Heating your home with a central air system might be the norm these days, but many people still rely on tried-and-true heating stoves to deliver warmth and comfort. Traditionally, a wood-burning stove has been the go-to option for these homeowners, but the best pellet stoves of the modern era have come into prominence in recent decades due to their ease of use and their efficiency.
Never heard of a pellet stove? Check this out!
A pellet stove acts as a heater that can be transferred from room to room (see more on safety below), but instead of relying on traditional wood or gas to produce heat, this type of stove uses special pellets that are loaded into a hopper and then introduced into the burning chamber.
These pellets are generally made of sawdust and small amounts of wood binders.
The benefit of this is that these stoves are self-regulating and act almost like a central heating system. You set the thermostat like you would on a traditional heater and the unit then distributes the correct amount of pellets using an internal auger in order to achieve the right temperature. When the thermostat senses the temperature has been reached, the hopper closes until more pellets are needed.
Pellet stoves have been around for a while, but in recent years, they have seen an upgrade in appearance and in efficiency. Modern pellet stoves utilize things like LED displays and remote controls in order to bring the heat, giving users more freedom than ever to monitor and take charge of their heating costs.
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Whether you’re looking for pellet stoves in New Brunswick, pellet stoves in Alberta, pellet stoves in Halifax, pellet stoves in Manitoba, pellet stoves in Winnipeg or any other colder-climate area, there’s an option for you.
If you’ve never looked into a pellet stove before as an efficient option to heat your home, below are some of the most modern pellet stoves, their features and benefits and information on how we tested them:
Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 50,000 BTU Pellet Stove with 120-Pound Hopper
The Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 50,000 BTU model is a great option for mid-to-large sized homes as it offers enough heat to easily warm up to 2,200 square feet.
The unit features a semi-matte black finish that gives off a rustic charm, and it comes with an outside air kit for convenience. Another great feature of this stove is that it contains an air wash system that keeps that outside glass door clean all year, meaning no more scrubbing messy ashes.
- Heating for up to 2,200 square feet
- 50000 BTU, 120-pound hopper, burn time: 24-70 hours
- Epa certified with an 85-percent efficiency rating
- Auto Light Ignition, 5 Heat Settings, 'exclusive' Comfort Control System; option to Run Continuously on MIN or MAX
- Includes an outside air kit and convection blower, assembly is fast and easy
The Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style boasts a 50,000 BTU output and a 120-pound hopper, making it a great choice for people seeking a large-scale option for heating. One of the best things about this unit is that it provides enough capacity for several traditional 40-pound bags of pellets, meaning users won’t have to continuously feed the hopper.
Here’s the real deal.
Additionally, the unit is EPA-certified and provides an 85-percent efficiency rating, meaning you won’t have to worry about the loss of heat transfer or polluting the environment.
We really liked the option to set the unit to minimum or maximum settings in addition to intermediate settings via Pleasant Hearth’s Comfort Control System. This gave us the option to really blast away the chill or keep things nice and toasty when things weren’t so cold outside.
- Variable heat control for all types of weather
- Includes outside air kit and convection blower
- Fast setup time
- East to set temperature based on conditions
- Can run continuously for days without refilling
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- May be too large for smaller homes depending on heating needs
- Minimum setting can be a bit too little for chilly weather depending on preferences
- Large hopper needs to be filled to capacity for optimal usage
Vogelzang VG5790 Hopper Pellet Stove
If it's real heating power that you're looking for, Vogelzang has it. The company's VG5790 model packs a serious punch by delivering 65,000 BTU and the ability to heat 2,800 square feet.
In terms of style, the VG5790 mixes the contemporary with the traditional and has easy-to-use controls sleekly hidden on the side.
- 65,000 BTUs designed to heat up to 2,800 square feet
- Fully automatic pellet stove with auto ignition and easy-to-use electronic controls
- 120 lb. Pellet capacity
- LED display with thermostat
- Air wash glass
Want to know our results?
If you’re looking for one of the most powerful pellet stoves on the market, then the Vogelzang VG5790 is for you. This unit provides an astounding 65,000 BTUs capable of comfortably heating 2,800 square feet. On top of that, it offers a 120-pound capacity in the hopper, meaning you can load three traditional bags at once and let the stove do the rest.
Complete with a LED display for thermostat and controls, you can enjoy the convenience of the modern age while experiencing warmth from a traditional pellet stove, even in a large setting.
The Vogelzang delivers modern technology combined with super-efficient pellet consumption to create cozy environments regardless of what the weather brings outside.
