Anyone got wood pellet central heating?

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  • Anyone got wood pellet central heating?
  • Edukator
    Member

    A bloke near Worcester who’s into lapidation used to post about them but since he’s bought a coppice he’s lost interest. πŸ˜‰

    He’ll be along shortly.

    ski
    Member

    S
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    bawbag
    Member

    My cousin has got one and it’s been a bit of a nightmare. They seem to work well using fuel from Scandinavia but British fuel seems a bit damp to burn properly. They’re looking to replace with oil.

    Bear
    Member

    Yup, I know a bit about them as does Stoner. (I found your email and sent you a quick message if you want any more info feel free to mail me)

    need more info to really come up with anything else other than general pros and cons over the various fuels.

    Loading pellets can be totally automatic if you require with a tanker making a delivery once or twice a year.

    Bawbag – fuel should not be a problem, even from the UK. Is he buying from a reputable manufacturer who makes a pellet to the relevant standard and tests every batch not just every few batches.Is he on bulk feed or bagged supplies?

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    We just looked into it quite seriously for a new house we’ve bought but not yet moved into.

    We came to the conclusion, and after talking with the Energy Savings Trust, that biomass systems are still in their infancy in the UK and the tariffs are still not yet cast in stone. They need a large thermal store and pellet storage, and going away for a long weekend could be prohibitive…

    Not ruling it out; if we stay put we’d look at it again in a few years once new garage/outbuilding sorted – would house the system and pellet store there.

    We’re having an oil fired condensing boiler fitted and new wet system; house currently has storage heaters. But we are treating ourselves to a nice stove!

    Bear
    Member

    Biomass systems are not in their infancy, and you do not need a large thermal store if you design the system correctly and work with a manufacturer / installer who will listen to advice. Pellet storage shouldn’t be an issue either fro going away providing you have a good control system.

    The EST should be ashamed of their advice. Oil is way more expensive than biomass to run and the gap will continue to widen. We should be looking to move away from fossil fuels as much as possible.

    trail_rat
    Member

    and if you believe that wood pellets are moving far away from fossil fuels then your living on cloud 9 …

    its 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.

    how long does a tree take to grow compared to one burn… its just a form of above ground fossil fuel.

    wood pellets and biomass and pumping up the price of wood and it wont be long before the gap begins to close.

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    We’re having a PV system installed; for us, at the current time, that was affordable – prices have come down. It was primarily the space needed and system cost that put us off a biomass system, and we couldn’t afford the cost of an automated system. Perhaps biomass systems will come down in price in the same way that PV have.

    In our opinion the EST gave a balanced opinion and showed us that, as trail rat says, that the cost of wood/pellets versus oil is not as overwhelming as we’d all like to think.

    Bear
    Member

    TR I realise that it is not as green as it is made out to be, but as for driving up prices that is not what the studies show.
    We have an abundance of wood in the UK and copices will become just like other crops with them grown more and more for commercial gain. I’m not sure biomass works on an industrial scale for power production but as an alternative to those off grid it is viable.
    Far greener than burning our limited resource of oil though.

    bol
    Member

    We’re hopefully about to move house, and the new place has got ancient elective central heating (with rads not storage heaters). I’m looking at what to replace it with and as we won’t be on mains gas, wood pellets are looking like an appealing option. Anyone got a pellet fired boiler or anything similar, or know much about them? It’s only the need to store and load the pellets that’s putting me off a bit at the moment. I can see that getting annoying once the novelty wears off

    Bear
    Member

    HH – you have pretty much come to the conclusion that most people do. They love the idea, and it does look good if you look long term, but capital cost and space are the two things that most customers are put off by. That is why if possible we try to work without a buffer as it drives up both cost and space issues.

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8
    Subscriber

    Our neighbours have just had a new system installed. It runs off walnut shells. Which is great because we live in the AOC of noix de Grenoble and their family has a large farm with lots of groves.
    Not very helpful to the OP but I thought it’s a nice idea.

    Dickyboy
    Member

    Slightly OT – The abundance of installed but unused biomass boilers in the commercial sector is hardly very “green” especially when you consider TR’s comments & the extra building space & other installation materials required for the boilers & pellet storage in the first place. It’s a scandal I tell thee.

    Premier Icon househusband
    Subscriber

    That is why if possible we try to work without a buffer as it drives up both cost and space issues.

    Hmm… that is interesting! So you’re an installer..?

    As I said, we’re not dismissing it forever!

    Bear
    Member

    Dickyboy – correct, but that comes from the problems of being driven by making money rather than the bigger picture.

    Same as PV which is very un-green if you look at manufacture and disposal etc.

    Bear
    Member

    HH yes have installed a few systems, one of which we have managed without a buffer quite easily. I was responsible for the heating design too so could make sure and make it work. The run times we are getting for each firing is exceeding the manufacturers requirements and they are happy to use them without a buffer unlike most manufacturers.

    mail me timATj-twren.eclipse.co.uk for more infor rather than through here.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    bol – bear has dealt with much of the misinformed voodoo stuff. In more practical terms, I **** LOVE MY BOILER more than any man should love a big sweaty thing.

