Wood Pellet Storage: The Basics

Woodpellets.comUnfortunately, there isn’t always a bunch of extra space available to keep your wood pellets stored safely, and out of the way. Of course, it’d be best for your wood pellets to be stored inside, but there isn’t always room for that! Unwrapping the shroud and re-stacking all the bags is a great solution to only having small spaces available. Take a look at how some of our customers stack their pellets indoors, here. Read how we stacked 50 pellet bags in a very tight space, here. Your pellets can also be stored outside successfully, if you take a couple of extra steps.

If you’re having wood pellets delivered to your home for the first time, or are storing them in a new location, it’s a good idea to measure out the space first in order to know what you can fit. First, let’s start with dimensions, so you’ll be able to plan your spaces effectively.

The approximate length, width and height of a standard 40 pound bag of pellets placed horizontally on the floor is 27 x 18 x 5 inches. These measurements can adjust a bit with some maneuvering of the pellets within the bag.

Wood Pellets Stored OutsideThe length and width of a skid (a pallet of stacked and wrapped wood pellet bags) is 48 by 40 inches, and is about four feet tall. A 1.5-ton skid of 75 bags has the same length and width, but is about six feet tall. Check out the picture to the left to see what a skid looks like when it’s delivered.

If you’re only able to store your skids outside – you’ll need to start with an inspection. Your fuel is carefully wrapped and protected with a plastic shroud before it’s sent out for delivery. If you find any rips or holes in the plastic shrouding, be sure to repair it with water-proof tape or additional layers of plastic.

Also, before your skids are even placed on your driveway or lawn, make sure to choose a spot away from irrigation heads or water spray paths as well. You can instruct the drivers ahead of time on where you’d like your order delivered, or you can always leave a sign!

Next, add a a securely fastened tarp over your fuel, to protect it from water and from any birds or small animals that may try to puncture the plastic to make a home. Empty milk jugs filled with sand or water tied to the edge of the tarp is a great way to prevent it from flying up. If you have leftover bags from a past season, check out our tutorial on how to make them into an additional layer of protection, here

Woodpellets.comA great trick we tested last summer is so simple, but so helpful for outdoor storage! Place a ball on the top of the skid, under your layers of protection to keep water from pooling. It’s so important to protect your pellets from contact with water, because it turns them back into sawdust.

Make sure you do everything you can to protect your pellets. If you find damage that has reached the actual wood pellets – call 1-800-PELLETS within 30 days of delivery to speak with a Quality Assurance representative.  All Woodpellets.com Quality Certified fuels are backed by a Quality Guarantee, which is valid for 30 days after the delivery date.

The Problem with Firewood

Firewood RestrictionMuch like other heating fuels, firewood pricing fluctuates based on supply and demand, among other market forces. The price of a cord of wood throughout the Northeast started to climb substantially in late 2015, and shortages rattled the industry. Experts have blamed large-scale construction projects as part of the problem.

WoodMatsA NH timber industry representative explained that hydraulic fracturing well sites use hardwood logs as durable mats to successfully get heavy equipment over uneven, wet soil and mucky landscapes. The executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, Jasen Stock, says that fracking projects alone aren’t to blame. Pipeline and transmission wire projects have also increased demand for the 16 to 20 foot long hardwood trunks with an 8 to 10 inch diameter, which are perfect for these construction mats. These mat-friendly logs are also the ones that make great firewood, unfortunately.

Another issue affecting firewood sources is the Emerald Ash Borer, which is considered to be the most destructive insect to trees in North America. Over the last 14 years, these beetles have destroyed millions of trees, mostly in the eastern United States. The rapid spread of the insect across the country is blamed on the transport of infected firewood and nursery stock.

Emerald Ash Borer Effects

DontMoveFirewood.org

To help battle the spread of destructive insects like the Emerald Ash Borer, many states have rolled out serious firewood movement restrictions. According to the Don’t Move Firewood organization, “wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs, or microscopic fungi spores, that will start a new and deadly infestation. Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Just because it is dry doesn’t mean that bugs can’t crawl onto it.”

(You can learn about state-by-state restrictions, what kind of insects are harmful, and so much more at DontMoveFirewood.org.)

Wood bricks, a firewood alternative, have been gaining popularity as a home heating solution and a campfire solution. Compressed wood bricks are made of kiln-dried, super-condensed wood chips and sawdust, so there’s no bark, dirt or insects. They have less than 10% moisture, and can be burned alone or as a supplement to cordwood.

Check out our tutorial on how to burn wood bricks with cordwood in a wood stove, and how to burn wood bricks in a fire pit

Typically bundled in shrink-wrapped packages of 15 to 20 bricks – they are allowed at campsites and are great for campfires. The wood bricks light easily, burn clean and burn hot. Learn more about the advantages of wood bricks, here.

Have any questions? Give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS!

