Wood Pellet Stoves

La Stalla Image
12/12/2009 - 12:38

 Hi, we want to have a wood pellet boiler for central heating and hot water in our cellar, but our geometre says the ones in the sitting room with a fire to look, at are much more energy efficient. Does any one have any experience?? Many Thanks.



 If you do put something in the salone and you want to look at flames and have efficiency with it a wood burning stove has several advantages: Around twice as many Kw.hrs on same fuel cost. No noise. Big flames. Cook and heat kettles on top, doesn't look out of place, burns fuel you might grow on your land, much cheaper to buy for same power output. There are disadvantages: less control, log lugging, dirty... if these bother you I would seriously consider a heat pump which is so much more cost effective than a pellet stove and in the long run will leave you better off. Don't forget you can borrow money to put in PV panels and then you really start getting near to a ZERO COST energy system especially when a heat pump is in the equation.

I would agree with what Sagraiasolar has said.  We have an unheated large family room that used to have an old wood stove.  It was too big for the room and we replaced it as it would get too hot and the dust and wood chips made quite a mess.  We installed one of the pellet stoves you are talking about - pretty to look at with a nice flame.  The advantage is little mess except a small amount of dust and no carting around of wood.  I also leave it on unattended when not at home.   The disadvantages are very little heat output unless the blower is on full tilt, which makes a lot of noise and when the stove is shut off, the room gets cold fast.  With a wood stove, you would have residual heat for quite some time.  If we weren't planning on moving to Italy in the next 5 years we would probably replace it with a small wood stove like a Jotul.  You do have to be careful, though, about having your chimney cleaned very well annually.  I wouldn't be comfortable about leaving a wood stove on unattended as we know of many house fires in New England.  I don't know if they exist in Italy, but we have some neighbors who have outdoor wood heating units that heat the entire house.  There is a large bin that you can throw all sorts of wood into.  It is expensive to install but would be worth it if you're planning on living in your house for quite some time.

Just to say there seems to be a fundamental confusion here.  A boiler is not the same thing as a stove.  You would never have a pellet central heating boiler in your living accommodation.  You could however have a stufa with some central heating and hot water capacity in it.  It of course depends upon the heating capacity you require. 

I I have had a pellet fire insert installed in a sitting room, which makes quite a lot of noise when the fan is running and I am glad it is not in my main sitting room. It is very warm and there is really no mess. My neighbour has had a stufa -pellet for her central heating and water from the same firm and her radiators are instantly hot. There is a flame but the stufa is definately not so attractive. This is the make - http://www.ecoteck.it/english/portale.php

But if you are having this in the cellar, which is a very good idea if you can get a flue out of it, you do not want a stufa with central heating capacity but a specialist "caldaia a pellet". These are larger and usually uglier than stufe, with reservoirs which mean they keep going for several days or (with specialist equipment) weeks without reloading.  There are quite a lot around, from the very expensive and probably most efficient and much easier-to-clean ones from German companies like Windhager and Weissman, down to much cruder and cheaper but still quite expensive ones from small Italian manufacturers.   I have one of the latter - it does what it says on the tin, but it's a bit of a beast in some ways - the monthly cleaning of the boiler tubes (rather like rodding out the boiler on an old-fashioned steam locomotive) is one of my least favourite chores, though the weekly cleaning of the firebox with a specialist vacuum cleaner is quite easy.