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Heating with a Pellet Burning Stove

Updated on January 27, 2008
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Pellet Sotve From
Pellet Sotve From

Heating Costs are Skyrocketing

With oil prices continuing to climb, warm, comfortable homes are becoming harder to manage during the cold months, especially in the northern areas. The cost of oil heat is up, the cost of natural gas heat is up..and the electric company has just asked for another rate increase.

Is there another option? Pellet stoves. Pellet stoves are an efficient heating option. The stoves look very much like a traditional wood stove but are engineered to burn fuel in such a way as to squeeze every bit of heat out of it, warming your home to a comfortable temperature for much less money.

How Do Pellet Stoves Work?

Pellet stoves are a complex machinery that utilizes electrically controlled combustion systems, blowers, and heat exchangers.

In real talk that means that the stoves are designed to burn slowly, release as much energy as possible from the fuel source, and pull the cool air into the stove and blow it back out as hot air.

The pellets are poured into a holding area called a hopper. If the hopper is very large it can hold enough pellets to burn for a couple of days. The average pellet stove is designed to heat for one to two days on a load of pellets.

Inside the stove is an auger. The job of the auger is to control the rate at which the pellets are delivered to the fire. If the rate is set at, say, one pound per hour, a slow fire is produced, warming the room for a long time. If the rate is four or five pounds of pellets an hour the fire will be roaring and very hot.

The rate of delivery on some stoves is controlled by a thermostat, while on other stoves it is a manual setting. Some stoves are self lighting, and others require the user to light it manually. Regardless of how it is lit, the heat exchanger is heater to approximately 250 degrees and warms the air from the room as it is passed through the system. The blower then blows the warm air back into the room.

How to Start and Clean a Pellet Stove

Benefits of a Pellet Stove

The benefits of a pellet stove are many:

  • Uses convective heat and so stays cool to the touch. Important consideration for families with children.
  • Does not need a chimney, only a vent to the outside.

  • Needs only a three inch clearance from combustible surfaces.
  • Use pellets as fuel. Pellets can be made of corn, recycled materials, peanut shells, sawdust etc. Very sustainable materials.
  • Burn more efficiently than wood
  • Burn cleaner, better for the environment
  • Low particulate emissions
  • Rated at 90% efficiency
  • Create less soot, ash, and creosote when burning
  • May be vented horizontally through a wall

The Disadvantages of a Pellet Stove

While the stoves are very good for the environment, and do save money, there are some disadvantages to consider:

  • Pellets are not available everywhere. The can be costly if you have to have them shipped
  • The stoves depend on electricity. Although they often come with battery packs for power outages they use up to 100 kwh of electricity monthly.
  • They cannot be installed in manufactured homes
  • Price range is around $2,000.00
  • They do require maintenance checks
  • Your heat is dependent on having a source of the pellets

Which Are Best?

With the right circumstances, pellet stoves can be an ecologically sound alternative to standard heating or wood stoves.

Some of the top rated pellet stoves are:

  • Harman P68 Pellet Stove

  • Breckwell P22 Series
  • Englander 25-PDVC

Be sure to do your research to see what is going to work best in your situation. Base your choice on the size of your home, your weather patterns, and other needs. Some stoves are nicer to look at than others. Be sure to get something you like.


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    • profile image

      B.C. BOUTIQUE 8 years ago

      unfortunatly, you can not claim them as a grren improvement for tax purposes..I have used corn / recycled wood pellets for years ..and a tip, corn is half the price of pellets and burn at a higher heat ration, you do not use as much as you do with pellets and can get a ton to last the winter for around $250.00 to $260.00 when the price of a bag of pellets has jumped again to over 4 dollars for 1 bag..

      just a friendly the corn actually burns better for the environment, you will notice hardly any smoke emissions at all

    • profile image

      Kristen 8 years ago

      Can the purchase of a pellet stove be declared on your taxes as a "Green" purchase?

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 9 years ago from India

      There is such a thing as a pellet fired furnace. A stove is standalone and is meant to heat an area although like a woodstove they will heat the entire house by convection.

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 9 years ago

      This couldn't have come at a better time, we were looking at pellet stoves this weekend.