Can a pellet stove legally be the primary source of heat?

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bnther44

Member
Dec 17, 2014
38
Kalamazoo
Looking to break ground on a new home and am finalizing what I want for heat. What I want is a Harman P43 - which comes with auto-ignite and a thermostat. The HVAC guys that I'm talking to for my back-up heating (mini-splits) are telling me that a pellet stove can not be used as a primary heat source. Can anyone comment on this?

Location is western Mich.
 

SmokeyTheBear

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2008
13,363
Standish, ME
Looking to break ground on a new home and am finalizing what I want for heat. What I want is a Harman P43 - which comes with auto-ignite and a thermostat. The HVAC guys that I'm talking to for my back-up heating (mini-splits) are telling me that a pellet stove can not be used as a primary heat source. Can anyone comment on this?

Location is western Mich.
It isn't a legal issue.

Think mortgage/insurance and you will be a lot closer to the issue.
 

TimfromMA

Minister of Fire
Mar 6, 2014
2,306
Central MA
If you want pellet heat for your primary heat source look into a pellet boiler or furnace.
 

Bioburner

Moderator
Aug 4, 2012
7,317
West central Mn
Someone stated on another thread about the units need to be hands off for a week or more, but that was to qualify for energy credits or some other tax smoke screen:)
 

HP52NOVA

Member
Dec 11, 2014
132
Northern Virginia
I don't know about the legal aspect, but I would not recommend it. Pellet stoves are designed first and foremost as space heaters. Yes, you hear about many people that heat whole homes with them, but that does not mean they are designed to do it. Heating a whole house from one corner on one floor with no duct system requires a very open house plan, depends greatly on size, insulation, etc. and you will still get cold spots on that floor. Multi level heating is even more complicated as the heat needs a way to get up there. if you truly want to go Pellet only, then you should look at some of these whole house Pellet furnaces, as a solution. if your getting a stove or an insert, I would get it as supplementary heat. it can be a "heavy supplementary", but not primary.

on another note - what happens if Pellet prices go sky rocket tomorrow? that can happen. then you will find yourself locked into one type of fuel with no options. So, I would install a primary system - geo thermal & Solar if I could afford it, natural gas if I have it and electric if no other options. then, supplement with the stove.
 

mchasal

Burning Hunk
Jul 10, 2008
225
Hudson Valley, NY
Do the mini splits have electric strips or some other way to handle low temps? Could they be considered your primary heat source even though you intend to use the pellet stove for all of your heat?

Regardless of what you plan to do day to day, I do think there needs to be some sort of heat source that will keep things safe if you're gone for a week in the winter, which is beyond the unattended runtime of most (all?) pellet stoves. Even though my oil boiler has been shut off all winter, it's still there and I can bring it up if I have to leave (or maybe tonight, brrrr)

As others have said, a pellet boiler/furnace can fill this role in the proper configuration, but a stove really needs something.
 

Bassmantweed

Member
Nov 22, 2013
103
Avon, CT
I don't know about the legal aspect, but I would not recommend it. Pellet stoves are designed first and foremost as space heaters. Yes, you hear about many people that heat whole homes with them, but that does not mean they are designed to do it. Heating a whole house from one corner on one floor with no duct system requires a very open house plan, depends greatly on size, insulation, etc. and you will still get cold spots on that floor. Multi level heating is even more complicated as the heat needs a way to get up there. if you truly want to go Pellet only, then you should look at some of these whole house Pellet furnaces, as a solution. if your getting a stove or an insert, I would get it as supplementary heat. it can be a "heavy supplementary", but not primary.

on another note - what happens if Pellet prices go sky rocket tomorrow? that can happen. then you will find yourself locked into one type of fuel with no options. So, I would install a primary system - geo thermal & Solar if I could afford it, natural gas if I have it and electric if no other options. then, supplement with the stove.

Not sure i agree with this 100%. in theory any furnace is a space heater just some are designed to be hooked up to a distribution source.

If you are building a home and have the opportunity to plan for the distribution - i would think the pellet stove would work just fine.
 

roadking88

Feeling the Heat
Jun 20, 2011
302
central Maine
i just went through this with my insurance and they said it cannot be primary source of heat..what their complaint was, if i leave for a week there will be no heat because no one will be here to feed the stove..good thing i have oil back up..lol
 

HP52NOVA

Member
Dec 11, 2014
132
Northern Virginia
Not sure i agree with this 100%. in theory any furnace is a space heater just some are designed to be hooked up to a distribution source.

If you are building a home and have the opportunity to plan for the distribution - i would think the pellet stove would work just fine.
I didn't see anything about adding distribution from the OP. the P43 is designed as a space heater (and on the small side). if we are talking distribution, etc. then why get a P43? get a proper pellet furnace. A pellet furnace with a large capacity will allow you to operate it for longer time, even when you are away for a week...
 
