Study of pellet stoves shows environmental advantages – and corporate exaggerations

An independent assessment of popular pellet stoves conducted by the Alliance for Green Heat  found that pellet stoves, unlike most wood stoves, can achieve low levels of emissions in real world settings that are in line with laboratory results.   
The Alliance for Green Heat ran a battery of tests on popular pellet stoves designed to approximate how they would perform in the real world.  The group found that half of the stoves operated as clean at the end of the thirty-day test than they did at the beginning and the others were only slightly dirtier.
All six stoves, from the least to the most expensive, operated well, and produced enough heat for a small to medium- sized home in most of the United States.  One of the biggest differences was that the three more expensive stoves tested (above $ 4,000) needed very little weekly cleaning and maintenance.  The less expensive stoves ($ 1,200 to $ 3,300) needed daily or at least bi-weekly cleaning of their burn pots and glass.
The study also found a lack of accepted reporting standards, leading to exaggerated claims about efficiency, BTU output and pellet hopper size on manufacturer websites and promotional literature. 
The Alliance for Green Heat tested the stoves to give consumers better tools and make better purchasing decisions.  The study is part of a yearlong Pellet Stove Design Challenge that assesses the state of existing pellet stove technologies.  The Design Challenge will culminate in a competition for the cleanest and most efficient stoves, modeled after the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.
Approximately one million American homes are heated with pellet stoves, more than twice the number that have solar panels.  In Italy alone, 2 million households heat with pellets. Pellet stoves often serve as primary heat sources, enabling homes to eliminate or drastically reduce fossil heating fuel.  Last year, about 40,000 pellet stoves were sold in the U.S. and they may outsell wood stoves in the near future.
The Alliance tested the England Stove Works 25-PDCVC, the Enviro M55 insert, the Harman Accentra 52i insert, the Piazzetta Sabrina, the Quadra-Fire Mt. Vernon AE, and the Ravelli RV80.  The group assessed each stove on its cleanliness, efficiency, maintenance, heat output and visibility of glass.  The overall winner was the Quadra-Fire Mt. Vernon AE, which received top marks in three of the five categories.  The Harman Accentra received top marks in two of the five categories.

The results of this study underscore that pellet stoves tend to burn substantially cleaner than wood stoves in real world settings, but it challenges the notion that pellet stoves generally have higher efficiencies than wood stoves.  The efficiencies of the six stoves were low to medium, which is partially the result of companies not having to test and report actual efficiency numbers. 
“Our testing confirmed that pellet stoves are an effective and affordable renewable energy technology,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat. “We hoped to see higher efficiencies, but efficiencies should improve in coming years,” Ackerly added.
Click here to read the full report.
The Alliance for Green Heat promotes modern wood and pellet heat as a low-carbon, sustainable and affordable residential energy solution. The Alliance works to advance cleaner and more efficient wood heating appliances and focuses on low and middle-income families.  Founded in 2009, the Alliance is a 510(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Maryland. 

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2012 Census Shows Wood Heating Carries on Development Streak

Alliance for Inexperienced Heat, Sept. 25, 2013 – In accordance to not too long ago released U.S. Census statistics, 63,566 a lot more families utilized wood or pellets as a main heating gasoline in 2012 when compared to 2011, which amounts to an boost of two.six%, creating wood yet again the speediest growing heating gas in The united states.
From 2000 to 2010, wood and pellet property heating grew by 34%, more quickly than any of the other heating fuels, which includes photo voltaic and normal gasoline. Oil and propane use declined among 2000 and 2010, and the decline continued in 2012.
Nowadays, of Us citizens use wood or pellets as their principal heating fuel, up from 1.six% in 2000. An additional % of U.S. homes use wood as a secondary heating fuel, in accordance to the 2009 EIA Renewable Power Intake Study.
Nearly 2.five million homes use wood as a major heating gasoline, making it, by much, the dominant household supply of renewable energy in the United States. In comparison, only about five hundred,000 of U.S. residences have solar panels and significantly less than fifty,000 use photo voltaic thermal heating. Photo voltaic thermal heating dropped by two% in 2012 from 2011, according to the new Census figures.
The states with the largest development in wood heat from 2011 – 2012 are Delaware (, Rhode Island (29.6%), Nebraska (24.6%), New Hampshire (eighteen.five%) and New Jersey ( Nevertheless, other states seasoned declines. Amid the important wooden heating states of Washington, Oregon and California, the decrease was extremely modest, but there have been far more important declines in Illinois (5.2%), Idaho (five%) and Colorado (4.8%). Above a twelve-year period of time, the prevalence of wood heating has elevated, frequently really significantly, in each and every point out other than Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Hawaii.
Considering that the U.S. Census Bureau started tracking heating info in 1950, wooden heating has had wide swings. Starting up at ten% of the population in 1950, it dropped to 1.3% of the population in 1970, an all-time low. By 1990, wood had climbed again to three.9%, only to drop again to one.six% in 2000. The greatest development tale in heating gasoline is electricity, which went from beneath one% in 1950 to 36% today.
The environmental costs of using electrical energy for heating is high in most states, in which the majority of electric power is nonetheless produced with coal. The environmental value of drilling and transporting other fossil fuels like oil and gas can also be high. Wooden heating has an environmental expense from the particulate make a difference in the smoke, especially from more mature stoves in a lot more densely inhabited areas, and, in some states, from increasing numbers of out of doors wood boilers. The EPA has proposed stricter emission expectations for wood and pellet stoves and boilers and the Workplace of Management and Budget is examining them now.
Some of the growth in wooden heating can be attributed to households that previously had stoves, but now use them as primary heaters, as an alternative of a secondary ones. Other homes might have bought and mounted stoves they identified on the second hand market, which is authorized in all states other than Washington and Oregon.
The development toward higher use of wooden and pellets is mainly because of to the reduced running fees compared to oil, propane and electric power. A few states – New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine – have offered generous rebates for pellet boilers to assist people substitute costly oil heating programs and keep their heating dollars neighborhood. Maryland recently recognized a rebate for the cleanest wooden and pellet stoves for rural houses that do not have access to organic gas.

For more info on 2012 U.S. Census data and on trends from 2000 – 2010, and more information about wooden heat in the 2000 – 2010 Census.

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