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Wood pellet heating in Canberra

By gasman - 14 August 2011 29

I’m looking to get together a Canberra-based buying group for wood pellet heaters.

If you are unfamiliar with wood pellet stoves, they are the most sustainable way to actively heat a home. They are fueled by wood pellets made from waste sawdust from sawmills, sawdust that would otherwise simply be burned at the site. These are not your grandfather’s slow combustion wood stove – these stoves are far more efficient, and because they burn at a very high temperature, there are almost no particulate emissions. They are common in Europe, with their strict pollution standards. They are easy to use with push-button ignition, once per year cleaning and computer-controlled thermostat. Some can be fitted with water heating or ducting options. And unlike traditional wood stoves, these look very stylish. Check out the websites for Ecoteck, Ravelli and Thermorossi.

The Canberra buying group would put in a large order with an Italian manufacturer, possibly get a group discount, certainly get a shipping discount and a large local group ensures a local market for yearly pellet deliveries from an Australian pellet manufacturer.

The plan would be to have them delivered by early next year, for use by next winter.

What’s Your opinion?


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29 Responses to
Wood pellet heating in Canberra
1
ConanOfCooma 9:40 am
14 Aug 11
#

I would have thought the most sustainable way would have been solar, or geothermal?

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2
dungfungus 10:23 am
14 Aug 11
#

ConanOfCooma said :

I would have thought the most sustainable way would have been solar, or geothermal?

Unless the heater works, the sustainability factor counts for zero.
Solar and geothermal are just Green fantasies.

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3
RyallDesign 11:17 am
14 Aug 11
#

Solar heating is great, our house has north-facing windows right across the façade, and we don’t usually turn our heater on until mid to late evening.

Wood pellet heating is not the most sustainable heating outright, but I’m fairly certain it’s the most efficient wood-heating available, unless you cut your own timber outside your door!

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4
stinkerbell 11:25 am
14 Aug 11
#

Gasman, I’m interested. What is your preferred method of contact?

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5
molongloid 12:25 pm
14 Aug 11
#

I’m looking at getting the old fireplace working again and this sounds interesting. I’d better go read up. Contact details?

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6
capn_pugwash 12:58 pm
14 Aug 11
#

we’re currently lookign at getting one through this company in victoria: http://www.firemakers.com.au/ and they have models that fit into existing fireplace or stand alone. It would be interesting to see what kind of deal you are able to put together though. We have seen them in person and they are brilliant – such great heat, low maintenance, just tip the pellets into the hopper and it runs for 24hrs or so (depends on size of hopper and how high you have it set). No chopping wood, no mess – just need somewhere to store a pallet load of the pellets. The pellets are just sawdust etc and waste wood that is too soft to use for other purposes and is very sustainable.

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7
gasman 2:21 pm
14 Aug 11
#

I realise there are more sustainable ways of heating, which is why I labeled wood pellet stoves as the most sustainable *active* way of heating a house, and suitable for existing housing. And almost no particulate release (ie no smoke) compared to other wood heating. There are a few Australian models but they are fugly and still use imported parts. The Europeans perfected the pellet stove and have high reliability and extremely long lasting components.

There is at least one Australian wood pellet maker in Victoria who can deliver to Canberra. Getting a group of us together means one truckload delivery of pellets per year as a group and therefore less transport costs and petrol.

I’m hoping this group grows to at least a dozen of us in the Canberra region – it will take a bit of word-of-mouth to spread the word.

Warning – sustainability comes at a cost. The pellets are about equal to gas heating, and cheaper than electric. The stoves themselves are spendy. About $3000 for a small one, $5000 for a decent size and higher for fancy models with ducting or hot water options. However, they should last 20 years with very little to go wrong. The auger may need replacing every 5 to 10 years.

I can be contacted at Robert at gasbag dot net

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8
damien haas 5:27 pm
14 Aug 11
#

May i ask what happens when the pellet maker decides it is uneconomic and ceases producing the pellets ? Can these pellet burners burn regular wood ?

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9
Walker 1:05 am
15 Aug 11
#

As an avid air breather, I totally support the idea. Wins on several fronts, in the short term at least. I say go for it.

I don’t suppose they can also be burnt in regular fireplaces? Not as clean perhaps but I’m hoping much better than what’s burning now, and would also kick start the fuel market instantly.

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10
Captain RAAF 8:43 am
15 Aug 11
#

Walker said :

As an avid air breather, I totally support the idea. Wins on several fronts, in the short term at least. I say go for it.

I don’t suppose they can also be burnt in regular fireplaces? Not as clean perhaps but I’m hoping much better than what’s burning now, and would also kick start the fuel market instantly.

At the rate the Greens and the current Government are closing down our sawmills, you won’t soon be able to get any sawdust for anything!

We have a family sawmill in Victoria, it has closed down as access to logs was made so expensive it was no longer financially viable. It has gone the same way as many others and now ‘super mills’ will look after the timber needs of this country and the paper mills will buy up all the sawdust.

Milling techniques are all high tech now, waste is minimal so don’t expect to have access to sawdust for much longer!

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11
gasman 9:23 am
15 Aug 11
#

The pellets can’t be burned in a normal slow combustion stove. Actually you could, but you would not get any of the advantages of a pellet stove, except for fuel source. In a pellet stove, the pellets are fed into the burner at a regular rate, delivered by an electrically controlled auger. The more heat output you want, the faster the pellets are fed. That means a high surface area for burning, plenty of oxygen for burning, and therefore a very hot fire, and (almost) complete combustion.

A pellet stove has about 5% of the particulate emissions of an open fire, about 10% that of a slow combustion stove, and is about equal to a gas heater. The efficiency (heat output/fuel) is about 90% (compared to about 30% for an open fire, and 70% for a modern, well-maintained slow combustion heater). Further, a pellet stove does not depend on the user’s ability to make a good fire – just press the ignition button, and the stove does the rest.

There are at least 3 large pellet manufacturers in Australia, all as side-arms of sawmills. That is, they do not chop down trees specifically to make wood pellets. They simply use the waste sawdust. They tell me that they are unable to keep up with demand, and that they are adding further plants later this year. Much of their production is exported (Mainly Asia and Europe, as North America makes their own pellets). They have a warehouse in Sydney as well as a distribution centre in Jindabyne. They tell me they do regular shipments to Canberra.

Part of my hope is to increase to local (Canberra) base of pellet heaters to make the supply and shipment of pellets to Canberra reliable and cheap. I believe that this market will continue to expand as laws crack down on open fires and older slow combustion stoves.

And no, you can’t burn normal wood in a pellet stove – they are designed completely differently. The Americans burn corn (same pelletised form factor) as well as wood pellets in their stoves.

There

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12
Gungahlin Al 9:30 am
15 Aug 11
#

gasman said :

The Americans burn corn (same pelletised form factor) as well as wood pellets in their stoves.

Wouldn’t all the popping interrupt the TV viewing somewhat? :)

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13
aidan 11:39 am
15 Aug 11
#

What sort of price would these be?

Maybe you should make up a pdf flyer that we can slip into the letterboxes of smoky neighbours. I’d love to be able to hang washing outside in the winter months again.

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14
milkman 7:36 pm
15 Aug 11
#

I understand you can burn dried poo in these things.

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15
ConanOfCooma 7:45 am
16 Aug 11
#

dungfungus said :

ConanOfCooma said :

I would have thought the most sustainable way would have been solar, or geothermal?

Unless the heater works, the sustainability factor counts for zero.
Solar and geothermal are just Green fantasies.

Why would you get a heater that doesn’t work?

Your post makes no sense.

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