- Perfect for larger homes, heating up to 2,800 square feet with ease
- Delivers 65,000 BTUs with the push of a button
- Holds 120 pounds of pellets in a single hopper load
- Utilizes an LED display for easy control
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- May be considered too powerful for some homes
- Increased BTU output can mean higher fuel costs
- LED controls may not be for everyone
- Higher BTUs may require increased attention to the unit
Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove with Smart Controller
Castle's 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove mixes the old with the new by combining an elegant 1800's-style look with modern smart controls.
Set atop the black, rustic-looking stove is a digital controller that gives you the ability to set all kinds of functions, including current heat level and programs for each day of the week.
This gives you the ability to set the stove for higher temperatures while you're at home and lower temperatures when you're away, saving you money on fuel costs.
- Greater than 69.8% thermal efficiency
- 1500 square feet heating capacity
- Automatic ignition
- Five feed rates and blower speeds
- EPA certified
Listen to this:
Castle pellet stoves come with a smart controller, but compared to other options, the thermal efficiency doesn’t really add up. These stoves are good for smaller homes and dwellings that don’t receive very cold temperatures during the winter.
The ability to heat up to 1,500 square feet is nice for those who need it, but if you’re in a larger home and you demand efficiency, you’re likely going to need to consider other options. We did, however, like that this unit was EPA-certified and good for the environment.
- Can provide heat to 1,500 square feet
- Affordable for most
- Easy to control blower speeds and feed rates
- Unable to handle larger spaces
- Inefficient heating compared to other units
- May burn faster regardless of setting in very cold climates
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Nextstep Freestanding Fireplace Pellet Stove Heater in Black with Glass Door and LCD Display
NextStep takes the pellet stove into the 21st century with its 20,472 BTU model. The unit features a metallic exterior with an LCD display on the front, making it more digital than traditional. This stove is perfect for people who want to show off their style without conforming to the old-world look of most pellet stoves. It's also a very affordable stove when compared to other options and can heat smaller areas with ease.
- Multi-directional airflow
- Flame-reactive mirrored glass
- Huge hopper
- Hidden handle
- LCD Screen Button Control is easy to use - the control panel provides operation and give access to optional menus such as Cleaning,Feeding,Lighting,Stabilization and fuel gauges which give you complete control of your stove.
NextStep is a leader in the pellet stove industry, and with the 20,472 BTU model, users get warm heat right from the start, straight out of the box. We found this model to fall in the middle when it comes to heating large homes. It wasn’t overpowering, but it wasn’t underwhelming.
If you’re seeking a mid-range pellet stove that is fairly priced, the NextStep 20,472 BTU model is for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a simple option in a pellet stove, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the tech features included with this unit.
- Multi-directional airflow allows for more efficient heating
- LCD screen makes for convenient control
- Options to see status of the unit
- Modern look with hidden handle
- Mirrored glass allows for a sleek look when fire is not burning and the ability to see the flames when a fire is roaring
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- Only holds 18 pounds of pellets in the hopper
- Low BTU output may not heat entire homes sufficiently
- May not be good for those who are not tech-savvy
NextStep Freestanding Wood Pellet Stove, Fireplace Heater with Glass Door
Much like the 20,472 BTU unit, the NextStep 40,944 BTU pellet stove offers a modern twist on an old technology.
Available in a matte black finish, the 40,944 BTU model can heat a larger area than its little brother, comfortably warming up to 1,290 square feet. It also incorporates an LCD display and a 61-pound hopper to keep the heat on longer.
- MULTIDIRECTIONAL AIR FLOW-Warm air exits from the sides and front of the stove. This multidirectional air flow give more even warmth to the room
- FLAME-REACTIVE GLASS - Enjoy the elegant mirrored glass all year long when the fire is not burning. As flames appear, the mirror vanishes to show the fire
- HUGE HOPPER-The huge, illuminated hopper provides an easy view of the pellet level and holds 18lbs of fuel for less loading and more enjoying the warmth of your home
- HIDDEN HANDLE-The door handle is discretely hidden on the side of the stove, for a sleek look
- EASY OPERATIONS -LCD Screen Button Contol is Easy-to-use, the control panel provides operation and gives access to optional menus such as Cleaning, Feeding, Lighting, Stabilization and fuel gauges which give you complete control of your stove.
As with the NextStep 20,472 BTU model, the NextStep 40,944 model delivers quality at a fair price. The 40,944 BTU model is obviously a step up from the smaller model and delivers twice as much heat, making it the perfect choice for individuals with larger homes.
Of course, with a higher BTU rating, you’re looking at purchasing and using more pellets more often, so be aware that this will be factored into your usage costs.
