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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the market for a pellet stove or wood. I was 100% going with a new pellet stove insert until this past weekend. I went to a stove shop in Monson Mass. They sold Pellet, Wood and Coal stoves and the fuels for each. I unfortunately did not get a good salesperson so am left with many questions in comparing wood vs pellet. Most of it is obvious. :dunno:
I just would like to hear from any buning the bio type bricks exclusively.
My reason for possible change of heart is buying fuel.
Either way I go the fuel is about the same with nod (from what I've read) going to bricks for burn time and heat output. I figure if paying for fuel why not go with a wood stove and at least have the option of burning wood as well. I will mainly burn the bricks though as storage and cleanliness is key for me. :fing32:
I do know wood stoves are much harder to regulate but give more heat than pellet (per stove size).
I also owned a pellet stove and enjoyed it very much other than the costly parts when something goes. They are very simple and safe to operate.

I was pretty much set on a Harmon Accentra, Regency G60I or Thelin inserts.
My Dad has an Avalon Olympice for years and is a fine wood stove.

Any input is greatly appreciated as well as suggestions on nice new engineered wood inserts.

Thanks for any info, good, bad, ugly and awful. Let it out.

MU
 

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I have no personal experience burning the fuel bricks, kind of a modern version of the old "Presto Logs", but have used wood stoves and furnaces as well as a sawdust furnace and a couple different pellet stoves over the years. My experience is limited to just a couple of houses here on the home place and may or may not mirror your needs.

We have a friend that bought one of the new wood stoves last year, don't recall the brand, and loves it. It has an excellent heat recovery system and burns efficiently. What he and his wife really like about it is the ability, as you mentioned, to burn the bricks or wood. During the day they use a lot of wood, cut on their place, and at night, or when they are going to be gone for several hours, they use the bricks. The bricks last a lot longer than the white pine they have available.

The one thing they don't like about this system is the relatively short time between fuel loadings, around 8 hours in cold weather, compared to the pellet stove they had previously which had an oversize hopper.

We have been considering adding another pellet stove to our house as the current stove will not heat the entire house during sub-zero weather. We have an electric furnace that will heat the house nicely but the cost is bad and going to get worse.

After seeing the benefits of the wood/brick combination system we have decided to go with this method for the new stove. The major disadvantage would be the added expense of the required chimney if a person had to put one in. We have an existing chimney so this is not a problem.

Whatever stove you decide to purchase I'd suggest checking with your insurance company and local building department about the installation. A little foresight in this area can save a lot of problems down the line.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Mike,

Thank You very much for your time/input.

I know that to meet CT code I need to line (steel pipe) my already lined masonry chimney with either stove setup.
I have read my insurance policy and wood stove/pellet are about the same requirements. Inserts are a bit simpler.

I just spoke with one dealer and he shed light on both sides a bit more. As already known that pellets are more stable heat as feed system etc governs.
He also said that steel linr for wood stove is more$$ and about balances out cost with pellet stove.

MU
 

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We will not be adding the new stove till spring and I'd sure like to hear your experiences with whatever you decide on.

For many years we had the original wood kitchen range in the kitchen but time took it's toll and it became unusable. My wife has found a source for a very nice range and it's starting to look like that is what will be added. The new range offers the option of t-stat damper control so it can be used as a heating stove as well as for cooking. Be the first time I've seen a wood fired kitchen range that had to have electricity to function properly.

I like the idea of biscuits baked in a wood range oven again but I'd have to live another full lifetime to amortize the cost of the thing.

She has contacted the manufacturer and been advised that coal, corn cobs, wood or the new bricks will work fine as fuel. She also found out she can add a water jacket to the firebox which will allow her to have hot water even when the power is out.

I'm betting the new heating stove is going to be in the kitchen!

Mike
 

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I like pellet stoves ,but I'm leery of getting one for the simple reason your limited to using pellets only..who's to say they wont become as costly as fuel oil in the future,after they become very popular..

A wood stove that can burn coal is nice--one load of coal can burn all day or night,and its fairly cheap here--about 8 bucks for 100 lb bads or less if you buy bulk..but with the talk of coal being discouraged as a fuel under the current administration,that could prove costly or hard to get in coming years...

