Is the use of boilers on sawdust and wood chips justified today?

For any homeowner trying to design a cozy and energy-efficient living space, heating and insulation are must-haves. It’s getting more and more crucial to find sustainable heating solutions as energy costs rise and environmental concerns grow. In this piece, we investigate whether using boilers that run on sawdust and wood chips is still a reasonable and practical choice in the modern world.

In the past, sawdust and wood chip-fueled boilers have been common choices for home heating, particularly in rural areas with plentiful wood resources. Sawdust and wood chips are among the wood waste products that these boilers burn to produce heat for hot water and space heating. Despite the long history of use, the question still stands: Is this approach still a sensible and effective one given the state of modern society?

Cost savings is one of the main factors driving homeowners to choose wood-chip and sawdust-fueled boilers. Purchasing wood waste products is often less expensive and more accessible than obtaining fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil. Furthermore, utilizing wood waste as fuel can aid in waste reduction and help create a more sustainable energy model.

But it’s important to think about how burning wood for heat will affect the environment. Despite being a renewable resource, burning wood releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which increases the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. There is growing pressure to identify heating solutions that reduce carbon emissions and advance sustainability as worries about climate change intensify.

Technological developments have also had an impact on the sustainability of sawdust and wood chip boilers. Compared to their predecessors, modern biomass boilers are made to be more ecologically friendly and efficient. To maximize efficiency and minimize emissions, they integrate features like sophisticated combustion controls and automated fuel feeding systems.

Moreover, sawdust and wood chip-fueled boilers can be combined with other renewable energy sources, like heat pumps or solar panels, to create a more complete and sustainable heating system. Homeowners can lessen their environmental impact and depend less on fossil fuels by integrating various technologies.

In conclusion, there are advantages to using boilers powered by wood chips and sawdust, but it’s important to consider the technological, environmental, and financial aspects as well. The future of home heating and insulation will be greatly influenced by the exploration of alternative heating options and the adoption of contemporary technologies, as we work to build comfortable and environmentally responsible homes.

Sawdust and wood chips: their effectiveness as solid fuel

Sawdust is the finely chopped wood leftover from log processing or specially made from industrial waste, and it can be used as fuel. Boiler raw materials include wood wastes like these:

  • hump logs of different species, review boards, wood chips of different shapes and sizes;
  • fresh sawdust or street storage, of different moisture content and age;
  • dry, small and long shavings, laid up, of different degrees of preservation;
  • furniture that has fallen into disrepair, remnants of building structures, doors, pallets.

When preparing raw materials for fuel, they must adhere to GOST 33103.1 – 2014 requirements.

  • not to have toxic chemical compounds emitted during combustion and metal inclusions (nails, hinges in fiberboard, chipboard residues);
  • contain no more than 0.5% of mineral impurities, 5% of rot and 8% of tree bark.

The biomass that is produced is sieved to produce sawdust fractions with a maximum size of 30 mm. This parameter impacts the combustion process and is essential to the functioning of automatic boiler feed mechanisms. For full combustion of finer sawdust, more air must be blown than required by GOST regulations.

The amount of fuel waste that is produced when fuel is burned is determined by a parameter called ash content. The calorific value of the fuel decreases with increasing ash content and increases the frequency of boiler cleaning. A different use is necessary due to the inadmissibility of formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals in sawdust used as fuel in residential boilers. Moisture content is the primary factor influencing sawdust’s heat-producing capacity. It has the potential to significantly alter the automatic boiler’s functionality. It is preferable to have control over this parameter prior to loading and to be able to add sawdust in compliance with the boiler manufacturer’s specifications.

Contracts pertaining to the supply of sawdust for use as an automatic boiler fuel should take into account both the product’s quality and price. In accordance with GOST 33103.1 – 2014, we advise making sawdust parameters explicit in the agreement. Maintaining these points will enable the unit to run at maximum heat output for an extended period of time. The most important factor when selecting a solid fuel boiler for home heating is to find a supplier who offers good quality fuel at a reasonable price.

Using sawdust as an automatic boiler fuel offers the following benefits:

  • The efficiency of even budget automatic boilers on sawdust up to 90%;
  • availability of quality raw materials for fuel;
  • low cost of raw material from wood processing plants;
  • properly selected and adjusted boiler burns environmentally friendly fuel with a minimum of smoke, soot and ash;
  • interruptions with quality sawdust can be easily covered by any solid fuel (wood chips, firewood, coal, raw sawdust) with loss of efficiency, but without catastrophe.

