How Long Will A 40-Pound Bag of Wood Pellets Burn?

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Wood pellets are an inexpensive way to heat your home and have become a popular choice, especially in rural areas. When it comes to rural living, sometimes your only choices will be propane or wood pellets. Many people turn to wood pellets as the more inexpensive and cleaner-burning choice.

The answer to the 40-pound bag question depends on the heat setting you choose. If you keep your stove on low, you will get about 24 to 27 hours of heat. Of course, the higher you set your heat, the faster they will burn. So on high, you will only get about eight hours.

How Many Bags Will I Need for a Whole Winter?

Obviously, how many bags you need depends on where you live because some winters are just a couple of months while other parts of the country are cold four to five months of the year. It also depends on the size of your home or area you want to heat. But the average homeowner burns about one bag a day. Therefore, you will probably need about 100 to 150 bags per year.

Burn Rate of Wood Pellets

The burn rate of wood pellets is approximately one pound per 8,000 BTUs of heat. So, you will use about 1.5 pounds per hour if you keep your heat on the lowest setting. This is typically true of any wood pellets although some manufacturers have different burn rates according to their calculations.

The burn rate per BTU should be printed on the bag or literature that comes with the bag. Also, there are soft pellets and hard pellets to choose from. The choice is yours as your pellet stove will burn either one.

Are Hardwood or Softwood Pellets Better?

Hardwood pellets are cheaper to buy but softwood pellets have a higher heating value. So, you really do get what you pay for when it comes to wood pellets. You can pay a bit extra at the beginning for softwood pellets, but you may need to buy less because you get more heat with fewer pellets.

Also, since softwood pellets burn hotter, they are better for those who enjoy warmer temperatures. Some people prefer hardwood pellets because they do not like their house to get too hot. You will have to experiment to find out which one is right for you.

What Are Wood Pellets?

Some people do not want to use wood pellet stoves because they believe that the wood comes from trees. But that is not true. No trees were harmed in the making of wood pellets. Instead, wooden shipping pallets or other used wood are recycled to make the pellets.

Wood pellets are considered a biomass fuel. That means that the wood is a renewable resource. They are made by breaking down the wood shipping pallets into sawdust and then compressing them into small pellet shapes.

What is a Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove or wood pellet stove is just what it sounds like. A stove made of steel or cast iron that burns pellets as a source of residential heat. Although some manufacturers are different, the typical wood pellet stove is made of the same basic components. They include:

  • The hopper where you dump the pellets
  • An auger conveyor system
  • A combustion fan
  • A convection fan
  • A burn pot
  • An Ash collection system
  • Vacuum switch
  • Heat sensors
  • Some type of controller

The way it works is you dump some wood pellets into the hopper, the auger conveyor system pushes it into the burn pot, and the fans blow the heat where it needs to go. The ash collection system collects the ash, which can be reused. The heat sensors and vacuum switch are designed to shut down in the case of a fire or other problem.

There are two types of pellet stoves, top-fed and bottom-fed. The top-fed stove has the hopper at the top and most of the ash stays in the combustion chamber. The bottom-fed stove lets you put the pellets in from the combustion chamber, so the ash is pushed into the ash pan. That makes these easier to clean and more efficient.

What Are the Benefits of Using Wood Pellets?

You can save hundreds of dollars a year using wood pellet stoves instead of electric, gas, or propane. The average person spends about $600 per month on their heating bill. With wood pellet stoves, you will typically spend about $25 to $35 per month. That is a savings of more than $500 per month! The average cost per month for different fuels in a 2,000-square-foot home would be:

Type of FuelCost per Month
Wood Pellets$25 to $35
Propane$60 to $100
Natural Gas$200 to $400
Electric$300 to $600

Another bonus of using wood pellets is that they are a clean source of energy. When you compare pellets to oil, a ton of pellets reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide by 1.5 tons. And since they are made from recycled wood, no more trees are being cut down to make them.

How Much Does a Wood Stove Cost?

The initial purchase of the wood stove may seem expensive, but it is cheaper than buying a home heating furnace. The average cost is between $1,000 and $3,000.

It depends on the size of your house and how much of your home you want to heat with it. However, it will pay for itself after the first year or two of saving on your heating bill. And you will be helping to save the planet as well.

More Uses for Wood Pellets

Although wood pellets are great for wood pellet stoves, they can also be used for other uses. You can use them as energy for generators, boilers, and furnaces as well as backpacking stoves instead of propane.

Many people use wood pellets in their wood smokers and grills, even in special drums. It is pretty simple to do. All you have to do is cover the charcoal with wood pellets after it gets hot. Wait until they ignite, and you are ready to cook.

If you have a fireplace, you can use your wood pellets for that as well. Any type of wood pellets you would use to heat with are efficient, environmentally friendly, and they do not leave much waste. There is typically a quarter of a cup of ash per bag. And the ash can be recycled.

Some less obvious but ingenious uses for wood pellets include using them in the kitty litter box, where it is absorbent and does not track all over the house like other kitty litter. You can also add wood pellets to the soil or garden as mulch to add nutrients and keep the moisture in. You can even use it for bedding for horses instead of hay.

Alternatives to Wood Pellets

According to the FDA, you can also use other materials in your pellet stove to heat your home. Corn is the most popular alternative because of its low price and efficiency. Corn burns hotter than wood pellets so you use less and can keep your stove set at its lowest heat setting.

The corn has to be dry and clean. Never burn any corn that has old corn, mold, or mildew in it. Also, make sure that the corn is not chemically treated in any way. Corn that you burn in your stove has to be dried to about 12% before using it. When buying it from a supplier, make sure it is the type of corn to be used as fuel.

Many people use a mixture of corn and wood pellets to make their pellets last longer. Some other materials the FDA has approved for use in pellet stoves include:

  • Grass pellets
  • Paper pellets
  • Cherry pits
  • Hulled wheat
Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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