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View Full Version : OT: does anyone here have and use a corn/wood pellet stove?



Carld
09-13-2010, 04:31 PM
I am thinking about buying one and want to know the experiences anyone has had with them.

aboard_epsilon
09-13-2010, 04:45 PM
i looked into buying one about a month back

what turned me off

you need at least a metre clearance around them ..i don't have that .

the ones approved under the renewable energy government thingy here ..where you get pay back ..were at least 8000 each..plus a pile for fitting ........plus a service contract ..being as much as 480 ......you have to pay that every year so you stay entitled to the pay-back tariff.

these 8000 models all had complex electronics on them. motors, screws and lambda probes ..that to my mind, don't go together with heat and burning wood....

first time you burnt anything but pellets in it .your lambda probe would be up the shoot.

think a lot had mains pressure water and no gravity head .

all the best.markj

Mike Burch
09-13-2010, 06:37 PM
I looked at one a couple of years ago. Two things put me off:
1. the noise of the fan was horrendous, and
2. in this country (New Zealand) there is only one supplier of the fuel, so I would have been completely at their mercy.
I suggest you visit a home with one installed, and talk to the owner.

squirrel
09-13-2010, 06:39 PM
This price of corn!!! It was pretty good deal a few years ago but the ethanol craze drove the corn price up around here.

jdunmyer
09-13-2010, 07:40 PM
Carld,
I have one buddy with a corn stove and he likes it. His burns only corn, and his big advantage is that he farms a bit and raises his own fuel. He has had trouble with the fan motors, they don't seem to last all that long, maybe one heating season. His stove isn't self-lighting, but the required ritual is apparently pretty easy.

Also, I have 2 other friends who have corn/pellet stoves. Theirs are self-starting; when the thermostat calls for heat, it lights off. They buy their pellets from Tractor Supply Company, and get the entire winter's worth at one time. They use my trailer to haul the pallets of pellets and my forklift to put them into storage. They're quite happy with the stoves, but I don't know the details of any maintenance.

All 3 have had their stoves for several years now.

Mad Scientist
09-13-2010, 08:35 PM
Yes I have one and I like it. I use it for supplemental heat in the shop. Mine will burn either wood pellets or corn. The pellets burn cleaner (less ash) but the corn burns hotter.
They are not maintenance free like a gas furnace, however unlike a wood stove you do not have to be continually playing with the fire. With a full load of corn (about 80lb's) it will run a day and a half at its lowest setting and this raises basement temperature from around 65 to around 72. (approx. 2000 sq.ft.)
Between refills of corn the fire pot needs to cleaned, at the third refill the ash pan needs to emptied.

By me corn is cheaper to burn then pellets. When I first got the stove corn was $1.88 a bushel. At that price the heat produced cost half of that of my natural gas. Then some idiots decided to convert it into alcohol to add to our gas so we could get worse mileage and the price shot up to over $6 a bushel. Thus the stove became a luxury idem rather then cost saver. :mad: Last season the price dropped back to around $3.60 but the natural gas price increased so it is getting back to being profitable.

Of course if you decide to get a corn stove you will need a source of corn. To get the best price I go directly to a local farmer and cut out the middle man. She then will casually pour about 1200lb's into the back of my pickup truck in about 5 minute or less. Back home it takes me about 45 minute to unload it into my corn shed.:rolleyes:

Noise wise it is no more noisy then a regular furnace, but mine does run continually. Rather then add a thermostat I just run it at its lowest setting.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i17/mscientist/shop%20pictures/st14.jpg

gmatov
09-13-2010, 11:12 PM
I don't really have a dog in this fight. I don't have one, but one of my kids does.

First, the stove cost a couple thou.

Second, if you use indoor air for combustion, you are taking warmed air out of the house and sending it up the flue, just as with any fireplace, or, indeed, any combustion heating system you can put in your home.

Third, they are not any more efficient than a good gas furnace, actually less so. My kid's basement is WARM, no two ways about that, but the furnace still has to run to heat the rest of the house.

Reminiscent of the old days when we used a Heatrola to heat our house in the 40's and 50's. If it was in the basement, cut holes in the floor and put in grates to try to get some heat to the living floor. (Our house was one floor.) If it was on the living floor, congrergate around the heater till bed time, and cover up with lots of blankets.

I Do believe that if my kid ever considered the cost of the corn, and, when pellets fall in price, he would find that it costs more to burn either of those fuels than the Nat Gas he thinks he is not burning, plus he has to spend about 600 bucks at a time to buy the fuel for the Winter.

Corn is at about 4.60 per bushel, FOB, right now. It will cost you more delivered to your vendor. You will go buy it, pick it up, take it home, offload it, store it, carry it into the house, pour a sack or 2 into the hopper daily, clean the burner every day or 2 to take out the "clinkers", and, I will tell you, I would not do that.

Put in a fireplace if you have to be "green". Go cut your own wood, get some exercise, other than carrying sacks of fuel.

Biggest farce foisted on the public in many years. VERY good sales pitch to get rid of waste sawdust at a premium, rather than have to pay to haul it away.

Have fun figuring if you should or not.

"With a full load of corn (about 80lb's) it will run a day and a half at its lowest setting and this raises basement temperature from around 65 to around 72. (approx. 2000 sq.ft.) "

So, about 10 bucks of corn will raise the temp about 7 degrees, in a day and a half, so about 6.66 per day, so 200 bucks a month, atop of your normal heating bill.

