The days of colonial America are long past, and yet the stoves historically used to warm families are still present in some homes today. Unlike those stoves, though, not all of today's models require wood for fuel. A much wider variety of fuel options comes with modern times, and because of the advantages over wood, alternative-fuel stoves are being used more frequently.
Two commonly used stove styles are fueled by rice coal or pellet fuel. Rice coal is simply a small type of oval-shaped coal that is typically anywhere from 0.48 cm to 0.79 cm. Pellets can come in many forms, such as nutshells, corn kernels, and wood chips. The kind of pellet stove used will determine what kind of fuel it can burn. Unlike pellet stoves, coal-burning stoves use coal only.
Although coal has historically carried a bad reputation regarding its effects on the environment, the type of coal used for the stoves--anthracite--actually burns quite cleanly. Rice coal is a form of anthracite, which is the most efficient type for burning because of its high carbon content. In fact, due to this large presence of carbon and low amount of sulfur, anthracite is actually environmentally friendly.
Overall, the price of pellet fuel is typically a bit less than that of coal, depending on the location. Both are usually sold by the ton. As for installation, both stoves have similar prices. Over time, the cost of fuel makes the pellet stove a cheaper option in most cases.
In certain areas, such as the state of Pennsylvania, there are cost exceptions regarding rice coal. Because Pennsylvania has such an abundance of anthracite, the prices are considerably lower and may provide a cost advantage over pellets. Pellets, however, have a better efficiency rating. and they can be lit quickly with a simple press of a button. They also have the advantage of being made of materials more conducive to heating larger areas, if necessary.
Pellet stoves in large part require electrically operated fans and motors, generating a lot of noise and posing a problem should the electricity ever go off. Additionally, they require constant maintenance and a yearly cleaning by a professional. Rice coal stoves, on the other hand, though less maintenance intensive, can take up to half an hour to be lit.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of jimmy brown
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