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Old 10-02-2010, 06:46 PM   #1
Waldershrek
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Best home heating fuel

Thought this would be an interesting debate. What is the best home heating fuel and why?

Wood, fuel oil, pellets, coal, natural gas, propane or other? I realize that "best" is a relative term. What I'm looking for here is a value I guess. What gives the most heat for the least money (i know, everything is expensive these days).

Obviously wood is probably the most labor intensive since it has to be cut, split and stacked.

Discuss.........



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Old 10-02-2010, 08:10 PM   #2
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Waldershek, another consideration should be reliability too. For me, it's real simple. Wood. It cost little and can be stored up like money in the bank. It's fun to gather, sort of like mana! Did the pellets thing, and discovered that they sucked for us in our situation. . Also use an oil heater by monitor, and that does well, but the main fact for us is that no one can hold you hostage to pricing. With wood, YOU control how much it will cost you to heat your home, not a utility or oil corporation.



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Old 10-02-2010, 09:04 PM   #3
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What didn't you like about pellets? My parents have always had a pellet stove and it puts off good heat, pellets are still relatively cheap and it's low maintenance.

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Old 10-03-2010, 11:38 AM   #4
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If you're looking for comparison costs, look here. http://pellet.org/pellets/compare-fuel-cost/

Pellets have been our primary heat source for a number of yrs. Is convenient, is very competitive with other heat sources. IMO wood is only competitive IF you don't consider your time to cut/split/stack worth much and the trees/logs are all but free. We also have natural gas but prefer the warmth the pellet stove provides.

I still have a couple cords of wood left over when I moved from wood to pellets. Around here a cord of hardwood cost about the same as a pallet, ton, of pellets.

Pellets stove is about 10 yrs old and still waiting for first failure. I use my pellet stove with a programmable t-stat. even in the middle of Jan/Feb I've never used more than 1.5 bags of pellets a day. For about 3 months when heat is called for most of the time, the pellet stove is running 24/7. It's shut down for 15-20 min 1-2 times a week to clean out the ash tray. The try in this stove is fairly small. I've not had any problems using pellets from last yrs supply but thenI don't leave them out doors. As long as plastic bag is sealed, no holes, I don't see how they can deteriorate from absorbing moisture.

To figure out total fuel cost one needs to consider stove efficiency. Fireplace is very un-efficient and wood burning stoves can vary a lot depending upon design. Coal is cheap, dirty and not available everywhere.

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Old 10-03-2010, 07:00 PM   #5
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Twice warmed is the man who cuts his own firewood.

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Old 10-03-2010, 08:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
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What didn't you like about pellets? My parents have always had a pellet stove and it puts off good heat, pellets are still relatively cheap and it's low maintenance.
As I mentioned, we had a first generation pellet stove in our home and in our rental. Both had numerous electric motors, poorly designed pots and motherboards that sizzled frequently. The pellet stoves ran from a thermostate, and cycled on and off, and often times would attempt to start, but not catch in time and the whole system would shut down, and wait to be reset, often after the temps in the house went into the 40s or 50s. Thermocouples always failed and had to clean the clunkers out every other day. The fatal blow was when our pellet stove broke down on Christmas eave, leaving us without heat. We bought a wood stove and haven't looked back. in 1999, we added an oil monitor for those days that aren't so cold and it has been a nugget, costing us less to heat with than the pellets go for in our area. Pellet stoves are no doubt better these days, but we just don't want to be at the mercy of the pellet retailers, controlling the cost of heating our home, the numerous times we received bad pellets that had a lot of crumbs that trip up the auger, plus the possibility of a breakdown at the most unoppertune time and or a power outage. Wood heat works ALL the time, and this was paramount to us, as we've lost power for several days before and hate running the generator for hours on end to run a heating systems electic motors and such. We have a lot of hydroelectric and so power is cheap around here too for those using electric heat.
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Old 10-03-2010, 08:26 PM   #7
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Twice warmed is the man who cuts his own firewood.
I just enjoy going out and getting wood too. Certainly is enjoyable bringing it in and cleaning up your place at the same time.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:37 PM   #8
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I stayed in an INN in Vermont that had a 'Koffleofen' in the middle of the house. I don't know if I spelled the stove right, but it's a German brand stove with a few select USA installers. The stove is large in thermal mass @ 4' x 4' x (6-8)' long, with a smoke chamber that slowly weaves around and up before exiting the flue. This gives greater heat gain from the wood. The outside is coverered in ornate painted tiles too & looks great. PLUS you could lean or lay on it if you wanted without getting burnt (good for child safety). The lady who owned the Inn would throw some 4' logs in whe she awoke & it would burn for 24 HRS! She also said to me she used only 1 match to start the fire the previous year & never needed another since there were always coals in the AM to burn the next logs. It was a comfortable constant heat source as well. That's the one I want when I build my cabin!

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Old 10-04-2010, 04:02 PM   #9
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My parents had an old pellet stove they got when they first came out. It just stayed on all the time. I don't like these ones that are controlled by thermostat always shutting off and trying to relight. Seems like one more thing to break.


I do love the smell of a wood stove though. Always reminds me of fall for some reason.

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Old 10-04-2010, 06:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waldershrek View Post
My parents had an old pellet stove they got when they first came out. It just stayed on all the time. I don't like these ones that are controlled by thermostat always shutting off and trying to relight. Seems like one more thing to break.


