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Thread: Pellet stoves in Chch

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    NH/Chch
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    Default Pellet stoves in Chch

    I'm scratching my head over this one:

    We installed a pellet stove a few years back and the installers said that it was going to knock us out of the house due to the heat it puts out (45,000 BTU's). What's really happened is that we have to run the thing on high for hours and the far end of the room that it is in (25 m2), it can still be cool. Our house is really small (64m2) and very well insulated. I did all the insulation myself and doubled the amount of insulation in the attic making for an R-value of 4.4. I come from New England, which means it's not in my genetic make-up to live in something other than a well insulated house.

    We've heard stories of others in the Chch area that also jumped on the pellet stove bandwagon a few years back but are now also dissappointed with pellet stoves and replaced them with heat pumps.

    I thought that maybe this is just the way pellet stoves are until I caught up to a friend (back here in the US) and his pellet stove, rated with the same BTU as mine, puts out an incredible amount of heat! We couldn't get within 0.5m of it. I can sit on mine even when it's on high.

    So, now I'm wondering if it's the quality of the pellets.

    For pellet stove owners, especially ones buying pellets made in the Canterbury area, what's been your experiences?

    I'm not looking for comparisons of pellet stoves, log burners, etc. since they are two different types of heat (convection vs. radiation). I'm just wondering if your pellet stove is putting out heat.

    If it isn't, we may need to scrap ours and look at other heat sources. Ours has always done this right from the get go, so it's not like it needs maintenance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    NB Canada to Dargaville, NZ
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    Quality of the wood pellets can have a significant effect on the amount heat your wood pellet stove will put out.

    We ran a pellet stove in our house in Canada for 4 yrs (burned approx 2-3 tons of pellets a yr..130 to 160 40lb bags), and the last winter we had it, the pellets were junk..heat output pitiful and the ash content was huge (the absolute worst when compared to other years). I would run the pellets at 3/4 to full on the auger, at times even at 3/4 (into the red zone of the dial)...the fire would go out. In previous yrs I could run the auger speed at slightly past half way on the dial, and the fire wouldn't ever go out (not to mention a roaring amount of heat when at full bore). We replaced the auger motor (upon inspection it was leaking lubricant a little), still no difference in the heat out put of the unit. Eventually talked to the supplier of the pellets, they said I was not the only one complaining in the province. Supplier knew there was a problem..but the manufacturer refused to acknowledge the problem existed.

    The pellets have to be within a certain size range in order to properly feed through the auger...amount of wood dust can effect the feed of pellets as well. When done burning for the year, make sure your auger is cleared out of any pellets or wood dust. Clean out any dust that sits in the bottom of the the wood pellet bin. If these areas have not been cleaned out ...the pellets and dust will absorb moisture... expand and potentially cause the auger to seize up entirely or not turn as easily as it normally should (putting strain on the auger motor and maybe burning it out).

    Not saying this is your problem...just telling you one of my experiences. Or perhaps you already know what I have mentioned
    Last edited by Addicted to NZ; 19th April 2011 at 01:05 PM.

  3. #3
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    May 2008
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    Hants>Half Moon Bay>Franklin
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    Default

    (I'm South Auckland) We are in a rental that had a new pellet fire installed prior to us moving in. Well I say new, it was old shop stock and around 4 years old although never used when it was fitted. We used the recommended Natures Flame pellets and tbh didn't find that it heated up our open plan lounge/kitchen. It took the chill off the room, but not warmed it up to a comfy level. It certainly wouldn't cope with warming any other part of the house. I think it's the size of the fire as opposed to the pellets being used that is the problem in our case.

    We only seem to have the choice of Natures Flame for pellets.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2009
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    NB Canada to Dargaville, NZ
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    Any pictures of these units and a picture of the pellets as they burn? Video?

    The fire of the pellets isn't a big fire...they have a blower that fans the fire to an intense flame with a lot of heat. Then the heat is then blown off the top (another fan/blower) of the unit from the heat pipes....well at least the ones in Canada are.