The 40,944 model also offers everything that its smaller counterpart provides, including a sleek design with a hidden handle, LCD screen buttons and a flame-reactive glass front. We also liked to see the huge jump in hopper size compared to the smaller model, which only holds 18 pounds, compared to the larger model, which holds 61 pounds.
Of course, with the increased BTU usage, this somewhat evens out, but it’s nice to know that you won’t have to constantly be on hopper duty.
- Larger hopper than previous NextStep stove
- Higher BTU rating
- Sleek style and hidden handle
- LCD controls for easy access to heat settings and monitoring
- Although large, hopper capacity is still not comparable to premium units on the market
- Might be too much heat for some homes
- Tech controls may confuse some people
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Summers Heat 55-SHP10 Pellet Stove 1,500 Square Foot
If you're looking for a pellet stove that exudes a rustic, traditional look, then you'll love the Summers Heat 55-SHP10. The unit is small in stature but big on heat, providing enough warmth for up to 1,500 square feet. Although this unit looks traditional, you'll be surprised to find a digital panel along the side to deliver fast and precise control of your heating needs.
- Made in the USA-Quality workmanship with heavy duty American steel One touch auto ignition is simple and safe - just hit the ON button (no gel or fire starter required)
- Stainless steel igniter is durable and safe 40 lb hopper heats from 15-25 hours in one fueling
- Adequate heating for medium-sized homes
- Low emissions/high efficiency equates to longer burn time and increased heat output using less fuel
Is this a good buy?
The Summer’s Heat 55-SHP10 pellet stove is another option for individuals who don’t need to heat a large area. It’s made of steel, and while this isn’t always as good as cast iron, it does provide a durable product that is likely to last for many years to come.
Like many hoppers that accept 40-pound loads, you’re likely to get at least a 24-hour cycle of heat out of a single bag depending on your heat settings.
This can, in some circumstances, lead to higher fuel costs, however. The practical use of this pellet stove is to use moderate heat to keep the indoor air comfortable without going overboard. As always, this will depend on factors such as outdoor air temperature.
- Constructed of quality steel
- Uses an electric starter
- Low emissions and no smoke
- Good for smaller heating areas
- May only heat for 24 hours on a single bag of pellets
- Need to keep heat low in order to achieve efficiency
- Only specified to heat up to 1,500 square feet of space
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Pelpro Pellet Stove - 50,000 BTU, EPA-Certified, Model# PP130
While the PelPro 50,000 BTU pellet stove doesn't offer as many advanced digital controls like some other stoves, it does pack a punch with the ability to heat up to 2,200 square feet quickly and easily.
It also offers a massive hopper to keep the heat flowing longer. The unit is available in a matte black finish, and whether your style is modern or classic, the PelPro is the perfect accent to tie a room together.
- Heats up to 2,200 sq. feet
- Extra large 130-lb. hopper
- 85% efficient
- Extended burn times, up to 80 hours
- Three heat settings
Here’s what you need to know.
The Pelpro 50,000 BTU stove is a beast, providing tons of heat and offering a whopping 130-pound hopper. This means that you can load in over four normal bags of pellets and just let the unit run.
On top of that, due to its large capacity and high BTU output, the Pelpro can comfortably heat 2,200 square heat of space without a problem. If you have a large home with multiple levels, this unit can definitely handle the challenge.
- Offers 50,000 BTUs for comfortable warmth throughout a large home
- Huge hopper allows for 130 pounds of pellets in a single load
- Efficiency of heat exchange is on par with national averages
- EPA certified
- May be too much power for smaller areas
- Cost of fuel may go up in order to accommodate the unit, even in large areas
- Limited heat settings may leave some customers wanting more options
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US Stove 5660 Bay Front Pellet Stove
Although the US Stove 5660 pellet stove looks small, it delivers big heat with the ability to warm up to 2,200 square feet. The unit's compact design makes it ideal for people who want a lot of heat without having a huge unit in the way.
In addition, this stove offers convenience with digital controls and onboard diagnostic tools to keep you warm when you need it most.
- 6 heat settings allow the ability to adjust to your heating needs
- 120 CFM blower with automatic circulation to spread heat evenly
- Digital control board allows easy, one-touch adjustments
- LED display makes it easier to set and operate
- Large bay window style door with air wash glass
US Stove’s 5660 Bay Front model is definitely a contender in that it offers six heat settings and a 120 CFM blower, but it doesn’t give quite precise control.
On the other hand, it does provide a modern LED display for easy management and a large front window with air wash glass that delivers an authentic and somewhat soothing experience when watching the flame work its magic.
