Forestry Commission Scotland logo

Fuel selection

The main wood fuel types are logswood chips and pellets, and recycled wood is also an option in some circumstances.

If you are considering a wood fuel system you will need to make early decisions about which wood fuel to use.  Wood fuels have difference characteristics which mean they are more or less suitable in different circumstances, factors which influence suitability include scale and nature of heat requirements, energy content, cost of the fuel and associated handling and storage equipment, ease of handling and delivery and geographical location of the installation.  It is not always a straightforward decision and it is recommended that expert advice is sought.

It is often supposed that pellets are inherently higher quality, easier to use and handle and more expensive than wood chips; this is not the case.  These assumptions are incorrect and provided fuel is appropriately specified and its delivery and use is effectively managed the choice of fuel becomes a highly local and specific decision. Examples:

  • Quality: Poor quality pellets that are then incorrectly stored and transported can be the cause of many operational problems. The accumulation of dust in silos can be an issue. Equally, wood chips can contain over or under sized particles or be too wet or too dry and also cause operational problems.
  • The key point is that pellets and chips should and can meet standard quality specifications and neither type of fuel is inherently 'higher standard' than the other.
  • Cost: It is commonly assumed that wood chips are always cheaper than wood pellets.  Although per tonne wood chip may be cheaper than pellets, the energy content of wood pellets is usually greater than, so end users should always work out the costs of the energy they are buying; not the tonnage or volume of fuel. Find out more about wood fuel costs.

Find out more:

Wood Chip

Wood chips are the most widely used form of wood fuel. They can be processed to meet the requirements of a wide variety of systems.

Pellets close up

Pellets

Pellets are made from compressed sawdust. They are less bulky than wood chips, and so need less storage space.

Close up logs end on

Logs

Logs can be ideal for community, farm and estate installations where daily manual loading is not a problem.