Wood Pellets, Pellet Stoves & How Much You Need


How much do you need to heat your home?

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is “How many gallons of oil did you use last year to heat your home?” If we can assume one ton of wood pellets is equal to 119 gallons of heating oil or 170 gallons of propane, divide the total number of gallons you used last year by 119 or 170 to determine the number of tons of wood pellets you’ll need. For example, if you used 1,100 gallons of heating oil, you’ll need 9.24 tons of wood pellets (1,100/119 = 9.24). If you heat your home with propane and used 1,100 gallons of propane last year, you’ll need 6.47 tons of wood pellets (1,100/170 = 6.47).

1 ton of wood pellets = 119 gallons of heating oil
1 ton of wood pellets = 170 gallons of propane

*Calculations based on 80% efficiency of both an oil burning furnace or a wood pellet burning stove.

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Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are a type of wood fuel, generally made from compacted sawdust. They are usually produced as a byproduct of sawmilling and other wood transformation activities. The pellets are extremely dense and can be produced with a low humidity content (below 10%) that allows them to be burned with a very high combustion efficiency. Further, their regular geometry and small size allow automatic feeding with very fine calibration. They can be fed to a burner by auger feeding or by pneumatic conveying.

Their high density also permits compact storage and rational transport over long distance. They can be conveniently blown from a tanker to a storage bunker or silo on a customer’s premises. As the price of heating with fossil fuels increases, more capacity for pellet heating has been installed. A large number of models of pellet stoves, central heating furnaces and other heating appliances has been developed and marketed since about 1999. With the surge in the price of fossil fuels in 2005, the demand has increased all over Europe and a sizable industry is emerging.

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Wood Pellet Stoves

A pellet stove is an appliance that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat for residential and sometimes industrial spaces. By slowly feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn-pot area, they create a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments.

The pellet stove has changed in appearance over the years from a simple, boxy workhorse design, to a decorative heating appliance. Pellet stoves can be either free-standing units or fireplace inserts vented into an existing chimney. Most pellet stoves are constructed using large, conductive, cast-iron pieces, with stainless steel to encase circuitry and exhaust areas.

The heating industry has considerably shifted toward biomass stoves and heating devices based on efficient combustible and renewable resources. This was a trend that began during the 1973 oil crisis causing the creation of the first pellet stoves. Even so, pellet stoves have become a viable, economical, and popular option for home heating systems only in the last ten years. Many pellet stove manufacturers recommend the use of a corn and pellet mixture, though some are UL listed for fuels other than pellets, such as wheat, sunflower seeds, and cherry pits.

* Information gathered here is based in part on information from Wikipedia.

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