The skinny on pellet stoves

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Verdeboy, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    I'm supposed to show someone how to use and maintain a pellet stove, but I've never used nor maintained one. Can anyone make me look smart here?
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
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    Ohio
    Try Googling it.
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    When in doubt, tell the truth. Google the hell out of it to get basic knowledge, make sure you've got the owner's manual for the specific stove you're to become an expert on, and spin it a bit: "You know, Charlie, I don't have any experience on your particular stove, but with my other experience and the owner's manual, you and I are BOTH going to become experts." If you're lucky, he'll supply the beer.
  4. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    I've tried Googling for a bit and wasn't getting anywhere; hence, this post. I know Jadnashua has discussed this topic before and I was looking for his and others' input.
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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  6. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2012
  7. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

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    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    I've had mine for over 4 years now. What do you need to know exactly?
    Here are some tips:

    1. Only use premium pellets
    2. There are several ways to light one if stove doesn't have starter.
    3. Empty bag to fill up hopper up to capacity. (usually 40 lb bag)
    4. Flu should be cleaned as with wood stove. (buy flexible rod and brush from dealer)
    5.Once a year: Open door/panel where electronics are and very gently vacuum circuit boards/controls etc with
    shop vac or regular vac with hose)
    6. Only use qualified Pellet stove technicians. These are complicated devices.
    7. Don't freak out if the hopper "screw" feeder jams on occasion. It happens
    even on the best units available.
    8.if the stove doesn't have a starter-gel starter is available
    9. If hopper dumps too many pellets and extinguishes combustion, simply lower the setting.
    10. After lit-leave it alone. When turning stove OFF the fan will continue to operate for 15-20 minutes. This is normal-safety feature.
    11. Ash pan does NOT need to be emptied daily. I only empty mine about once per month. You may need to do it more frequently.
    12. Stove is equipped witha "pull rod" that scrapes some internal ash that you cannot get to.

    We have another pellet shortage this year. If you can afford it-buy an entire pallet. I buy around 10 bags at the time for storage reasons.
    When pellets are available-buy-buy-buy before you need them!
    If you don't keep a good supply-you will be spending some chilly nights!

    Walmart has lowest prices-around here anyway. Dealers in many cases carry better pellets.
    You will pay 1-2 dollars more.
    "Low ash" is key.

    Pellet stoves create about 96% less pollution than standard wood stoves.

    I am not an Expert-Follow instructions/dealer advice. Find "Wood Pellet Institute" for reliable links.

    Hope that helps.

    Mike
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  8. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    The person I need to help is moving into a new house that has one of these, so I don't even know what it looks like. I don't know if it is self-lighting or if I need to light it. I don't know if the pellets are fed from the top or the bottom. I don't know if it has a thermostat of some kind or not.

    I would like to be able to get the thing lit for her and make sure that the flu and ash pan are clean. What are the different ways you can light it? Do you need one of those long lighters or matches, and, if so, where exactly do you place the lit end of the match? Also, how do you clear out a jammed screw feeder. At what point does the fan go on? Do you light it first and then plug it in?

    Thanks
  9. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    Plug it in first. It probably has an automatic starter so dont worry about it. If not PM me and I'll give you details of all lighting options. Easiest is put a hand full of pellets into
    the burning recepticle and put lighting Gel on pellets (in burn tray) NOT IN HOPPER. as instructed on bottle.
    Turn fan on after you have it lit. thats it..

    The burn tray looks like an ashtray with holes in it. (pellets drop into tray) Use regular size match to light it if using gel.

    Most/Many models do not have a thermostat. That is generally an option.
    Pellets are fed from the top.
    I am sending you PM Verdeboy. I can explain this simple procedure better.
    Very easy-much safer than wood stove--it has auto-shut down.

    **After lit make sure to turn feed/hopper switch "on".**
    It is probably a separate switch.


    Mike
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  10. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    Mine is Prescott model at this url:
    http://www.eventempinc.com/stcroix/stoves/stoves.html

    Pellet Institute with Links:
    http://www.pelletheat.org/3/industry/retailersOnly.cfm


    Most of the time if the screw jams you will have to call the technician.
    On my model some expensive circuit boards need to be removed to gain access to the screw. Personally...? I'm not comfortable doing it myself.
    My tech charges 50-75 dollars to clear it. It has happened about once every 2 years.

    This does Not mean you have a "lemon". It just happens.
    Just because your toilet gets clogged doesn't mean you have a bad toilet.

    Dealers will tell you it's because you aren't buying their pellets. yea...right.
    It's caused by a build up of residual sawdust and/or clinkers.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  11. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    Thanks for all the information. I think I know enough to at least fake like I know something about this.
  12. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    And BTW Verdeboy: Tell the owner to not believe it when dealers or especially Walmart or big box about pellet supply availability for the season. No one knows for sure.

    There are currenty 400,000 Pellet stoves in the US.

    If everyone buys by the pallet this winter--there will be a shortage.
    If gas prices rise-shortages can happen.

    Very cold winters in some parts of the US-people can use 2-3 TONS.

    Personally, I use around 1 ton myself (40-50 bags). Our winters are short in SoCal.


    A very rough estimate for your area is
    somewhere in the neighorhood of 75-95 bags with obvious varying factors. IOW they need to get busy. ;)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2006
  13. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    How many bags on a pallet?
    How much does a bag weigh?
    What's the going price per pallet?

    I realize the price is probably location dependant

    Rancher
  14. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    Should be a ton on a pallet-50 bags
    Bags weigh 40 lbs.
    No volume discounts

    1 Bag at Walmart this season is $4.97
    Local Pellet Stove dealer price ranges around $6.50

    1 ton pallet at Walmart is $248.50.

    And that is the total cost to heat my home this winter, which ain't to shabby..
    Electric needed to run fan isn't worth adding in to cost.
  15. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    Do you have any idea what sort of pollutants a pellet stove generates? I'm guessing it's better than burning straight wood, but not as good as natural gas.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
    New England
    Done right, there is very little creosote with a pellet stove. Some of them come with or can be fitted with a catalytic converter to help remove some of the nasties from the flue gasses.
  17. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    That's great. Maybe it will be a viable alternative once the natural gas supply is depleted. Maybe they can manufacture a car engine that runs off of those same pellets.:)
  18. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    First I've heard about it Jim and it's worth looking into. I'm not aware of any stoves here that fitted with a CC. Reason being is the effiency is around 98.5 compared with traditional wood stove at around 50-70%

    Many states have bans/laws on (non pellet) wood stoves.
  19. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    I remember an old move... Humphrey Bogart? Where they were in some jungle area and they ran a bus using coconut fumes... sounded pretty bizarre at the time, but probably doable.

    Rancher
  20. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    The good stoves are really new technology. I'm waiting for newer models that I can clear myself and put out even more heat and larger fans.

    I'll trade this one in or sell it. Used stoves sell in the 500 dollar range-but I wouldn't buy one.


    Anyone looking to buy a Pellet Stove should really consider one that burns corn as well
    depending on supply in your area.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2006
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