Wood is readily available,often for free,and places give pallets away by the truckloads near me..the only drawback is the time and labor spent collecting and cutting them up--and dealing with the ashes,which will contain a lot of nails and other metal things like staples,etc..but I think its worth the effort to get the free heat..however another person who works and has a family might find it hard to find the time you need to devote to getting the wood and prepping it..

Trouble with these stoves is by the time you buy one,get it installed up to code,your into it for thousands,and that would have bought a lot of oil or propane!...then you might find the insurance hassles are a downer and they might jack up your rates too..
Some guys I know have bought those propane "blue flame" wall mount heaters (some require venting,some dont),and they claim they heat the whole house with just two of them,one guy has no other real furnace,and claims the prpoane to run them the past 3 months came to 121 bucks..and his kids are in and out of the house constantly too,letting cold air in..
 

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As a long time wood burner I wouldn't advise wood unless you have your own woodlot to cut from...and aside from that would be cost factor it's very high maintenance in comparison against a pellet operation.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the info.

I just called on another wood/pellet stove shop and he has me leaning towards pellets for many of the same exact points, ease, safety, maintanence etc. Also mentioned that insurance companies like pellet stoves better than wood. His comment was they are safer with the technology they have engineered into them with the temp switches, auto this and that etc.

MU
 

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I'd say pellet stoves are "better" in those respects...less hassles with the insurance,codes,etc...insurance companies dont like wood stoves,probably because they are easily over-fired and many are poorly built and have gaps that let sparks escape..

I wish they had not banned the 55 gallon drum stoves for home use--those are safer than many cheap cast iron non airtight stoves are..
I think too many people were using them and saving too much money,and the oil companies put pressure on insurers to get them banned myself..

My older brother loves his pellet stove,but he had to spend 3 grand to get it,install it properly,and it used pipe and fittings that were exclusive to that particular brand,which was why it was so much..but he has saved enough in heating oil expenses in the 5 years he had it that its about paid for itself...

The only dilema he had with it was when that bad ice storm hit his area,and he lost power for 3 weeks..he had two generators,and almost came close to frying the circuitry that powers the auger motor,its frequency sensitive,luckily he used his newer generator thats the inverter type and it was not harmed,his old Coleman one likely would have smoked it...might want to check into that if you plan on using one with a generator..
 

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5 year plus Pellet stove owner here, with open floor plan home, I burn 5-5 1/2 tons a year. Mind you it runs 24-7 November until spring time, except for clean outs and maintenance. Seems like a lot of pellets, yes it is, but the bright side is the house stays at 70 + degrees all winter. Only the coldest nights drop it below and the oil fired furnace in the basement kicks it up. I've burned 100 gallons of oil the last three years, the pellet stove works great.

5 tons of pellets plus delivery came to $1450. 5-100 gallon oil fills will cost $1875, not including the fluctuation of oil pricing +/-. Paid $371 for 100 gallons two weeks ago. Some years you make out with pellets, some years it's a jump ball, could go either way.

The house is far warmer burning pellets than firing the oil furnace up to 70 degrees all winter. But the bottom line is it's work!!!! I get the 5 pallets of pellets dropped in my garage every June and then stack 250-40# bags of Barefoot Brand pellets in the attached shed behind my garage. Then I bring 250 - 40# bags into my house all winter long to feed it! :Disgus:

Luckily I'm set up to store a large quantity so I don't have to chase fuel all winter. The distributor I buy from sends me the card in the mail to lock in pricing and set delivery in May or June every year. The reason for that is simple, he stocks the brand I like! I've tried 6 or 8 different pellet manufacturers and believe me when I tell you there is a BIG difference in pellet quality and heat produced! I've had a meat thermometer in the heat exchanger and adjust the damper until I get the best heat from a bag of fuel. Hands down the Barefoot brand is tops IMHO.

My stove is an Enviro Free Standing (also available in insert style) Meridian, Heat output is 12K-45K BTU, thermostat compatible, 83% efficient, auto ignition, and has been reliable as heck. The only trouble I've had so far just happened the other night, the fire went out. I diagnosed and found the high heat sensor tripped. Press reset and back in business. I'm going to replace it anyhow because it's shut down twice in two weeks and I believe it's a faulty unit, never happened before this.

I also have an original Envirofire pellet stove out in the garage shop that my FIL replaced a few years ago, it's 25 years old and still going strong!

Good luck with whatever you decide Mun!