- Air wash glass makes the unit into a virtual fireplace
- 120 CFM blower provides even circulation of heat in cold weather
- LED controls utilize the latest in technology to get you where you need to be in terms of customized comfort
- Only having six presets limits the ability to dial in a specific temperature
- Onboard controls are convenient but a little bit complicated
- Customers have reported the unit needs daily cleaning
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Timber Ridge Pellet Fireplace Insert - 48,000 BTU, EPA-Certified, Model# 55-TRPEPI
While many people choose a standalone pellet stove, others opt for a fireplace insert, and with Timber Ridge's 48,000 BTU 55-TRPEPI, you can have the best of both worlds. The 55-TRPEPI easily fits into standard fireplaces and comes with an outdoor air kit.
The unit has a rustic iron-like finish and provides advanced digital controls on the side panel of the insert. Also, at 48,000 BTU, this model can handle heating for virtually any mid-sized home.
- 45-lb. hopper provides up to 24 hours of warmth
- User-friendly control panel with auto start
- Includes outdoor air kit
- 3in. flue collar
- Works with masonry or zero-clearance fireplaces
If you’re looking for a fireplace insert for a pellet stove, the Timber Ridge 48,000 BTU is your solution. While a traditional pellet stove is a standalone entity, many people choose to use fireplace inserts to block out the cold and receive continuous heat from a pellet stove placed within an insert.
This offers the ability to enjoy warmth in a fireplace without the potential hazards of overheating or chimney fires.
Timber Ridge’s fireplace insert is able to use a 45-pound hopper to easily provide enough heat to last throughout the day and night and the insert works with various types of masonry, making it the perfect choice if you want to simulate a fireplace setting without the hassle of a chimney sweep.
- Provides plenty of heat to handle a mid-sized home
- Can be attached to a flue using an included collar
- Hopper is large enough to support a single bag of pellets
- Includes digital controls for easy and fast access
- EPA certified
- May not be able to use as a standalone unit due to aesthetics
- Some users may not enjoy filling hopper daily
- Will possibly need a hearth in order to operate safely
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Comfortbilt Pellet Stove-HP22 50,000 BTU
The Comfortbilt HP22 pellet stove is a fantastic addition to any modern home. It features an almost futuristic design that allows you to see the interior flame from three sides, and it offers 50,000 BTU of heat to keep you warm throughout your home.
On top of the unit, you'll find digital controls to set the heat just how you like it, and you can also easily clean the unit with its removable ash pan.
- 50,000 BTU
- Auto ignition
- Programmable thermostat
- Powerful blower
- Large viewing area
- Bay design
- Heats up to 2,000 square feet
- 86% Burn efficiency-EPA certified-110 Volt
- 55-pound hopper capacity
- Ash pan & remote control
- 1 Year warranty
- Technical assistance available
One of the great things about the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove-HP22 is that, not only does it offer 50,000 BTU output, but the company also provides technical support. This is important because not everyone is used to a pellet stove, and having the advice and expertise of a professional available can give peace of mind to new users.
On top of that, the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove-HP22 provides a 55-pound pellet hopper, perfect for those who want to get more than a single day’s worth of heat without reloading. Another wonderful feature this stove provides is an ash pan, making cleanup fast and easy.
While other units may cause you to rely on hand brooms and vacuums, the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove-HP22 allows you to quickly and easily remove ash simply by taking the pan and dumping it.
- Provides enough heat for a mid-range home or workshop
- Offers technical support if any issues arise
- Solid warranty in case something breaks
- The efficiency rating, slightly higher than the average of 85%
- Features a programmable thermostat to ensure you get the heat you need when you need it and no wasting of energy when you aren’t around
- May not work as well on hardwood floors
- Some customers have mentioned that this unit required additional cleaning to work efficiently
- Higher temperatures may cause buildup within the burning chamber
- Can be picky about what types of pellets are used
How We Tested
Because pellet stoves require a constant amount of fuel, we decided to ensure quality and consistency in our reviews by using the same pellets. This was also done in order to ensure safety across the variety of stoves that we tested.
Please be advised that fuel pellets can vary in material by manufacturer and we always encourage you to make sure that the pellets you are using are compatible with your particular stove to avoid fires and injuries.
In order to measure temperature changes, which were the simplest measurement, we first took an indoor temperature using a digital thermometer. This thermometer was then used to measure heat changes as each stove was heating up and as each stove reached the temperature set on each stove’s thermostat.
We went the extra mile!
Additionally, we made sure that each testing room was given a full day in between tests so that the room’s temperature could return to normal. This was done to prevent temperature contamination from the previous test.