    I wont go into too much here as I have posted fairly exhaustively on the subject over the last couple of years, I shall put some links at the bottom.

    What I will say, is that unlike, say the decision to order and have fitted a combi boiler for which you might spend, oooo, all of 20 minutes choosing a brand and a model based on internet gossip and your current account balance, much more consideration needs putting into a pellet boiler choice. From fully automated systems to more intensive user-input ones there are dozens of brands and models out there with such variation that its not just “will a pellet boiler suit me”.

    Various considerations to make are (and youve touched on some, as has Bear)

    Space for boiler
    Space for storage
    Flue routing
    Connection to alternative heat sources; electric, solar, woodburner, log furnace
    Household emitters: radiators, UFH
    Self servicing/service contracts
    Warranties
    MCS certification for RHI payments…or not?

    It might be thought a bit hyperbolic to claim that owning a pellet boiler has changed my life but it genuinely has. From it I have developed an interest in biomass heating generally as well as other plumbing and heating systems (Ive just this evening got in from plumbing skool class where I am 2yrs into the slow process of gaining prof heating system qualifications). It has also piqued my interest in permaculture, sustainable fuel production, coppicing, and most importantly owning more than one chainsaw as well as a few axes πŸ™‚

    On the other hand, my neighbour has a pellet boiler that’s fully automated and he doesnt give a stuff how it works but it keeps his house warm πŸ˜€

    29erKeith has come over to Casa del Stoner to have a poke around my sooty grate, and you’re more than welcome to invite yourself too, as is anyone on here who’s interested. I can bore for England on the subject πŸ˜‰

    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/biomasssolar-eco-experts-advice-sought-stoner
    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/the-further-tales-of-pellet-fired-boilers
    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/solar-water-thermal-panels-the-installation-w-pics

    Bear
    Member

    can confirm that Stoner does indeed have a nice boiler but would look better in red……

    bol
    Member

    Thanks everyone. There is something about the hands on nature of some of this that rather appeals to the person I’d like to think I am rather than the person I actually am. Lets put it this way, I get my bikes built at the LBS. The fact that you can get a pellet setup which 99% takes care of itself appeals to my sense of reality about my technical ability and time.

    Stoner – thanks, I’ll have a good read of your other threads.

    Edukator
    Member

    Same as PV which is very un-green if you look at manufacture and disposal etc.

    Solar World have these pretty well covered, check out their site, it was enough to get me to pay more for their panels. And therein lies the problem, Solar World is close to going bankrupt as they can’t compete with cheap, polluting Chinese companies that dominate the market (quite apart from the extra transport).

    Trailrat, the only non sustainable part in the wood-bio-mass equation is transport. That is usually less than oil but may be more than gas. I helped my neighbour fell a pine yesterday. Half a year of wood for me and the transport to my house was less than to the tip, about 1.5l of diesel. It was 25 years old and looking around the woman’s garden she had enough trees to sustainably fuel a maison BBC/passivhaus.

    bol
    Member

    Blimey, lots to read. Cheers.

    Bear
    Member

    Edu – Trailrat is talking more about pellets where there is more of an industrial process involved.

    Cut tree / transport tree / pellet tree / deliver pellets / make pellet machine / maintain pellet making machine etc.

    However a lot of processes involved in making oil too.

    Edukator
    Member

    Make drilling rig (a huge ship if you want to drill deep water), drill holes (two Cat generators running non stop), insert a load of casings that will never be recovered or recycled, transport oil in tankers over long distances (compared with wood), build port to accept such tankers, build huge industrial refinery complex, refine oil, store oil, build depots, transport oil in tankers to depots, deliver oil to customer.

    It seems to me that is a whole lot more polluting than making pellets.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    looking around the woman’s garden she had enough trees to sustainably fuel a maison

    is that a euphemism?

    Further to the non-sustainability question, there needs to be a distinction between domestic/small commercial and national scale electricity generation biomass plants. The latter are heavily subsidised to produce what is defined as “renewable” electrical energy, but does so using large volume imported biomass fuel from countries like the US with some questions of the sustainability of the fuel source.

    For domestic users though, brands such as Verdo manufacture pellets in the UK from UK grown fuel.

    Bear
    Member

    I said that earlier…….

    And I didn’t name names but yes use Verdo pellets as they are regarded as the best……

    Pigface
    Member

    Surprised that Stoner has a “sooty grate” πŸ˜‰ cleanliness is next to Godliness

    I know next to nothing about wood pellets apart from going around a factory in Finland that make them and having a friend in Finland that can txt his boiler to come on and make the house warm for when he gets home. That really blew my mind very very clever.

    Pellet factory in Finland used sawdust (what was up to then a waste product and a pain in the ass for the lumber company mountains of the stuff just left outside) for a few years were dirt cheap and everyone was happy, then the Germans found out about them, demand rose and the price rocketed, lots of unhappy Finns πŸ˜†

    Bear
    Member

    That’s what surprises me about the EST advice, pellet boilers have been around for a long time in the Scandanavian countries and a lot of those boilers are available in the UK. Tried and tested products.