I do love the smell of a wood stove though. Always reminds me of fall for some reason.
Not all pellet stoves operate this way. Ours never shuts down. Goes into a very low idle mode. When heat is called for it comes up quickly. BIL has one that you can set on how is handles "shut down" when set temp is reached. Came be either complete shut down or low idle setting.

Saw a Harmon this summer and if heat cycles off and need for heat was within 20 min it goes into a idle setting & if longer than 20 min a complete shut off. Don't know the the time period was adj.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:01 PM   #11
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Chinaberry, Apple trees, Oak trees to name a few.

All get hot and will warm you.



DON'T BURN PINE WOOD! Just for you who don't know. Pine has pine tar in it thus will give off black smoke thus causing problems for you and your house.





They are fixing to make another fuel pellet plant down here round my area.
Except they are going to ship to Europe.

Though we do have a fuel pellet plant here that sells here.

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Old 10-04-2010, 09:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
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My parents had an old pellet stove they got when they first came out. It just stayed on all the time. I don't like these ones that are controlled by thermostat always shutting off and trying to relight. Seems like one more thing to break.


I do love the smell of a wood stove though. Always reminds me of fall for some reason.
Ours cued off the thermistat and the hot cold cycles warped the heat exchangers and the ignigters would wear out all the time as well as thermocouples. Ours always had to be cleaned at least a couple times a week on account of the clinkers. In our pellet stove, there were 2 motors running the auger, as well as a convection fan and a fan for combustion and a fan for pushing the exhaust. The motors burned up at the rate of at least once a year meaning that each motor needed replacing every year and some hadf to be replaced twice a year. You can see why my pellet stoves ended up out at the gravel pit full of bullet holes! I hope to cripies that they are better these days!
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:15 PM   #13
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Wow sounds like you had one built on a Monday. My parents had theirs for at least 7-8 years before the fan motor went and that was the only problem they ever had.


I'm looking at houses and I love fireplaces but I'm concerned about efficient they are. I have more experience with pellets but the cost goes up every year. Unfortunately if I went with wood I would have to buy it from somebody as I have no access to standing or fallen timber.

Oil, natural gas and propane are too unpredicatable as far as price and are usually too expensive. Obviously every house has a furnace but I'd like to use it as little as possible.

Nobody has any experience with coal?

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Old 10-05-2010, 08:03 PM   #14
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Wood stoves are pretty ineffecient, and if you're using a wood boiler, they are grosely ineffecient. You are right in that the cost of pellets is tied to the inflation of everything else. Wood stoves are great for those with lots of timber or near forest service land. Of notable consideration, are the Japanese made Monitor brand oil stoves. These heaters are extremely effecient, do not require the daily fillings of pellet stoves and heat pretty darn well, and they have a smaller footprint than wood or pellet stoves, and they never need cleaning.

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Old 10-06-2010, 01:03 PM   #15
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I have a New York Wood Furnace and since I have finally mastered the regulation of the air thermostat it has proven very efficent. As to the cost of cutting the tree and cutting into fire wood lengths of 20 inches and splitting and stacking...well I see it as about $10 a rick or face cord. I use a total of 2$ of fuel annd oil to drop the tree and cut it up and a $1's worth of fuel to split up a total of5 rick or 1 full cord of wood pretty efficient to say the least..as far as my labor I look at it as exercise and it's at my home in the great outdoors.... I figure I saved 30-50 dollars from going to the gym to work out...

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Old 10-28-2010, 10:18 AM   #16
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After the ice storm, 2 years ago there are a lot of big trees laying in pepoles yards, that can't be handled by hand. we take our spliter and our trac hoe, lift the big cut offs with the trac hoe, use a 5 foot of chain above the wood so we can spin it in the spliter. pepole are thrilled to get the mess cleaned up and we get really nice split wood for free. 3 foot trees makes a lot of split wood really quick.

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Old 10-30-2010, 10:17 AM   #17
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After the ice storm, 2 years ago there are a lot of big trees laying in pepoles yards, that can't be handled by hand. we take our spliter and our trac hoe, lift the big cut offs with the trac hoe, use a 5 foot of chain above the wood so we can spin it in the spliter. pepole are thrilled to get the mess cleaned up and we get really nice split wood for free. 3 foot trees makes a lot of split wood really quick.
That's for sure. I don't know why, but for me, I love splitting the wood too. Just really enjoyable as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:47 AM   #18
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I don't have a wood stove any longer but I used to have a deal with a tree surgen. He would call me when he cut down big trees. I would show up with my trailer and truck. He would give me all the wood. It was a sweet deal for me. I didn't have to look around for wood or even cut it down. He would also cut it to size for me. All I had to do was haul it and split it.

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Old 11-01-2010, 11:50 AM   #19
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I don't have a wood stove any longer but I used to have a deal with a tree surgen. He would call me when he cut down big trees. I would show up with my trailer and truck. He would give me all the wood. It was a sweet deal for me. I didn't have to look around for wood or even cut it down. He would also cut it to size for me. All I had to do was haul it and split it.
Why the heck would you have walked away from that deal? I'll bet if you smooth talked the guy, he would have stacked it by the stove for you! I just had to razz ya!
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:51 AM   #20
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I have a really good working friend who fell off a roof Friday and messed his back up. I brought him over a load of firewood to help the old man out!



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