, can't find labor were common reasons). I had heard good things about Vermont white pine but had never tried them. I found a dealer with a lot of them about 40 miles away, so I took a chance and bought two tons at $365 each and picked them up one at a time with my dump trailer and Subie Outback (way over the Subie's towing capacity, but it was mostly highway and I went slow and didn't tailgate anyone). A lot more than I wanted to spend, and I still needed another ton to get through the winter but I figured I'd see where oil was at come January when I was down to the last 1/2 ton. I've been impressed with the Vermonts. They burn hot and the ash is light and fine - I swipe the ash lip off the burn pot just once a day. They seem to burn a little faster than I recall with the Somersets (hardwood) but could be just different feed rate and thermostat stove settings . Also, being pine they smell great. So after 75 bags I would recommend them and will buy them again. Two weeks ago I started looking for another ton and the Vermonts were no longer in stock, most dealers were low or out of stock and prices were high for what they did have. I have 5 Home Depot stores within 15 miles of me and so I started checking them. Only one store had pellets by the ton, and they were Green Supremes for $308, which is $57 less than the Vermonts and much closer. Without many options I decided to buy them knowing they would not be nearly as good as the Vermonts. Three trips in the Subie (16, 17, 17 bags) got them home. Lignetics uses multiple mills to supply the Green Supremes and these are labeled "Allegheny Mountain Hardwood". I have been burning them for the past two weeks (saving the remaining Vermonts for the inevitable Polar Vortex) and my initial impression is "not bad". While they do produce way more and denser ash than the Vermonts, they are not nearly as ashy as the Northeast pellets. I swipe the ash lip off the burn pot twice a day. While they also have more fines it's not too bad, especially since I handled them several times to get them stacked in the garage. The heat output is good, only slight less than the Vermonts. I don't change the stove feed rate between the two brands, but my subjective opinion is the Green Supreme's burn a little faster than the Vermonts (On average about 20 hours per bag for the GS, 23 for the Vermonts) given the same outside temperature. Bottom line is for the price I would buy the "Allegheny Mountain Hardwood" label again and use them for shoulder season. I hope this helps to inform your pellet research.