    This guy is burning fall leaves...but the flame looks very much how our unit flame looked when burning pellets.
    [YOUTUBE]7fNpKz2Z6no[/YOUTUBE]

    Darn I forget how to post videos on these forums - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fNpKz2Z6no

    I can only think if the heat lose is as much as the house we are in...I would be shocked if the unit we had in Canada...didn't heat the room it was in up...at least. Cause the heat coming off the top of the unit (air from the fan forced air)...too hot to touch.
    Last edited by Addicted to NZ; 19th April 2011 at 04:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Chch, NZ
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    This is interesting to hear about pellet burners. My impression is that they're suppose to be an 'eco-alternative' to burning solid timber in wood burners. Sometimes newer higher tech ways of burning wood isn't always better.

    Back in Canada, in my hometown there's been a big argument that wood pellet burners are not a green source of fuel as the transportation & manufacturing of these pellets produce mass amounts of CO2. The idea of being eco is reducing one's carbon foot print.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2009
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    NB Canada to Dargaville, NZ
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    Here is a good forum for many forms of heating, pellets being one of them - http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/

    After looking around on the Heart.com, there is an image displaying the temp at the top of the pellet stove on the thermometer. With diff brands of pellets-




    9th post in http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index...wthread/24431/
    Last edited by Addicted to NZ; 19th April 2011 at 07:38 PM.

  7. #7
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    I suggest reading the whole thread over at hearth.com that I linked interesting stuff, even the time the auger is on 1sec vs 3secs can have an impact on the heat output of your pellet stove.
    Of course it would dahhhh....I think it helps with poor pellet quality.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    NH/Chch
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    Ours is an Evolution made by Enviro in Canada and the flame output looks the same as the videos I found of it online, which is very similar to Addicted's video and images. I haven't measured the heat output with a thermometer..

    I would describe the heat output similar to youme&3. And, we have been using Nature's Flame pellets all along.

    I have to disagree with Super BQ since my friend's stove puts out a blazing amount of heat. He does have more control over it than I have over mine: He can control air and auger feed and a few other things. He has a Harman. So, it's either my stove model or pellet quality. That's why it would be great to hear of other's experiences.

    FWIW, from the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, here's the costs for the major sources of heat:
    -Heat Pump (Modern Energy Star) 5-7 cents per unit (kWh) of heat.
    -Woodburner (Modern) 10-11 cents.
    -Pellet stove 13-19 cents.

    I found some better info yesterday but can't seem to find it again. I wish I had done my research before installing the pellet stove, considering that it's not doing its thing...

  9. #9
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    Dec 2009
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    NB Canada to Dargaville, NZ
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    I have a few/couple questions myself -

    How much is a 40lb (18kg I think) of pellets (NZ)..roughly?

    How many bags do you burn for the year?


    For us..these are rough figures-

    Running our unit for a winter back in NB...a bag could last about 72hrs with the auger at half speed (usual setting during end of fall and early winter in NB,Canada). When at full tilt....it would go through a bag roughly every 7-8hrs or roughly 3 bags every 24hrs (-15C to -30C cold winter days). It did a good job...but the house we had was a large house (electric baseboards still needed to be used eventually)..with a 17 ft ceiling in the living room so it is hard to compare to NZ condition and houses.

    Some of the newer units have programmable thermostats (I have seen some in Canada) on the side. Can even buy a kit to put one on older unit stoves. I suspect they will even have them on the wall in near the future (perhaps wireless controlled? Probably have em already). Manually adjusting the pellet stove to provide heat...I found a lot of waste happens.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Poole, UK to Chch, NZ
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    We only just had ours installed, and the insulation in our ceiling isn't quite complete, so I'm afraid I can't help much here.. I will continue reading this thread with interest though!

    Btw, for us the biggest draw of the pellet fire v. heat pump was that a heat pump requires mains power (or generator) to run, while a pellet fire can be hotwired with a car battery. We simply don't trust Chch to maintain an uninterrupted power supply this winter, even if we are on the western side of town!

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