Coal (Stoker) -Vs- Pellet Stove---Advantages/Disadvantages

A Coal stoker furnace or stove controls most operations including automatically feeding the coal. They are quite similar to any conventional oil and gas units and easily operated for extended periods of time. They commonly use rice coal but may use larger sizes like buckwheat. They can be used as primary heat, supplementary heat or have a dual set up with your existing oil/gas furnace.
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CoalHeat
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Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Baseburners & Antiques: Sears Signal Oak 15 & Andes Kitchen Range
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert
Location: Stillwater, New Jersey

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 6:19 pm

Pellets have to be stored in a dry place, coal can be stored anywhere and it will burn even if it's soaking wet.

Coal has more BTU's then the same amount of pellets.

Coal is cheaper then pellets.
The pellet stove is definitely easier to operate. I fill with 40lbs and it goes 24 hours plus. Shut it down once a week to vacuum it out and empty the ash pan.
You're comparing a pellet stove with has a feed mechanism to a hand-fed coal stove. Compare it to a coal stoker stove and the coal stoker is easier to operate. Having to shut the stove down every week or two to clean it out? Not with a coal stoker!
Heating a circa 1832 farmhouse with a Harman Magnafire Mark I & a 1959 EFM 350 (heating DHW).
100% Oil Free!
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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 7:48 pm

WessWackos wrote: Cost of comparable stove?
No idea but I'd imagine the same neighborhood, I think the bigger question I'd be asking is reliability. If you want to compare apples to apples you'd have to compare stoker stove to it. You won't find too many "X part is broke". Most things that do break will motors and normal stuff.
Ease of handling fuel?
You will need less volume for the coal. Coal can also be stored anywhere including outside in the pouring rain on the ground.
Set it and forget it
Stoke is same as pellet stove.
How often does stove need to be tended?
You're limit on pellet stove is probably going to be the amount of fuel because of the greater volume. The limit on the coal is going to be the ashes. How long for a coal stoker really depends, models vary and you might get 2 days from one in regular weather. One thing I will note if you think ahead for the coal you could do soemthing like build an outside bin near where you're going to locate the stove in the basement and then use some PVC from the bin to the stove to keep it permanently filled. I had a customer with auger fed EFM where the entire bin was setup to feed onto the warm. He had the EFM up on a few courses of block so he ash storage capacity. Only thing he was missing was auger taking the ashes outside.
How often does stove need to be cleaned?
Depends on the fly ash, once a month to once a season.
Efficiency of fuel?
The coal is generally going to be cheaper, not sure about efficiencies because most don't publish figures but due to the very low stack temps they will be very high.

-----------------------

While on the topic keep in mind you have many more options for coal. They make a unit to fit any need,small to large hand fired units which don't need electric up to stoker full boilers.
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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 7:49 pm

Wood'nCoal wrote: You're comparing a pellet stove with has a feed mechanism to a hand-fed coal stove. Compare it to a coal stoker stove and the coal stoker is easier to operate. Having to shut the stove down every week or two to clean it out? Not with a coal stoker!
Exactly, we used to run ours for weeks in the summer without messing with it and it would easily go 2 days in weather like this heating 4000 sq. ft. ;)
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

golfball
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Posts: 20
Joined: Wed. Apr. 01, 2009 2:01 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum stoker
Location: Tunkhannock Pa.

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 8:27 pm

We had A Harman pellet stove in the basement two year's ago we got a Mag coal stoker. You will get twice the heat from coal than pellets at a cheaper price.
My mother has a pellet stove she will use 1 1/2 to 2 bags a day . Better have your friend check his math P.S. go with coal.

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SMITTY
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - (custom built by Jim Dorsey, Taunton MA - RIP 4/18/13)
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (SOLD!)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler
Location: West-Central Mass

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 11:05 pm

My buddy bought a pellet stove a couple years ago. His would jam up weekly, & require cleanout every time. When it did run properly, they froze. Used it for a month, then yanked it out & sold it. Said he'd never buy one again.
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WessWackos
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Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono Back Vent
Location: Telford, PA

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 11:35 pm

MURDOC1 wrote:Sorry for the back to back, but forgot to mention, I will be installing a brand new Leisure Line at my neighbors place just across the driveway in the next week or two, so you could see 3 burning stokers of 3 different manufacture...

Leisure Line
Harman
Alaska

Neighbor sold his 4 year old beautiful Quadrafire woodstove to put in the Leisure Line because he was soooo impressed with how coal heats my place all things considered... He's 74 years old and is taking the leap of faith!!!

Murdoc
Murdoc, I'll be giving you a call soon. Is $2000 a good price for a one year old used Leisure Line Pioneer stoker stove?

Hot Rocks
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Posts: 54
Joined: Tue. Jul. 06, 2010 8:55 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Hyfire II
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Water Coil
Location: Palm,PA

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 11:44 pm

Wes I sent you a pm let me know if you got it
Dean

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Rick 386
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Stoker Coal Boiler: AA 260 heating both sides of twin farmhouse
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Hyfire II w/ coaltrol in garage
Coal Size/Type: Pea in AA 260, Rice in LL Hyfire II
Other Heating: Gas fired infared at work
Location: Royersford, Pa
Contact:

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 11:49 pm

Hot Rocks wrote:Wes I sent you a pm let me know if you got it
I did the same a few days ago.

Rick
Master of "Trial and Error."


