What are Pellet Stoves?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra
Wood pellets burn efficiently and produce little ash.
Wood pellets burn efficiently and produce little ash.

A pellet stove provides reliable, automated, and extremely efficient heat. This stove burns special, compact fuel pellets made of wood and paper waste from industrial applications. For homeowners in cold climates concerned about energy efficiency, the environmental impact of burning lumber, and the air pollution of fireplaces, a pellet stove is an innovative choice.

Combining a fireplace with a furnace, a pellet stove resembles an ordinary cast iron stove with a glass door. But it is outfitted with many special design features that make it easy to use and simple to maintain. It works by burning small pellets that are densely compacted waste materials, such as sawdust, bark, woodchip, paper pulp, and plant fibers, from the paper and timber industry. Purchase the affordable fuel in bags of 40 lbs (18 kg).

This fuel source doesn't contribute to deforestation and also utilizes waste that would otherwise go to landfills. When aflame, pellets burn very efficiently, producing little ash and secreting low amounts of creosote and smoke. Creosote gets launched into the air as a pollutant. Layers can build up in chimneys, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.

The way the pellets are introduced to the combustion chamber is mechanized in a pellet stove, unlike regular stoves. You load a reservoir with pellets at most once a day, and probably only twice a week during winter. From there, a mechanism like a ramp or a lift introduces the pellets to the main stove. The number and frequency of pellets are regulated based on a thermostat, so you receive an invariable amount of heat. Choose from top or bottom loading varieties.

Since pellet stoves burn so cleanly, they can be vented with a simple metal flue, rather than an entire masonry chimney. Thus, they are easy to install and safer to maintain. The flue does not need to be cleaned as frequently as a wood stove flue. An ashbin collects the spent ashes for you to dispose.

Adding to the economical burning of the pellets is an air circulation system. A fan keeps air moving within the combustion chamber, always introducing oxygen-rich air and removing the spent air. This eliminates the need to stir the fire, adjust the flue, or fan at the fire so it won't go out. The fire burns evenly with little interference, other than refilling the bin.

Unlike other stoves, a pellet stove must be hooked to an electricity source. It needs electrical power to run the thermostat, fan, and automated feeding system. Although it is very economical, you should take into account the cost of electricity along with the cost of installation and fuel when calculating your heating budget. Depending on its size, a pellet stove can hook to a central heating system and heat one room or a whole house.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


We are building a home in Wyoming which will have a propane furnace. Due to the cold weather and cost of propane we will have two pellets stoves. On the first floor the pellet stove will be a fireplace insert. The other will be a free standing in the finished basement. Both floors are about 1900 sq feet. Our plan is to use the pellet stoves as the main heat source. To distribute the heat it was suggested to run the furnace fan. We are getting mixed opinions about this. Does anyone have any experience with this method?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Wood pellets burn efficiently and produce little ash.
      By: Coprid
      Wood pellets burn efficiently and produce little ash.