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Pellet Stoves

pellet fuelPellet Fuel Stoves and Systems

Just imagine …

  • A wood burning stove that you only have to fuel twice a week for continuous operation.
  • A stove that you can contact by mobile phone to have it turn itself up when you are caught in a rain shower, to have the room gloriously hot when you return.
  •  A stove so efficient that the traditional chimney can be replaced by a three inch diameter pipe.
  • A stove that attracts grant aid from central government because you are doing your bit in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

A flight of fancy?

YES!

When I first compiled this page I was perhaps a little too up beat about the potential for these appliances.

Despite being pessimistic about the future, and thinly veiling warnings about getting sucked in to the excitement this industry could generate, unfortunately, our telephone has hardly been in it’s cradle recently.

So much so, and so often do we find ourselves saying the same things time and again, that in the showroom we now have a handout that gets given to everyone as soon as the “P” word is mentioned!

I reproduce it below in its entirety.

Pellet Stoves Information

“Pellet Appliances – 8 Things You Should Know”

We are constantly asked for information on Pellet appliances. In response we thought this Factsheet may be useful to dispel some of the myths surrounding these appliances.

1)  Cost.

There is no such thing as a cheap pellet stove! Those available appliances from reputable manufacturers retail in a price bracket £1800 to £3000.

2) Fuel

Before considering a pellet appliance, please check availability and prices for pellet fuel. In Scotland currently we are aware of three manufacturers of pellet fuel, producing, small, expensive quantities. Imported fuels are available but prices of £200 to £300 per tonne are not uncommon. Also, see, and use, the fuel cost calculator mentioned at the bottom of the page.

Check fuel quality.

Pellet appliances are constructed to burn fuels with specific moisture contents (<6%), which in our climate will most probably mean that the fuel should be supplied bagged, not loose.

Ask for refined fuel.

A dusty product will create a cloud of dust as the appliance is refuelled. Pellet appliances require a specific fuel diameter, 6mm in the case of most pellet stoves.

3) Chimney

Local authorities in Scotland regard any woodburning appliance as “Class 1”.

This means that the flueing arrangement must be acceptable for the fuel being burnt, comply with current regulations and codes of practise, and where a flue doesn’t currently exist be subject to the provisions of a valid building warrant.

4) Grants.

Grant aid exists for the installation of this type of appliance. Note the grant is conditional on the registration of the installer with a qualifying body.

5) Power

Note that these are electrical appliances, reliant on an uninterrupted source of electricity. They will not work in a power cut!

Fan motors power the appliance, driving air through the fuel, driving the hot air output in to the room, and driving the exhaust in to the flue.

6) Noise

Be prepared for noise. Electrically run fan motors and auger drives are not silent. At full output pellet stoves can be noisy.

It is no accident that many pellet appliance manufacturers compete on the basis that there product may be quieter than their competitors.

7) Maintenance

These are electrical appliances and should be serviced by suitably qualified, preferably manufacturer trained, electrical engineers.

8) Sweeping

Like all other solid fuel appliances flues should be swept annually

ortner pellet stoveAs a premise, the concept of pellet appliances seems superb. In practice the information above makes the provision, supply, installation and support of a pellet stove, unwieldy, cumbersome, and not always economic against other more available fuel types.

On a personal level I question the validity of a processing system that takes an already existing fuel source and converts it in to another! Inevitably this leads to increased costs and environmental impact.

There also appears to be evidence that after an initial flurry of enthusiasm over the last ten years that the Northern European pellet industry is contracting. This for a very simple reason, it is hellish difficult in Northern Europe to maintain low moisture levels in pellet fuel! The sun don’t shine!

Notably, the “Hotspots” for pellet appliances in the UK are those closest to the points of pellet production, resulting in lower fuel costs, transportation and availability. (South Wales, the south coast, Northumberland, Northern Ireland)

Pellet Supplies and Availability

palazetti minnie pellet stoveBut! Before you get too excited, remember that the British pellet fuel industry is in its infancy. There are, as yet, few plants to produce the pellet fuel. Few standards exist with regard to quality control.

Cost of pellet fuel is still high in the UK compared to our European counterparts. And the availability of imported, high quality fuel, is sporadic, to say the least.

We, in the UK exist within an energy framework that is electricity daft!

CHP projects (Combined Heat and Power) seem to fascinate central government who would much rather burn the fuel for us, then sell us the electricity produced.

The Future of Pellet Stove Technology

Is there one?

piazzetta p961 pellet stoveI have been watching the progress of pellet stoves for the last fifteen years and have seen little real development in that period. We seem to be getting excited in the UK as we perceive this technology to be new… it isn’t!

It has been tried, tested, and on the whole found wanting. I got excited five years ago when one, notable Danish manufacturer launched a “gravity feed” no electrics, pellet stove. Sounded great… looked crap!

I’ve always thought that the best test of a good innovation is to see it copied. Notably the “Gravity feed” never was. British stove manufacturers aren’t all rushing out home grown pellet stoves in to the market, do they know something we don’t?

Is the deluge of catalogues of pellet stove brochures that buries my desk every morning, telling me that these appliances are the way forward, or that the foreign suppliers are failing to reach their sales targets in their own nations?

I don’t have the answers, but worry!

And another thing!

I keep seeing, on other websites, phenomenal claims for the calorific value and cost benefits of pellets. Please, please, please, look closely at these!

  • Check that you can source pellets at the price per ton stated.
  • Check that the supplier will guarantee a moisture content.
  • Check that your Dyson is working, and the warranty covers the collection of wood dust!
Heres an item I recently posted a Blog on that will be useful for people contemplating pellet fuels
You have to download it to make it work. The spread sheet will allow you to change unit costs for a variety of fuels, pellets included, and the efficiency of your intended appliance, and will give you a cost per kilowatt hour. Its easy then to extrapolate to guesstimate your annual fuel cost. You will be surprised by the results! (Play especially with the cost of oil and the efficiency of oil boilers, then adjust for the current market value of wood pellets and the efficiency of pellet boilers. Amazed?! factor in the capital cost of equipment……….learning something?)

Contact Form and Directions to Showroom Tel. 01501 823006

Areas we cover:- Glasgow, Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian, Stirling, Perth, Fife, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Borders

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