Corn stoves?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Mowtown Mike, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. Mowtown Mike

    Mowtown Mike LawnSite Member
    Posts: 70

    What is the latest and greatest news on corn stoves? What is the best/cheapest way to heat your home. Thanks Mike
  2. Rickco

    Rickco LawnSite Member
    Posts: 135

    Corn stoves are just appearing in this area the last year. I've looked at some and heres my .02. They trow much more heat than wood pellets. They must be cleaned and emptied much more often. I think that the price of fuel for them is going to be high in this area,suply/demand. I beleave in say the midwestern states it would be much cheaper as there transportation costs would be much lower.
    I did a lot of reshearch on stove a few years ago and found,for me, the best choice was a Alaska coal stove,which I bought,burns rice coal,85,000 BTUs auto feed, direct vent,$2400. I love it.
    PM me if you would like more info. Good luck.
  3. Audrey

    Audrey LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 570

    Coal gives you the most bang for the buck. It is also the most work on your part.
    I burn coal as my primary heat source. Except for last year, I burned 14 ton of nut/stove per season. My stove is full manual. It's like having an infant that requires attention every X amount of hours. :laugh:
    But, like anything, you get out of it what you put in. We have recouped the cost of the stove and the building of the chimney for it, in two seasons. We saved 2K per year as opposed to burning oil. That was before the last year or so and this outrageous oil pricing popping up. I can't imagine the savings now. :dizzy:

    By having a full manual, I can also burn wood. Wood is free for me. Well, I have to cut it. But it's a fuel I don't pay for except with my time. I enjoy running the saws and doing that kind of work, so it might as well be free to me. I usually come across some good wood while working, so I get paid twice. Mysteriously, sometimes construction materials also find their way into my stove too. Must be gremlins addicted to free combustible materials. :laugh:
    Wood is good in the fall and spring when you just need to take the edge off. You need to tend the stove more often, and the heat doesn't stay as constant. I burn as much as I can before I start up with the coal.

    The last I bought coal, June 2005, I bought 12 ton at $143/ton delivered.

    Last year (2005) we bought a pellet stove. It is a fireplace insert. The previous owner of the house had propane installed for the fireplace. That went bye-bye.
    We burned a little over three ton of pellets. It was a somewhat mild winter. But, that saved me 7 tons (and the work associated with it) of coal. In my situation, the pellet insert applied the heat directly to the living space. It's only a third of the BTU's, but it puts the heat where we want it, with no waste.

    Last season, pellets got scarce around here. I'm sure others will have their experiences with that. Lowes and Home Depot stopped selling them in October/November because of a shortage. "We can't sell stoves without being able to provide pellets", was the story from them. In 2004, one ton (50 - 40lb bags) was $170 mid season around here. When I bought the stove in August of 2005, I could get the "discount" price of $177, limit 5 tons, delivered from the dealer. September 2005 Lowes and Home Depot were $200 per ton, you pick up. Late September 2005, Lowes and Home Depot were $230 per ton, if they had them, you pick up.

    Well now, I'll be darned if I'm going to get caught. I see what's happening, and I'm on the phone asap. I call 4 manufacturing plants in 3 states trying to buy wholesale, and they laugh at me. I'm trying to buy a tractor trailer load, two if need be. I really don't care. "Buddy, I couldn't sell you a BAG of pellets!" :laugh: "We are running at 100% capacity and we can't fill the orders we have at present." Or, "Call me in March and we'll see. I've got nothing now."


    At this point I begin scouring the countryside. Long story short, I find a place who will sell me 30 ton of 1% ash at $194/ton, $80 delivery fee. I whip out the plastic at supersonic speed. :laugh: 1% back too!
    I trailered a few skids to a storage place (love that winch!) and the rest I stacked inside. I'm set for a while.

    A good thing pellets have over coal is there is far less ash. For coal, I will burn a blue Jackson wheelbarrow full in 24 hours. That will produce one large pan of ash, 5 X 14 X 30, every day. By contrast, one ton of pellets, will produce 3 little 3 X 6 X 12 pans of ash. On high burn, I will do 2 bags per day. Maybe a little more. So, about every 8 days on high burn, you empty a brownie pan. That's really cool compared to coal. :)

    Depending on where you live, or can use it, coal ash makes good anti-skid.

