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Heat source-gas or pellet stoves?(3 posts)

Heat source-gas or pellet stoves?DINOSAUR
Aug 9, 2003 7:12 PM
We live in the NorCal foothills. It seldom snows here, our winters are wet and cold, temps can get down to the high teens or 20's at night. We have a brand new Bryant propane full house furnance/air conditioner unit. We can not run it all winter for our heat source as it is too expensive to operate. We have a Austroflamm pellet stove that is about 8 years old that went bottoms up, we think it needs a new mother board but we can not find a dealer that works on them nor the part. Austroflamm does not make that particular model any longer. We have been researching pellet and propane free standing stoves. Our idea is to turn on the propane furnance in the a.m. and heat the entire house up, then to the pellet or propane stove to heat the living area (approx 1500 square ft) after the house is warmed up. In order to go to the propane stove we would have to have a line connected from our propane tank (appro 125 ft) and new pipe (needs 4" we have 3"). I was looking at the efficiency rating of the various propane stoves then looked at the pellet stoves (Breckwell, Whitfield) and it looks like the pellet stoves put out more heat. I've delt with storing 40 pound bags of pellets and we go through 1 1/2- 2 tons per winter but there is a slight hassle of loading the pellets, storing them in our garage, ect. They are pennies apart in operating per hour (propane vs pellets). The propane would be a lot more convenient and just about no maintenace required. Both are about in the same price range. For you cold weather folks which would you recommend? We dealt with wood and it's expensive and a big hassle to deal with-so it's down to pellets or propane. We were set to go with propane, but now we can't decide. Another issue is that once and awhile we will lose our power (not very often) and we can't run the pellet stove without an electrical source, but we don't need electricity for the propane to operate- we have a fireplace that we could use for wood, but it would not heat up the entire house.
It sounds like propane is what you want.dr hoo
Aug 10, 2003 8:27 AM
At least from reading your post, that seems like the answer you want to hear.

The advantage of pellet would be a second source of heat cost, and that would allow you to use more of the heat source that is cheaper at any given time. If propane costs spike in the future, you will then save more money with pellets and vice versa.

Personally, I would go with propane for the convienence factor. Hauling and storing pellets (and buying them if you don't have them delivered) and feeding the stove are all time better spent doing other things. How much is your time worth?

As for heating, if you don't already have one you should get a programable thermostat and set it for maximum comfort and minimum hassle. We turn ours down to 60 at night, then have it kick up 30 minutes before we get up. It stops the furnace from running very much at all during the night, except on the coldest of nights. Some models allow for almost infinite setting and combinations.

During the winter, I'm THRILLED when the HIGH temps get into the 20's. That's riding weather!
I agree.jesse1
Aug 10, 2003 11:02 AM
My first choice would be wood fired heat. Those pellet stoves just don't put out much radiant heat-they, for the most part heat air as it is blown through the stove. Plus, I've found that the pellet dust, being slightly finer than wood ash can lead to more lung problems.
I've been in the chimney cleaning & repair field for 13 yrs now, and of my customers who have gone from wood heat to pellet stoves, about 50% are happy with their decision. Their main complaint is that they don't get the same heat.
Of my customers who have gone from wood heat to gas, virtually ALL are happy with the comfort level, as all propane stoves that I've seen in my area also put out radiant heat. That's a important factor if the power's out!
I'm not sure how the cost factor stacks up with pellets vs. gas. That may differ from area to area.
Another reason I don't like the pellet stoves is that they have 3 motors in each! One for the auger (pellet feed), one to induce draft (or blow the smoke from the stove), and one to circulate hot air into the home. The motors, as well as all the electronics add up to a lot that goes wrong. Hope this helps.