Go for it. You will be a millionaire in a few months, with that financial strategy.

Cheers,

George

I'd sooner put a decent electric heater in there for the time I actually spent there. Give it 15 minutes to warm the space, have a coffee, and then go to work. Flip a switch.

Ken_Shea
09-13-2010, 11:44 PM
Have two of them, one at home and one here at the shop.
Bottom line, would not purchase them if I had it to do over.

Corn cost is too high now, to be efficient, corn burners need clean and dry corn, 12-13% moisture, which cost is even higher if you can find it locally, acids eat up pipe fairly rapidly, and heat is only marginally acceptable.
At a couple bucks a bushel, it is a ok deal, not now.

I burn wood now, yes it's a lot less convenient, a lot more work but have the wood and also stay warm.

IMO, save your money and forget corn for any serious heating plans.

knedvecki
09-14-2010, 12:20 AM
i Have been using one since 1993. I used to heat 1800 sq. ft. with propane at a cost of about $200 per month. Then pellets were $120 per ton, propane was $1.60 a gallon and it would cost me $75 per month to heat the house with pellets more comfortably than propane. I have a corn / pellet / biomass type of stove (Quadra-fire), at the present time which is self igniting, self cleaning. Corn is okay if you have access to a cheap supply. But corn is messy, puts out miniscule dust fines, gums up the inards, and has an acidic corrosive action on the components. I burn wood pellets at the present time. I like the even heat of the stove much better than gas.

A.K. Boomer
09-14-2010, 09:17 AM
I don't have one but my bro does - He's really glad he's got one as he and his wife live way up in the mountains in cold country,
He bought a top of the line lennox pellet stove and its saving them money and creating lots of convenience - I can't remember the figures but he's done all the math and its working out great as they used to burn allot of wood but also run a business in town so are gone allot, Typically the wood fire would burn out then the super expensive propane would kick in.

Now for the most part they still burn some wood when home and when gone the pellet stove takes over - its thermostatically controlled and very maintenance free, very quite and still adds a nice fire glow to the family room.

I think the pellets are 4 bucks a bag but not sure, they usually wait till there on sale and haul up truck loads.

Carld
09-14-2010, 09:50 AM
This is interesting and runs along the line of thought I was having. That is, it has good and bad points. I am leaning toward finishing my wood stove and put it in the house instead of the shop. I had thought about using a corn/pellet stove in the house and the wood stove in the shop.

Since this is for backup heat for the most part it will not have to burn all the time. The availability or corn or wood pellets concerned me because there are many sources of wood for cheap.

Thanks for all the replies and these may help someone decide if the corn/pellet stove fits their needs.

Ken_Shea
09-14-2010, 10:15 AM
On another note, that many but perhaps not all may know is insurance companies frown big time on wood burners and many have clauses to eliminate their liability if used, when fire or smoke damage points to them, even when covered, shop made stoves with out a UL approval sticker can be a reason to deny coverage, also using a unapproved chimney.

atty
09-14-2010, 11:07 AM
Have one. Love it. Wouldn't be without it BUT....(there's always one of those), if I had my druthers, there would be a wood stove there instead. I didn't have the foresight to plumb the chimney for wood burning; I'm in the desert (wood is expensive); propane is more expensive; soooo the pellet stove fits the situation perfectly.

I think the idea is to choose the source that fits your area. If wood is cheap, and you are plumbed to burn it, then forget pellets. I've never had to scout corn so I'm unfamiliar with the price, but pellets run about the same every year, around $5/bag. That means $200-$250/winter as opposed to $750 for propane.

Each area is different.

bobw53
09-14-2010, 11:13 AM
My old man has had a pellet stove going on 10 years now, in New England.

He got it because he was getting old and sick of cutting wood, and having wood delivered was about the same price as the pellets.

He also put in a new oil burning furnace the year after he put in the pellet stove.

The oil is a backup, and he may burn through 100 gallons a year, the pellet stove is the primary heat. 4-5 tons of pellets a year. He also has a wood burning pot belly in the kitchen that he uses on occasion.

His stove requires quite a bit of maintenance, compared to a furnace. He replaces the seals almost yearly on it and has had quite a few fan and auger motors go out. Its not a new fangled fancy one so he cleans out the ashes a few times a week and relights it.

Just this year, their insurance company got a wild hair up their butt and wanted my folks pellet stove installation inspected. The old man never pulled a permit like he was supposed to, so he went down and talked to the town building inspector with his tail between his legs. Paid for the permit and the guy came up and inspected it, and they had a good old time gossiping. The main thing was the UL # on it. Insurance company was quite happy with that.

Too_Many_Tools
09-14-2010, 11:47 AM
On another note, that many but perhaps not all may know is insurance companies frown big time on wood burners and many have clauses to eliminate their liability if used, when fire or smoke damage points to them, even when covered, shop made stoves with out a UL approval sticker can be a reason to deny coverage, also using a unapproved chimney.


Correct.

Houses with wood burners burn down more often...who would have thought?

Not doing it their way means that your insurance is invalid and they will not pay.

Something to consider if you every buy a house with a wood stove...you need to make sure the stove and chimney is to code and the insurance company signs off on it.

TMT