pellet insert vs wood insert - not able to decide

joesat78July 13, 2008

Hi, iÂm unable to decide on whether to buy pellet insert or wood insert to heat the my 1500 sqft upper level of my home. Wood goes for 170/cord and pellet is 265/ton. My primary concern is the cost. When I check with people, they say I may need 5 cords of wood or 2 tonnes of pellets. Considering the cost of wood and pellets, it would cost me $850 for wood and $530 for pellets. However, when I check the cost by comparing the cost of various fuels (e.g., the cost of pellets are way higher than wood. Can someone tell me whether there are any hidden costs with pellets? Considering the cost of wood/pellets in my area, what would you suggest - just from the cost perspective alone.

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I think, (from memory), that 1 ton of pellets equals the net heat value of 1.5 cords. On that basis your costs between the two are not far off, [1.5 cords x $170/cord = $255 pellet ton equivalent], which is pretty close to $265.

Although I can appreciate that cost is your main factor, you have to figure in your lifestyle as well. Pellet inserts may cost as much as 1.5 to 2 times the cost of a fireplace insert and while you generally can't make your own pellets you can probably find wood to put in a stove.

Pellets are more automatic, burn cleaner and need fewer cleanings than a wood stove but when burning they have all the romance of a blast furnace. I am biased toward wood stoves but would suggest that you should factor in some of the lifestyle issues as they can turn into hidden costs pretty quickly.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Another consideration is the fact that pellet stoves and inserts depend on electricity and mechanicals. Some can be run for up to 8 hrs on a battery backup, so if you experience longer outages, you may not have heat. Mechanicals mean more maintenance.

In our area, pellets are getting hard to find due to demand, and are actually being imported from outside our area at higher cost for lower grade-- that may not apply in your area. Yet. I am putting in a wood stove because I can support small local woodlot industry, which is enjoying a much needed resurgence.

A stove rather than an insert might be a better option in terms of heat output and ease of maintenance, by the way. Have you given that any consideration? There is so much demand for pellet stove and inserts that in many cases people are having to wait until next year. I get my new stove this fall.

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 2:55PM
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I see on another forum an increasing number of problems getting delivery on Pellets. Wood seems to be available, albeit for high and higher cost. One will pay over $200 per cord for mixed hardwood in central NJ, maybe closer to $250 for a true full cord. Still if you have, as I do, a good bit of mixed hard/soft wood available on your own property, just cleaning up what the wind blows down, and doing some needed thinning provides some wood for sweat labor and some investment in equipment. If that's your situation, I'd strongly recommend wood over pellets. If you are a "white collar" person, then pellets is more compatible, I think.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:39PM
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