pellet stoves winter 07

so.. has anyone manufactured a pellet stove feed system thats more energy smart than the current auger systems i see in all of them? as you probably know the auger motor has to be pretty heavy duty to minimize jams (but more torque = more kwh's on my bill). Ours is working out ok but i am very interested in running a unit that uses less power. there is a solar store in greenfield ma that sells dc versions of their pellet stoves, i wonder if anyone has any power experiences with various pellet stoves? mine was cheap and uses more power than youd expect (fans and auger, not to mention electric flame starter which i REALLY wish i could turn off and do manually!)

Comments

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07
    mattl wrote:
    electric flame starter which i REALLY wish i could turn off and do manually!

    Welcome to the New North America, over run by people with no common sense and Lawyers. I'm sure the reason you can't turn off the starter is because the manufacturer is terrified of being sued by some idiot that may burn his house down if permitted to light it himself. A sad state of affairs and it's ruining our freedom of choice.
    Wayne
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    yea...well it just seems to me theres has got to be a better way than to let pellets DROP, then auger UP, so they can DROP again into the burn pit. im sure somebody will come up with a jamfree method to drop, i HOPE. i wanted to get a new/better pellet stove but this ones only a year old, i suppose i should wait to watch for better technology
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    What he said. Does anyone have experience with a better alternative yet? I'm off grid, would like to use a thermostatically controlled pellet stove, and wouldn't mind having a propane pilot to light the pellets.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    Here is another thought.

    I haven't looked at the numbers in the last little while but here is my opinion.

    I was never a fan of pellet stoves for two reasons. The first was that they won't burn in the case of a power outage (and off grid they have considerable parsitic energy costs) The second is that on average, the net btu cost INTO the room, which is the only measure that matters, of pellets has often been higher than Natural gas, and sometimes higher that propane. A Rinnai natural gas/Propane space heater will draw ~50 wats and will burn over 90% efficiently. Installation is easier and cheaper, they are available in a variety of sizes so that zone heating is easy to do. I just think from my admittedly limited experience, that pellet stoves are more trouble than they are worth.

    One other alternative, particularly in the North East is Bio-brick. Manufactured wood fuel from forest product waste available by the ton, burns like conventional fuel in a conventional stove, has been competitive with cord wood (and burns cleaner with more btus per ton).

    Tony
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    Thanks, Tony. Point taken!

    I've been thinking about alternatives to a wood stove for a few reasons.

    1. Our cabin is quite small. I don't really want to give up the space a wood stove requires if I don't have to. (Though I do appreciate the simple aspect of a wood stove and have a good source of local firewood.)

    2. We are pursuing passive solar heat and are thinking of the additional heater as supplemental. I've added a large south window and have room and intentions to create a trombe wall on the south as well.

    3. I would like to have my supplemental heater on a thermostat. This is the big advantage of pellet stoves over standard wood stoves to me. Wood stoves have other advantages: local supply, zero electrical draw, etc.
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    I've also considered installing a vacuum tube solar water heater and trying to use that water for supplemental heat, or even tie it in with our demand water heater but I'm not really sure about the potential complexities of that kind of system.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,091 admin
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    I would check out the vacuum tube solar collector very closely... I wonder if it is more high-tech and expensive than most people need.

    The vacuum tube is very good for high temperature water (commercial hot water for washing, very cold climates that need very hot water).

    The downsides seem to be -- issues with fragility, high heat (at the water heat exchanger site + antifreeze "cooking"), expense. Cannot easily repair.

    In cold climates--they don't clear snow as quickly as flat plate collectors (low heat loss means little heat available to melt snow).

    A good glass covered/insulated flat plate collector would seem to do about as well for you in your hot climate (Texas?).

    Certainly not an expert on this--just sort of the impression I have seen reading around the web.

    A good starting point for a DIY installation seems to be www.SolarRoofs.com

    Solar Guppy has used them before and has been happy with them.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    Flat plate drain back system is pretty simple for a DIY'er .

    The ones I have built work fine with potable water down to about +10f without draining. Lower than than and you like to drain if only for the peace of mind.

    Tony
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    OK, getting away -for now - from the means by which the solar energy is collected in the water.

    Does anyone have experience with heating a home with solar hot water? I'm guessing this is a less-than-fantastic idea for supplemental heat for a passive solar home, since, if the passive solar is designed correctly, there would be no need during sunny times. So, the system would need to also have a water heater of sorts. No problem. Can the same water heater that is used to heat domestic hot water do double duty, or would it have to exist in a closed-loop system?

    This is starting to sound complex and expensive :blush:

    While we're at it - Tony, have you ever tried to use hot water as the heat source on your amonia fridge? lol.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: pellet stoves winter 07

    It comes down to: how much do you want to spend?
    I've seen system designs using huge underground tanks of water that were heated by solar on sunny days; the heat stored in the thermal mass of the water and called for as conditions required. Pretty cumbersome and expensive, but technically possible.

    On a more practical scale it probably wouldn't work well: you'd need a lot more solar exposure to heat up sufficient water to readily warm the volume of a house as opposed to heating for the hot water requirements. To get an idea, compare the BTU ratings of a hot water heater to those of a typical furnace.

    You might try a more direct solar hot air heating system - less mass to heat up in the first place.
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