Are you thinking of buying a wood-burning stove… Or perhaps a pellet stove? But you were advised to use a pellet stove… How to find your way around? Wood, pellets and granules: a short explanation of these terms, whether it concerns the fuel or the heating appliance. Follow the leader.
Wood, pellet or pellets? It’s all wood!
Wood heating is a big family in which the wood stove takes the place of the grandfather. It is indeed the ancestor of more modern appliances such as pellet or pellet stoves. The difference between these different generations of stoves lies first in the evolution of the fuel used.
- A classic wood-burning stove uses raw wood logs.
- Pellet or pellet stoves have a fuel derived from wood, from the residues of wood processing industries.
The difference between pellets and pellets? None !
These wood residues, in the form of sawdust and shavings, are compacted and transformed into small cylindrical sticks. They are called “wood pellets”… or “pellets”. The second term is of English origin. Pellet, which means “dumpling”, is used equivalently to our French granulated. So you have the choice between the two. Be that as it may, the use of this fuel requires a suitable heating appliance, which will be called a pellet stove… or pellet stove.
All about pellets:
- Pellets are compacted wood, practice To manipulate. They can be purchased in bulk, on pallets or packaged in 15 kg bags and stored in a dry place.
- They appear in the form of cylinders 10 to 30 mm long and 6 to 9 mm in diameter.
- Their rate humidity is very low (less than 7%), so that it can be burned as soon as it is purchased, unlike wood which may require some drying time.
- Their power calorific is significantly higher than that of wood, around 5 kWh/kg.
- The color of the pellet indicates its composition. The lighter it is, the more softwood heartwood it is made of. A dark color indicates the presence of bark and other plants.
- It’s a fuel ecological since it is waste wood. Although it emits some particles into the atmosphere, it is considered a renewable energy.
- The best pellets are labeled. The international standard ISO 17225-2 imposes a series of quality criteria. Three certifications also guarantee a demanding level of quality: “NF Biofuels high quality” (France), Din+ (Germany) and “En+” (Europe). Within these certifications, choose categories A1 and A2.
Wood stove or pellet stove: what are the differences?
In the form of pellets, wood cannot be used in a conventional wood stove. The operation of a pellet stove is completely different from that of a wood stove. Their mechanics are adapted to the fuel used. Concretely, what are their differences?
As we have seen, the wood stove works with logs, “real” wood! Pellet stoves use wood pellets. As a bonus, there are combination stoves that can use both.
As much to say it right away: the pellet stove is much more practical and comfortable to use. Why ?
- The wood stove turns on by hand (which takes a good ten minutes) and must be recharged very regularly. The wood chore comes back every 2 to 4 hours, sometimes every hour…
- The pellet stove has a spark plug and starts automatically. Some are programmable and can be controlled remotely, which is nice when you’re away. No need to refill during the day since the stove has a tank which gradually fills the device, with an autonomy of 6 to 48 hours. You can therefore leave without the risk of heating failure. Well, you still have to refill the tank…
The main difference between the two systems lies in electronics. The old wood-burning stove is basic, while its heir, the pellet stove, is full of electronics. The comfort of the latter comes in fact from its electronic components: spark plug, remote control card, motors, blower, pressure switch, probes… Well, it is this difference that makes the wood stove undeniably more reliable! He never breaks down, unlike his grandson. This is how pellet stoves are guaranteed for 2 years, against 5 years for wood stoves. If you want the butter and the money for the butter, you still have a solution: buy a pellet stove without electronics, it exists. But you will have to light it yourself…
The diffusion of heat
The difference between the two types of heating is clear.
- The wood stove radiates heat through radiation. The heat is more intense near the stove. The further away you are from the stove, the cooler you get. From one room to another, the temperature can vary enormously. Ideal for heating a room, or as an extra, or for the pleasure of a wood fire.
- The pellet stove radiates heat through ventilation. Its blower distributes the heat better, ensuring a constant temperature in the rooms for a longer period. You can heat several rooms and larger areas (up to 140 m2). In addition, the heat regulation is better, the device being equipped with a temperature probe which adjusts the quantity of pellets to burn to maintain the programmed temperature.
The calorific performance
There is no photo: the pellet stove is much more efficient.
- The wood stove is adjusted by hand. We open the air intake a little, we close it, we forget it! In terms of performance, it’s not extraordinary. Not to mention the humidity of the logs which reduces the quality of heating…
- The pellet stove optimally manages ignition and combustion. The fuel is dry, the rise in temperature is rapid, the temperature probes regulate the heat, the diffusion is uniform… In the end, the output reaches a performance incomparable with that of a wood-fired system. Note that pellet stoves with the Flamme Verte label have an even higher efficiency (up to 12%).
- Wood takes up space, whether indoors or outdoors. Don’t forget about drying time, especially if you’re salvaging wood directly from the cut.
- Pellets are most often bagged, better protected. If you order them in bulk, they should be stored indoors, away from moisture. Overall, their storage takes up less space than raw wood.
We’re not going to hide it: nothing more beautiful than a good old wood stove. With its generous and fascinating flame, it has a crazy charm. Nothing to do with pellet stoves, which rely more on efficiency than on aesthetics. Even if some make efforts in terms of design, on this point nothing beats the ancestor.
The two formulas are almost equal.
- They must be swept regularly, generally twice a year (to be checked, according to departmental rules).
- On a daily basis, a pellet stove turns out to be less messy, since it produces less ash. Its daily maintenance is facilitated.
- The pellet stove must undergo mandatory annual maintenance, which is usually done with sweeping.
The sound level
This is a detail that is important! The electronics generate quite a lot of noise: the blower which diffuses the heat, the endless screw which causes the pellets to fall, the pellets to fall, the phase which cools the system… All of this is quite noisy. The sound of an incorrectly adjusted pellet stove can thus reach 50 dB! And the wood stove? He just purrs quietly. The crackling of its flame remains wisely below 35 dB. But let’s be honest: nowadays there are more and more near-silent pellet stoves.
In a classic installation, all stoves must have an air supply and a smoke outlet. On the other hand, the diameter of the pipes is a little larger for a wood stove. Pellet stoves can also be installed with a flue, provided they are airtight, which brings certain advantages.
- The wood-burning stove is the champion of energy independence. It does not depend on the electricity network and its fuel is not standardized. You can get wood wherever you want, not necessarily in stores.
- Side pollution, the pellets are obtained without chemicals and their production produces very little CO2. Wood is natural.
- As for the issuance of particles in the air, modern stoves make efforts to limit this problem. Aim for the Flamme Verte label.
The cost of these devices is divided into several elements: the purchase price of the device, fuel, installation, maintenance.
- A wood-burning stove costs less to buy. Count at least 2000 euros for a wood stove and 3000 euros for a pellet stove, installation included. That said, the latter benefit from public aid, which practically cancels the gap between the two.
- Log wood is cheaper than pellets. It costs 4.5 cents per kWk, compared to 9 cents for pellets. And if you make your own wood, it’s even cheaper.
- A l’usage, the pellet stove is more economical due to its ability to regulate the temperature. No need to restart it, it only consumes what it needs. Do not forget that the wood stove is often used in addition to another source of energy, the cost of which must be added.