CapeCoaler
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Posts: 4433
Joined: Sun. Feb. 10, 2008 3:48 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove
Location: Cape Cod, MA

Post Tue. Dec. 28, 2010 11:58 pm

Take a bag of pellets and a bag of coal...
Open the top on each bag and pour in one quart of water...
Wait 15 minutes...
Which one will burn in your stove...
Give me the coal stove please... :D
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cntbill
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker A70/A90 at my sisters... EFM AF150 Project
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Warm Morning 400
Baseburners & Antiques: Radiant Gem 22 by Floyd, Wells Co.
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Buck - Nut and Stove
Other Heating: Fireplace
Location: Reading PA
Contact:

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 1:50 am

I had a pellet stove a few years ago installed in our basement, while I don't remember what the BTU rating was on it, it was rated to heat 1500 sq.ft.. In the middle of the second season with it pellets were hard to find in my area, and the places that did have them were limiting the amount of bags you could purchase at one time. I happen to be checking pellet prices on line of the one place that did sell me some previously and I noticed they were also selling bags of coal. So I got wondering "why are they selling 50 lbs bags of coal?" and then thinking "well I am somewhat in the coal region" and then started checking out information on coal and coal stoves, and stumbled on this site. Got to say one of the best places I ever came across on the internet!

So I when I went to get some pellets I was looking at some of the coal stoves they had and was quite impressed, they carry Leisure Line. So not wanting to abandon my pellet stove right away I went and found a VC Vigilant for a good price and installed that in the other side of the basement just to see how I would like it. OK the Vigilant was a little more of a learning curve, and a little more work than the pellet stove, But WoW what a difference in heat ! The pellet stove never got our house over 68* at full bore, the Vigilant on the low setting kept the house at 72*-74* and the heat was nice, felt more even. Another thing I liked about the Vigilant (and one of the reasons I picked up the Resolute) is that the size coal it uses is easy to find and lots of times you can find people selling pea and nut cheep or giving it away.

Now we have a Keystoker, 70,000 btu's, thermostat controlled, just as simple to run as a pellet stove, but this Keystoker puts out just as much heat and a bit more then the Vigilant and really only requires tending every other day, but I do it once a day just in case, ashes go the same place, the trash and like the above post I have no worries if I leave the coal out in truck and it rains ;)

Plan and simple - I will never go back to a pellet stove as long as coal is available ;)

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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 2:40 am

cntbill wrote:it was rated to heat 1500 sq.ft..
The key words there are "up to", you can heat up to a 1500 sq ft. house in Florida. The square footage suggestions I've seen on some of these pellet stoves is outrageous. Read one with something like 70K BTU that said 3500 sq ft. :roll:
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

buck24
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Posts: 378
Joined: Sun. Feb. 28, 2010 5:47 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: New Buck Corp. / MODEL 24 COAL
Coal Size/Type: Pea, Nut / Anthracite
Location: NEPA/Pittston Twp. PA

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 3:05 am

I had a few friends who went the wood pellet route for a couple of years. Happy to say they are back to burning COAL again. Stick with the coal and you won't be sorry. I'll take coal over wood any day. ;)

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lowfog01
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Posts: 3895
Joined: Sat. Dec. 20, 2008 8:33 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea
Location: Springfield, VA

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 4:54 am

Funny you should ask. I was visiting with friends over Christmas who installed a pellet stove about the same time I installed my Mark II. The pellet stove can not heat the house despite being rated for it and being placed in the finished basement of a 1800 sq ft ranch. The heat just isn't there to distribute. Their daughter told me that her room, 25 ft down the hall from the stove itself never gets warm. The one thing that stuck me was the fact that in my area pellets and coal cost the same per bag. They pay the same thing I do for heat but get fewer BTUs to distribute.

Personally opinion is why would you go with a fuel that had to be stored inside or at least under cover, won't burn if it gets wet and is in short supply at times; all for the opportunity to live in a house that isn't quite warm, not hot, warm. Ok, you like the convenience of a stoker, so get a coal stoker and have the best of both worlds. Good luck in your quest, I say stick with coal and be warm and happy. Lisa
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LsFarm
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland
Location: Michigan

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 7:04 am

If allergies are an issue for any of your family members, there have been problems with pellets supporting mold growth, and since the pellets must be kept dry, they are usually stored inside the house somewhere,, so the occupants of the house are directly exposed to the mold [allergen]..

Just another possible problem with pellets.. not ALL pellets will have this problem, I'm sure some are treated with anti-mold, and anti-microbial products.

I would guess that your old 'Champion' coal stove was around 50-60,000 BTU,, and you know that it was marginal at heating your home.. So have you looked into a large, say 80,000 BTU pellet stove and it's cost and opperation??

Greg L
Burning Pea/Buckwheat through an antique stoker [semi retired SSboiler],
Running an Axeman-Anderson 260M boiler burning Pea, About 150-250#per day
Farming, Fixing, Fabricating and Flying: 'spare time' what's that?

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CoalHeat
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Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat. Feb. 10, 2007 9:48 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Baseburners & Antiques: Sears Signal Oak 15 & Andes Kitchen Range
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert
Location: Stillwater, New Jersey

Post Wed. Dec. 29, 2010 7:46 am

Personally opinion is why would you go with a fuel that had to be stored inside or at least under cover, won't burn if it gets wet and is in short supply at times; all for the opportunity to live in a house that isn't quite warm, not hot, warm.
That may be, but I've been told that coal is dirty and inefficient, and most recently was asked (by a staff member at a business that sells gas/pellet/wood stoves/electric fireplace inserts and does installs and chimney repairs-they installed the liner in my fireplace and are a reputable business) "Doesn't everything turn black from the coal burning?" and "Don't you have breathing problems from burning coal?"

I would steer clear of coal...it's very bad. :twisted: :devil:
mermaid.jpg
Typical picture of evil, dirty, bad coal.
Heating a circa 1832 farmhouse with a Harman Magnafire Mark I & a 1959 EFM 350 (heating DHW).
100% Oil Free!
"It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts."


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