Small Pellet Boiler Frequently Asked Questions

How much do pellet boilers cost?
Small boilers must also use a buffer tank and outdoor bulk pellet storage, and must be integrated into the building’s heating system. The costs of an installed system rated at 40,000 Btu/hour, for example, is approximately $22,000.

What is the NYSERDA incentive for pellet boilers?
NYSERDA will provide an incentive equal to 45% of installed costs for small systems. There is an incentive cap per size range.

Has pellet boiler technology been tested?
This technology has been used in Europe for many years and is now available in the United States. Technologies must meet code requirements. Usually this means an American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) certification, but there may also be others since some boilers originally designed in Europe are now being manufactured in the U.S.

What is the return on investment on purchasing a pellet boiler?
The payback on these systems will vary depending on the complexity of system integration with the existing heating system and how much heat the building requires. A 10-12 year payback is typical and is reduced to 6-9 years with the Renewable Heat NY incentive.

How efficient are pellet boilers?
These boilers can achieve 85% thermal efficiency.

How much can be saved by purchasing a pellet boiler?
Pellets purchased in bulk can save up to 30% of fuel costs compared to oil. Additional savings can be realized if the heating system being replaced had a lower thermal efficiency than the pellet boiler heating system or if energy efficiency measures (insulation, weatherization, improved energy management) are also performed by the building owner.

Where can I find a list of qualified technologies?
Systems evaluated based on independent testing data are available on the Renewable Heat NY web page.

Do I need an engineer in addition to an installer? How do I find one?
Small heating system retrofits require a qualified designer and installer who may be the same person hired by the customer. NYSERDA is developing lists of qualified designers and installers to assist customers in identifying a partner.

Should thermal storage be incorporated into the pellet boiler system?
Yes, this is a requirement for all projects supported by Renewable Heat NY. Thermal energy storage, also called a buffer tank, allows for better energy management and less frequent cycling of the boiler. This means higher system efficiency, lower emissions, and increased longevity of the heating system.

How long do these projects take from design to installation?
These projects can move relatively quickly and can be completed in the summer or early fall for the upcoming heating season.

What’s the benefit to doing a system sizing study for a pellet boiler?
The system sizing study will determine how much heat is needed during the heating season. This information is used to properly size the pellet boiler heating system and its components. The study will also determine how the existing heating system is managing energy in the building at all times during the heating season and whether any components can be improved to increase comfort. Opportunities for energy efficiency will also be identified, so total energy use can be reduced.