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Why buy a pellet burner kit

Updated on December 28, 2010

The Big E

What brought this on

A few years ago when the price of fuel sky rocketed and using propane for heating my home, I decided something needed to be done.  At the cost of almost $3.00 per gallon of propane and having a 400 gallon pig, you can imagine the cost!  I went thru a lot of propane the first winter when the cost rose so high.  Upwards of $600 per month in propane alone, this didn’t include the cost of the electricity used with the blower.  Living in Michigan one has to be able to have heat.

I started looking into different ways that I could heat my home.  I found wood burners that are located outside the home.  They are shaped small sheds, they use a barrel to burn the wood and the fire heats the water.  The water is then transported into your home thru pipes where it ends up under your furnace.  Your blower then does the rest of the work to heat your house.  These are very nifty, since the water can also be connected to your water heater.  You never have to worry about running out of hot water!  The initial expense is what caused me to look in other areas, as well as the lack of people to install them.  These were running upwards of $8000.00 just for the burner, not including the piping and other things that were needed to make it useful.  This was not in my budget.

How I made my choice

Since I live in a Modular home set on property, my insurance won’t allow me to have a regular fireplace.  I had heard of pellet burners but needed to do some looking at them.  I went to my local Home and Farm store and they had plenty of them for me to look at.  After discovering what it was that I needed, I weighed the cost.  There were many burners to choose from, pellet burners, corn burners as well as multi fuel burners.  These I was told would burn dog food if you needed to.

For a total of $2100.00 I could have a working pellet burner to install in my home.  I really wanted a ’pretty’ one but I couldn’t justify the cost with the BTU output.  So I chose the Breckwell  Big -E, it wasn’t necessarily pretty but it was going to be what I needed.  I did manage to get the one with the glass front, so I could see the flames burning.  It would give me the feeling that I had a real fireplace.

We purchased the chimney kit, the hopper extension, the concrete slab to set it on and the pipe for fresh air.  It really couldn’t be any more simple to set up.  With the Breckwell came a very good set of instructions, on how to install it.  As of yet in our area there are no installers.  With the help of my Dad, my husband and he got it all hooked up and in less than 12 hours had a cheery fire burning in it.

My sales person truly had no clue what these were about and informed me that it was a corn burner.  So he also sold me 10 bags of corn.   My fire kept going out and I didn’t know why, so I called the Breckwell company.   I was to later find out that only wood pellets were to be used.  Their service calls are not exactly what I was used to, I had to leave a message and they did get back to me.

What I learned and the benefits:

1. Other than the initial cost it only runs me about $160.00 per month to heat my home. So I am saving about $440.00 per month. By the end of the first 2 years it had paid for itself.

2. If you purchase your pellets by the ton you will save approx $1.00 per bag.

3. Read the instructions and don’t always believe the sales person, unless they own one.

4. If you can, get one with an auger. This will turn in the burn pot, keeping it a little cleaner and help to keep the burn pot empty.

5. The heat output is awesome and will heat my entire home, with no other form of heat.

6. Rather than the $20 per day to heat my home, it now costs under $5.00, I use about 1 bag of pellets per day.

7.  It burns cleanly.

8.  The pellets used are by-products of wood, compressed ie; sawdust.  A list of all products used in making the pellets on every bag.

There are a few draw backs to owning a pellet burner.

1.  They run on electricity, so if you have a power outage you will need to have another source of heat at the ready.  Keeping a 100 lb tank of propane handy helps.

2.  Unless you are able to purchase your pellets by the ton, you will have to make trips to the store to buy them, possibly weekly.  If you know someone with a pickup truck, giving them a few dollars in gas for a load will save you money making runs.

3.  The ash will need to be cleaned out, I make it a weekly chore.

All in all I would have to say this was a very wise investment and one that I would encourage anyone who is seeking ways of saving money to look into.

Addition 12/2010

I di have a problem just recently, my ash pan had gotten warped and bent out of shape due to the heat.  I called Breckwell and within the hour I recieved a call back.  I wasn't sure my stove would be under warranty anymore because of the purchase date.  Without hesitation the nice staff at Breckwell had my replacement in route!  What service!!  Go Breckwell!!


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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      We wanted it, but it is not available in our area. Oh we could run it from the main road but that would run into the thousands of dollars! With the prices of natural gas not being much better than propane in our area, it wasn't cost effective.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      You do like to live in comfort I see. Have you given any thought to Natural Gas? Living in Canada where it gets good and cold, I've found it very economical, as long as the gas company already has a pipeline running through, it costs little for them to run a line in.

      Brother Dave.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I did not know they had a layaway plan, thanks for that! I really love my pellet burner, especially in the really cold part of winter, coming in from a blustery day outside to warm up my backside! LOL

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • profile image

      Debra 7 years ago

      Susan we heat with a pellet stove for several years and save with fuel We get your pellets at Tractor supply Co.And we buy 3 tons and save to and they have a layaway plan to they are the best to work with.great hub thanks:)