Propane, Coal or Pellet?

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: Sheilashu On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:10 am

Wow. This had been extremely informative. We will nix the pellet idea. No, to those that asked - we do not have a chimney. If we go with propane, it would be two units and we aren't sure we'd be able to heat the house as nicely. For coal, we are considering an automatic stove with power vent which I think would cover a lot of the hassles. The Leisure Line Pocono model was recommended by a stove store in the area, as we have 2900 feet to heat (basement and mid floor).

Thank you, Wilder11354, for mentioning your COPD. I'd think you would know most about dust bothering lungs!

I may have my husband jump in here soon to add questions as they come up. Thank you all for taking the time - we really appreciate it!
Other Heating: looking to add coal stove to basement

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: blrman07 On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:23 am

I just wanted to chime in and let you know that we heat our house with a coal hand fired stove. We have used stokers, three different versions of hand fired's, and a short experiment of heating with wood. Never again!!! We also tried propane as a supplement but it put too much moisture and fumes into the air. Unvented propane was not for us.

My wife has chronic asthma, is on three different pills, a nebulizer and rescue inhalers. She has had asthma all her life. She absolutely loves sitting by the coal stove in her rocking chair with the cat in her lap, both snoozing away.

IF you handle the coal and the ashes with some patience you will have much less dust than with wood or wood pellets.
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:11 pm

The EPA has decided (a little late) that indoor air pollution is a major hazard. Coal or no coal a shut down house in the winter is a hazard particularly for compromised patients.

EPA in 1990 ranked indoor air quality as a "high-priority public health risk," especially for persons suffering from such serious respiratory conditions. Although proper air purification may help alleviate many irritants and possibly even prevent the development of these ailments, it is by no means a cure and will only help lessen the symptoms once the patient's airways have been compromised. Consequently, just having a top-of-the-line air purification system will not replace medically prescribed treatments such as inhalers, antibiotics and steroids that may be recommended to keep the disease from escalating.

Half right, close enough for the medical profession.

I have a LL AK180 (I replaced my AK110) and the inlet filter is a MERV13 we also used a Aprilaire which is not so good in my estimation. So the AnthraKings have a 1750 cpm fan and it recirculates constantly. I just plug the fan in once I am heating and let it run until the spring. Warning, no one else does this but it is my solution to clean air and it works brilliantly. My nagging winter cough is but a distant memory.
Last edited by coalnewbie on Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL AnthraKing 180K, Pocono110K,KStokr 90K, DVC
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Invader 2
Baseburners & Antiques: Wings Best, Glenwood #8(x2) Herald 116x
Coal Size/Type: Rice,
Other Heating: Heating Oil CH, Toyotomi OM 22

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: Uglysquirrel On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:41 pm

Sheilashu wrote: The Leisure Line Pocono model was recommended by a stove store in the area, as we have 2900 feet to heat (basement and mid floor).

A very good (company on this forum supported) simple easy to maintain stove with a lot of heat transfer area and CFM blower capability. In my expereince 5 years so far no problems though preventative maintenance helps as in all stoves of this sort . The Coaltrol is a very nice feature with flexibility for thermostat or constant heat.

Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:54 pm

Sheilashu wrote:No, to those that asked - we do not have a chimney.

A lot of people use power vents with a lot of success but one thing to be aware of with the power vent is there is going to be some amount of odor. Coal has sulfury or rotten egg smell to it when burned, this is generally not an issue with chimney. Consider building a chimney.
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:27 pm

Coal wins the BTU per dollar contest, but propane is a very versatile fuel. I am not sure what electric rates are in your area, but in many areas propane is more cost effective than electricity for space or water heating. If you intend to have propane for cooking anyway, it would probably be a good choice for a nice looking stove in the living area. Some of the gas stoves can be direct vented, and operate without electricity. I think that would be a nice feature in a home with electric heat as the main system.

My brother heats his house with a coal boiler, but he has a vented propane fireplace in the living room that is very nice to click on when it is -20. He also has a propane cook stove and clothes dryer.

A coal stove in the basement would keep the basement cozy and take a bite out of the heating bill for the upstairs, but if it is power vented there will be some noise, some odors outside, and some amount of dust in the basement area. I think the choice of fuel really depends on what your goals are, and how hands-on you are with equipment. I would prefer a chimney over a powervent, but the layout of the house and budget will likely be the deciding factors.
Rob R.
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: wilder11354 On: Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:28 pm

Dust is an iissue if a person is hap hazard.. clumsy, careless. My boiler in a room of its own on my back deck... and its not an issue, tending, feeding, or servicing in season. out of season..due to my health situation I take WISE precautions. Proper, preventing burn box before winter serviicing/feeding coal... dust goes where its wants, but I control air flow.. as to where I want it to go. LL stoves are great stoves... needing a blower to circulate heat to accomplish desired results mean stoves not of proper size(btu output) to heat area demand. Yes proper air circulation, returns, natural drafts of area are something to look into,. Adding floor gravity vents(returns.... small in size} do help create a natural (large area upward draft opening, IE basement door from main floor, etc).... only thing that shows drafts is smoke... all windows closed, basement dooor open, sans windows on main floor open ,verses windows open, etc, etc. test a little with a non invasive smoke machine.... or incense sticks... follow the smoke and your nose.
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF260 Boiler
Coal Size/Type: nut or pea, anthracite
Other Heating: crown oil boiler, backup.if needed

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: nortcan On: Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:21 pm

Hi Sheila and welcome to the forum.
Not much to add about your questions after all those good answers.
But being a Canadian (Québecois) wood burner for about 20 Yrs and now burning anthracite for the past 8 Yrs, all I can say is that I hope to NEVER get back to wood burning. Plus you are in the anthracite paradise. :idea: . About chimney, go for masonery as Wilder said in the previous post.
Have a good and warm Winter.
Stove/Furnace Make: Stuart,Peterson/ Grander
Stove/Furnace Model: Sunnyside/ Golden Bride

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: lsayre On: Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:56 pm

For pellet burners, I just learned some things that go completely against the grain of what I would have expected due to my past learned knowledge of burning cut and split logs of hardwoods vs. softwoods in conventional wood stoves.

