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Did wood pellet systems never catch on?

  • 12-09-2019 2:33pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 29,373 ✭✭✭✭ NIMAN


    I know a few people who have installed the slack burners in their garages, and they are happy with them. Always having the house at a constant temperature and hot water too.

    I was tempted by one in the past, but I don't think that coal has a future as a heat source, and it will either be taxed out of use, or banned in the coming years.

    I did a quick search here, and there seems to be a lack of threads on wood pellet systems.

    Did they never catch on? I remember reading that they were expensive to run, but surely they should have a market for them for domestic heating?

    Anyone on here got one?


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Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,293 ✭✭✭ TheBoyConor


    Too expensive, troublesome and need too much tending.

    Get an air to water heat pump system instead and once it's in you'll never have to even think about it again all going well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 29,373 ✭✭✭✭ NIMAN


    How do they compare money wise?

    Why would a wood pellet burner require tending? What about a hopper to hold several days worth of fuel? And surely burning pellets leaves very little ash or waste?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Pretty brutal from an emissions point of view to heat your house by burning wood. Almost as bad as coal or turf.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,293 ✭✭✭ TheBoyConor


    Good quality pellets are stupidly expensive. And a lot of the pellets available are poor quality dusty rubbish. But people buy the cheap stuff and it causes problems with the boiler. Then they get a bad reputation for reliability.

    And they need tending because you have to remove ash periodically. Then you have to top up the pellets every few days. It is mot terribly onerous but still, people have better things to be doing that fluting around with ashes and pellets.

    Basically they are not worth the hassle.

    I'm telling you lad. Air to water head pump will slot in instead of your boiler and maybe upgrade your radiators and insulation and you will be away with it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 29,373 ✭✭✭✭ NIMAN


    I'm telling you lad. Air to water head pump will slot in instead of your boiler and maybe upgrade your radiators and insulation and you will be away with it.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    You got an A2W pump yourself?

    What sort of money are you talking to install such a system in a house of 2200sq ft? (appreciate that insulation might need redoing as well).


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3 mrjohntobin


    I installed a wood pellet boiler in 2008 and I'm going to replace it with air to water. Why?
    - Filling pellets is easy, just press the button once or twice a week. Scrape out the residue in the combustion chamber once a week.
    - Ash builds up throughout the boiler and it needs to be turned off, mostly disassembled, and cleaned 3-4 times per year. This is about 4 hours work each time now that I'm practiced and have tools.
    - Ash builds up, so the flow of air decreases, so pellets don't burn properly and leave more ash => downward spiral. The boiler goes from OK to choked and not heating the house in about 2 weeks.
    - The pellet store needs to be cleaned out once per year because pellet dust builds up around the auger and eventually the auger isn't feeding pellets, it's just spinning dust. It takes about 3 hours to clean now that I'm practiced and have an ash vac and other tools. You need the store to be completely empty to clean it, so there's stress about timing the order so that you don't run out of pellets. I have a large store for >3 tons and a smaller intermediate store for 0.5 tons, so I have that much to burn when the large store is empty.
    - No supplier wants to deliver less than 3 tons, so you're always waiting until you've nearly run out to order.
    - My garage is covered in soot and ash. If you put it in your garage, build an enclosure around it, but leave enough space all around for yourself to hunker down and work on it.
    - My well-insulated-for-2008 house needs 5 tons of pellets per year, and pellets are around 350 euro per ton from the suppliers who will deliver to me.
    - Pellets change if you change suppliers and sometimes between deliveries from the same supplier. Then you're trying to adjust your boiler to burn cleanly, not have too much ash, not have unburnt pellet stubs, ... it's painful. The documentation I have just says "adjust the air and feed of pellets" :(
    - There's one person in the country who services my boiler, so if anything goes wrong that I can't deal with - like a firebrick breaking - I can be waiting several days. In the winter. In a cold house.

    The only reason I haven't replaced it with oil is that I care about the environment, so I'm holding out for air to water.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,217 ✭✭✭✭ KCross


    That sounds like a right dose tbh!

    Heat pump is infinitely better than that. Power it up and forget about it, fully automated 365 days of the year and no ordering fuel required.

    Im sure the pellet boiler system was alot cheaper day 1 but you have to put a value on your time too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,217 ✭✭✭✭ KCross


    unkel wrote: »
    Pretty brutal from an emissions point of view to heat your house by burning wood. Almost as bad as coal or turf.

    Is it?