Testing the efficiency of each stove, however, was a little bit more complicated. Without access to very expensive monitoring tools, we relied on equations to get an estimate of each model’s efficiency.
This was done by measuring the cost of the pellets used in each test against the time it took for each room to reach the temperature set on the thermostat. Additionally, we had to take into account outdoor temperatures, the size of the room, the room’s insulation and any window draft.
Without going into specifics, which would honestly be pretty boring, we were able, in most cases, to match the efficiency as provided by the manufacturer of each unit.
All Types & Brands of Gas Fireplace Insert
Although pellet stoves are a great option for heating your home, many people opt for gas fireplace inserts. These essentially function as a traditional wood-burning fireplace, but instead of actually burning wood, they use natural gas and a faux-wood display to produce heat.
The benefit is that, on the outside, they resemble normal wood burning in a fireplace, but there is no mess to clean up, no need for actual wood to be cut and the temperature can be controlled manually for optimum heat. There are also pellet stoves insert fireplaces can accommodate.
So what’s the real deal?
The reason these are referred to as inserts is that they fit into most traditional fireplaces and seal off the chimney. Because natural gas does not produce smoke, there is no longer a need for any type of exhaust. Instead, a fire can be lit in seconds and can burn for as long as you’d like.
The insert is shaped to the specific dimensions of the existing fireplace, forming a tight seal that provides safe insulation. Ceramic logs that resemble real wood can then be added to give the appearance of a traditional cozy fire on a cold winter night.
There are a number of brands and pricing available for gas fireplace inserts, but some of the most notable brands include Emberglow and ProCom. Both manufacturers offer vent-free gas inserts that can easily be installed in existing fireplaces and can run off of either natural gas or liquid propane.
The cost of a gas fireplace insert from either company will largely depend on the size of your fireplace. Smaller sizes may cost somewhere in the range of $300, while larger sizes may run north of $600.
Ash Vacuum for Pellet Stoves
Keeping any type of heating stove can be a challenge due to the ashy mess they typically leave behind. Thankfully, pellet stoves, due to the composition of the pellets, often leave much less mess to deal with when compared to traditional wood-burning stoves.
Unfortunately, burning any type of material is going to leave some type of residue, but with an ash vacuum, cleanup is fast, simple and efficient.
The key to choosing the right vacuum to get rid of pellet stove ash is to look at the filtering methods. Ash from a pellet stove can be very fine, and if not handled properly, this fine ash can be spread through the air or even ground itself into the carpet or other fabric materials.
This is why having a filtered, dedicated vacuum is important. The right vacuum can not only quickly remove the ash, but it can prevent the fine particles from escaping and causing other problems through the use of specialized filters.
Below is a list of some of the best pellet stove ash vacuums:
- PowerSmith PAVC101 10 Amp Ash Vacuum
The PowerSmith PAV10110 Amp Ash Vacuum is specifically designed to clean up ashes from pellet stoves, even if the ashes are still warm. This is a big benefit in that you don’t have to wait until your stove has completed cooled, leaving you in the cold, before cleaning.
This unit also includes a fire-resistant filter for added protection while filtering out fine particles that a traditional vacuum might miss.
Once you’re done vacuuming, the unit and its filter can be washed quickly and easily for repeated and frequent use. PowerSmith also claims that the unit is clog-resistant and that it includes an ash level indicator to ensure that customers know when it’s required to empty the collector for more efficient use.
- Vacmaster 6 Gallon, 3 Peak HP, Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum, VQ607SFD
VacMaster offers a six-gallon wet/dry vacuum that is designed to handle all of the rigors of ash cleanup, including warm, wet and cold ashes. This is a great product if you find that you needed to pour some water on your pellet stove’s ashes in order to cool the flame down faster.
Instead of trying to scoop out a soupy mess, you can simply use the VacMaster to clean out the burning chamber and get started with fresh pellets.
Due to its weather-resistant design, you can also count on the VacMaster to stand up to all kinds of conditions, and it also provides a seven-foot hose, so you won’t be limited in confined spaces.
Currently, this vacuum includes a two-year warranty, meaning you won’t have to worry about problems with craftsmanship. You can also roll the unit on included castors for easy access across a variety of flooring.
- Snow Joe ASHJ201 4.8 Gallon 4 Amp Ash Vacuum
The Snow Joe was designed specifically with the need to remove ashes from pellet stoves in mind. When pellets are burned, they turn to a fine ash.
Unlike traditional wood-burning stoves, whose ashes are often thick, pellet ashes are fine and can be missed when being scooped out by hand. This can send fine particles up into the air where they can contaminate air quality and even ruin furniture, flooring and walls over time.
