What is the best pellet pan?
With oil heating disappearing, the pellet market is booming and the supply is increasing. But beware, not all models are equal and offer neither the same options nor the same power. Here are the criteria to take into account and the important elements that must be borne in mind before taking the plunge.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING A HIGH HIGHLIGHTS PELL
- Granulated (or pellet) stoves are among the most economical heating modes: they are much less costly to use than oil, gas or electricity heaters.
- Stoves are mainly recommended as an additional heating because they heat a single room (unless you install a channelable stove) and are dependent on an electricity supply.
- The yields announced have, for years, been very exaggerated. The technology is now ripe and the stoves are efficient and safe.
- The installation of a pellet stove makes it possible to obtain a tax credit, provided that you call on an approved professional.
Granulated stoves are designed to heat wood pellets (or “furts”) quickly and efficiently from renewable energy. These are small cylindrical sticks from the compaction of sawmill residues, such as sawdust and shavings, without glue or additive.
This fuel, once loaded into the stove, is transported to the combustion chamber using an endless screw system, which controls the speed and quantity according to the desired heating power. The fire is ignited with an electrical resistance and a fan provides the right amount of oxygen necessary for combustion. The heat is released by natural convection or by another fan.
It brings the right amount of oxygen to optimize combustion.
2 Smoke evacuation
The combustion gases are sent to the exhaust duct, which must be cased. The suction cup requires a particular design, to be avoided if the device is not intended for; require a manufacturer’s document, as the installer sometimes recommends the suction cup for convenience.
3 Tank capacity
A reservoir that stores a lot of granules offers more autonomy. These are all avoided loads.
4 Endless screws
The endless screw brings the pellets from the tank to the combustion chamber. It rotates slowly to supply small dose granules if it is to keep the temperature in the accommodation faster to bring a lot of granules to the hearth when it is necessary to warm the room.
5 Air inlet
The stove takes new air from the room depending on the settings made and the power chosen.
Good to know. What is the difference between a pellet stove and a pellet stove ? There is not any ! The two terms are equivalent: “fuck” is simply the English translation of the word “wood pellets”. The success of the English term in France may come from the fact that a large part of the granules consumed in Europe are imported from the United States: the term “fuck” can therefore appear on the bags.
The pellet stove wins hands down over all criteria: autonomy, ease of use, programming, comfort and performance.
The yield of a pellet stove can now reach or even exceed 90%, when that of a log stove is 70 to 85%. In addition, on a log stove, the yield is halved if the wood is wet. This gap will never exist with a pellet pan, especially since its automatic power system provides much more regular yields.
On the pollution side, the pellet pan is very emissive. It is still compatible with atmospheric protection plans that are implemented in many urban areas, while log heating may be restricted.
But, unlike the log stove, the pellet stove requires electricity to operate. Heating can therefore become very problematic in a home frequently affected by untimely power outages.
– High yield (90%)
There are different types of pellet stoves, depending on how the heat is diffused.
In natural convection, heat is diffused in the room by the air outlets of the stove, without any help. The advantage of these devices is their silence, because they do not have a fan. But it is then advisable to implant them in the center of the accommodation for a correct diffusion of the heat.
In forced convection, a fan pulsates hot air into the room. Several power levels are generally available, which limits noise pollution. The fan allows heat to spread throughout the room, even if the device is in a corner. In addition, the room heats up faster than natural convection.
Poodles with channelable granules
Channelable pellets can heat several rooms in the house. As their name suggests, they are connected to pipes in which the air is pulsed to the most distant parts of the stove, and even to another floor.
What is a waterproof granule stove ?
The BBC (low consumption building) and RT 2012 standards oblige to install a so-called “waterproof” stove. It is a stove that will draw the air necessary for combustion outside the room (outside or in a crawl space, for example), rather than using the air in the room. This seal of the stove has several advantages: it avoids any risk of emission of pollutants or smoke into the room (since the air intake is outside) and improves the efficiency of the stove, by limiting heat loss. The pulsed air is heated by the outgoing fumes, for maximum efficiency.
The pellet stove market is very large. The Green Flame label site lists 94 different brands ! Most come from Italy, but there are also brands that make all or part of their models in France. We can cite, among others: Alpenwood, Brisach, Chazelles, Philippe chimneys, FF Concept (France Flamme), Godin, Hoben, Invicta, Orchel, Richard le Droff, Skia Design, Stove Industry and Supra. Orchel’s “Forest” model even benefits from the “Origin France Garantie” label.
