Comparison of fuel briquettes with firewood – practical experience

The fuel we choose to heat our homes with can have a big impact on our comfort levels and financial situation. Alternative heating sources have gained popularity in recent years, and fuel briquettes have become a popular substitute for conventional firewood. However, how do these two stack up in terms of usefulness and effectiveness? This article will examine the benefits and drawbacks of using firewood and fuel briquettes for home heating by delving into the real-world experiences of homeowners.

Let’s first examine what fuel briquettes and firewood are. Compressed blocks of a variety of materials, including wood chips, sawdust, agricultural residues, and even used paper, are used to make fuel briquettes. Hydraulic presses are used in their production to compress the raw materials into dense, high-energy blocks. Contrarily, firewood is just logs of wood that are burned in fireplaces, stoves, and wood-burning furnaces. Although they both provide heat, their composition and methods of production are different.

Convenience is a major consideration for homeowners when deciding between firewood and fuel briquettes. Fuel briquettes are frequently commended for being easy to handle and store due to their consistent size and shape. Briquettes are ready-to-use and can be purchased in a pre-cutted and seasoned form, saving time and effort compared to firewood. Furthermore, briquettes burn cleaner and more effectively than firewood because they typically produce less smoke and ash.

However, despite the convenience of fuel briquettes, some homeowners still prefer the traditional charm and aroma of burning firewood. Firewood enthusiasts argue that nothing quite compares to the crackling sound and cozy ambiance created by a wood-burning fire. Moreover, for those with access to ample supplies of firewood, the cost-effectiveness of burning wood can outweigh the convenience of briquettes. It"s also worth noting that firewood is considered a renewable resource when harvested sustainably, making it an environmentally friendly choice for heating.

The decision between firewood and fuel briquettes ultimately comes down to availability, practicality, and personal taste. We’ll hear from homeowners who have personally used both heating options in the upcoming sections to get their opinions on performance, affordability, and general satisfaction. Our goal is to analyze real-world experiences in order to offer insightful analysis to anyone debating between fuel briquettes and firewood as a means of heating their home.

Why compare cheap firewood with expensive briquettes

Such a comparison means nothing to the people who live in forested areas, which are home to woodworking businesses. In those areas, sawdust and firewood are either free or very inexpensive. However, we chose to contrast them with briquettes for the reasons listed below:

  1. There are practically no forests in southern and desert regions. Hence the higher price of firewood, bought by owners of country houses and dachas.
  2. It is profitable to press any kind of combustible mass – coal dust, agricultural waste and peat in the mentioned areas. Thanks to the development of such production facilities, the cost of briquettes is decreasing and they are becoming an alternative to firewood.
  3. It is more comfortable to heat with pressed products than with wood, as our experiment will show.

The final factor is the conflicting feedback homeowners have left on various fuels on forums devoted to the subject. It is difficult for a user who is unfamiliar with this topic to figure out which kinds of briquettes are best for a boiler, fireplace, or stove. We’ll discuss the results and the expert’s assessment of the situation.

The pros and cons of using firewood vs fuel briquettes for home insulation and heating is a contentious issue. We examine the differences between these two heating options using real-world experience as a guide. There are many factors to take into account, ranging from efficiency and cost-effectiveness to ease of use and environmental impact. We’ll examine real-world examples and insights to assist you in selecting the option that best meets your needs. This comparison seeks to clarify the practical considerations when deciding between fuel briquettes and firewood, regardless of your preferences for sustainability, convenience, or just warmth and comfort in your home.

Conditions and course of the experiment

The test’s target is a 150 m³, one-story private home with a separate solid fuel boiler heating system. The walls are composed of white silicate bricks that have an air gap inside and are 300 mm thick. External fences are not insulated, and the windows are your typical metal-and-plastic windows.