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danimal1968

Member
Feb 3, 2014
98
Pickerington, OH
i just went through this with my insurance and they said it cannot be primary source of heat..what their complaint was, if i leave for a week there will be no heat because no one will be here to feed the stove..good thing i have oil back up..lol
If you think about it, pipes freezing and bursting when the owner is not home can lead to major damages and restoration costs, including mold remediation. That's why they want a primary heat source that will operate indefinitely with the owner not present.
 
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tjnamtiw

Minister of Fire
If you're going to have a ductless Mini-split heat pump system, THAT'S your primary heat source! Then you can add your Quadrafire pellet stove anywhere you want for supplemental heat.
To call a mini-split a back up is crazy since they are available in 4 ton or more capacity and can heat down to 5 degrees.
 
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pageyjim

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2014
229
Deleware
Make minisplit heatpumps your primary heat and the pellet stove your backup heat and run whatever you want. Mitsubishi would probably be your best option in that case since they can heat to very low ambient temps. If you have natural gas I would recommend a gas furnace as primary heat. Never hurts to have a dual fuel syatem, which is a heat pump and a furnace together. You will never be without heat in that case. Heat with heatpump on moderate days and furnace on colder days and run the pellet stove whenever you want instead. Most efficient way to heat probably. Even if you only have propane it wouldn't hurt to have dual fuel or just a propane furnace for emergencies. It is quite common in the "north country" or way upstate NY to have woodstoves or pellet stoves as primary heatsource. I found that some insurance companies would not cover but others would.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,794
South Central NH
The town property card, and my insurance call my pellet stoves back up heat. My "primary" heating source is Propane FHW according to them. I've used 4 tons of pellets and zero propane for heating this season (ok, I did use a few gallons while away for 4 days at Christmas). I don't give to rats *zzes what they call my main heating appliance - they can call it my refrigerator for all I care.

Probably the only way it affects you is that you have to make sure your "primary heating system" (heat pump) is large enough to handle the area of the house in order to get the appropriate permits and insurance.
 

bnther44

Member
Dec 17, 2014
38
Kalamazoo
The town property card, and my insurance call my pellet stoves back up heat. .... I don't give to rats *zzes what they call my main heating appliance - they can call it my refrigerator for all I care.
Thanks for the response.
I'm thinking that this might be the best route for me. It's just frustrating as I was planning on having a mini-split as a 'back-up'; meaning a smaller unit that would just keep things from freezing, not bringing 1000' of living space up to 70 deg. It's a hard to argument to budget (putting 2 heating systems in) - not for the long term, but for the initial build cost.
 

pageyjim

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2014
229
Deleware
Thanks for the response.
I'm thinking that this might be the best route for me. It's just frustrating as I was planning on having a mini-split as a 'back-up'; meaning a smaller unit that would just keep things from freezing, not bringing 1000' of living space up to 70 deg. It's a hard to argument to budget (putting 2 heating systems in) - not for the long term, but for the initial build cost.

It will run best and most efficiently if it is properly sized. If it is undersized it will dehumidify but not cool.
 

Rut13

Member
Jan 28, 2015
14
W. PA
I do appraisal work and have run across this same issue multiple times, I am speaking specifically to the Re-Fi/real estate sales end of things. The bank looks to appraisers as the 'eyes' on the property. If it is typical for an area to have a pellet appliance as a 'primary' source of heat, the appraiser SHOULD state that and should not be a problem. The bank of course is the final say in everything though. You could make the argument if you run out of fuel oil or propane while you're away you're in the same boat as the pellet stove.
 

bnther44

Member
Dec 17, 2014
38
Kalamazoo
It will run best and most efficiently if it is properly sized. If it is undersized it will dehumidify but not cool.
And that's the whole rub! I've gotten more quality info off of forums - like this one - than I have from the two different installers I've contacted for quotes. How do I know what size of mini-splits are going to work for my situation? I just read an article about a guy who heated his entire house with a single 18,000btu mini-split. I would tend to think that his situation is an exception to the rule - but how do I know what I need? I grew up on wood heat, so I've got some perspective on what to expect with a Harman. I have NO experience with mini-splits, consequently, I really don't know how to argue when a salesmen pushes for $16K on a mini-split system.
 

tjnamtiw

Minister of Fire
And that's the whole rub! I've gotten more quality info off of forums - like this one - than I have from the two different installers I've contacted for quotes. How do I know what size of mini-splits are going to work for my situation? I just read an article about a guy who heated his entire house with a single 18,000btu mini-split. I would tend to think that his situation is an exception to the rule - but how do I know what I need? I grew up on wood heat, so I've got some perspective on what to expect with a Harman. I have NO experience with mini-splits, consequently, I really don't know how to argue when a salesmen pushes for $16K on a mini-split system.
You need to go on-line and price some mini-split systems and see, first how easy they are to install since there's no ductwork, and secondly, how inexpensive they are. Then you'll realize that the guy quoting you 16K for a BACK-UP is looking to send his daughter to Harvard on you.