But sawdust also has some serious drawbacks:

  • transportation from wood processing plants requires appropriate containers, as these wood wastes are loose and bulky, especially in dry form;
  • The equipment of seasonal sawdust storage needs a separate building with good ventilation and compliance with fire regulations SNIP and PPB;
  • periodic maintenance of sawdust conveyor to the boiler, chimney cleaning, control of raw material humidity.

We compared the features of the most popular fuels in one table to ascertain the fuel efficiency of sawdust and wood chips for boiler heating:

Type of fuel (W – moisture content) Calorific value kW/kg EFFICIENCY, % Fuel price, rubles./ton(m 3 ) Cost of kW of energy, rub.
Lignite (w up to 40%) 3,6 70 3 200 1,27
Hard coal (w 7 to 15%) 7,5 70 7 000 1,34
Anthracite (w from 1% to 3%) 8,7 70 8 500 1,40
Natural gas 10,3 90 5 700 0,65
Firewood (w 60-50%) 2,2 60 1 500 1,05
Firewood (w 30-20%) 3,1 60 1 800 0,83
Pellets (pellets) 4,7 85 9000 2,25
Crushed wood chips (w up to 20%) 2,0 95 200 1,33
Sawdust (w up to 20%) 0,81 95 120 1,33
Briquettes (euro wood) 4,3 85% 8500 1,65 – 2,32

Design and principle of operation of boilers capable of burning sawdust

Even without tamping, the sawdust fractions’ small size causes them to fit together tightly, preventing air from circulating in the mass. Burning sawdust and wood chips results in a temperature that is lower than that of other solid fuels and only the outer layer (up to 15 mm) burns because oxygen access is difficult. When switching to sawdust, the small amount of pyrolysis gases at such combustion reduces the output of the universal solid fuel boiler by times.

Specialized gas-generator boiler with a vertical heat exchanger encircling a minimum of three elbow-shaped chimney, using sawdust and wood chips as the primary solid fuel. The vertical firebox’s burner bowl, which has apertures for air oxygen intake, is positioned in the middle. Sawdust has an automatic ignitor. In order to create an even column of flame, special fans force air into the bowl where chips and sawdust are being burned.

Three modes of operation for the automatic boiler on wood chips are typically provided by the boiler’s controlling computer:

  1. Maximum combustion to ensure that the home heating and DHW system reaches the set parameters when it is put into operation. Requires increased fuel consumption.
  2. Medium – the basic operating mode of maintaining the temperature of the heating medium within the limits defined by the user or the unit manufacturer. Sawdust consumption is moderate.
  3. Pause. Climatic conditions do not require heating and the combustion process is stopped.

Boilers that can burn a single fuel deposit for up to seven days

It is possible to install moving grates and a self-cleaning soot removal mechanism inside the boiler. The unit automatically releases accumulated soot and ash and sends it via screws to the storage tank. Sawdust and chips burn at a high temperature thanks to this design, which guarantees full combustion and almost no "underburning." Utilizing a lambda-probe in conjunction with a high degree of boiler automation, it is possible to achieve 92% efficiency and smoothly regulate the output power between 30% and 100% of the nominal value.

Shaft furnaces, also known as pyrolysis boiler units, are used in industrial heating systems, though their operation serves different purposes. A dependable, high level of comfort and safety should be offered by a household automatic boiler that runs on chips and sawdust. The owner should spend as little time as possible maintaining the DHW system and heating.

One of the requirements for the boiler to run continuously is that sawdust must be loaded into the unit’s hopper from the storage, and gaps must be left in the fuel flow from the storage to the burner to prevent the fuel supply from becoming a bickford cord. These gaps are made possible by the combination of a screw and a drum; the processor controls the amount of fuel that is put into the boiler hopper and turns on the augers, drum, and sawdust tedder.

A private home’s seasonal sawdust storage and boiler room setup must carefully adhere to building codes, fire safety regulations, and electrical safety for such facilities. Installing an automated fire alarm system and fire extinguishing system is not unnecessary.

How to pick a waste oil-fueled boiler to heat a private residence

The use of boilers powered by sawdust and wood chips makes a strong case in the modern world, where there is an increasing emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy sources. These boilers provide an economical and environmentally responsible way to heat homes, particularly in regions with a lot of forest resources. These boilers offer an effective means of capturing renewable energy while also lessening the environmental effect of conventional heating techniques by using waste materials like sawdust and wood chips. Boiler technology has also improved efficiency and decreased emissions, making them a good choice for homeowners who want to minimize their carbon footprint while maintaining a warm and comfortable home.