The remaining experimental setups are as follows:

  1. The heating system is a closed, two-pipe system. It is divided into 2 branches – radiators and underfloor heating. Initial water temperature – 43 °C.
  2. Average daily ambient air temperature – 4-5 °С. Building – cold, heated for the first time during the heating season.
  3. Heat source – solid fuel steel long-burning boiler DIZ-24 (24 kW), equipped with turbocharger and automation unit for maintaining the set temperature.
  4. A buffer tank of small capacity (150 liters) is used in the scheme.

Note: Prior to the experiment, small logs were burned to raise the temperature of the coolant and the boiler to 43 °Υ.

The task is to load three different types of fuel into the furnace in turn and measure how long it takes for each fuel to burn while the heating is constant. The automation is configured to maintain a water temperature of 50 °C, and the load size remains unchanged at 10 kg.

Goal: Find out which will burn more quickly, firewood or briquettes, and how much of a difference there will be. Comparing the three fuels’ combustion processes is the secondary goal.

  • dry firewood of barn storage;
  • round briquettes made of sunflower husk;
  • briquetted peat.

As a point of reference. Small elm, sometimes referred to as birch bark, was the type of wood utilized; the stack density of recently cut logs with 50% moisture content was 600 kg/m³.

We purposefully avoided burning sawdust-based "wooden" briquettes. The products’ evident cost premium over peat and agricultural briquettes, as well as their extensively tested combustion characteristics, are the clear causes. We suggest watching the following video if this kind of solid fuel piques your interest:

Density of peat briquettes is approximately 2200 kg/m³, and that of pressed husks is 1800 kg/m³. Given that the fuel was laid out in the same quantity of 10 kg, these data are merely for reference and have little bearing on the experiment. Let’s begin by burning wood.

The result of burning wood

The logs were split into four pieces for the test and put into the firebox, which still had some hot coals in it. In just one minute, the wood fired up after the controller activated the fan. Ten kilograms of wood was sufficient for the boiler to run for one and a half hours, during which the coolant started to cool down.

Notable points to consider are:

  • Dry wood gives little smoke and burns very evenly;
  • the temperature jump after the fan is switched off does not exceed 3 degrees (up to 53 °C);
  • a small residue of ash.

Burning dry wood follows a fairly predictable process. One tab will last at least eight hours if the fuel of this kind fills the heat generator’s entire chamber (112 liters). Freshly cut, raw firewood decomposes more quickly because it emits less heat and is more vulnerable to fan blowing.

Sunflower husk briquettes

Owing to the vegetable oil content of the pressed husk, there are certain characteristics associated with combustion.

  1. Immediately after laying 10 kg of cylindrical "sausages", a sharp jump in the fuel box temperature is observed.
  2. While the oil vapors are burning, the chimney is actively smoking. It is not recommended to open the stoking door at this stage – the powerful flame from the sharp intake of oxygen can scorch the face.
  3. After automatic shutdown of the supercharger, the temperature of the coolant rises by another 6-7 degrees (up to 57 ° C), then decreases to normal.
  4. Until the main mass of sunflower briquettes is burned out, the fan is switched on only for blowing, which is enough to maintain water temperature.
  5. When oil vapors are finally burned, the amount of smoke from the chimney decreases noticeably.
  6. The ash residue is insignificant.

As a point of reference. The purging mode is activated every five minutes and lasts for ten seconds. The aim is to remove smoke from the boiler chamber.

A portion of the agricultural briquettes took 2 hours and 10 minutes to burn, which is 40 minutes longer than firewood. Nuance: You must learn how to use the fuel correctly because it emits a lot of heat during the first stage of "sausages." By the way, the impact of primary heating is softer in boilers with mechanical draught regulators (without turbocharging).

Burning of pressed peat

Peat briquettes are similar to coal briquettes in appearance, but they are square in shape. Likewise effectively products filthy hands, so it’s best to wear gloves. The following are the characteristic moments of combustion:

  • Under the influence of the supercharger peat is well ignited and gives a stable powerful flame;
  • when the set temperature of the heat carrier reaches 50 °С the fan stops, heating "jumps" up to 53-54 °С;
  • Peat briquettes smoke more than dry firewood;
  • the amount of remaining ash – about 5-10%.