    Edukator
    Member

    Not a euphemism. I don’t know what the English name for a house that gets below 70kWh/m2/year in the English climate is. Proper passivhaus is perhaps over the top in the UK but the “maison BBC” standard is cost effective and would almost eliminate the need for heating most of the year.

    monsho
    Member

    Hopefully next year the government will finally release RHI for domestic installations, and it will make it an easier decision.

    We are distributers / installers / consultants on biomass, busy times for the commercial sector, not sure I can handle the ethical situation with RHI at the minute as basically a means for well monied people to get paid to heat their properties…but it is what it is…

    Sustainability wise, as mentioned above the UK has a lot of woodland, and a huge amount of that is un-managed. Think the 50 acres of spruce on a farm which has gone wild. There hasn’t been a market for this as the timber quality is pretty poor – the small roundwood has been sold to the chipboard type manufacturers for next to nothing.

    Woodfuel is another market for this, it can justify managing woodland, meaning better production, and it can really improve rural economies and give another source of income for those in the industry on a localised scale. We’re probably involved in more woodchip than pellet installs purely because of this, designing and planning a full fuel production for under-used woodlands and re-planting plans – it can work very well!

    Woodchip doesn’t really work for domestic unless in exception circumstances, and the pellet industry is made up of much larger industrial companies. We’ve put a good number of small pellet systems in now, using various bits of kit, with various results! Most are rural, on oil and needing a new system anyway, so they’ve taken the plunge. Most are very happy, the boilers look after themselves generally. British made pellets are generally of very good quality (3/4 of whats produced were exported in 2011), there are some exceptions though and some boilers can handle stuff not quite as good (dust / salts etc).

    Have also done a good number of log boilers, if you’ve your own timber its a very cheap way of heating a property, but the labour involved in filling the boiler once or twice a day shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    The labour involved in filling the boiler twice a day is chicken feed compared to the buggering around needed to get the wood as far as the boiler πŸ™‚

    I love the rhythm of making a fire in the boiler furnace over my morning coffee. I only have to light a second fire on cold winter’s days – maybe 30-45 days of the year. But if Im feeling particularly bone idle I can always fire the pellet burner for an hour or so πŸ™‚

    Right now though solar collection has been so poor for the last three days that Ive just had to fire the boiler for an hour to get a hot shower this evening. Bloody crappy weather πŸ™

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I love the rhythm of making a fire in the boiler furnace over my morning coffee.

    I thought you had a remote controlled pellet feeding thingy, so why do you have to light a fire?

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    when left to run automatically, the pellet boiler will look after itself.

    However I primarily burn wood (logs) in my boiler now (it can do both) as it costs me virtually nothing in fuel costs. So the automated pellet side is usually off unless I go away for a few days or it’s a very cold night.

    However the automation of loading and igniting a log fire is a bit much for a domestic boiler – so I have to do it.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    So I assume it was designed with both in mind?

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    yep. It was the reason I went for it, to give me flexibility and fuel independence. If I run out of pellets or logs, and chop up the chesterfield, davenport and chippendales and still heat the house πŸ™‚

    https://sites.google.com/site/woodviking2010/biotriplex-dual-fuel-boiler

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Ah OK, it has two furnaces, was wondering how it could do logs and pellets in the same one……

    EDIT: F*** me, it’s not cheap!

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    EDIT: F*** me, it’s not cheap!

    Hah. Dont let Bear hear you say that πŸ˜€

    Bear
    Member

    I think it’s quite reasonable, mind you it is only half a boiler…….

    richc
    Member

    I had one installed last year, and after 5 months and a ‘normal’ weekly fuel bill of 120 week, and 7 tonnes of wood pellets. I had to sack my installers . So I am now looking at an extra couple of k to get
    Someone else to finish it off.

    So you need to be very careful finding someone to install it as there are a lot of ‘experts’ around.

    This is not putting anyone down on here just a word of caution.

    monsho
    Member

    Yep, I’d agree with that – 25% of our business is writing reports on badly installed / set up boilers and putting them right. Someone mentioned the ones installed in Hospitals / schools etc that have never been fired up (was part of planning policy for a few years) – utter waste of money and resources. Spending a full day tomorrow surveying 3 of them with a view to getting them running…

    When set up right, and the right kit specified for the job they are cheap to run and very efficient…

    timber
    Member

    Lots of space, go for a log/batch rather than chip – easier to self produce and reduction of production inputs (oil burning)

    For a point earlier;
    Woodfuel is having a pretty big effect on timber prices.
    Timber is far higher valued now, even with Phytopthora clearance.
    Particularly with the power plants burning chip, softwood is up from Β£18/ton roadside (species dependent), same stack would be Β£30/ton for chip or Β£35/ton for sawlogs.
    Big mills like BSW are selling their waste for chip/pellet which helps them keep up with government subsidised power station green burning.
    Hardwood cord for fire logs is getting around Β£45/ton roadside, at least. Few years ago we could barely get rid of the stuff cut, split and seasoned.

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