    Coal/wood, you clean at the end of the season. Pellets, you clean the stove after every ton burned..... scrape out the fly ash and shop-vac. At the end of the season, you have to pull the insert to clean out the back and the flue pipe. A stand alone pellet, you just clean out the flue pipe. It's no big deal. You can do it yourself.

    I'm surrounded on three sides by corn fields. I seem to burn everything but! :laugh: I've heard good things about it, but I have no experience with corn. Are there any issues with drawing mice?

  4. green_mark

    green_mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    I use a corn stove but purchase wood pellets for it. Runs well heats well.

    I quit with the corn because it simply did not burn as well as the wood pellets and it was much harder to clean out of the pot. It would turn into a hard rock like substance "every day" and the wood needed to be cleaned out ~2 x per week.

    My only regret with it is that the one we purchased is fairly noisy and we put it out next to the TV so it makes it hard to hear. The other thing I would have done differently is I would have incorporated it into the cold air return and had the furnace fan running.

    That room gets +90 in no time and the other rooms are still cold.
  5. Audrey

    Audrey LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 570

    Run the furnace circulating fan anyway. Nothing else, just the fan. It will still distribute the heat to the rest of the house. You're in a closed box. You are applying heat to the inside of the box. Now move the air.

    This is exactly how I do it. My coal stove is in the basement. I get radiant heat through the floor, as well as having an open cold air return duct down there. Once everything is warm, it will work. Just give it enough time. Maybe a day or two to get through your ductwork. If you were piping the heat directly through it at 150 degrees, you would have better heat much sooner, like an oil furnace. But, you are drawing in 90 degree air. Not as efficient to heat the whole place. Recovery times are also much longer. This is one of the reasons heat pumps aren't as efficient the farther north you go.
    Just be patient and give it a chance. Let the ductwork heat up and you'll be fine. :)

    On super cold/windy days I couldn't keep up enough heat with the coal stove. I was really taxing it. That's why I bought the additional pellet insert.

  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The first step in saving energy is the thermostat. My thermostat sits at 64 degrees for heat, 79-80 for cool.
    Some folks look at me like I'm crazy, but look:
    It's winter? Wear long pants and a sweater!
    It's summer? Wear shorts and a t-shirt!
    Dig that, you can forget running around my house in the underwear when it's 20 degrees outside. Well, you can do it, I don't care :laugh:

    The problem I have with heat pumps is when it gets really cold outside, the stupid thing will run and run and not shut off at all until it gets warmer outside. That kind of bs really ran my electric bill high, and I decided to try Kerosene heat. I wasn't so sure if a kerosene burner would help much, being that it's a space heater and it runs on this $3 / gallon stuff, but...

    The heat pump does just fine so long it's over 40 degrees outside. Once it dips below that and the further down the temps drop, the more benefit I get out of the keros, so the colder it gets, the better the savings.

    I wished I had waited for they went on sale later, but at the time I bought a 10,000 btu heater which holds about a gallon. This proves adequate at full burn to heat my single story house, over the frame of several hours, the temperature inside usually rises slowly towards 70 degrees, which is quite toasty compared to 64. The only exception is when the temps dip into the 20's or lower, then the temp stays at 64 but the heat pump only kicks on every so often and shuts down in reasonable time.

    I bought 20 dollars worth of keros / month, and I'd say I saved $40 / month on the electric. It was worth it to me not just in money but also I like the feel of a fire in the house, plus it saves wear and tear on the heat pump. One gallon lasts just over 12 hours at full burn (you really only want to run it on full burn), so I'd run it 2 hours here, 4 there, sometimes 6-8 hours at a time, only when it got really cold outside. Also as far as how effective it is? Well, there's no chimney, you get 100 percent of the heat.

    The drawback: You can NOT leave it unattended. You might go into another room but don't leave the house with that thing running, don't do it, you have been warned. No, I never had a problem, but it is an oil fire and if something goes wrong, you need to be there.

    It takes practice the POS burner, you will buy at least 1 extra wick before you 'get it,' they're not cheap either. But I ran standard gasoline station keros, never had a problem, so you don't need that special kerosene they sell for like $8 / gallon. You DO need clean or straight keros, I tried mixing in just a teenie bit of used motor oil (well it is petrol lol), and that stuff just messes it up, so burn straight keros.

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