Be aware that some of the loam in peat decomposes into ash. This fraction’s size is determined by the fuel producer.

The solid fuel boiler operates for a staggering three hours on peat briquettes, which is twice as long as burning an equivalent quantity of firewood. Ashiness and black dust that sticks to hands are unpleasant details.

The cheaper it is to heat the dwelling

Although the cost of fuel for heating a private home is very significant, it is meaningless to take it into account separately from the amount of heat produced. Let’s figure out the cost of heating while accounting for both factors.

In the region where our expert resides, proven fuels demand the following price:

  1. Freshly cut firewood – 20 cents. е. per 1 m³. Let"s tie the price to the weight: 20 dollars per 600 kg or 33 cents. е. per ton.
  2. Briquette from pressed sunflower husk is $57 per ton.
  3. Peat briquette: 84 c. е./1 т.

Calculating that 10 kg of wood will cost 33 cents and the remaining fuel will cost 57 and 84 cents, respectively, is not difficult. Since wood burns for an hour and a half, the cost of heating wooden logs for one hour is 33 / 1.5 = 22 cents.

In a similar vein, let’s calculate the hourly rate for briquette burning:

  • pressed husk: 57 / 2.17 (2 hours 10 minutes) = 26 cents;
  • Briquetted peat: 84 / 3 = 28 cents.

Interesting outcome, huh? In this instance, the daily cost of heating an entirely cold building is 5.28 у. е. for firewood, 6.24 dollars for pressed husk, and 6.72 у. е. for peat "bricks."

Important nuance. Your area most likely has different prices for solid fuel, and the boiler room is equipped with different heating systems. However, the calculation principle and ratio stay the same. Use this process to determine which is more profitable in your specific situation: briquettes or firewood.

Take note that we divided the price of raw wood—which degrades more quickly—by the amount of time it takes to burn dry wood completely. In other words, there is less of a difference between briquettes and conventional fuel. We offer to watch the experiment on the video and hear the expert’s analysis of the situation:

Aspect Fuel Briquettes
Cost Generally more expensive than firewood, but can vary depending on availability.
Convenience Compact and uniform in size, easy to store and handle.
Ignition Burn slower to ignite compared to firewood.
Heat Output Can provide consistent and longer-lasting heat compared to firewood.
Moisture Content Usually lower moisture content than firewood, resulting in cleaner combustion and less creosote buildup.
Environmental Impact Considered more environmentally friendly as they are often made from recycled materials.

Upon examining the comparative analysis of fuel briquettes and firewood for both heating and insulation, it is apparent that each alternative has pros and cons of its own.

First, a lot of users have mentioned how efficient and convenient fuel briquettes are. Compared to conventional firewood, these compressed biomass blocks burn consistently and emit less smoke. Additionally, their small size makes transportation and storage simple, which is great for homes with limited space. But compared to easily accessible firewood, some users have pointed out that fuel briquettes can be more expensive up front and that locating them might take more work.

However, firewood is still a well-liked option for insulation and heating. It’s an affordable and widely available option that works well for many households. Some users also value the atmosphere and rustic charm that burning firewood adds to their houses. However, compared to fuel briquettes, firewood may produce more smoke and ash and requires more storage space. Furthermore, the efficiency of burning wood can be impacted by variations in its quality.

The decision between firewood and fuel briquettes ultimately comes down to personal taste, financial constraints, and useful factors. Fuel briquettes might be the better choice for those who value ease of use and clean burning, while firewood might appeal to those who value tradition and affordability. Homeowners must carefully consider all of these options and select the one that best fits their needs and situation.

Video on the topic

What is better to heat – fuel briquettes or firewood??

RUF fuel briquettes comparison with wood and coal

Home heating with briquettes or firewood?

Fuel Briquettes Test

Comparison of fuel briquettes and ordinary firewood

Comparing Pini Kay and Raf fuel briquettes

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Sergey Ivanov

I like to help people create comfort and comfort in their homes. I share my experience and knowledge in articles so that you can make the right choice of a heating and insulation system for your home.

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