Pros: clean; automatic; 95% efficient and environmentally friendly; cheaper to run then a coal stove; hardly any ash to dispose of; operation set by a timer, but can be over-ridden to come on at any time.
Cons: not cheap to buy; not good for ash stockpilers
Manufacturer's website: www.windhager.co.uk/
The Firewin pellet stove was installed almost two years ago in April 2011, and in a nutshell, is brilliant. It is located in our kitchen, which it heats, and is used to heat all our water and run the four radiators that were in place with our previous, coal-fired, system. From the digital display we can tell that it has operated for 3024 hours and used 4.97 tonne of pellets. This works out at around 1.6kg per hour or just over 6 hours on a 10kg bag of pellets. We use about a third to half of a bag a day in the summer and about a bag/bag and a half in the winter. The internal hopper holds about 30kg of pellets.
The Firewin is controlled automatically by a wall-mounted Drayton timer. This means we get up to a warm house with hot water for our showers every morning. No more scrabbling around shivering with firelighters, coal buckets and ash buckets before starting the day. In fact, this machine burns so efficiently, we don't even think about ash. The photo above shows the ash pan after about 500 hours of burning, (a normal cleaning interval). The 30cm ruler shows the ash in the pan is around 7 or 8cm deep. We would get this much every day with our coal fire. And being pure wood ash, it either goes straight onto the garden or into the compost bin.
If the hopper runs out of pellets, the Firewin simply shuts down, though the internal water pump carries on until the temperature of the internal water reservoir drops to around 60 degC. When the hopper is refilled, the machine does a quick self-check and then restarts automatically if it is still within the 'on period' specified by the timer.
On the negative side, the internal water pump packed up after about a year. Being under guarantee, a replacement was sent up by Gloucestershire-based Windhager and fitted by a local heating engineer free of charge to us. We were concerned about this but the (independent) heating engineer didn't seem too phased and stated that, in his experience, a water pump could last a year or ten years.
The Firewin pellet boiler needs electricity to function. In rural Argyll, where we live, losing electricity happens once or twice every winter so it is something we are used to. We have been advised against using a back-up generator for the Firewin because the on-board electronics need a smoother ac supply than portable generators can provide. On these occasions we use a butane gas heater as back-up - and the boys get away without showering.
These machines are not cheap, but despite this and the pump going belly-up about a year ago, we would highly recommend the Firewin. We have spent a lot less money on pellets than on coal and electricity to heat the water and house and have a much warmer, cleaner, home too.
QB, Easdale, Argyll
We order pellets several times a year and the service is always prompt and curteous,it’s nice being able to buy pellets locally with such a short delivery time and reasonable pricing
We will quote you for delivery of materials you buy from us because each order is considerably different.
We will deliver to Lochgilphead, Campbeltown, Inveraray, Strachur, Dalmally, Tyndrum, Taynuilt, Connel, Benderloch, Appin, Duror and in Oban. We will also deliver to all the island carriers. Please tell us if you would like your order delivered and whether you need it unloaded by hand into storage. If you can tell us how accessible your storage is then we will be able to deliver with the right vehicle and people. If you would prefer to do this by telephone please ring 01631 563271 during business hours.
You are more than welcome to visit our yard to pick up your order, free of charge.