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Wood Pellet Stove

Updated on August 4, 2015

How Does a Wood Pellet Stove Work?

While this is a corn burning stove, it is an excellent demonstration of how a wood pellet stove works. The two types are very similar (nearly identical) in operation, and some models can even share, or trade fuel.

The Fuel For A Wood Pellet Stove

What are pellets made from?

The pellets that burn in a wood pellet stove are made from a number of wood, or wood-type products that would otherwise be thrown away. Here are some examples of where the material comes from:

  • Sawdust from a saw-mill, or carpentry shop.
  • The remnants of topped trees, or trees trimmed that were to close to power lines.
  • Field corn (though it requires a certain type of stove).
  • Other biomass waste.

All of these fuel types are very ecologically sound, with most of them saving landfills from thousands of tons of material. Instead, this material is turned into pellets to be burned in your wood pellet stove.

How are the pellets made?

The pellets for a wood pellet stove happen to look very similar to rabbit food, and there is a great reason for that; they are made with the same, or very similar equipment.

Any of the raw material that is to large first gets ground into very small particles. Then the material is highly compressed. The compression process dries out the material and makes a product which has an extremely low moisture content-usually only around 3% moisture, which makes it ideal as a fuel.

The pellets are then put into 40 pound bags, and sold by the ton.

If you have a wood pellet stove that also burns corn as a fuel, the corn does not need to be processed. It just needs to be very dry.

Why are pellets so clean burning?

This is really a combination of the wood pellet stove and the pellet fuel. The pellets, as described before, are very dry and very compressed. Because of their dryness, they produce much less ash and smoke than a wood-burning stove. Wood pellet stoves also waste far less heat because they are designed to keep the heat inside the building.

The design of the wood pellet stove also has a large impact on this clean energy source. Most pellet stoves have a fan that forces air into the area of the fire. This aides the combustion process, while also reducing the pollutants that would otherwise enter the air outside.

Are pellets really more economical?

This can depend on your area. While it has been mentioned that the average price is about $150 per ton, there is some variation. The major factor in price is shipping, so it is good to know if there is a source of fuel nearby before purchasing a wood pellet stove.

Other factors can include the time of year you are buying (buy early for better prices), and local supply/demand issues.

What is so cool about having a wood pellet stove?

I first came in contact with a wood pellet stove when my brother and I rented a house together in our hometown. It was an older house with not-so-great insulation, and plenty of leaky single-pane windows. While my brother (who had been living there for awhile before I moved in) preferred to use the electric heater, I thought the pellet stove might be more efficient at heating more than one area of the house.

The first time I fired that thing up, I knew that it was a very cool appliance (okay—so it was hot). Not only was it keeping our house warm, but the ambiance was nice too. It was a win-win situation!

Until we ran out of pellets.

If you are using, or planning to use a wood pellet stove, please make sure that you have an adequate supply of pellets for the heating season. They can be hard to come by mid-season.

Wood Pellet Stove: Economic, Environmental, and Elegant

A wood pellet stove is not just a good source of heat. Wood pellet stoves are among the cleanest sources of indoor heat available. Because of the way the pellets are burned, they produce more heat and far less ash and smoke than traditional fireplaces and wood stoves. Also, the pellets are made from renewable resources, such as trimmed trees, recycled sawdust, peanut and walnut shells, and corn, among other things.

Buying a one often proves to be a wise decision economically as well. Some regions offer rebates of up to $600 for upgrading to a wood pellet stove!

On top of that, the pellets are very competitively priced. One ton of wood pellets usually creates more heat than a cord of wood, and takes up half the space. This is because the pellets are so compact, and because of the way your new wood pellet stove will burn them. The pellets are usually sold by the ton, which costs an average of $150.

Wood pellet stoves are also an elegant solution compared to other alternatives. There are many different models out there, ranging from fireplace insert models, to stand-alone models which are simply vented through the wall to the outside of your home.

Wood Pellet Stove Poll

Why are you interested in wood pellet stoves?

See results

Links of Interest

Some of the following links are not directly related to owning or purchasing a wood pellet stove, but they all offer ways we can live a bit more gracefully with the environment around us.

Reader Feedback

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    • karensun profile image


      6 years ago

      Get the useful informations about the wood pellets stove fuel.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      Excellent information. Thank you!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There is an wonderful information from your lens.

      Wood Burning Stoves

    • Karl Winegardner profile imageAUTHOR

      Karl Winegardner 

      7 years ago

      @dustytoes: They do require a minimal amount of electricity (usually). Having a battery-back up of some sort would not be hard to hook up, though, for those times the power is out.

    • dustytoes profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice video - the corn burning- and good way to heat and support farmers, but it won't work without electricity, right? Linking you to my new wood stove lens.

    • driewe profile image


      10 years ago

      Nicely done, 5 stars

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very cool lens...learning more and more about pellet stoves everyday. I also have recently started a new pellet fireplace site. If you get a chance, check it out

    • teamlane profile image


      11 years ago

      Nicely done. A 5 to you. If you have a minute stop by and visit my lenses, perhaps my Recycling lens. It is my favorite! Keep up the good work and kindest regards to you.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      well written, and informative- I had no idea about pellet stoves, thanks!


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