Wood pellet mills across America are running at full capacity, yet some retailers are still struggling with supply levels. Many consumers have felt the strain this year – by being turned away or having to wait for pellets. So if mills are producing the supply as quickly as possible – where are the pellets going?
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. Wood pellet exports from the United States have
doubled since last year – with more than half the exports going to the United Kingdom.
Myth #1: Hardwood Pellets are Better than Softwood
Preference for hardwood over softwood has its origins in the cordwood stove community. It has long been considered better to burn hardwood in your woodstove because it provides a longer, hotter burn compared with softwood cordwood.
The principle reason that hardwood burns better than softwood in woodstoves has to do with wood density (hardwood is more dense than softwood) and it’s lower moisture levels.
However, with wood pellets the advantages of hardwood are neutralized by the pelletizing process. Both hard and softwood material is dried to the same moisture level, of about 4-5%. Furthermore, regardless of the type of wood used to produce the pellets, the pelletizing process produces wood pellets with the same density. And once the moisture content and density advantages has been removed during the manufacturing processing, softwood comes out ahead in terms of heat and performance.
There is only one word to describe the current market in wood pellets – unprecedented. Many of the changes that have happened in the pellet industry have been brewing for years, but the effects have really been felt by consumers since last spring. The appeal of wood pellet fuel has never been stronger, but that has driven some changes that every buyer of pellets will see.
New Stove Sales
Pellet stove sales continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The comfort and warmth generated by a pellet stove, combined with the run-up in heating oil prices and propane last winter, has convinced many households in New England to install a pellet stove. Many of the stove shops we work with in have let us know that their installations of new stoves are up as much as 50% so far this year and sales continue to be strong this fall. Anyone buying a new stove can see a wait time of several weeks for installation as the stores work to keep up with sales. These new stoves mean more people looking for pellets this fall.
It’s the time of year where the phones are steadily ringing, and we are talking with many new and returning customers. Due to other retailers running out of wood pellets and the time of year, our phone call volumes have significantly increased. The Woodpellets.com team is always happy to get you the answers you are looking for, so we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we are hearing during this seasonal rush.
1. Do you have wood pellets to sell me?
If you type in your zip code on our website, or tell us on the phone, you will receive a list of available inventory in your area. You might see “Backordered” or “Sold Out” at times. However, if we tell you on the phone or you see online that pellets are available – that means we have them. We would never knowingly sell wood pellets or wood bricks that aren’t available.
Having recently purchased a new pellet stove, I quickly found myself facing an issue that just about all pellet stove owners face – where the heck do you store all those bags of pellets?
Some store them outdoors – which if fine if you provide them
a little extra protection. The plastic outer shrouding can definitely withstand a season outdoors. But who wants to trek through snow and ice to get a bag of pellets? I would rather be able to grab them in my socks.
Basements are also popular storage areas. But mine is so full of junk… I mean special keepsakes that my wife could never part with…that I literally have no room for three tons of pellets.
So I decided to make my garage work.
Everything from wood pallet uses, to handy pellet tips, to easy summer DIYs…check out the Woodpellets.com Pinterest page!
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Precision Delivery involves the use of a Pallet Jack. This special tool is a hand-operated machine that lifts heavy pallets, allowing delivery drivers to pull skids of fuel over flat, hard surfaces (a garage floor). Because of their maneuverability and small size, pallet jacks give you greater flexibility than forklifts to place pallets exactly where you need them.
Pricing and availability for Precision Delivery varies depending on the region. There is an extra fee for this type of delivery, but many customers find it’s well worth the money.
“I’m so glad I went for the pallet jack delivery! Your driver was able to place my wood pellets right next to the door going inside the house. This has saved us a lot of time and effort. Thank you” -Estelle, MA Customer
The pallet jack can move over a smooth, solid surface to place your pallets right where you need them. You just have to make sure your garage has an open, clear path in order for the driver to successfully maneuver the pallet jack. Also, it’s important to know that we cannot go down stairs or curbs, or go across grass or dirt with the pallet jack.
Last month we looked at some troubling signs that
another pellet shortage could not be ruled out again this winter. Expanding exports to Europe, mill closures due to fire, and now a forecast of another bitter cold winter are all contributing to make this winter another challenging one for pellet users.
So what are the best ways to protect yourself from the threat of shortages?
If you have a wood pellet stove, by this time you have either bought your pellets, or at least thought about it (we hope). Our phones have been ringing steadily and our hours have extended, which means the heating season is quickly approaching. We have been happy to hear from many new people this year, and of course we’re thrilled to be catching up with our past/repeat customers as well. During our high call volume, we have been hearing and experiencing a lot of the same things, which we’d like to address:
1. A Need for Information: We are getting calls from many new pellet stove owners with many questions about the best kind of wood pellets, the difference between hardwood and softwood, ash content importance, etc. Every person that answers the phone at Woodpellets.com is a wood pellet fuel expert. You won’t be transferred to another department in order to talk to someone who knows about pellets, and you will certainly not be rushed off the line. We completely understand that you might have a lot of questions, and we are all happy and ready to provide you with honest, helpful answers. Most members of our team are either pellet stove owners, or have owned a pellet stove in the past – so we’ve probably had similar questions at one point.