The Snow Joe includes a fine-dust filter that captures these particles before they have a chance to affect the user, and the unit is also portable enough to be used in a variety of indoor settings. Once enough ash has been collected, you can easily dump it through a quick-release.
Do you want to know the truth?
All of these options are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased through retailers like Amazon. Keep in mind that any expense for a solid ash vacuum is worth its weight in gold when compared to having to routinely clean out ashes, pay for carpet cleaning after an ash spill or having to deal with damage or injuries due to warm ashes spilling out of your pellet stove.
Something else to consider is that you need to make sure you’re emptying your ash vacuum on a regular basis according to the manufacturer’s specifications in order to avoid damage to the vacuum.
Allowing ashes or any type of debris to build up on the receiving canister can cause the vacuum’s motor to burn out due to overheating.
Pellet Stoves vs Wood
By and large, wood stoves and pellet stoves work on the same principle. Each burns a wood-based product using an open flame and each leaves behind an ash residue that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.
The big difference between the two is that a wood stove requires the user to manually load fuel in order to keep the fire going, but a pellet stove does this automatically using a hopper and a thermostat.
Another difference between these two types of stoves is cost for fuel. Because a pellet stove requires special, pre-manufactured pellets, you’ll likely need to purchase these on a regular basis in order to keep the stove working effectively.
Because a wood stove simply requires wood, you can chop up your own wood from trees and feed the fire. In most cases, this can be done for free with a little elbow grease on your part. Even if you don’t have trees available to cut, many people can find inexpensive firewood for sale nearby.
Another difference is that most pellet stoves require electricity in order to run. This is because a pellet stove uses a small fan to deliver air into the burning chamber in order to keep the fire going.
Additionally, these stoves use an auger internally to move the pellets from the hopper into the burning chamber. With a wood stove, the amount of flame is up to the user based on how much wood is used, how the wood is configured and how much airflow is provided via a damper.
While this can be advantageous for someone who has a lot of experience in working with and burning wood, many people simply want to set the desired temperature on a thermostat and relax. This is where the beauty of the pellet stove comes in.
Are you really safe?
Now, one of the biggest and possibly most important differences between a wood stove and a pellet stove is the exhaust issue. A wood burning stove must be connected with some type of exhaust system, much like a traditional fireplace.
If you were to burn wood in a confined space, it is going to produce smoke, and this smoke will quickly fill the room with carbon monoxide and can be lethal in a very short amount of time. This means that wood stoves are generally not portable and must require some type of installation into a space that has an exhaust pipe.
Wood stoves, on the other hand, do not produce the same smoke. The pellets used in these types of stoves are generally made of compressed sawdust and a small amount of wood product. As a result, they burn cleaner, meaning a wood stove does not need to be connected to an exhaust.
An added benefit to this is also that wood stoves leave less mess behind when they need to be cleaned and they are considered to be generally better for the environment as a whole.
Pellet Stove Installation
In most cases, pellet stoves are fairly simple to install. Because these units are largely portable, a pellet stove can be placed wherever heat is needed. It’s generally a good idea to keep at least six inches between the stove and any walls if the unit is going to be installed in an area like a corner.
While modern pellet stoves generate far less heat on their sides and from the bottom, leaving a bit of room allows for better heat transfer and is safer. You will also need to install the stove in an area that has access to an electrical outlet.
One thing to note about the installation process is that, due to the weight of some stoves, it would be a good idea to employ the help of others in lifting the unit.
A smart idea is to utilize a small rolling dolly to move the stove into place. Using a dolly means you and your partner or partners will only need to lift the stove on and off the dolly, reducing strain and the risk of accidents or injuries.
As always, if you’re unsure regarding the installation process of a pellet stove, don’t simply rely on your gut or some YouTube videos. Instead, contact a professional installer who can take care of the task for you.
The difference this makes could be between damage to you, your stove and your home or a well-heated dwelling where you can feel comfortable in knowing that everything was done correctly.
Care and Maintenance
Pellet stoves are typically low maintenance, but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore your unit. Cleaning out the ash left behind after consecutive use is important, both for safety purposes and for cleanliness. If too much ash builds up, it may cause a fire hazard.
Likewise, too much ash means some could spill out onto the floor once the door of the burning chamber is opened.
In order to clean out the ash, you could use a small hand brush, but a more efficient way to take care of the cleaning is to use a vacuum. A small ash vacuum makes the cleaning process a breeze by reducing the time needed to clean while reducing the potential for a mess.
Additionally, an ash vacuum will reduce the potential for ash particles to be thrown into the air where you or others may breathe them in.