    I thought the idea of these pellet systems is that it would be from sustainable sources so somewhat renewable.... coal/turf cannot be replenished so way worse I would have thought?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    There's enough cheap coal / turf on earth to last us for a thousand years. So sustainable enough (as way before we run out of them, we will have 100% really renewable zero emissions electricity). We don't / shouldn't use it though because of the emissions that are generated when burning it. Same as burning wood.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,367 ✭✭✭ bennyineire


    unkel wrote: »
    There's enough cheap coal / turf on earth to last us for a thousand years. So sustainable enough (as way before we run out of them, we will have 100% really renewable zero emissions electricity). We don't / shouldn't use it though because of the emissions that are generated when burning it. Same as burning wood.

    Eh I don't think you get it. For every wood pellet you burn it's been refrown so you are not adding to the carbon emissions except for your initial first burn and of course the delivery. Wood pellets come from renewable willow tree forests. Willow only takes about 5 years to grow and harvest and as soon as you harvest 1 tree you grow another one. Coal however takes thousands years to form


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,217 ✭✭✭✭ KCross


    unkel wrote: »
    There's enough cheap coal / turf on earth to last us for a thousand years. So sustainable enough....

    That’s not the definition of sustainable in the context of climate.

    Previous poster made my point for me.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Eh I don't think you get it. For every wood pellet you burn it's been refrown so you are not adding to the carbon emissions

    I wasn't talking about carbon emissions. NOx, SOx and particulates are the cancer causing nasties that shouldn't be near people.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 10,101 Mod ✭✭✭✭ BryanF


    How does the Embodied energy of a wood fueled boiler compare to a heat pump (factoring Irish poor design/BER and primary energy factor) has there been any peer reviewed studies?

    Other than inner city urban areas, is timber ‘timber’ nox & Sox, worse than Irish power stations burning a mix of gas/oil/peat for elec generation, some of which runs heat pumps?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,293 ✭✭✭ TheBoyConor


    Pellets is fine for large commercial permises like a hotel or nursing home. They have the funds to have a maintenance contractor or more often now they don't buy the boiler and fuel as such, they but heating as a service. They enter a contract with a service provider and buy heat from them and pay by the kWhr used. The contractor installs, runs, maintains and repairs the system in good order so it is up to them to keep it running efficient. And they are a specialist so it is no bother to them. Client has no involvement only to pay the bill for the kWhrs of heat used.
    And the beauty of it is that if the boiler is crap or breaks down, the contractor still has to provide heat so they are obliged to replace it with another boiler, or maybe heat pump or oil boiler or whatever at their own expense. Most of these crowds will have a mobile oil boiler in a traler that can be hooked up to provide heat while the main boiler is out of action. All that matters is that they provide the heat required by the premises.
    That is the only scenario that a pellet boiler would make sense in my view. Completely farm out the hassle of dealing with it.

    For a domestic system, you just want minimal involvement and no hassle.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    BryanF wrote: »
    is timber ‘timber’ nox & Sox, worse than Irish power stations burning a mix of gas/oil/peat for elec generation, some of which runs heat pumps?

    Irish power stations run mainly on gas. Almost zero oil / peat / coal these days. And I guess for the nasty emissions gas must be cleaner than timber (haven't checked this, but someone will hopefully show some figures)

    And of course at night time when heat pumps run to avail of cheap night rate electricity, up to 75% of electricity production in Ireland is from wind (zero emissions)

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 29,373 ✭✭✭✭ NIMAN


    I notice that Energia in their radio adverts say they sell electricity produced by "100% renewable energy".

    It can't all be coming from wind turbines, so assume gas is considered renewable?


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,978 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    NIMAN wrote: »
    I notice that Energia in their radio adverts say they sell electricity produced by "100% renewable energy".

    It can't all be coming from wind turbines, so assume gas is considered renewable?

    The gas power stations have to run at full power to back up the renewable energy. So they could be getting the energy from 100% renewable sources, it gets priority, but the fossil sources are still spinning away as a back up.

    Renewable energies dirty secret is that it doesn't replace fossil fuel and apparently its releasing massive amounts of a more potent green house gas. Look at the trouble South Australia had till they got a massive battery pack, which hasn't been replicated.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,079 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Del2005 wrote: »
    The gas power stations have to run at full power to back up the renewable energy. So they could be getting the energy from 100% renewable sources, it gets priority, but the fossil sources are still spinning away as a back up.

    Renewable energies dirty secret is that it doesn't replace fossil fuel and apparently its releasing massive amounts of a more potent green house gas. Look at the trouble South Australia had till they got a massive battery pack, which hasn't been replicated.

