Wood pellet boilers pros and cons

by Peter on July 1, 2012

Price hikes on fossil fuels such as oil have pushed homeowners into looking for alternative ways of heating their homes that are more efficient and result into savings. One of the options that is gaining popularity is the installation of wood pellet boilers.


The Pros

Wood pellets, which is the fuel used, are made up from leftover of wood materials (i.e. sawdust, bark) so they are cheap. According to the US energy information administration heating cost per million BTUs with wood pellets is cheaper than most fossil fuels such as,  propane, kerosene and the byproduct of electricity but on the other hand are more costly than burning wood, corn and coal. Moreover wood pellets small size (one inch in length and a twentieth of an inch in diameter) makes feeding the boiler easy. Furthermore, because wood pellets undergo processing to be produced unlike burning wood they contain an optimal level of humidity that makes it easy to ignite and produce heat. Finally wood pellets pricing is not subject to the control of exogenous factors like fossil fuels since they are domestically produced giving owners of wood pellet boilers a certainty on the amount of money that they will be spending over the years on heating.

Feeding the boiler with wood pellets is done through an automated system that you should feed manually usually once every 24 hours which is an advantage over traditional fireplaces.

Carbon neutrality. The heat produced from wood pellets doesn’t add carbon dioxide emissions to the environment because it is biomass. This means that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during the burning of wood pellets is the one that was absorbed during the growth of trees and can be reabsorbed if we replant the source fuel. We should be careful though since the key of carbon neutrality lies in the rate we consume the fuel versus the rate we substitute it.

The cons

Maintenance is a must in the case of a wood pellet boiler since the heat exchanger must be brushed clean often in order to have a high level of efficiency. Furthermore, the ash bins must be emptied regularly.

Storing of wood pellet requires a large storage since to store a decent quantity you might need up to 200 cubic feet.

The Cost  of a wood pellet boiler can be around $10,000 which is a significant amount that is usually a reason for stopping many consumers from replacing their existing home heating system since recovering the installation cost might take years.

Overall wood pellet boilers are a good heating option for your home especially if you are in the process of choosing one. They are environmentally friendly and at the same time can save you money.

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