Reviews of domestic boilers on sawdust and wood chips: advantages and disadvantages

In their reviews, owners of a variety of sawdust and wood-chip household boilers highlight how, for the most part, the most recent automatic models of these units live up to the manufacturers’ expectations.

In actual use, heating boilers with sawdust and dry wood chips causes power and efficiency to fail. Nevertheless, burning wet fuel is frequently required. Up to 30% of the boiler unit’s rated capacity may be lost when drying wet raw materials. We advise adhering to the following guidelines:

  • it is desirable to add raw fuel after the heating system has reached the set mode;
  • the content of wet sawdust in the total feed volume should not exceed one third;
  • raw materials are better to purchase at special production facilities with an optimum humidity of 20%.

The following enumerates the benefits and drawbacks of boilers on sawdust and wood chips based on our experience and owner feedback:

Advantages Disadvantages
The design of modern units, equipped with automation, selects the most economical combustion process, taking into account the user"s task, weather and raw materials within 30% – 100% of the nominal capacity Boiler room consists of two rooms, equipped according to SP and PPB, occupies a large area of housing. It is safer to locate the equipment in a separate building
Technological efficiency of modern models makes it possible to achieve indicators close to those of combustion of much more calorific solid fuels. As a result, the cost of 1 kW of heat energy is less than that of pellets, briquettes and some types of coal The cost of even budget boilers with minimal automation is 3-5 times more expensive than comparable in capacity solid fuel automatic units. It is true worth noting that for household needs there are cheaper universal boilers.
Low cost, availability and environmental friendliness of raw materials. Especially its price is low in places with developed woodworking industries, and for their own needs is practically free (often enterprises are only happy to organize the sale of woodworking waste). Organization of a warehouse for seasonal fuel stock requires serious investments in order to keep the humidity normal, not to violate PPB norms and to automate fuel supply to the boiler house.
With all the complexities of the applied technologies and mechanisms to achieve high results, the management of the unit is not inconvenient. Despite the increased level of reliability of the equipment, it is necessary to monitor regularly and, if necessary, clean the chimney and furnace from soot and ash, as the raw material may not always be successful.
Most of the maintenance work is accessible and simple. Installation of such equipment in a private home does not require permission from regulatory authorities.

Calculation of the minimum required capacity

The user’s decisions regarding the following are the first step in determining the minimum thermal capacity necessary to guarantee comfortable living:

  • Number of circuits (home heating, DHW, floor heating).
  • the region of residence (local climate, wind pattern, etc.).д.).
  • number of floors, wall material, ceiling height, area and number of windows of the building.

It is possible to perform a reasonably accurate calculation on our and other examples by using the norms and coefficients of SNiP 2.04.01-85.

In actuality, calculate the total area of the heated building in the first calculations. Then, based on the standard of 1 kW of heat per 10 m 2, determine the required power used for heating. Add 20% for the DHW circuit and an additional 20% for potential errors and the creation of safety margins.

For instance, two heat-consuming circuits in a 200 m 2 building are sufficient for heating (200×1)/10 = 20 kW; additional 20*0,4 = 8 kW will come from DHW and the safety margin, for a total of 28 kW. The boiler that is closest to meeting the minimum required standard output of the unit is chosen.

A unique computation must be made for industrial buildings, accounting for all correction factors.

The best known manufacturers and models: characteristics and prices

In selecting a boiler for sawdust and wood chips, one should consider the manufacturer’s nation and brand in addition to its technical specifications. The nations of Northern Europe have mastered the art of extracting the maximum economic benefits from the fuel. They have been improving automatic doors exclusively for private homes for a long time with this goal in mind. Considering their need for comfort and compliance with environmental regulations, they ought to take a close look at the offerings of businesses like Hargassner, Froling, and ETA. Of course, if money permits.

Russian-made boilers can be highly competitive, particularly if the manufacturer is a well-known European brand. They are quite capable of offering the comforts and dependability of a private home at a much lower cost. Furthermore, the PRC frequently provides the low-cost raw materials, maintenance, and automation found in even European solid fuel boilers.


These boilers’ primary purpose is to burn loose solid fuels.

Pyrolysis Master BIO-15

One of the best boilers made of sawdust for heating individual homes. Also effective with wood chips, peat, and sunflower husk. Straw can be burned by using replaceable burners. Its five-way heat exchanger contributes to its high 91% efficiency and 200-liter hopper. The sole drawback is the sizeable dimensions.

