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Pellet Smoker

Top pellets: How To Recognise Quality

You want to buy wood pellets. But how do you know which pellets are of good quality?  That is what I wondered when I first wanted to buy pellets for our brand new pellet stove. Once you start searching you will see terms like DINplus, ENplus, other certificates and labels. But to be honest, I could not take it well. Even test purchase could not give me much clarity. This article is an attempt to prevent similar panic moments in others. Once you have read this, you should know exactly what you are looking for, and why.

In brief

The best label you can have right now is ENplus A1, and all the best pellet smoker you buy should actually have that label. Forget DINplus, it is no more than a marketing term at the moment, with few real quality guarantees.

What? Did you expect more? Do not you hate when you have to read an entire article to find out the answer in the end? 🙂

But if you want to know more about the quality of pellets now, or what it really makes, or what other labels you may encounter, then definitely read on. In the end we even talk about how you can manually test the quality of pellets.

Why quality and not just price

The price of your bag of pellets will always be extremely important, no one likes to spend more money than necessary. But before you quickly find the cheapest supplier, think about what your pellet stove has cost. And what a hassle it is for a repairman to come by if something goes wrong.

At least as important as the price of your pellets is the life of your pellet stove. And that is why you have to pay attention to the quality of the wood pellets that you buy.

Things like the amount of ash that remains after burning, or the amount of moisture in the pellets, or what residual materials are released during combustion, have a strong impact on your stove.

Quality labels can also refer to the origin of the wood. For example, if you find it important that the wood is extracted locally, and the pellets are produced locally, you can make conscious choices here. Just like whether the wood can come from full trees, or only from wood waste. Maybe not just as important for everyone, but for many (including myself).

Which properties determine the quality

The most important things that are measured to determine the quality of wood pellets are the following:

Amount of ashes released during combustion

The less ash, the cleaner the pellet burns. And the less you have to cleanse the ‘ashtray’. A higher presence of ash when burning can be a sign that there is more bark, moisture or other impurities in the pellet. In order to be ENplus certified top pellet smoker, only 0.7% of the original weight may remain as ash after incineration.

High melting temperature for ash

If your ashes melt too quickly, you will get blocks of molten ash that can cause blockage and the like. For ENplus A1 (the strictest standard), that temperature must be above 1200 degrees Celsius.

Diameter and length of the wood pellet

This surprised me, but apparently the diameter and length is indeed important. Your pellet stove expects pellets with a certain dimension because its effect is adjusted accordingly. If you have many different pellets, this can have consequences in the supply of pellets to the dressing room, it can cause confusion in the internal electronics that calculates how many pellets to feed, and so on.

Pellets for private heating are usually around 6mm (8mm for industrial applications), and maximum 40mm long.

Amount of dust

At the bottom of your bag of pellets you always have a quantity of wood dust and sawdust. This may not be too much or your stove will need more maintenance, and your combustion will not be optimal. It can also cause blockages. For example, I myself have already experienced that the feed screw that drops pellets into the combustion chamber was jammed by piled sawdust, never nice.

For ENplus, your pellets may only contain 1% dust.

Humidity degree

Of course, water and fire are not good friends. The lower the moisture content of your pellets, the more heat per kg you will get from your pellets.

The humidity level should not exceed 10%. (ENplus)

Heat generation

The heat emitted by pellets during incineration is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Other combustion substances use the same unit of measurement, which makes it easier to compare. For ENplus, the heat emission must be greater than 4.6kWh per kilogram of pellets.

And more

Some more things that are being looked at to determine quality:

  • temperature during entire life cycle: according to ENPlus the pellets must not be transported or stored in a place that is warmer than 40 degrees
  • sturdiness: when manipulating and carrying bag pellets, there will always be a few pellets breaking apart and creating extra dust, this should not happen too much
  • density: the weight of a certain volume of wood pellets must be above a certain value. If not, it means that the wood in the pellets is not compressed enough, which will cause dust and sawdust more quickly
  • presence of additional substances: there may only be a very limited amount of zinc, nitrogen, sulfur, chlorine, etc.

Quality labels

In order to arrive at a common standard of quality, certain standards have been set up which, among others, impose certain values ​​and tests for the above properties. The two best known, and most relevant, are DINplus and ENplus.

DINplus

This is undoubtedly the best known. It was originally a German standard, drawn up by the standardization body DIN Certco. A little later it got a more European character by incorporating standards drawn up by the European Union (EN 14961-2), and even later they even included the worldwide ISO standard (ISO 17225-2).

It is a well-known label, but it has had a huge impact on fraud, which means that DINplus can not be completely trusted anymore. It does not mean that the pellets are bad, but it also does not prove that they are good.

Since that ENplus was released, which contains a more extensive set of specifications, DINplus has become more in the background. For more details visit https://toppelletsmoker.org

Pellet Grills

Pellet Grills : Everything You Want To Know

What is a Pellet Grills?

A pellet stove is a modern version of the traditional wood stove, where tradition and technology come together in a beautiful way. Instead of logs you use pellets here, these are small wooden rods of compressed wood. And instead of having to take care of the fire yourself, this happens automatically.

