How to Choose a Wood Pellet StovePellet stoves can provide supplemental or even primary heat in your home, helping to cut your heating bills. There are a couple models to choose from: a freestanding model that will take up living space, or a fireplace insert if you have a traditional fireplace already.
A fireplace insert is probably the best option if you have a fireplace. Wood burning fires in the fireplace are only about 25% efficient, and a pellet stove beats that hands down. This option also saves you from having to give up living space for the stove.
What is a Wood Pellet Stove?
Pellet stoves and wood stoves look similar on the outside, but inside they're nothing alike. Pellet stoves have a few moving parts, some of which need occasional maintenance. And, as the name implies, they burn wood pellets rather than wood logs. These pellets are made of recycled wood shavings, sawdust or even corn and wheat bits.
One of the big benefits to a pellet stove is that you don't need to keep the fire stoked - the pellet hopper delivery system automatically feeds the pellets as necessary. You only need to be sure the hopper stays full, but you won't need to keep stoking the fire as with a wood burning stove.
There are other considerations when considering the purchase of a pellet stove
One, if you like to watch the fire flames flicker, be sure to get a stove with a good flame pattern and a good sized viewing glass.
It helps to have a model with easy access to the parts that will eventually need servicing. If you don't want to service them yourself, consider a service contract and extended warranty.
You will also have to choose between a top-feed system and a bottom-feed system. And of course, there are pros and cons to having either one.
Top-fed stoves can be safer in that the fire stays out of the hopper. On the other hand, a top feed model is more likely to become clogged with ash and clinkers.
The bottom-feed models aren't as likely to get stuck with ash particles, but the fire can burn back into the pellet hopper. You still need to clean the ash out of these regularly. So another consideration is how large the ash pan is and how easy it is to remove and clean.
Unlike wood stoves, a pellet stove needs electricity to power the motors, so keep that in mind when deciding where to put your stove.
And, of course, you need to be sure you buy the right sized stove. Stoves use British Thermal Units (BTUs) to measure heat output. You'll need 25 to 30 BTU per square foot of space you're heating. So, if you're heating a 300 square foot area, you'll need at least 7,500 BTU/h on your stove.
There are other considerations when looking at BTUs, such as the quality pellet you burn, the temperature where you are, the insulation factor of your walls and roof, and more. Make note of these things and ask lots of questions of some reputable dealers.
If you really come to love the efficiency of your pellet stove, keep in mind that you can even get a larger unit to replace your entire furnace!
Wood pellet stoves are becoming very popular as a way to supplement or heat a home entirelyThe popularity of pellet stoves is increasing, especially now that heating costs are going up so much more. With some foreknowledge, some good questions, and a reputable dealer, you will be able to make a purchase that will serve - and heat - your family comfortably for years to come.
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