One thing to note is that, if at any time you notice your heat level is low, despite your hopper being full and your thermostat being set properly, it might be time to call a professional.
In some circumstances, such as using the wrong pellets, the auger may not be able to properly churn out the right amount of fuel. When this happen, the risk of fire increases as the unit is warming up and receiving air without the fuel to burn off.
Likewise, if an air duct gets clogged within the unit, you may not experience proper heat. This may lead to the auger providing more pellets, and thus, you end up wasting fuel. If you ever hear any strange noises coming from your stove, or if you notice a sudden lack of heat or flame, turn the unit off and contact a repair professional in order to avoid damage to the unit or to yourself.
What you need to know about cleaning:
- It’s also a good idea to clean the inside glass of the outer door to the burning chamber. This not only allows you to see clearly what’s going inside the unit but can possibly prevent damage to the unit.
- In most cases, using a standard cleaner will do the trick, but always follow the instructions for cleaning provided by the manufacturer when choosing a cleaning product. Some cleaners can produce dangerous fumes that can interact with an open flame.
- It’s also a good idea to leave the outer door open after cleaning and prior to the next use in order to let any cleaning chemicals to dry or dissipate. Once again, always follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions.
Whenever you’re working with an open flame in a confined space, safety is of the utmost importance. Even if you have experience in using wood stoves, fireplaces or pellet stoves, all it takes is one small mistake or even an ember landing in the wrong place to burn down a structure or cause serious bodily harm or death.
As a result, you must always place safety at the top of the list when working with an indoor heating stove.
One of the best pieces of advice from experts is to place a pellet stove where it can be monitored. This means placing it within a room where you spend most of your time.
While you don’t have to sit around and stare at your pellet stove 24 hours a day, it’s better to have the stove in an occupied room so that action can be taken immediately if something does go wrong.
Another safety tip is to set the stove on the lowest comfortable setting when going to sleep. If you’re home during the day, it’s fine to crank things up, but at night, when you aren’t around to monitor the unit, try to keep things on a low setting.
This not only saves on fuel costs, but it can also help to prevent a fire in the event that something does go wrong while you’re not around. Keep in mind that most modern thermostats include an automatic shutoff function if things get too hot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Are you truly safe?
Next, understanding the mechanics of your pellet stove is vital in knowing how to operate the unit safely and respond to incidents if they occur.
It would be a good idea to read thoroughly through your stove’s owner’s manual to ensure that you understand the mechanics of the stove and how to troubleshoot or respond in the event of an emergency.
You should also never move the stove while it is in use. This can cause hot ashes or flames to come through the unit’s door. Always wait until the unit is unplugged and sufficiently cool before attempting to move the unit.
This is also true for cleaning ashes from the unit. Keep in mind that pellet stoves burn very hot, and therefore, ashes can remain a safety hazard for potentially hours after the unit has been turned off.
Listen to this!
Never try to lift a heavy pellet stove on your own. This goes for both installing and moving. Most units weigh hundreds of pounds and can lead to severe injuries.
Everything from sprains and strains to broken bones if a unit falls on you can be hazards that can occur when trying to move a stove on your own.
Only use approved pellets for your specific stove. Most pellet stoves use standard sizes and compositions of pellets, but to be on the safe side, only use the pellets recommended by your unit’s manufacturer.
Using improper pellets could lead to feeding issues from the hopper, potentially leading to a fire and damage to your stove. If you use the wrong pellets, even if they seem to be burning properly, you might be throwing away money because the unit isn’t operating as efficiently as it could be.
As with any home appliance, you’ll want to consider the warranty of any pellet stove you’re planning to purchase. A warranty can be the difference between wasted money and warm, cozy heat throughout the colder seasons.
In virtually all cases, a pellet stove manufacturer will provide at least a one-year warranty, but some offer longer terms. Keep in mind that the vast majority of manufacturer warranties only cover things like faulty parts, so don’t count on a warranty if you damage your unit.
On the other hand, many manufacturer’s or sellers offer the option of an extended warranty, which can ensure your unit is replaced for years to come due to faults in the manufacturing process, yet still, others will sell an extended warranty that covers accidental damage.
Do you really need that extended warranty?
Deciding on whether to choose an extended or accidental damage warranty will depend largely on your circumstances. If you’re living by yourself and plan to solely supervise the operation of your pellet stove, then you’ll probably be safe simply taking the standard warranty.
If, however, you have a family, especially with young children who are prone to throwing things, you might consider other warranty options. Once again, you don’t want to find yourself out of heat and out of money because someone decided that your pellet stove would make a good surface to throw hard toys at.