How to Make a Pallet Tarp Out of Wood Pellet Bags

Have you read our post about how to repurpose empty wood pellet bags? What about our tutorials on how to make a water blob, or a kite, or DIY treat bags from empty bags? Here’s a new one for you – a pallet tarp! We’ve created a step by step guide on how to use your leftover bags to make an extra layer of protection for your pellets, that fits over a skid of 50 bags nicely.

What You’ll Need: 

  • Iron
  • Ironing Board/Surface
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • 25 Empty Pellet Bags (at least)
  • Open Window or Fan

How to Make a Pallet Tarp from Empty Wood Pellet BagsTo begin, open a window or have a fan going, since we will be fusing plastic for this project. Also, please note that this DIY is for adults only. Children shouldn’t be involved with this one. Safety first!

Shake out any excess fines and/or leftover pellets inside your bags to avoid making a mess. Line up a few bags on top of one another, and carefully cut the jagged tops, and the folded bottoms with your scissors. Repeat this for all of the bags.

You can make a super tough tarp by keeping the sides of each bag as-is, and not cutting one side open. This will create a double layer. We made the top of the tarp this way, because a double layer on the top will protect the underlaying layers best from the elements.

Cut a large piece of parchment paper, and fold it in half lengthwise. On the top layer, mark a line an inch or two away from the fold, across the entire paper. (We just used the parchment paper box as a guide.) This line will help guide your iron, making the seams of your tarp the same size.

Similar to basic quilting, line up the edges of two separate bags, and place them in between the folds of your marked parchment paper. Adjust the paper to make the inside fold as close as possible to the bag edges inside. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, because it isn’t likely that your bag cuts were perfectly straight lines. (That’s okay!)

The edges of the bags should be sandwiched inside the layers of your parchment paper, separating the plastic from the ironing surface and the hot iron. Start to press the iron along the folded edge of the paper and stay inside your drawn line guide.

Make sure to do a test for the settings and make sure it’s hot enough to fuse the layers of plastic together efficiently. As you would for ironing clothes, keep a slow constant motion going with the iron – do not pause with the iron in one spot.

We had our iron set on the Wool setting, which worked perfectly for fusing together two bags of double layers. When we later switched to the sides of the tarp, which were only a single layer, we turned down the setting.

Carefully remove the parchment paper and check out your work! The seam will be on the inside of the tarp. If you flip it over, you’ll see your secure hidden seam. Repeat this process until you have a square of fused bags! We used three layers of three bags, so 9 total bags for the top of the tarp.

To make a flat tarp, instead of the trickier cube like we made, just continue adding rows of fused bags together until you get to your desired size! 

For the sturdiest, most reliable pallet shaped tarp, repeat this whole process the same way four more times. This way, the entire cube tarp will be double layered like the top of ours. This will take at least 45 bags for a one ton skid (50 bags).

For our sides, we cut each bag on one side to open them up into wider pieces. After turning down the setting on the iron, we fused the edges in the same way, but had to adjust our layout a little due to the different shape of each piece. The sides only needed four bags. Again, there’s no exact science. To plan our cube sides, we pre-arranged each bag on the floor to see what the best configuration would be.

Once your four sides and top are complete, you can begin to assemble the cube shape. Start with the same process of aligning two bags, but align the edges of your top layer and one of the side layers. The parts you’d like to face outward upon completion should be facing one another for the fusing.

Repeat this process of fusing the top layer with the sides, until all four sides are securely connected to your top layer. Position your almost cube on a table, or chairs lined up, so the edges are hanging down next to one another.

Align the side edges of your side panels together, fold the edges inward, and tape a few pieces to temporarily keep the sides in place. Repeat this with the other three corners, and carefully flip your rough cube inside out, so all your seams are pointing outward.

Line up your taped edges, and place them inside your parchment paper, like you’ve done many times by now. Fuse together each side, and flip your creation over again. You should now have a cube like tarp!

We made a flap out of one of our sides by making two oversized pieces that overlapped in the middle, and connected to the top layer and each corner. This trick will make it easier to get to your bags through the season!

Your pellets are delivered wrapped up in a protective shroud, and we strongly suggest keeping this on if you’re storing outside. The more layers on your pallets – the better. Depending on your personal choices and techniques for this project, your pellet bag pallet tarp could be really sturdy, but it still shouldn’t be your only layer of protection.

Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Comment or visit our Facebook page to show us how you reuse your empty wood pellet bags! Give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS if you’d like to speak to an expert!

 

A Look at the 2015 Wood Pellet Export Market

Not long ago, about 80 percent of pellets made in the United States were used domestically, largely for residential heating. Today, wood pellet heating has grown from a residential home heating alternative into an international energy and environmental super-power.

Not long ago, about 80 percent of pellets made in the United States were used domestically, largely for residential heating. Today, wood pellet heating has grown into an international energy and environmental super-power, driven by the European Union’s goal for 20% of all generated power to be sourced from renewables. 