The brands present in our comparative test are among the most important on the market:
The large presence of Italian brands in France is explained by the fact that the Italian market developed much earlier than the French market: this has enabled transalpine brands to improve their know-how while lowering their costs, ahead of French companies.
Installed since its creation in 1924 in Donchery (Ardennes), Invicta acquired in 2014 the Italian brand CMG, then in 2016 Deville, another manufacturer of stoves, inserts and wood stoves created in 1846 in Charleville-Mézières.
This is an essential criterion. One may be tempted to take a more powerful stove than necessary, assuming that “who can do the most can do the least” … This is a big mistake, because it will never run at full speed. However, a stove that works exclusively in slow motion is more embraced (because the flame is less bright and leaves more unburnt), consumes more and requires more maintenance. Not to mention the higher purchase price. You should never oversize: the power must correspond as closely as possible to the needs. If you do not have the thermal balance of your accommodation, know that for a RT 2005 house, we consider that it takes a power of 100 W for 1 m², i.e. a stove of 10 kW for 100 m². For a very well insulated house, of type RT 2012, 60 W per m² is sufficient, i.e. a 6 kW device for 100 m².
The minimum power
Minimum power is important to consider. When the room has reached the desired temperature, the device puts itself in minimum power and is content to maintain the desired temperature. Too high a minimum power (beyond 3.5 kW) will force the device to operate under a speed. The standard minimum power is 2.5 kW
Low consumption housing (BBC) or RT 2012 (built since January 1, 2013)
0.024 kW per m or 60 W per m², i.e. a stove of 6 kW per 100 m²
RT 2005 housing (built between September 1, 2006 and December 31, 2012)
0.04 kW per m or 100 W per m², i.e. a stove of 10 kW per 100 m²
Old housing renovated and properly isolated
0.04 kW per m or 100 W per m², i.e. a stove of 10 kW per 100 m²
Old accommodation not isolated
The needs will depend on the energy balance of the accommodation. Ask a professional for advice.
The capacity of the tank
It is a truism, the degree of autonomy of the stove depends on the capacity of the reservoir. Between 15 and 35 kg, the rate of refill in granules is not the same. Be careful, recharging a stove is a bit physical, since you have to lift the bag over the stove to fill the tank (unless you use a shovel, which is more tedious). However, there are optional automatic filling devices, using a level sensor and an endless screw, which avoid having to lift the bags.
This is an essential asset of pellet stoves: programming optimizes their operation and reduces fuel consumption. Thanks to the daily and weekly programming, they are triggered on demand, a little before waking up or returning home. Models equipped with temperature probes allow very precise regulation. Other programs that may be interesting include the economical mode (which puts the device at reduced speed at the chosen time) and the “absence” mode, which keeps the accommodation at a minimum temperature (generally 15 ° C) for avoid frost or moisture.
Being able to start the remote pellet stove, or set the temperature via their telephone or tablet, can greatly improve the comfort of a second home, and even that of the main home. However, this function is not available on all models.
The other options
Other options: the alert in the event of an almost empty tank, the alert if the door or the hopper is open, the self-cleaning of the glass and / or the crucible, the presence of a remote control …
The prices of the models present in our comparative test vary from simple to double: from € 1,800 to € 3,600. As with any device, prices vary depending on the positioning of the brand, but also on the options and programs available, as well as the design of the product. This is how cast iron devices, with a large hearth that puts the flame better, are more expensive than the simplest stoves. Design is clearly one of the most important factors influencing price !
According to a study by the Renewable Energy Observatory (Watch) in 2017, the average price of an 8 kW granulated stove was € 3,115 HT. Its price statement, covering 2,520 installations, shows price ranges ranging from € 1,600 to € 6,060 for the devices and from € 300 to € 1,800 for the installation. These impressive differences underline the importance of choosing a stove suited to its needs and budget, but also of making several quotes to compare prices.