With a pellet stove you actually have the best of both worlds. You have the cozy fire experience, but unlike an ordinary fire, everything is now automated and clean. Instead of maintaining the fire yourself and putting new wood blocks on the fire, the pellet stove will add pellets to the fire itself to reach the room temperature you want. And because of the very efficient combustion of pellets you have very little cleaning up (little ash), no ‘fire odor’, and you do not have to burn too much. You also do not need a large chimney.

Most of the heat is blown out with a fan like warm air. Only a small amount of heat is released via radiation. This makes the stove itself not hot, which is no doubt safer.

In use, a pellet stove is simple: you fill the stove’s reservoir with top pellet grills (once every one to five days, depending on consumption and size of the tank), and once a week you empty the slide with ash. Furthermore, you set the temperature you want, like a thermostat, and that’s it.

The fuel, pellets, is sold in bags of 15kg at about five euros per bag. Pellets come in different levels of quality, with the best pellets giving the most efficient combustion. It is not something you want to save on, always go for the good quality. You get more heat with it, and fewer axles.

Pellets are made from wood waste, so no trees are cut for them. In contrast to oil or gas, it is indeed a renewable energy source (trees can be planted, but gas or oil can not be added). And because as much CO2 is released during combustion as the original tree has ever absorbed, pellets are CO2 neutral.

How does a pellet grills work?

A pellet stove is actually a small boiler where pellets are burned to provide heat. The stove has a stock compartment, where several kilos of pellets are stored. These are then supplied to the combustion chamber by an automatic screw. Faster if we want more warmth, slower if we want something less.
Read More Top pellets: How To Recognise Quality

The pellet stove automatically steers this process through state-of-the-art electronics. This keeps everything in mind that is important:

  • temperature of the room
  • temperature of the combustion
  • temperature of the flue gases
  • supply of fresh air
  • discharge of smoke
  • spreading good heated air to the living area

How does a pellet stove ignite itself?

When you switch on a pellet stove, he first fills his incinerator with new pellets. Then he starts to blow very warm air at the bottom of that tray. This heats the pellets so high that they ignite spontaneously. Then the supply of the hot air stops, and the stove starts to regulate the supply of the pellets and oxygen in order to optimize the combustion.

What are the advantages of a pellet stove?

For you personally

  • Your monthly heating costs are normally lower than gas, heating oil or electricity
  • You are no longer dependent on your gas pipeline or gas prices. As long as you have pellets in stock, you can heat yourself, regardless of what the energy companies or the politics of the gas-supplying countries decide
  • Unlike a normal wood stove, a pellet stove runs automatically. You can set the temperature you want, and just like your central heating, you will be automatically fired until the temperature is reached. You can even pre-program programs with most, starting or stopping depending on the day and the hour.
  • Also unlike a normal stove, you do not have to constantly add best pellet smoker reviews. The stove has a reservoir of pellets (between 12 and 20 kg mostly), and can often continue for days on end.
  • You burn with a very high efficiency. For every euro you spend on wood (pellets), you get the maximum amount of heat back.
  • You do not need a big chimney. A thin tube that runs through your wall is sufficient. This should not be as high on the outside as normal stoves. Raising just above your roof is usually ideal. If you have an existing chimney, you can use it.
  • Little cleaning up. You have to empty the ashtray regularly once, but that is only once every few days, or even every other week. And can also be very easy with an ash vacuum cleaner. It is therefore more traditional than a gas burner, but much less intensive than, for example, a wood stove.
  • Most pellet stoves do not become piping hot, you can still touch them without burning. If you have children or pets, this can be much safer. If this is important, pay attention to the type of material the stove is made of when buying. A stove made of cast iron holds more heat and may be too hot to touch in certain places.
  • No burning smell. The first day your stove can smell a little ‘new’ when it starts burning, but after that you will not be bothered. You will not notice anything of ‘campfire smell’.
  • Safety: the risk of CO poisoning is non-existent. And for all other things that could happen (power outage, impure combustion, not enough air supply, etc) is all foreseen and the pellet stove will react automatically as it should. There are numerous safety features built into it. I trust him more than my gas boiler 🙂
  • Huge conviviality. That sounds corny, but that is something we have faded about how important it has become to us. A constant cozy fire in your living room with a seat or chair next to it quickly becomes the favorite place of the whole family to stay. I say that from experience 🙂

For nature

I put this in a separate chapter, because for some people this is not really the main thing (and I do not blame you at all)

  • You do not bring any extra co2 into the atmosphere. The co2 released during combustion is as much as the original trees have taken up in their lives. Not ideal, I know, but much better than the -extra- co2 that throw gas and oil into the system
  • You heat yourself with a renewable energy source. Trees can (luckily) be replanted as much as we want. Gas, coal or oil is extremely finite. Again, it feels a bit sub-optimal, but at the moment there is simply no better alternative to heat yourself. So I prefer to do something with which we can restore the damage to nature.
  • Pellets are mainly made from waste wood and sawdust. There are no trees for cutting. Although one has to be careful: due to the great interest in pellets nowadays, manufacturers are starting to do so. But you can arm yourself against that by buying only pellets with good quality labels. Visit TopPelletSmoker