Wood Pellets – Seven Tips You Should Know Before You Buy

Wood Pellets – Seven Tips You Should Know Before You Buy

Thinking through the source, delivery and storage of your wood pellets, below are seven tips to consider:

1.  If you receive, or intend to receive the RHI payments, make sure your supplier is signed up to the Biomass Suppliers List or that you can source your pellets from a supplier who will be registered by this autumn.  

From autumn 2014 it will be a requirement for recipients of the RHI to demonstrate that they are buying their pellets from the newly-introduced Biomass Suppliers List (BSL).  This means that nearly all fuel suppliers providing for the RHI market will need to register their fuels as being legally and sustainably sourced, based on internationally agreed criteria that include a range of social, economic and environmental considerations.  If you are not already sourcing from a supplier who has signed up to this scheme, an accredited list is available from BSL.  The Scheme is designed to ensure that biomass supported by RHI is sustainable.  Those who self-supply (e.g. because they make their own wood pellets) will also need to comply with supplier guidelines regarding sustainable practice.


2.  Think Through your Pellet Storage Requirements

Make sure you have room to store the fuel or have a dedicated fuel store – the more you can buy in bulk, the cheaper the cost of the pellets.

If you have a pellet boiler with a large hopper (either built in or a connected fuel store nearby) you may be able to store as much as a year’s supply in one delivery (three to four tonnes).  Your pellets will need to be delivered loose so they can be blown or suctioned directly from the tanker into your hopper/fuel store.  Make sure your intended supplier can supply pellets in this way if you have this kind of boiler – as not all suppliers deal in loose pellets.  You will need to make sure that the tanker has room to manoeuvre.  The advantage of buying such a large quantity in one go is that your fuel cost will be reduced.  Storage space requirements for this quantity will be about 6 to 7 cubic metres.

If buying pellets by the bag, again try to buy in bulk (usually 10 kilo  bags delivered as a pallet load of 96 bags) to save on cost.  Buying in bulk is also the ‘greener’ option as fewer miles driven back and forth means less carbon emissions. As with the loose pellets, you will need to consider the space required for storage (about a cubic metre for the pallet).


3. Buy pellets which have the ENPlus Scheme quality seal 

ENplus stands for low emissions, trouble free heating and high-energy value and you can be assured you are buying a sufficiently high quality pellet for your boiler.  The certification also means that quality control measures have been in place throughout the manufacture and packaging of the pellets (spot checks are carried out on manufacturers).  Therefore you can be confident that your pellet has less than 10% moisture (a fairly crucial requirement as otherwise you will be wasting energy burning off the moisture content).


4.  Choose the Best for Your Boiler

While ENplus certification will ensure the quality of your pellets, check for the following properties in the pellets you buy as all will contribute to the efficiency of your boiler:

  • An ash content of 0.7% or less;
  • High ash melting temperature of above 1200 (so residues don’t form clumps)
  • High heat output (KW/h) – compare different pellet outputs to get the best.


5. Ensure your Wood Pellet Size is the right one for UK boilers

In the UK this should be 6mm in diameter (and around 25mm in length); make sure the size is consistent for the efficient running of your boiler and decrease in emissions.


6.  Make Sure Your Storage Area is Sufficiently Dry and Ventilated

For loose pellets to be maintain their moisture level at less than 8 per cent make sure your storage area is sufficiently dry and well ventilated.  Make sure you don’t have an appliance such as a tumble-dryer nearby, releasing water vapour into the air.  If pellets become wet – lose their shape, become mushy and unusable.  Wet fuel will compromise the efficiency of your boiler, risks a build-up in tar and can damage the components.


7.  Availability – a regular local source that you can rely on? 

Having a local supplier means that the pellets will be cheaper as there will be less transportation (and less accompanying carbon dioxide emissions).  A list of suppliers can be found on the websites of The National Energy Foundation and Big Barn, although the definitive directory that you need to consult, if you are in receipt of the RHI, will now be the Biomass Suppliers List.  Buying from a local supplier is also a good way to support the local economy.   It might be worth, for peace of mind, identifying two different suppliers, so you always have a back-up to turn to.


If you would like more information on biomass boilers or wood pellets supply, visit  www.woodpellet-boilers.com


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