From 7 to 9.3 million homes with a wood heating system by 2028, objective displayed within the framework of the multiannual energy programming (PPE) the government has decided to extend the tax credit for the energy transition until December 31, 2019 (Cite) – it should then be transformed into a premium system to prevent consumers from advancing the total bill. The Cite allows, when installing a pellet stove, to recover 30% of the amount of the device within the limit of € 8,000 for a single person (€ 16,000 for a couple) for a period of 5 consecutive years.
Choose a qualified Qualibois professional
To benefit from this aid, it is compulsory to use a qualified Qualibois professional both for the purchase and installation of the device. This certification must be regularly updated. To be sure that the professional is well qualified, check on the certification site. The presence of the logo on the seller’s storefront is not sufficient, as its certification may be out of date. The Faire.fr government site also identifies companies with a quality sign by work category, by validity date and by geographic sector.
Be careful when choosing a service provider, because this tax credit can distort the situation: if the quote is low, it may be that the installer is not Qualibois certified and will not give access to this aid . Conversely, if the quote seems overestimated, it is possible that the professional has inflated his margin knowing that the investment would be partly covered. So go around the resellers before you decide.
Mandatory performance criteria
Another obligation to take advantage of this, the chosen wood heating device (granulated, logged or chimney insert) must meet certain performance criteria:
- energy efficiency greater than 70%;
- particulate emissions below 90 mg / Nm ;
- average concentration of carbon monoxide (or E) less than or equal to 0.3%;
- environmental performance index (I) greater than or equal to 1.
The results of our last comparative test of pellet stoves show that several models are approaching, or even reaching, the 90% yield mark. This shows that combustion is perfectly controlled and the technology is mature. This improvement in yields over the past ten years also means that from now on, few stoves do not allow you to benefit from a tax credit.
To benefit from the tax credit (Cite), it is compulsory to call on a professional certified Qualibois for the purchase and installation of the stove. Purchase on the Internet or on a large specialized surface is therefore not recommended, unless:
- you do not wish to benefit from the tax credit;
- you have the skills to install it yourself.
Certified companies are listed on the https://www.qualit-enr.org/directory
In 2017, installers represented two thirds of sales of pellet stoves, far ahead of wholesalers (21%) and large DIY areas (12%).
Does a pellet stove allow you to substantially reduce your bill ? It all depends on your initial heating mode. According to figures from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in September 2018, the cost of 100 kWh PCI (in summary, the calorific value of a fuel) was € 5.7 for wood pellets sold in bulk and 6.05 € for those sold in bags. It cost € 7.51 for the natural gas equivalent, € 9.55 in domestic fuel oil, € 14.22 in propane in tanks and € 21 in electricity (price including subscription to the blue rate option base). Wood is therefore the cheapest energy: from fuel oil to granules, the economy is 37%. And 71% compared to electric ! The price of wood is also more stable: between 2007 and 2018, that of granules increased by only 21.5%, against 31.5% for propane, 40% for fuel oil, 42% for natural gas and 45% for electricity.
In practice, the consumption of pellet stoves varies from 0.5 to 2 kg per hour (depending on the models, the accommodation to be heated, the set set set temperature and the power used, reduced or nominal). At the rate of 8 hours of daily heating, consumption is almost a 15 kg bag per day for a house of 85 m², or about 2 tonnes of granules for 4 months of use. The price of granules varies, depending on the distributors, from 0.27 € / kg to 0.4 € / kg. Consumption varies slightly depending on the devices and their power, with an invoice for granules ranging from € 500 to € 700 per year. In addition, there is a slight consumption of electricity, from 30 to 70 € per year for devices equipped with fans and around ten euros for those with natural convection.
The efficiency of different types of heating
|Closed hearth chimney||50 to 70%|
|Traditional oil boiler||75 to 90% (depending on his age)|
|Classic gas boiler (natural, butane, propane)||80 to 90%|
The price of the various fuels (September 2018)
With the exception of natural convection devices (minority on the market), granular stoves are noisy due to the presence of a fan. Fortunately, it is only at maximum fan power and speed that the noise generated can become a nuisance, which limits the risks. Indeed, only periods of very cold require this continuous mode of operation. The sound level decreases when the fan operates at a reduced speed. However, if you are sensitive to noise, ask to be able to listen to the device while operating before buying it. Also check if the device has a silent mode or a clutch option, which allows the device to be cut for a few hours.
