If you’re looking at alternate heating sources, or you are looking to replace your current heating stove, you’ve probably looked at pellet stoves as an option.
What is a Pellet Stove
A pellet stove is a small internal stove that uses compressed wood or biomass pellets as the fuel. Pellet stoves often look very much like wood stoves. Consumers chose these stoves as either primary or alternate heating sources to help cut down on heating costs.
The source of the heat comes from the burning of pellets. These pellets are either compressed wood or made of other organic matter such as corn or sawdust. As the pellets burn, the stove emits heat into the occupying area.
Pellet stoves are great options due to the efficient combustion involved. Their heating efficiencies are much greater than a wood burning stove. They also emit less air pollution.
Types of Pellet Stoves
There are two types of pellet stoves available for purchase. There are freestanding stoves and fireplace inserts.
If you don’t have a fireplace or are looking for something in addition to that, you want to look for a freestanding stove. These stoves look like wood stoves and are placed in the room to be heated. These stoves need to be hooked up to an exhaust pipe.
Insert wood pellet stoves are good options for homeowners that already have a fireplace. Like a wood stove insert, a wood pellet stove insert fits into the firebox. The stove vents through the pre-existing chimney.
Types of Pellets
The most common pellets used in a pellet stove are wood based. There are however many different types of pellets. Grasses, grains, and rice husks have all been used to create pellets. Each have their own benefits as they are produced differently.
You’ll find all pellets have the same diameter but differ in length. Some pellets can be as long as 1 inch. This shouldn’t be a problem though as today’s pellet stoves can handle these sizes.
Since the most common choice for consumers today are wood pellets, there are some differences in the types of wood pellets. There are hardwood pellets and softwood pellets. One may think that since you burn hardwood in a wooden stove, that hardwood pellets are the best choice for a pellet stove. Actually, there are slight differences in the heating (BTU) output of these two types of pellets.
There is much talk about the different BTU outputs between hardwood pellets and softwood pellets. It’s now known that softwood pellets have a higher BTU content than hardwood counterparts. While you would never use softwood in a wood burning stove, softwood pellets are a great option since the condensed nature makes them a better “per-pound” fuel.
Another difference will be the type of ash resulting from burning the two options. Hardwoods will result in a darker, denser ash. Softwood pellets will result in a lighter ash, thus being determined to be the “cleaner” option. Regardless of the ash, you’ll want to make sure to remove ash regularly to ensure it’s always functioning properly.
Price will also vary for the two pellets. A hardwood pellet will command a slightly higher price since the source material is higher in price.
Wood Stove vs Pellet Stove
If you’re searching for an alternate heating source for your home, you’ve probably already done a pros and cons list between a wood stove and a pellet stove. Here are some of the differences between the two options.
Pellet Stove Buying Guide: What to Consider
There are many things you should consider before purchasing a pellet stove. First, you should review the above comparison chart to determine whether a wood stove or pellet stove is most appropriate. After you decide that a pellet stove is the best option for you, you’ll want to consider the following items.
Pellet stoves needs to be near an outlet, requires a direct vent or chimney, and should be places 3 inches from the wall. With this in mind, ensure you have all the necessary space and accommodations available for your pellet stove. Also keep in mind that most pellet stoves require a 110 volt outlet.
Size of the Hopper
The size of the hopper will determine how much fuel can be set in reserve. The hopper, which is either located at the top or the bottom of the stove, can hold pellets to be used during the burning period. The auger moves the pellets to the furnace to be burned. The size of the hopper will therefore determine how long the stove will emit heat without you intervening.
Common stoves have hoppers ranging from 18 lbs to over 80 lbs however you can find larger sizes around 120 lbs.
Noise level of Auger and Blower
One of the detracting features from a pellet stove is the noise created by the blower and auger. The auger constantly feeds the furnace with new pellets. The blower pulls in new air through the stove to be heated. Without these two parts the stove does not function. Make sure you read reviews regarding the noise level of the stove in question.
Cost will vary depending on the style and size of the stove. Since these stoves are expensive you want to make sure you are buying a quality stove with quality parts. Also to be considered is the cost of operating the stove – electric as well as the cost of pellets.
Just like any piece placed in your house, you’ll want to make sure the style of the stove fits your decor. There are a range of stylized options but also more rustic or no-frills options as well. This will all depend on your preference as well as where you plan on installing the stove.
Best Pellet Stove Reviews 2019
Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style Pellet Stove
Customers choose the Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style Pellet Stove for it’s large 120 lb hopper. You’ll be able to fit three 40 pound pellet bags in the hopper. This means you can sit back and relax for 24-70 hours running the stove without lifting a finger.
Another selling point is the Btu output. It boasts a 50,000 Btu output which is perfect for larger homes in the 2,200 square foot range. It’s EPA certified with an 85% efficiency rating. You’ll feel confident that when you use the stove you’ll be saving money without poor air quality.
Like many pellet stoves, this does not come with an exhaust kit so you’ll want to purchase one if you don’t have a working setup (chimney, exhaust pipe, etc.) in your home already. If you plan on setting this stove up immediately you’ll want to plan ahead and order your exhaust kit. It does, however, come with an air intake kit and convection blower.
Delivery for any large appliance can be difficult. This pellet stove is 180 lbs by itself and is often delivered by freight.
Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Stove
With the Castle Serenity Wood Pellet Stove you’ll love the comfort and convenience offered. This stove is customizable with an adjustable thermostat and built in fan. There is no automatic shut off so if this is a feature you need it may not be the best stove for you.
The thermal efficiency is slightly lower than the Pleasant Hearth stove coming in at 69.8%.
Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22
The Comfortbilt Pellet Stove features a 55 lb hopper. While you may have to load the hopper more than some other models, the ash pan is quite large. You will only need to empty the ash pan every few months.
This stove features an automatic ignition and 5 power settings. There is also a programmable thermostat which will ensure you’re not using more pellets than needed.
Like the Pleasant Hearth cabinet, it boasts 50,000 Btus meaning your space will be toasty. It should be able to heat up an area that is 2200 square feet. You’ll also love the 86% burning efficiency as you’ll get the most out of your pellets.
It weights 320 lbs so be sure to know exactly where this is being placed when it is delivered. Moving it afterwards will be quite a feat.
Design-wise, this stove is the least attractive. However, it does have a great viewing window so you can enjoy the fire inside the stove. The windows are also easy to clean when needed.
Vogelzang VG5790 Hopper Pellet Stove
The Vogelzang Pellet Stove is a great option for those looking for a large hopper. This stove features an 120 lb hopper which, like the Pleasant Hearth stove, will allow you to sit back and enjoy the stove rather than constantly refilling it.
Of the options this has the biggest output of 65,000 Btus and can heat a room up to 2,800 square feet. The 200 CFM blower is included and will keep air circulating through the stove.
One of the downsides of this stove is that there is no ash pan. While only a little ash collects, you must vacuum from the stove after the unit has cooled down.