Softwood pellets can actually have roughly 10% to 20% more BTU's per pound than do hardwood pellets. Softwood pellets may also prove to be less expensive, with hardwood pellets often being labeled and marketed as "premium" pellets. Softwood pellets apparently also burn hotter and cleaner, resulting in less ash than hardwood pellets.

What makes things different here is that when you are cutting, splitting, and stacking lumber by the cord, softwoods can give you as much as 2 to perhaps 3 times less weight in a cord, but with pellets this is completely irrelevant, since you are purchasing them by weight, and not by volume. Past knowledge of burning hardwoods vs softwoods in conventional wood stoves is therefore useless (and counterintuitive) for the case of pellets.

In addition to this, my initial guesstimate of 10 to 15 times more ash by weight for anthracite vs. pellets is apparently incorrect. The actual difference may prove to be more likely in the range of 20 to 40 times more ash by weight generated for coal than for pellets. Call it 30 times less ash by weight on average. This being due to pellets generating noticeably less ash than cut and split lumber burned in conventional wood stoves.

Everyone deserves to have more reliable information before deciding which fuel is correct for them.
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: Lightning On: Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:14 pm

My pellet packaging does say less than 1% ash by weight but the ash itself is very fluffy and does occupy a much higher percentage by volume. How much volume depends on settling.
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: wilder11354 On: Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:43 pm

As far as pellet stoves having less ash... yea, in burn chamber they don't collect.. they power vent it out thru exhaust... go look at a POOR fitted exhuast point on outside of house... yep.. theres the ash all over the exterior wall on the house....Properly vented(?).. above roof line.. (out of sight) its all over roof. Coal dosen't do this if anthracite, and burn't correctly. reason being.... no creosote. In other words.. no boiling sap.
I will not burn wood, unless its the last and only way to heat.. its labourious, inefficent, and stinks horribly. in any mode other than a full all out full draft burn.. and then.. you couldn't keep enought wood around to heat with, but just pass it out the chimmney , for the right of exrcice of hauling wood in, and taking non exsistant ash out. and over and over... wood sucks.
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF260 Boiler
Coal Size/Type: nut or pea, anthracite
Other Heating: crown oil boiler, backup.if needed

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:36 am

Scottscoaled wrote:here is something you should also consider. You have no chimneys right now....Coal for you is the most expensive to install. You need a chimney built or a stainless steel exhaust up the side of your house. You sound like you are in it to save money. That could be a deal breaker. I can tell you there is no better heat than coal. Period.

Indeed this could be a deal breaker - For coal you will need either a mortar chimney or a Class A stainless steel one running up the outside of your house. There is more then upfront cost to consider. A mortar chimney will be more expensive up front but once you have it in place it will require little or no maintenance forever. A stainless steel one will be less upfront but will have to be washed out in the spring to remove the accumulated coal flyash. The acid in the flyash when mixed with the summer humidity will eat through the stainless steel very quickly and despite routine maintenance the stainless steel chimney will have to be replaced in 15 or 20 years.

How long do you plan to be in the house? How long would it take to recoup your upfront costs, the stove and chimney, through the savings of burning coal?

When we started burning coal 10 years ago we didn't have the forum to teach us any different and went with a Class A stainless steel chimney running up the outside of the house. It works well but I can already see the negative effects of the flyash on the chimney. Without a doubt we will have to replace it within 5 years.

In the long run it would have been less expensive to pay the high initial cost of a mortar chimney.

That being said - I love burning coal. It's cleaner then wood and the fact that a load of coal has a 12 hour burn time means I'm sleeping through the night instead of getting up to feed the fire. I'm able to keep the house at a higher temperature for less money. Also since I have a handfed stove, should we be without power for any length of time, I can cook on the coal stove and have heat to boot. To me there are no drawbacks to burning coal. Lisa
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Sat Oct 08, 2016 3:17 pm

Some stoves can run with a powervent, you just need a hole in the wall.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Sat Oct 08, 2016 3:27 pm

Pellet stove should be out ... I assume you don't have a place to store them w/o being subject to weather (which coal, except for getting encased in ice which is avoidable, does not have the same issues -- leave it out in the rain, cold, etc ... once dried its as good as new).

Tarping coal outside takes care of most things.

But in 10 yrs? Maybe you're 90 then and cannot pick up a bucket ... that's your assessment. I'm a coal burner, not a doctor, Jim !
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea/anthra
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Propane, Coal or Pellet?

PostBy: wilder11354 On: Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:23 pm

Well the jury is still out... contemplating... the people would like to know..... whats your thoughts.... findings, or other thoughts. Thx in advance.
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF260 Boiler
Coal Size/Type: nut or pea, anthracite
Other Heating: crown oil boiler, backup.if needed