Updated:

Pellet Stove Buying Guide

Many homeowners are tired of paying the high fuel prices of natural gas, propane, or heating oil, and are considering wood stoves for their home. Wood stoves that burn cord wood have a reputation for being smoky, and the wood is heavy and loading can be difficult. That leaves many considering a wood pellet stove. Wood pellets are made from compressed saw dust or wood shavings, and burn very well, emitting excellent heat without much smoke. If you are considering a wood pellet stove, here are the essentials questions you should answer.

3 Points to Consider when Buying a Pellet Stove
First, consider the heat output of a wood pellet stove. You may be surprised to discover that a small amount of wood can produce a large amount of heat. Most standard pellet stoves produce 40,000 to 60,000 BTU’s per hour, enough to adequately heat homes ranging from 1200 to 2400 square feet.

Secondly, take into account how often a pellet stove needs to be fueled. Stoves that burn cord wood require loading on a daily basis, while pellet stoves can go for 36 to 60 hours between refueling. They make very efficient use of their fuel, which is poured into bins, and then fed into the fire box by a mechanical auger, usually controlled by a thermostat. Pellet stoves are fed either from the top or the bottom. Top fed units are considered safer, with burning into the storage compartment less likely. Embers may fall into a bottom fed unit and create a fire hazard. Top fed units need to be kept more free of ash and soot, however, since these can impede the progress of the fuel pellets into the burning box. The use of low-ash pellets is recommended with top-fed stoves. Bottom-fed units can use a lower grade of pellet, which will produce more ash, making it necessary to empty the ash pan about twice as often. This is not a major inconvenience, but failing to do so can create smoke, and possibly lead to fire danger. If you enjoy the ambience of a fire, be sure to look for a pellet stove that offers a pleasing flame pattern and a large glass window. Some units also come with ceramic logs that have a realistic look and help disperse the flame for a more natural appeal. If you choose a pellet stove, remember that they can create carbon monoxide, so must be correctly vented. It is also important that the home have carbon monoxide monitors to protect the home’s inhabitants. This, of course, is true of furnaces that use LP gas, propane, cord wood, or heating oil.

Finally, some pellet stoves simply radiate heat, without the use of a fan or other moving parts. But most stoves, especially those designed for spaces over 1,200 square feet, use mechanical parts including a fan, feed augers, and motors. If you choose one of these, be sure it can be placed near a 110 volt outlet. You might also want to look for a model that offers easy access to the moving parts so that maintenance and repair is made easier.

Conclusion
Join the more than 800,000 homeowners that are using pellet stoves as a primary or supplemental source of quality, reliable heat for their homes, businesses, workshops, or outbuildings. Both free standing models are available, as well as insert models that fit into existing fire places. Most who choose a wood pellet stove will save money on their fuel costs, but since those costs vary across the country, the level of saving you enjoy will change from place to place. These stoves are growing in popularity for their combination of heating efficiency and convenience.