There’s so much to consider when installing a new heating device and often the lower implementation cost is the immediate attraction. Once that decision has been made we then can be encumbered by the higher running cost of the appliance. Find out by reading on what is the best appliance for you.
With local councils tightening the rules on air quality visit your local council website to see what their stance is on the bylaws in your area.
About Pellet Fires
Pellet burners have some area advantages, most pellet burners look like a conventional woodburner and are available either as a free-standing model or an insert into a fireplace. You can even get a basement-furnace model for central heating. There are new models coming out regularly, shop around… we’ve seen some elegant new modern designs available in Christchurch area.
Pellet burners burn only compressed wood pellets, which you buy in 15kg or 20kg plastic bags or in bulk. The pellets are loaded into a hopper at the back of the unit and are fed into the fire through an automatic feed system.
Pellet fires have many advantages such as:
- They're easier to use than a conventional woodburner.
- No need to chop or store firewood.
- Most models light electrically – simple push of the button.
- Some models can be thermostatically controlled or switched on or off using a timer.
- They usually have a smaller diameter flue than woodburners, which may make installation easier. The flue can also be taken out horizontally through an external wall.
- They burn very cleanly, so are less of a community health hazard.
- The pellets are made from sawmill waste – an abundant renewable resource. So burning them is carbon-neutral and very environmentally friendly.
Not so good:
- The initial set up cost is more expensive. The price of buying and installing is similar to that for a heat pump or a gas fireplace (but more expensive than for a conventional woodburner). Prices start at around $3000 (plus about $450-$600 for a single-story flue). Then there are installation costs (allow another $600-$900).
- Only pellets can be burned – so you can't take advantage of any free firewood.
- Electricity is required for them to work, so they're no use during a power cut. A 12-volt battery and inverter or a small generator is often used for back up and easily obtained.
- They are more complex than a woodburner, with electrical and electronic components that can fail.
- Pellet Fires can make a noise because they have fans and a hopper-feed motor. Newer models are virtually silent, the models first brought into New Zealand were very noisy giving the pellet fires a bad name.
- Only minimal clearance is needed to install the burner/stove.
– As pellet stove emissions are so low they can be burned in most areas even those with burning restrictions.
– As pellets have a near total combustion (around 98.5%) pellet stoves produce virtually no creosote
Easy to store
- One ton of wood pellets has the heat value of about 5 m³ of firewood and stacks easily in one third of the space. This makes it possible to easily store fuel for the entire season.
Low waste ash production
- A 20kg bag of Wood Pellets produces around 100gms of ash.
– Sustainable source of fuel. Pellets are an environmentally friendly source of heat, they are CO2 neutral both in combustion and storage. Wood pellets are a clean, environmentally friendly, natural, renewable fuel resource. Reduces waste destined for landfills and the cost of disposing waste is greatly reduced.
- The efficiency rating can be as high as 94%, depending on the model and heat output required.
Easy to use
– The Pellets are clean and easy to use, they flow like a liquid and can work as part of an automated feeding system. They are easy to ignite and to handle generally. They can be used in stoves/burners and boilers.
– Typically the burner has a large hopper and the stove can burn continuously for several days, depending on the heat output required.
What is best for you?
Do you have access to free firewood?
Probably best to go with a wood burner
Do you live in an area where there is natural piped Gas?
A gas appliance is probably going to be very cost effective.
Do you struggle with firewood piles, sourcing dry wood?
A pellet fire could be a great option, with pellets easily to obtain from Hardware, Grocery Stores, Heating Stores and local Fuel Stations.
Do you live in an apartment and require quick, easy heat?
A bar or fan heater or aircon unit could be best. With an air-conditioning unit make sure you check what the minimum temperature is that they work to, when the temp gets near to zero, they are known to freeze up.
Require one device for heating and cooling?
Your only option is an air conditioning unit.
Do you get shocked when your electricity bill comes in the mail?
An advantage of pellet fuel is you can buy one bag a week from your local grocery or hardware store to spread the heating cost throughout the year. And you know exactly each week what your heating costs are.
Still want the ambience on a winter with a flame?
Your options are Log Fire, Pellet Fire or Gas.
If you are looking at buying a pellet burner here is our advice:
- A pellet burner is an environmentally sound form of home heating.
- Investigate the running costs for woodburners, gas, heat pumps and pellet fires in your area. Where you are located in New Zealand pays a large part in the cost. Example, Dry Firewood in cities is a lot more expensive than in smaller rural areas. If you have access to natural piped gas, a gas fire could be a good option but it’s very expensive in bottle form.
- If you have access to free or low-cost firewood, a pellet burner is probably not for you. Unless you like the convenience that wood pellets bring for storage and carrying.
- Wood and pellet burners require building consent before installation – check with your local authority to find the regulations in your area.
If you have a log fire, and still want the benefits of burning with wood pellets – check out the Firetime® Wood Pellet Tray at http://www.azwood.co.nz/Pellet+Tray.html
Further Websites for your perusal