EDIT: my home is 1800 odd SQ Ft
 

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I have a Harmon P68A and love it. I have run as much as a ton of pellets through it without opening the door for maintenance. Great running stove with a huge ash pan. I use 3 1/2 to 4 tons of pellets a year keeping the house at 70. Squires in Monson usually has decent pricing on pellets.
 

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I'm for wood meself. Course I don't live up there where it gets REALLY cold. But, even here tonight it's going down to 8-11°!! Got me new Buck wood fireplace warming me old bones right now. Love it. And if power goes out, still get heat.
 

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As a long time wood burner I wouldn't advise wood unless you have your own woodlot to cut from...and aside from that would be cost factor it's very high maintenance in comparison against a pellet operation.
Very high maintenance? It's a steel box with a door. You put wood in it, light it on fire, and it burns. What maintenance is there?



I have a 2600 sq ft ranch with a large family room that has (had) a fireplace in it. I installed a 75,000BTU high efficiency wood-burning insert three years ago. I have my choice of burning wood, bricks, or a combo.

I use this insert to heat the majority of the home (about 1800 square feet). I started out burning only wood, then bought and burned some bricks, and now I burn bricks almost exclusively.

I'll never own a pellet stove. Although they will produce a more constant heat, there are far too many pieces involved in the operation of the stove that suffer from wear and tear in direct relation to the heat. The hoppers and feed augers are mechanical, but are electronically controlled by thermostats or similar. All of the circuit boards to run these pieces are bolted directly to the stove and will experience the intense of heat of the stove while it's running. They don't last because of this and need to be replaced when they go bad.

If a board "dies", or you lose power, the stove is no longer able to be run in the same manner. You'll have to be much more involved to keep it giving off heat without over-firing, if it will run at all.

My insert has a large glass door so I can see the fire (keeps all of the ambiance of the fireplace) yet it's a very high level of efficiency to bring the heat into the room (there's a blower motor installed in the insert to circulate the air around the firebox and bring the heat out into the room). I added a ceiling fan to the room for circulating the hot air toward the doorways on either side and a small corner fan in each doorway to move the air out to the rest of the main part of the house.

As for fuel, wood is good but bricks are better. Eco-Bricks are the way to go. They are 100% pressed hardwood sawdust. No fillers or binding agents, very low moisture content, and they burn hotter and longer than wood taking up the same amount of space. One pallet of bricks is heat-equivalent to approximately one cord of hardwood yet takes up about 1/3 the space and costs the same as cut, split wood.

My one complaint about the bricks is that you get a fair amount of mess from little bits of sawdust that falls out of the packages they come in. On the flip-side, they burn VERY clean and complete - I just cleaned out my stove yesterday for the first time in at least a month. And, I burn 24x7.

There's a supplier near me that sells the bricks at a reasonable price and will deliver, too, if you need that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Very high maintenance? It's a steel box with a door. You put wood in it, light it on fire, and it burns. What maintenance is there?



I have a 2600 sq ft ranch with a large family room that has (had) a fireplace in it. I installed a 75,000BTU high efficiency wood-burning insert three years ago. I have my choice of burning wood, bricks, or a combo.

I use this insert to heat the majority of the home (about 1800 square feet). I started out burning only wood, then bought and burned some bricks, and now I burn bricks almost exclusively.

I'll never own a pellet stove. Although they will produce a more constant heat, there are far too many pieces involved in the operation of the stove that suffer from wear and tear in direct relation to the heat. The hoppers and feed augers are mechanical, but are electronically controlled by thermostats or similar. All of the circuit boards to run these pieces are bolted directly to the stove and will experience the intense of heat of the stove while it's running. They don't last because of this and need to be replaced when they go bad.

If a board "dies", or you lose power, the stove is no longer able to be run in the same manner. You'll have to be much more involved to keep it giving off heat without over-firing, if it will run at all.

My insert has a large glass door so I can see the fire (keeps all of the ambiance of the fireplace) yet it's a very high level of efficiency to bring the heat into the room (there's a blower motor installed in the insert to circulate the air around the firebox and bring the heat out into the room). I added a ceiling fan to the room for circulating the hot air toward the doorways on either side and a small corner fan in each doorway to move the air out to the rest of the main part of the house.