http://www.comfortup.com/gree-multi-tri-zone-ductless-mini-split-system-24-000-btu-inverter-heat-pump-9k-12k-12k-indoor?gclid=CjwKEAiAxsymBRCegqiLzI7Q1S8SJADOgQrzLIyIf8Pxth6-Q-ONOD5zVNZG57GWYwA_gLTyc9Du6RoCk4bw_wcB

This is a 2 ton GREE 3 zone system for less than 2K. Get away from that guy! You could put two of these in, run which ever zones you wanted at what ever temp you wanted and save one heck of a lot more than you'll ever hope to save with a pellet stove. Now there ARE bigger units, more efficient units, and ones that work at lower temps. They cost more but still nowhere near what this guy is quoting, especially on new construction where he doesn't have to worry about working around existing closed walls.
 
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pageyjim

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2014
229
Deleware
You need a manual J load calculation done. This will be a free service by a reputable company. Since the home isn't built they will need the specs and it should be easy for them. Manual J is the most respected and best recognized, there are others. If they are using this it will tell you a lot about them imo. If they are shooting from their hip and using rule of thumb I would keep on looking. Get 2-3 quotes and compare apples to apples. These can be very efficient units. They don't last as long as conventional, ducted systems. They are becoming more and more common but a lot of companies will install them and shake their heads servicing them. So call Mitsubishi and Fujitsu for companies they recommend. These would be the two I would personally recommend. 16K for a 1000sg ft home seems very steep imo.
 
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pageyjim

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2014
229
Deleware
They are relatively easy to install. Buying online in my experience means you will not get a warranty, regardless of what they say. Many offbrands do not give tech support and even experienced techs have problems servicing minisplits. These are not meant to be diy like pellet stoves are. But like I said I'm sure you can do better with price.
 

bags

Minister of Fire
Oct 12, 2014
2,397
Kentucky
$16,000 buys a lot of heating devices. You do need to do some serious research. Mini splits are almost nothing to install. They are about like doing a horizontal thru the wall direct vent on a pellet stove. Minimal work and effort. Minimal materials.

You will need to find a reputable company that is licensed being in your situation. This joker you are dealing with's license is not worth $13K to $14 for a mini split. Even with two at 4 grand his installations and license does not add up to $10 to $12K.

Get on the band wagon and call every swinging __ck you can. Someone will be way more fair. I just talked to my HVAC guy not long ago about a mini split for one area of my house and he quoted me $2,550 for the whole shebang! (Quoting a Mitsubishi) Granted I do throw him work and use him on my jobs but he makes his money too and is fair. $16K is so far out of line I am speechless. Other than calling BS. Guess these guys are slow or looking to hit a home run.

What I have seen some pay for a pellet stove (simple) install has been ridiculous too. Tradesmen need to make their money and get paid for what they do but some have some highly inflated numbers on the calculators if they think they can pull it off.

Note: Many supply houses and stuff will not sell HVAC equpment to anyone other than a licensed professional. The OP needs to find an ethical one.
 

tjnamtiw

Minister of Fire
They are relatively easy to install. Buying online in my experience means you will not get a warranty, regardless of what they say. Many offbrands do not give tech support and even experienced techs have problems servicing minisplits. These are not meant to be diy like pellet stoves are. But like I said I'm sure you can do better with price.
I didn't mean to imply that he should install it himself from an on-line source but just to show him how far off that $16,000 quote was if you just consider what the unit costs.
What I like about them is the efficiency, no loss in ductwork, easier installation, and being able to control separately in each room/area.
 

bnther44

Member
Dec 17, 2014
38
Kalamazoo
Note: Many supply houses and stuff will not sell HVAC equpment to anyone other than a licensed professional. The OP needs to find an ethical one.
I'm completely alright with paying a little extra for experience and a warranty. These guys need to eat and I need to stay warm. But finding an 'ethical' expert is starting to feel like high stakes gambling. Hence the instinct to fall back on something I know - wood heat.
 

tjnamtiw

Minister of Fire
They are relatively easy to install. Buying online in my experience means you will not get a warranty, regardless of what they say. Many offbrands do not give tech support and even experienced techs have problems servicing minisplits. These are not meant to be diy like pellet stoves are. But like I said I'm sure you can do better with price.
Judging from the posts on here this year, I QUESTION the DYI assumption for pellet stoves too!!!! !!!
 

tjnamtiw

Minister of Fire
I'm completely alright with paying a little extra for experience and a warranty. These guys need to eat and I need to stay warm. But finding an 'ethical' expert is starting to feel like high stakes gambling. Hence the instinct to fall back on something I know - wood heat.
Don't give up that easily. Just find someone who will show you SEPARATELY the cost of materials and labor. You need a primary heat source and with a small, well insulated house, these mini-splits will do the job.
 
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