Wood pellets are the most common type of pellet fuel and are generally made from compacted sawdust and related waste from lumber and wood product industries. They are practical, environmentally friendly, easy to carry and store and offer an excellent price-energy efficiency ratio. The high density and low moisture content of wood pellets allows them to be burned with a very high combustion efficiency.
Pellets have different types of certifications and those conforming to the norms commonly used in Europe have less than 10% water content, are uniform in density, have good structural strength and produce low dust and ash content.
Wood is a natural fuel and is rightly considered a renewable energy source because the ash produced by its combustion is 100% biodegradable. It is a practically unlimited and economically beneficial raw material. It keeps well in storage and poses no risk to the environment during production, storage and distribution.
All wood can be divided into two categories – hard or soft. Soft wood is spruce, poplar, pine, alder, chestnut or willow. It burns quickly, producing a stronger heat which makes it excellent for starting a fire. Hard wood is oak, elm, beech and ash. It is dense and less resinous than softwood, making it burn slower to produce a longer lasting heat.
|Lighting||Automatic ignition||Manually ignited|
|Controllability||Can be turned on and off instantaneously. Can be thermostatically controlled and even controlled/programmed remotely over Wi-Fi.||Cannot be thermostatically controlled or turned off instantly|
|Fuel Storage||Can be purchased in small manageable bags so not a lot of storage space is required. Pellets have low moisture content and are not required to dry out meaning they can be stored pretty much anywhere. They do not have to be seasoned and there is no risk of insect infestations.||Wood can be very bulky and heavy. Quite a large outside area will be needed to store and keep the wood dry and free from disease.|
|Refuelling||If running continuously a pellet stove would need to be refilled once a day. Otherwise it might only need refilling once or twice a week, depending on use. Refuelling is quick and easy and doesn’t require close contact with the live flame.||Whilst the stove is on, logs will need to be added frequently by hand to keep the flame alight. Adding wood to the stove means opening the door to the live flame.|
|Smell||Pellets don’t have a potent smell||Typical wood burning smell|
|Noise||The feeding in of the pellets and the low pressure produced creates a slight background noise.||Natural sound of wood creaking and crackling|
|Versatility||Some pellet stoves can be ducted into other rooms. Pellet stoves need to be plugged into an electrical point.||No electrical connection required|
|Fuel Cost||Depends on quantity and quality of pellets ordered||Depends on quantity and quality of wood ordered|
|Availability||Pellets are becoming more readily available. Supplies can be easily located online and can be purchased in 15kg bags at supermarkets, garden centres and DIY stores.||Wood is usually sold and delivered by cubic meter and is readily available.|
|Flame||Uniform and to a certain extent controllable||Natural|
|Cleanness||Pellets are stored in the bag they come in and handling does not produce dust.||Wood produces residuals from bark, moss or sawdust.|
|Maintenance||Pellets produce very little ash so the ash pan will not need emptying that often. Annual service.||Ash pan will need emptying quite often. Annual service.|
|Efficiency||Very efficient||Not as efficient as pellets|
|Emissions||Extremely low||More than pellet stoves|
|Heat given off||Spreads the heat through convection rather than traditional radiation, which means the room is heated more evenly and efficiently using a fan. Temperature can be controlled via a thermostat.||Heats the room through traditional radiation which produces an uneven temperature in the room and is therefore less efficient. The temperature is not controllable.|