As for fuel, wood is good but bricks are better. Eco-Bricks are the way to go. They are 100% pressed hardwood sawdust. No fillers or binding agents, very low moisture content, and they burn hotter and longer than wood taking up the same amount of space. One pallet of bricks is heat-equivalent to approximately one cord of hardwood yet takes up about 1/3 the space and costs the same as cut, split wood.

My one complaint about the bricks is that you get a fair amount of mess from little bits of sawdust that falls out of the packages they come in. On the flip-side, they burn VERY clean and complete - I just cleaned out my stove yesterday for the first time in at least a month. And, I burn 24x7.

There's a supplier near me that sells the bricks at a reasonable price and will deliver, too, if you need that.
Thank you very much,
I wanted to hear from someone burning them 100% of the time.
So it seems you get very, very, very little ash. What model stove do you have. I've looked at them all just about. Quadra fire makes some nice looking ones as well as Avalon, jotul etc.
Does yours have the re-burner or cat? I have heard and read bad things on cats.

Do you notice better heat output or better regulation of heat with the bricks?

MU
 

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I swapped out my wood stove for a pellet stove 3 years ago, reasons against the woods stove was wood is messy, can be difficult to store, frequency of loading logs, and amount of effort/time in preparing logs (our Cost If you are buying)

I use the pellet stove to primarily heat my 2000 sq ft homE, can comfortably heat the downstairs to about 76-80 while the upstairs to low to mid 60s (bedrooms are upstairs, so that's good sleeping temp for us). The stove is fantastic, my wife loves it. Can't think of one bad thing to say. I used to but pellets by the ton, but annoyed at taking up that much room, now i just pick up 10-20 bags as needed.
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I picked up apack of the bricks to try out the other week. Seems like a good idea. I have a high effency fireplace/stove and it works well heating the house. We looked into getting a pellet insert, but just wasn't worth the cost to us. I like wood because its everywere. in a pinch you can burn about anything made of wood. With a pellet your stuck burning pellets. These bricks are new to me though.. Any downside to them? Do they just replace wood totally? Any change over to using them... or just pop them in the firebox?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
From what I've read and discussed they burn easier than real wood. Can be lit with newspaper, straight to bricks. No kindling needed.
Others are like logs and you can break off chunk to use as starter too.

MU
 

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My thoughts are, Wood stove.
1) might be messy at times but good reliable heat, even with poweroutages.
2) Pellets are not all that cheap and depending on how cold it is determines pellet usage.
3) Pellet stoves stop when power is out and you rely on a generator to power it. Run out of gas for genny, stove goes out.
4) Pellet/corn burning stove maybe. Then you can use corn as a fuel also.
 

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Thank you very much,
I wanted to hear from someone burning them 100% of the time.
So it seems you get very, very, very little ash. What model stove do you have. I've looked at them all just about. Quadra fire makes some nice looking ones as well as Avalon, jotul etc.
Does yours have the re-burner or cat? I have heard and read bad things on cats.

Do you notice better heat output or better regulation of heat with the bricks?

MU
There are no stoves made anymore (that I'm aware of) with the cat system in them. I had a Dutchwest Indies stove (free standing) in my last house that had the catalyst in it, and that thing heated my whole house with no issue (raised ranch). The downside to the cats is that you MUST get the internal temperature of the stove up in the 1200 or so area in order for it to work properly. And that can sometimes be problematic.
 

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From what I've read and discussed they burn easier than real wood. Can be lit with newspaper, straight to bricks. No kindling needed.
Others are like logs and you can break off chunk to use as starter too.

MU
Depends on the bricks. I light my stove with a Duraflame Fire Start (I use one). Once lit, I never need anything to get more bricks to catch, even after the stove burns down overnight. I never have to use any sort of kindling, however.
 

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My thoughts are, Wood stove.
1) might be messy at times but good reliable heat, even with poweroutages.
2) Pellets are not all that cheap and depending on how cold it is determines pellet usage.
3) Pellet stoves stop when power is out and you rely on a generator to power it. Run out of gas for genny, stove goes out.
4) Pellet/corn burning stove maybe. Then you can use corn as a fuel also.
My stove won't go out if power goes out. But, the fan will shut down. This is something to consider when it comes to inserts as the fan is a necessity to get the heat out into the room. Without it, you'll get only a small percentage of the total heat via radiation.

If power outages are common, are a concern, or if you need to be prepared for anything and don't have a generator, get a free-standing stove.
 
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