Wood Pellet Boilers: What Investors Need to Know

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With the cost of traditional fuels seemingly perpetually on the rise, more and more people are beginning to consider alternative forms of energy that are cheaper, more abundant, and perhaps less impactful on the environment as well. This type of fuel, generated from organic matter that would otherwise be destined for the landfill, is called biomass energy—and it is one of the most ancient forms of renewable energy in the history of mankind, still widely used in developing countries to this day.

So why should you care about biofuels? Are there benefits of switching to a wood pellet boiler? And is it possible to save money on renewable energy sources in addition to solving pragmatic problems like greenhouse emissions and overcrowded landfills? In this article, we will answer all of these questions and more, so you can decide if installing wood pellet boilers in your home or business is the right economical move for you.

What Is a Wood Pellet Boiler?

Humans have been utilizing fire to cook their food, illuminate their spaces, and heat their dwellings for well over 300,000 years. Generally scraps of wood gathered from the environment around them, early hominids have been relying on the combustion of organic material for hundreds of thousands of years. Fortunately, as we have evolved, so too has our technology around ways to harness the energy produced from burning organic biofuels. Today, we’ve gone from simple fire pits to a combustion chamber fed by a neighboring hopper of wood pellets, wood chips, or other wood scrap materials. This is known as a wood pellet boiler, and this combined source of heat and energy can power everything from your HVAC system to your hot water heater.

Benefits of Switching to Biofuels

It is not illogical to think that harnessing heat and energy from burning organic matter is an archaic, even outdated form of harnessing energy—but today, there have been many advancements in this source of power, from increased efficiency to a wider range of organic matter that can be converted into biofuels. It can seem daunting to invest in switching from traditional power sources to biofuels, and it is not unreasonable to wonder why, as a homeowner or business owner, you might want to consider making this shift. Here are the top benefits of switching to biomass energy:

1.     Reduce reliance on foreign nations: It is no secret that the United States consumes many “unsustainable” sources of energy, like fossil fuels, natural gas, coal, and more—many of which are imported from foreign nations. However, America has been steadily building infrastructure for alternative sources of energy production since the successful addition of hydroelectricity to the U.S. energy sector infrastructure at the turn of the 20th century. Not only will this make us a more autonomous nation, but it may also ease tensions in diplomatic relations with other countries and better allow us to focus on bolstering our own economy.

2.     Tax incentives: Yes, that’s right! For many businesses or homeowners looking to make the switch to renewable energy, there are often tax incentives that come along with investing in carbon-neutral or carbon-negative sources of power. This is not only a great way to save money each year when filing taxes but can make for especially good Public Relations for businesses who wish to stand out as leaders in their industry.

3.     Uses abundant fuels that would otherwise become waste: Part of the beauty of biofuels is that can come from a wide array of different kinds of organic matter—from wood chips to spent or discarded soy, corn, or rotational crops. These pieces of organic matter capture energy from the sun and carbon from the atmosphere during their life cycle—and upon transitioning into biofuel and being combusted, they release that captured energy as well as the captured carbon. This means they are a “carbon-neutral” energy source, or that they do not produce more carbon emissions than they captured during life. While some biomass energy systems rely on biogas, wood chips, or wood pellets that are man-crafted out of waste materials, those with wood pellet boilers also have the opportunity to harvest their own combustible organic matter—from legally harvesting trees from local forests to foraging and curing forest floor litter.

4.     Relatively easy maintenance: Fortunately, wood pellet boilers rely on a relatively simple process to harness their energy: burn the biofuel, harness the heat, and harness the energy. Like with any chemical reaction, the matter is altered after the process has come to completion. In the case of a wood chip or wood pellet boiler, the combustion process results in a buildup of ash and soot. As you might imagine, this logically requires some cleaning out about once a week to create more space for future combustion. It is also generally good practice to have your wood pellet boilers serviced annually by a professional installation and maintenance company like Caluwe, Inc.

5.     Renewable energy is a long-term investment: Whether or not you subscribe to the notion that humans are responsible for climate change through excessive greenhouse gas emissions, from a pragmatic standpoint, it is not a wise investment to build infrastructure around sources of energy on this planet that are finite, such as petroleum products and fossil fuels. “Renewable energy,” by its very definition, refers to sources of energy that are either constantly in production as part of the process of human existence (such as agricultural waste), or plant matter that has trapped energy from perhaps the ultimate source of power on the planet: the sun.

Are Wood Pellet Boilers Efficient?

The short answer to this question is yes! Wood pellet boilers are almost exactly as efficient as natural gas energy sources at around 80% efficiency. Especially considering that these pellet boilers rely on scraps of wood from lumber mills, furniture manufacturers, working forests, etc, the organic matter collected would otherwise be thrown away for a 0% return on energy captured. Wood chips and wood pellets are also nearly half the price of oil and kerosene burners.

What Is the Best Way to Harness Biomass Energy?

While one of the downsides of wood pellet boilers is that they can sometimes take up more room than the average furnace, one of the key benefits of this energy source is that there are several different wood pellet boilers, thermal tanks, and furnace systems on the market—and more are likely to continue to emerge, with ever-increasing benefits in terms of space and fuel efficiency.

So, when it comes to selecting the best biomass energy source for your home or business, you will of course have to consider the square footage of the space you are hoping to heat as well as the amount of storage room you have to place a boiler system, thermal heating tank, and wood chip hopper and feeding system. For example, if you have a cabin or a smaller home, you may want to consider a space-saving biomass energy solution like a Biowin2 with a bulk pellet feed system. These pellet boilers rely on a constant feed of wood pellets from their adjacent hopper, and their side-by-side design makes them an excellent choice for tighter spaces.

For business owners looking to heat a larger area, such as an office or an industrial warehouse, you may be more interested in pellet boiler systems of a larger scale, such as a containerized boiler room. These can even be double stacked to maximize the time between refilling the container with fresh wood pellets or wood chips. If you have any questions at all about which of the modern pellet boilers is best for your circumstances, contact the professionals at Caluwe, Inc. today—or click here to browse products. You can also reach out to us anytime online for a free, no-obligation quote.