Finally, as with any warranty, make sure you understand the terms and conditions, including how the manufacturer plans to remedy the situation should you need to use the warranty. Some manufacturers require the user to pay for shipping to return the unit, and given how heavy most pellet stoves are, this can be quite costly.
The bottom line?
You don’t want to find out that you’re looking at hundreds of dollars worth of shipping costs after a problem arises.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pellets can be purchased at a number of hardware stores, but keep in mind that you will need to purchase the correct pellets for your unit. In most cases, pellets are universal, but this does not mean that there are not variances. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding what type of pellet you should use. Purchasing the wrong pellet could mean less efficiency and even damage to your unit.
The reason for an electrical connection to a pellet stove is so that the fan and auger can work in conjunction to keep the unit fed with fuel and at the precise temperature you set. When the unit’s thermostat senses that the desired temperature has been achieved, the auger will stop feeding pellets to the burning chamber. Likewise, the thermostat will control the internal fan that feeds air to the flame, thus determining the temperature. While it would be possible to operate the unit without electricity once the flame gets going, the temperature will not remain consistent and the flame will die down quickly without the introduction of new pellets and air.
It is generally advised that you not move your stove while in use. Pellet stoves are often very heavy, and dropping a pellet stove while trying to move it could mean that the doors open and flames and ashes spill out. Also, while the sides of the unit will not be very hot, the top will be as this is where the heat is coming out of. To add to this, shifting the unit while it is working could cause additional pellets to be added to the flame, thereby disrupting the thermostat. To be safe, always unplug the unit and wait until the flame has been completely extinguished for at least a few hours before moving the unit to a new location.
Even though both pellet stoves and wood stoves burn materials on an open flame, the pellets used in a pellet stove are designed to give off no smoke. Wood, on the other hand, does give off smoke when burned and therefore should not be used in a pellet stove. Even small wood chips may seem like they would work, but the chips would burn slower, giving off less heat, and once again, they could cause smoke. This, in turn, could cause damage to the unit. In order to avoid potential problems, you should never burn wood in a pellet stove and you should always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Many people purchase pellets in very large amounts in order to have a steady supply throughout the colder months. As a result, pellets are designed to last a very long time when stored in the proper conditions. You should store your pellets in a dry area that is not susceptible to rain. If the pellets get wet, even over a short period of time, they can begin to disintegrate due to their composition.
In the past, lighting a pellet stove often required some type of lighter fluid or kindling. Modern pellet stoves often include an electric starter that makes the process as simple as pressing a button. As with any open flame in a dwelling, use caution when lighting your stove and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. If in doubt, call the customer service phone number provided by the manufacturer to speak with an expert. Failing to light your stove correctly could result in a fire, damage to your unit and serious injuries to yourself and others.
The question of how much heat a pellet stove provides depends on a number of factors. Everything from the size of the stove to the size of the area to be heated come into play. In addition, the insulation in your home, including its windows, can determine the efficiency of heat transfer. In our testing, it seemed that a standard 40-pound bag of pellets was sufficient to heat a 1,700-foot home for nearly three days. Once again, this varies from model to model and does not take into account the age of the home, its insulation or window sealing. To add to this, it will also come down to your temperature settings. Obviously, the higher you set the stove’s thermostat, the faster you will burn through pellets.
In general, using a pellet stove will dramatically reduce costs for electricity. Most research suggests that half of the electricity bill for the average house during the winter is due to the heat pump. For homes that use gas for heat, costs often double, triple or quadruple during the colder months. Because a pellet stove only uses electricity to run a small internal fan, an auger and sometimes to regulate the thermostat, the amount of energy consumed through electricity is minimal in comparison.
When it comes to selecting the right size, you’ll need to think about the area that you’re planning to heat. Some people use a pellet stove to heat an entire house while others use a pellet stove to simply heat an area, such as a downstairs finished basement. Selecting a stove that is too small will mean that you will burn through pellets much faster as the stove will struggle to keep up with the heat demand. Selecting a stove that is too large can lead to the potential for overheating. In either case, damage to the unit can occur and you will likely be uncomfortable in either case. To avoid this, check with each manufacturer’s suggestions regarding space heating.
In virtually all cases, a pellet stove can heat an entire home with far less cost than traditional fuels, including oil. Another advantage is that wood pellets can be purchased on demand. In most cases, homeowners who use oil for heat will need to have a bulk delivery made to fill a tank several times a year. This may mean waiting for the oil supplier to deliver, and in the meantime, you’re left shivering in the cold. With a pellet stove, if you run out of fuel, you can likely go down to your local hardware store and purchase some more. Once you get the pellets home, just pour them in the hopper and let the stove handle the rest.