185,000–240,000 rubles is the cost.


Developed in Italy, but produced in Russia. This is an automatic boiler used in industry to burn waste wood. Power can be adjusted between 25 and 115 kW, with a 92% efficiency. It has remote control, self-cleaning burner, and auto ignition as extra features. Fuel supplied by two augers, hopper capacity of 810 liters. Able to burn any biomass as long as the fraction stays under 40 mm. Due to its massive 1150 kg weight, the 115 kW model requires more flooring and transportation.

Price: 477 000–450 000 rub.

Universal models

Any solid fuel can be used in boilers, including briquettes with varying levels of efficiency, peat, firewood, wood waste, and various types of coal. The briquettes must be structurally built for long-term combustion. They are far less expensive than specialized ones, but when using sawdust, they are also far less effective and useful.

Tis Pro DR

Great, low-cost universal boiler. The heat exchanger is made of 5 mm thick furnace steel, which is a very good indicator of dependability and durability. Another unique feature is a massive furnace, with a volume of 80–116 liters depending on the power. uses no fan blowing and is energy-efficient. It is available in 17, 22, and 27 kW versions, with an 82% efficiency rating.

Owners frequently comment on how practical the grates are, pointing out that they are separate, cast-iron components that are dependable and simple to replace. There are no known drawbacks to the operation’s practice.

Price range: 58,500–72,000.


Polish universal tt boiler with the highest level of technology and price range. An inventive burner makes it feasible to burn fine fuels as effectively as possible, from oats to eco peas. Wood and its wastes can be burned thanks to the combustion chamber’s water-filled grate.

Equipped with automation managed by the ST-480 controller, which can manage the operation of the mixing valve and take into account the signals from room and outdoor temperature sensors in addition to controlling the supercharger fan, central heating and hot water pumps, and other electrical components. Power variations available: 12, 18, 26, 36, 52 kW. Aside from cost, the drawbacks include bulky size, weight, and a low allowable operating pressure of only 1.5 bar.

Price range: 283,000–498,000 rubles.


20 kW universal mine-type boiler made in Lithuania with a long combustion period. Coal, pressed coal briquettes, sawdust, peat, and wood waste peat are the fuel sources. When low ash coal is used for heating, the efficiency can reach 91%; if sawdust and wood chips are used, the efficiency will be lower. Cast iron heat exchanger housed in a steel casing. The boiler’s assembly, quality of alloys used, and dependability are well-known. The combustion of a single load can last for two to three days, even with sawdust and wood chips used.

Similar to the last instance, the sole drawbacks are the high weight and the low working pressure of 1.5 bar.

Price range: 110.000–125,000 rubles.

Factors Justification
Cost Boilers using sawdust and wood chips can be cost-effective due to the relatively low cost of these biomass fuels compared to traditional fuels like oil or gas.
Environmental Impact Using sawdust and wood chips as fuel can be environmentally friendly since they are renewable and produce lower emissions compared to fossil fuels.

The use of sawdust and wood chip-fueled boilers makes a strong case, especially in light of the current emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy sources. By utilizing leftover materials from the forestry and wood industries, these biomass boilers provide a competitive substitute for conventional heating systems.

The affordability and availability of sawdust and wood chips as fuel are two of its main benefits. In contrast to fossil fuels, which have limited supply and are prone to price swings, biomass fuels are typically more affordable and easier to obtain locally.

When compared to alternatives that use fossil fuels, biomass boilers also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although carbon dioxide is released during combustion, this carbon is part of a natural carbon cycle because carbon dioxide is absorbed by trees as they grow. Because of this, biomass heating systems are regarded as having a carbon-neutral lifetime.

The adaptability of biomass boilers is another important advantage. They can be easily incorporated into current heating systems to supply heat to individual residences, business establishments, and even industrial facilities. Their adaptability renders them a sensible option for an extensive array of uses.

Nonetheless, it’s critical to recognize a few possible drawbacks with biomass boilers. It is essential to handle and store fuel properly to avoid problems like fluctuations in moisture content and the possibility of spontaneous combustion. To guarantee peak performance and efficiency, routine maintenance is also required.

In conclusion, although sawdust and wood chip-fueled boilers might not be the best option in all circumstances, they do have a lot to offer in terms of affordability, sustainability, and environmental effect. A more sustainable future can be achieved by using biomass boilers to heat and insulate homes and buildings, provided that fuel sourcing, storage, and maintenance are properly managed.

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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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