Pellet Stoves Are Back (and Easier than Ever)
We first got wind of pellet stoves as a heating alternative last year; extremely efficient, producing very little waste, and using inexpensive fuel, they were a huge hit. A new system promises to make it even easier and more TreeHugger-friendly. As we learned before, most pellets are made from a single fuel source, usually wood or corn; commercially available stoves usually burn one or the other, but not both. A company called Bixby Energy Systems has developed a pellet made from various types of biomass and a stove that can burn all of them. The pellet formula can be customized to use local resources as varied as grape waste, olive pits, almond shells, cotton-gin trash and hog waste; this cuts down shipping and distribution costs, and the requisite pollution that comes with it.Bixby's first generation stove, the 55,000 BTU MaxFire, burns corn, wood or biomass pellets at 99.7 percent combustion efficiency, meaning it gives off little ash. It holds 106 pounds of corn and heats a 3,000-square-foot area at about 45 percent the cost of heating oil and 55 percent the cost of natural gas. Still, this stove, as with all pellet stoves, requires regular upkeep and lots of pellets; this maintenance is too much work for some consumers, according to a Bixby retailer: "Some people just don't want to do anything but turn up the thermostat," says Larry Thompson of LET Energy Systems in Albert Lea, Minnesota. The solution for the lazy pellet enthusiast is about two years down the line; Bixby engineers have designed a biomass furnace that will provide heat, hot water and eventually electricity. The company has also acquired a delivery company that will bring biomass pellets directly to the consumer, depositing them into a storage tank that the furnace can access automatically. ::Bixby Energy Systems via ::Wired NewsSee also: Thinking of Buying a Pellet Stove? We Can Help!Update: Check out our guide to Buy Green: Pellet Stoves over on our sister site, Planet Green. You know they're a great green way to heat -- learn where to get one and take action today!