Coal-burning stoves and pellet-burning stoves are both good alternatives to heating with the more conventional and expensive forced-air furnaces or electric baseboard heaters. They require more effort on the part of the homeowner, but the payoff is lower heating bills.
Coal (anthracite) is not the same as it was in the distant past. It is cleaner burning due to its low sulfur and high carbon content. Pellets are made from wood sawdust. They are clean and additive-free and the smoke from burning them is not harmful.
Coal burners have to be lit manually using fire-starter cubes, gelled alcohol or some other substance approved for use in coal burners. Lighting could take as long as 20 to 30 minutes. Pellet burners light with the touch of a button. If kept properly fueled, lighting should only need to be done at the beginning of the season. Once lit, average daily time spent refueling and emptying the ash bin will be approximately 10 to 15 minutes a day for coal burners and five to 10 minutes a day for pellet burners.
Coal burners for the home generally can produce up to 85,000 BTUs, which will heat an 1,800-square-foot home. Pellet burners generally can produce up to 150,000 BTU’s, which will heat a 4,000-square-foot home.
Time Between Filling
Coal burners can heat for up to 36 hours without tending. Pellet burners have a hopper into which pellets need to be loaded generally every other day, depending on the size of the hopper.
Coal costs an average of $250 a ton and you will use approximately two tons of coal per 1,000 square feet of heated area each heating season. Pellets cost an average of $225 a ton and you will use approximately a ton of pellets per 1,000 square feet of heated area per season. These figures will vary according to the length of heating season and temperature severity in your area.
Coal has an appliance efficiency rating of 75 percent. Pellets have an appliance efficiency rating of 80 percent.
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