(Harman rep with Bulk Fuel Bin and PB105- Reno HPBA March 2007)
Harman has long been the front runner in the pellet stove marketplace. It's underfired feed system has given us some of the largest btu, lowest maintenance pellet stoves available in the US. That coupled with Harman's strong coal, and wood furnace background lead to the introduction of their whole house pellet systems. The PF100 Pellet Furnace was first released in 2004. This innovative unit was the first pellet furnace to be made in and for the US market. In the fall of 2006 it was followed up with the PB105, the first pellet boiler manufactured in the US. The fall of 2007 showed continued innovation and promotion with the bulk fuel bin that Harman designed to work with both of their whole house units, as well as their P-series pellet stoves.
The PF100 contains the same control, feed, and venting systems as the Harman freestanding and insert stoves, just on a larger scale. It has an impressive heat range from 0 to 112,000 Btu's. The unit itself holds 160 pounds of pellets, or hook up Harman's latest innovation the bulk feed bin for 1400 pounds of hands free use. It's large ash pan means that cleaning needs to happen only after three or so tons have gone through. This is a great system that many people add to their homes for central heat. Some replace their old system entirely, while others leave their old system in place as a backup and simply install the pellet furnace in series by tapping into exisiting plenum systems.
Many areas use hot water, and forced hot water heat systems. While they had to wait a little longer it was well worth it. In 2006, Harman released the PB105. This unit will heat water up to 120C with a heat range of 0 to 112,000 Btu's. The optional hot water coil gives an added benefit of heating domestic hot water. Again using Harman's control, feed, and heat transfer system from their stoves and inserts. This unit has an extra large ash pan, and pellet hopper, as well as the ability to direct vent using a four inch PL rated pellet stove pipe. The bulk fuel bin may reduce filling to once or twice a month!
Harman's latest innovation gives us a glimpse of the future. The bulk fuel bin is designed has a small footprint, and is designed to be fed from bagged fuel, as the vast majority of pellet fuel is delivered in this manner. It is a step in the direction of elminating the bag, and moving to a bulk feed and delivery system. We may learn a great deal from Europe about bulk pellet fuel systems. They have pellet trucks that deliver fuel in much the same way as we have oil and propane delivery trucks here in the US. There are a handful of dealers and consumers who buy bulk pellets using bulk sacks, or other bulk deliveries such as rail, and I suspect that this method has room only to grow. New England Wood Pellet received a grant a few years back to purchase the first bulk pellet fuel delivery vehicle. Grain silos have been the predominant fuel holders in the US. Europeans often make wooden bins, or pellet closets that may be similar to what coal bins or closets were like in the late 1800 and early 1900's here.
In the coming years we may see other companies follow suit with similar boiler and forced hot air pellet systems. Central Boiler has recently released a multi-fuel outdoor system, Tarm offers an imported boiler or furnace system as examples. Europe's wood pellet leads the market as far as wood pellet boiler and furnace systems with many innovative and viable designs in place, but with people like Dane Harman behind the US market keep an eye out!