    Energia and other suppliers buy guarantees of origin for the same amount of electricity that their customers consume. This is what lets them claim their electricity is renewable.

    https://www.sem-o.com/markets/guarantees-of-origin/

    Gas generated electricity is not renewable. Gas is a fossil fuel.

    Give us more details about this ‘more potent greenhouse gas’ you speak of?


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,978 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    Energia and other suppliers buy guarantees of origin for the same amount of electricity that their customers consume. This is what lets them claim their electricity is renewable.

    https://www.sem-o.com/markets/guarantees-of-origin/

    Gas generated electricity is not renewable. Gas is a fossil fuel.

    Every unit of renewable is currently backed up by a fossil fuel unit. So while they are buying renewable energy, and they have to buy it before fossil, there's no corresponding reduction in fossil fuel plants output as they have to maintain a spinning reserve to cover the unreliable renewables.
    Give us more details about this ‘more potent greenhouse gas’ you speak of?

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49567197


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,079 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Del2005 wrote: »
    Every unit of renewable is currently backed up by a fossil fuel unit. So while they are buying renewable energy, and they have to buy it before fossil, there's no corresponding reduction in fossil fuel plants output as they have to maintain a spinning reserve to cover the unreliable renewables.

    Can you show us proof that there is no reduction in fossil plants’ output as a result of wind turbines generating? I would be surprised if you could prove this.

    What does this have to do with renewable energy in particular?


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Del2005 wrote: »
    Every unit of renewable is currently backed up by a fossil fuel unit. So while they are buying renewable energy, and they have to buy it before fossil, there's no corresponding reduction in fossil fuel plants output as they have to maintain a spinning reserve to cover the unreliable renewables.

    This is untrue. The biggest electricity power station this country has ever had (Moneypoint - coal) has effectively been pretty much shut down for nearly a year now. Without any new gas electricity power stations coming on board. The ESB could do this mainly because of the increased production of renewable energy (wind) and the greater reliance we have on interconnectors.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 17,978 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005





    What does this have to do with renewable energy in particular?

    A massive increase in a highly potent greenhouse gas from renewable energy installations and you want to know what it has to do with renewable energy?


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,978 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    unkel wrote: »
    This is untrue. The biggest electricity power station this country has ever had (Moneypoint - coal) has effectively been pretty much shut down for nearly a year now. Without any new gas electricity power stations coming on board. The ESB could do this mainly because of the increased production of renewable energy (wind) and the greater reliance we have on interconnectors.

    If we can get upto 85% of our power from renewable when it's bright and windy where does it come from on a calm night?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,689 ✭✭✭ eddhorse


    Del2005 wrote: »
    If we can get upto 85% of our power from renewable when it's bright and windy where does it come from on a calm night?

    Battery storage


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,079 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Del2005 wrote: »
    A massive increase in a highly potent greenhouse gas from renewable energy installations and you want to know what it has to do with renewable energy?

    This relates to electrical generation of all types, not renewables in particular. I believe the major issue in Ireland was in relation to a station at Moneypoint.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,978 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    This relates to electrical generation of all types, not renewables in particular. I believe the major issue in Ireland was in relation to a station at Moneypoint.

    They said that it's from increase in renewables and that they are trying to build new wind farms without the gas. If its not an issue why are they replacing the best gas for the job?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,907 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    eddhorse wrote: »
    Battery storage

    +1

    In the widest possible definition of a battery to include:

    - actual chemical battery storage (still very expensive)
    - storage in the batteries of EVs (V2G / V2H) and home attached batteries
    - pumped hydro
    - interconnectors
    - production of hydrogen

    etc.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    A friend and his father both have the same pellet boiler stove.

    They've been flawless for about 10 years he says.

    I think one or other needed a new ceramic igniter once.
    Other than that the only issue was some dusty pellets hampering ignition a few times. Cleaning the hopper fixed that.

    His main complaint is having to fill it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,217 ✭✭✭✭ KCross


    air wrote: »
    His main complaint is having to fill it.

    I'd say that and the price of the pellets.

    As per someones earlier post...
    My well-insulated-for-2008 house needs 5 tons of pellets per year, and pellets are around 350 euro per ton

    Thats not at all cheap to run.

    With relatively only a few suppliers, its ripe for price gouging.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    Personally I think we should be moving away from burning anything.
    Biofuels impact on land use, require transport and in urban areas there's bound to be particulate emissions impacting on human health.
    Far less than a wood stove though (or so I believe).

    Natural gas with increasing biogas/syngas should be the last to go.


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