So PFI or the Pellet Fuels Institute is a North American trade association that does a number of things, but the thing that they do of primary interest to this website is to rate home heating pellets. There are 3 categories that pellets fall into with the PFI system– premium, standard, and utility.
The problem is most pellets you will find at your local store are all rated “premium”. There are huge variations in what is considered a premium pellet by the PFI. I have gotten pellets that are total junk that carried the PFI premium rating. It is an issue of the bar being too low for the premium rating. For years I have been hearing chatter about an “ultra-premium” rating being established, but to the best, I can tell it has not happened.
This lack of meaningful ratings leaves consumers in the dark about what pellets are good and what pellets are bad. I would say one could probably break up the premium range into 3 distinct classes of pellets. And as for the standard and utility-grade pellets, I have seen some rare standard-grade pellets around, and I have never seen utility-grade pellets sold for home heating. (keep in mind I go out of my way to look for this stuff)
I really enjoy the pellet fuel world, and appreciate the PFI existence. As the biomass pellet industry has matured the need for a 3rd party rating system that communicates information about pellet quality is more important now than ever.
The current delineation’s between premium, standard, and utility pellets are all but useless to the average pellet stove owner, because both the good, not so good, and really good pellets will carry a “premium” stamp.
To the PFI- please rework the rating system, it would make us all smile. Even if the “ultra-premium” rating materialized it would be super helpful.