Since the US has many well-established pellet mills and significantly greater forest resources than Europe – millions of tons of bulk pellets are shipped overseas from the States to Europe. You’d think that this long distance hauling would reverse any environmental benefits of wood pellet energy, but transporting freight by ocean actually uses less than 13% of the energy of transporting the same freight by truck. Enviva Biomass, a main supplier for the UK-based company Drax, explains:

Ocean freight is substantially more carbon and energy-efficient on a per ton basis than trucking, which means that shipping long distances makes more sense than trucking over moderate distances. Shipping a ton of pellets from the Southeast U.S. to England results in less carbon emissions than trucking that same ton from northern Scotland to England.

Researchers detail in a report (Carbon Savings with Transatlantic Trade in Pellets: Accounting for Market-Driven Effects) that the greenhouse gas intensity of wood pellet-based electricity is between 74 to 85 percent lower than that of coal-based electricity savings. Furthermore, even after considering all the logistics, harvesting wood pellets in the US and exporting them to the EU is still far less environmentally harmful than burning coal within the EU for electricity.

The top European markets for US exporters were the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Future opportunities are within countries like Germany and France, which will need to increase imports and rely less on domestic production in order to meet a steadily climbing demand. Within the 28 countries of the European Union, 18.8 million metric tons of wood pellets are burned annually – and the United Kingdom accounts for over one-fourth of the total global consumption.

Take a look at our infographic map to learn more about this fascinating industry, and let us know what you think!

 

Sources: Biomass Magazine | Trade.Gov | US Industrial Pellet Association | Transparency Market Research | North American Wood Fiber Review

 

The 2016 Pellet Stove Design Challenge Winner

The 2016 Pellet Stove Design Challenge (which is organized by the 
Alliance for Green Heat) was a three day international stove technology competition with a focus on spotlighting innovative and high performing pellet stoves and prototypes. The event also held extensive stove demonstrations/testing, presentations and round-table discussions with industry experts, researchers, scientists, policy-makers and students, among others. The main purpose of this competition is to promote innovation in wood and pellet heating, as well as help to reduce fossil fuel heating with the use of cleaner and more efficient stoves. 
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How to Properly Shut Down a Pellet Stove for Summer

Moisture in Pellet StoveIt’s about that time to shut down your pellet stove for the summer! Considering pellet stove costs range at an average of around 2-3 thousand dollars, with some at double that price, this heating system is a real investment that will benefit from a few extra steps taken for season shut-down. Instead of just pulling the plug and walking away, responsible pellet burners should have a quick shut-down checklist to follow.

Many owner’s manuals that come with pellet stoves are an excellent resource filled with tips and guidelines for maintaining a healthy stove. We have compiled our own Pellet Stove Season Shut-Down Best Practices, co-written by a Cleancare professional pellet stove technician.

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Residential Biomass Federal Tax Credit Information

2015 2016Did you purchase a biomass-burning heating system for your home that meets the 75% efficiency rating between January 1, 2015 and now? If you did, you’re likely eligible for the $300 Biomass Federal Tax Credit!

Unfortunately, there’s no master list of eligible stoves. To make sure yours meets the 75% efficiency rating requirement, just check with your retailer.

You’re able to claim this credit as long as the stove was installed in your principal residence. This is the home you live in most of the time. It must be in the United States, and it can include a house, houseboat, mobile home, cooperative apartment, condominium, and a manufactured home. New construction and rentals do not apply. 

You’ll need the Individual Income Tax Return Form 1040 and the Residential Energy Credits Form 5695 to include the Biomass Federal Tax Credit on your filing. If you bought your eligible stove this year, or are planning to this year, prepare for your 2016 tax filing by keeping your sales receipt and the manufacturer’s certification. These are just for your records, not to be attached.

If your stove meets all the requirements, and you purchased it in 2015, did you include it on your tax return? If you missed out on the Biomass Federal Tax Credit, use form Form 1040X – Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You have up to three years after the filing or due date, or two years after paying your taxes to amend. Full information on how to amend your return can be found here.

For More Information, See HPBA’s Tax Credit Guide, Here

The Questions Stove Techs are Asked Most

Why am I getting so much ash?

Woodpellets.comCheck out the specifications on the wood pellets you’re purchasing, and look for the ash content listed. The higher the percentage, the more ash you’ll get, and the more frequent your cleanings will be. Higher quality pellets will have lower ash percentages, and therefore less maintenance.

On top of research, another great way to choose a fuel is by talking to your fellow pellet-burners to see what they’re using and why. Of course, you won’t know what you like for your home and your budget until you run your own tests. But if you’re buying the cheapest pellets with lower heat and higher ash specifications – you shouldn’t expect the same results as the higher quality options available.

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How to Use Wood Pellets as Horse Bedding

Woodpellets.com  |  Pelletbedding.comHorse bedding is used in stalls to absorb urine and moisture, and is a necessary part of properly maintaining clean stalls. Ideal bedding material makes cleaning up messes easy, is easy to store, and is the least wasteful.

Straw and wood shavings are commonly used, but using softwood wood pellets as horse bedding is becoming popular among experienced horse and stable owners.

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