A pellet stove is one of the best options for eco-friendly and efficient home heating, but many people still don’t know exactly what pellet stoves are or how they operate. If you’re considering installing a new stove or insert that burns biomass—fuel that comes from sustainable and renewable sources like wood, corn, or pellets—but you don’t want to chop or haul wood, a pellet stove might be the right choice for you.
What are Pellets?
Biomass pellets are pet-food sized nuggets of compressed sawdust. In essence, a pellet stove burns wood, but in the form of wood waste. Pellets can be purchased directly from your stove retailer or from many online sources. In 2014, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported that the average cost for a 40-lb. bag of pellets was around four dollars. Homeowners can expect to burn about one bag of pellets per day if their stove is the main source of heat in the home.
How Does a Pellet Stove Operate?
Some types of pellet stoves don’t require a chimney, but depend on direct venting which makes them easier and less expensive to install than a wood stove. Free-standing styles look almost identical to a standard wood-burning unit. Faux log accessories similar to those used in a gas fireplace are available to give the impression of a traditional wood fire crackling in the stove.
Pellets are placed into the stove’s hopper until they’re needed for burning. A feeder device is used to drop the required amount of pellets into the combustion chamber. The faster the pellets are fed into the combustion chamber, the more heat the unit puts out.
Ash from the burned pellets must be cleaned out similarly to the way ashes are cleaned from a wood-burning stove.
Electricity is required to operate the feeder device, fans, and other controls and pellet stove accessories.
Advantages of a Pellet Stove
According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association there are three main environmental advantages to using a pellet stove.
- Burning sawdust for fuel keeps usable material out of the landfill
- Pellet fuel burns cleanly and is sustainable and renewable
- Pellets generate a minimal amount of wood smoke when burned and are considered a low-emission solid fuel.
If you’re considering adding a biomass stove or insert to your home for ambiance or direct heating, don’t let unfamiliarity stop you from considering a pellet stove. They’re easy and economical to use and they’re an environmentally friendly option.