Our comparative test shows that most of the devices were deemed very silent by our jury. In normal use, the noise of a pellet pan is around 40 decibels, which corresponds to a quiet apartment. For comparison, a dishwasher generally has an operating noise of 45 dB. But the perception of noise is subjective and two devices displaying the same level of decibels will not necessarily be perceived in the same way: again, ask to listen to the model you are interested in before buying.
Installation of the stove
To benefit from the tax credit (Cite), the installation of the stove must be carried out by a certified professional (although the aid relates only to the purchase of the device and not its installation).
For better heat diffusion, the installation of the stove in the center of the main room is recommended. If you want to heat a floor, installing it near a stairwell is relevant. The location will also depend on whether or not a smoke evacuation pipe is present (the presence of which is compulsory in dwellings built since 2006).
Please note, if you wish to install a stove in an apartment, the agreement of the co-ownership is necessary, since the evacuation ducts belong to the common areas.
It is extremely important. Even if it is of good quality, a poorly adjusted stove will perform poorly and get stuck. You have to worry about setting as soon as you buy.
When buying, ask if it was done at the factory – it would be the best solution, but it is unlikely. It is therefore necessary to learn about the settings recommended by the manufacturer. If there are none, remember to question the installer before signing the quote, as there are few specialists in the placement of pellet stoves. Most are more comfortable chemists in the installation of log devices than in the specific setting of pellet stoves. Knowing that they have an adjustment manual available or that they are used to putting pellets with granules is a reassuring point. Always use a locally known installer.
Maintaining your stove regularly is important, for security reasons as well as to extend your lifespan.
The most common operation is to suck the ashes that accumulate in the crucible (which can affect combustion) and in the ashtray. Be sure to wait until the ashes are cold and use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter, so as not to throw ashes into the air of the room. The cleaning of the glass (cold to avoid a thermal shock which could split it) and of the combustion chamber is also to be carried out regularly.
Every year or every 2,000 hours of operation, an interview must be carried out by a professional. It includes at least a thorough cleaning of the device and the verification of the grid, the smoke extractor, the fan and the state of the joints. In addition, a chimney sweep is compulsory twice a year. A sweep certificate, which can be requested by your insurance in the event of a claim, must be given by the professional after the operation. The price of this annual overhaul of the device, with chimney sweep, is generally € 150 to € 200.
Created jointly by manufacturers of wood heaters and the Ademe (Environment and Energy Management Agency), the Green Flame label covers the level of performance and pollutant emissions. The more efficient a device, the more stars it has. The requirements were reinforced on January 1, 2018: devices meeting the 5 star criteria are no longer entitled to them. The 6 star level is therefore the minimum required. It requires a yield of at least 86%, carbon monoxide (CO) emissions of 0.03% maximum and fine particles less than 40 mg / m. The 7-star label requires 90% yield, CO emissions of 0.02% and 30 mg / m max for fine particles. As of January 1, 2020, only 7-star products will be eligible for the label.
We were very critical of this label in 2009 during our first pellet stove test, then again in 2015: of the 10 stoves that bore this label in our test at the time, 9 did not not deserve it. There was the best: the labeled products of our last test (March 2019) comply, or very close to, with the more stringent requirements of the Green Flame. Too bad it does not cover more chapters of the standard (especially in terms of thermal safety).
To note. Since 2018, the energy label (colored label type A, B, C, etc.) is mandatory for heaters, but it only describes the performance of the device. It will be replaced on January 1, 2022 by a new European standard, Ecodesign 2022, which will take into account pollutant emissions.
Evacuate smoke in front: a false good idea
The evacuation of smoke in front by vertical suction cup can attempt when the house does not have a chimney flue (this is the case for many individual houses designed for all-electric: until 2006, the regulations did not impose them smoke duct). But even if some waterproof stoves are suitable for this type of installation, this so-called “vertical suction cup” system is problematic for at least two reasons:
- wood fumes inevitably blacken the facade. Whether they stagnate for lack of wind or, on the contrary, whether they are turned down by the wind, the result is the same, the wall darkens;
- in the event of a wind on the facade, the stove becomes safe, it is essential to avoid the repression of smoke and intoxication. But as long as winter is winded (it happens often), heating up becomes difficult. And if ever the suction cup is located on a wall exposed to prevailing winds, it is a disaster: the stove is more often stopped in safe mode than in operation.