How to use wood pellets, what stove do you need?
Wood pellets can be a great source of energy and a brilliant heating system. So, what kind of stove do you need? How do they work and are they right for you? In this guide we'll go through all of this and give you the pros and cons of using wood pellets.
What are wood pellets and how are they made?
Wood Pellets are a biomass fuel, made from compressed sawdust and/or wood dust. This is sometimes sourced from sawmills to reduce the amount of waste they produce.
They are produced by grinding down the sawdust into a fine powdery dust. This is then compressed under intense pressure whilst being heated. The sawdust is pushed through holes to form their cylindrical shape.
They do not need any adhesive chemicals or additives as they contain naturally occurring lignin that melts under the heat and binds the dust together. Once cool this is what gives the product the sheen on the outside.
Wood pellets are produced to have a very low moisture content of approximately less than 10% this makes them an efficient fuel as it allows the majority of the energy to be used producing heat.
How about our pellets?
We source our wood pellets from an ENPlus producer (ENPlus ID UK No:335), these wood pellets are also certified by the Forest Stewardship Commission (FSC NC-COC-022987).
Having sold, and used a wide range of wood pellets ourselves. These biomass pellets, in our opinion, are a fantastic product. They will not produce a lot of ash, and they won't leave a clicker that clogs up the boiler or stove. What's more, the 15kg packaging means they are easier to handle and store.
Our wood pellets are made from 100% virgin sawdust, without any chemicals, additives or binding agents. We source our pellets from sawmills as a by-product of their work to help reduce waste and create an environmentally friendly fuel source.
How can wood pellets be used?
Wood pellets can be used in a biomass boiler or in a pellet stove.
For the specifics of this information page we are going to explain how they are used in a pellet stove.
They do however have many other uses, to find out more head over to the wood pellet section of our blog to see where else they can be used.
What type of stove do I need?
In order to effectively use pellets as a source of fuel you would want to invest in a specific type of stove that is designed for burning wood pellets. There are many stoves available on the market that all have different purposes, such as giving out different levels of heat, having different controls & features. Some are made from different materials too which can contribute to the efficiency of the stove.
Pros and Cons
Fuel Availability and Cost
Easy to Use
Easy to Clean
Automated Fires - The majority of pellet stoves are run on an automated basis, this is dependent on model however, most tend to have an automated system in which the pellets are delivered into the chamber from the hopper and the air is sucked into the combustion chamber. Some even have an option to set a desired temperature for the pellet stove to reach.
High Efficiency - pellet stoves are considered to be the cleanest solid fuel available as a residential heating appliance. Stoves that have been certified by the EPA have an efficiency range of anywhere from 70 to 83 percent on average.
Easy to Use - Most pellet stoves have a control central panel where you can set many different system functions. This makes them easy to work with as you can be in full control of the stove at all times.
Low Emissions - Pellets produce very little air pollution and have a very clean burning system due to the way the stove burns them. A high quality pellet will burn efficiently whilst producing as little waste as it possibly can. They have a low moisture quantity which means less energy is used up burning off moisture, this means more energy can be used for producing heat.
Heat Output - Pellet stoves are able to produce high levels of heat due to their efficient burn and the low moisture content of the pellets. Rather than using the body of the stove to produce heat, pellet stoves rely on air being pushed out through a blower. The air passes through the combustion chamber before being blown around the room and this is where it heats up.
Thermostatic Control - Most pellet stove systems rely on a thermostat that is built into the system. This can be used to control the temperature to which the pellet stove burns at. Some models also have an external thermostat that keeps track of the temperature of the room, this can be used to regulate the amount of heat being produced by the stove.
Storage - The pellets being used at that current time can be stored inside the hopper at the top of the stove. Depending on the type of stove it may store anywhere between 1 - 4 bags. The storage of the actual bags themselves is also pretty easy going. Our pellets come in sturdy plastic bags (fully recyclable) which contain 20kg worth of pellets per bag. We supply these as individual bags or on pallets where bought in bulk. This makes them easy to manage.
Installation - Due to their use of forced ventilation, whereby the air is forced out through a small vent, the pipe used for this ventilation process does not need to be straight up like a chimney, it can go out of an external wall either vertically or horizontally.
Easy to Clean - Pellet stoves require regular cleaning, due to this manufacturers made it so the parts that need the most cleaning are removable or easily accessed to allow for easy cleaning.
Recycled Fuel - As stated above, our pellets are made from a by-product of sawmills, so they are technically a recycled fuel which aids in reducing the amount of waste being produced by saw mills.
Electric - The vast majority of pellet stoves require electricity to be able to run. There is the odd exception but they don’t tend to be as commonly seen. This means you need to ensure you have an electrical supply to your pellet stove at all times for it to be used. It will not run without an electricity supply. The exact consumption of electricity used is unknown as it can vary from each device.
Fuel Availability and Cost - Whilst we endeavour to have a healthy stock level of pellets available as well as competitive prices, not everywhere has the same opportunities. Due to the manufacturing process and shipment of pellets, delays and shortages can sometimes be seen in the pellet supply industry. Therefore, many companies seek to raise prices to meet demand, depending on where you source your fuel from can have an impact on how much running a pellet stove costs you.
Complexity - Pellet stoves can be fairly complex systems to operate. Due to the mechanics and electronics, should something break, a professional may be required to solve the issue. The electronic systems internally can also be fairly difficult to navigate if you haven't used one before, so new owners may find themselves using the manual a fair amount to begin with.
Life Expectancy - Unfortunately one downside to the pellet stoves that hasn't quite been resolved yet is their life expectancy. Whilst they do last a fair amount of time, they don't quite have the same reputable claim as a standard wood or multi fuel stove.
Bags - Whilst the bags are very useful for storage, many people don’t like the idea of the plastic waste that comes from them. Unfortunately because of the weight of the pellets, a paper bag just wouldn't work at keeping them contained. To tackle this as best as we possibly can, all our pellet bags are fully recyclable. The other issue with the bags some people experience is the weight, however, we package the bags in this way so you get the best value for money on the weight you are paying for. Smaller bags aren't as cost effective.
Upfront Cost - Whilst the upfront cost of any fuel stove can be high, the cost of pellet stoves can set you back a pretty penny. They are on the higher end of cost in the first instance however, they make up for it in the long run in the money you save on purchasing fuel and using a heating system. There are large variations in price when it comes to pellet stoves from the lower end all the way up to expensive ones. Whilst they all have the same purpose, some come with more advanced features and may be more efficient than others.
7. Less Attractive - A final point to make is the flame on a pellet stove isn't quite as attractive as that on a wood burner, multi-fuel stove or an open fire. This is because the flame presents itself in a completely different way. A pellet stove fire has more of an artificial appearance, this is caused by the way the combustion chamber works, but it's certainly not something that should make you overlook a pellet stove completely.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to understand wood pellets and how people use them. If you would like to learn more about any other solid fuels or burning, then we have an expansive range of high quality articles!