Pellet Stove Buyer's Guide
Get informed on pellet stoves with this guide provided by The Wood Stove & Fireplace Center of Monmouth County.
Many people have discovered the benefits of pellet stoves. Perhaps you’re considering the myriad of reasons? Let us simplify it. One of the most prominent reasons people install pellet stoves is to reduce heating costs – especially in homes with central heat sources fueled by propane, fuel oil or electricity. You can calculate your approximate savings using this pellet fuel savings calculator. And there are other benefits as well...
What is a Pellet Stove?
Pellet stoves are similar in appearance to free-standing wood stoves and burn renewable pellets made of condensed biomass materials, like wood chips and sawdust. Depending on the size of the stove and the floor plan, a pellet stove can heat all or part of a home. They can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of other renewable energy systems like solar panels, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines.
Innovative technologies have made pellet stoves convenient, easy-to-use, highly efficient and environmentally responsible. Today’s pellet stoves are smart, with programmable thermostats that adjust heat output and control room temperature. In addition to creating very little ash, some models have automatic cleaning cycles and can produce heat for up to 24 hours on a single hopper of pellets. Due to pellet density and high burn efficiencies, pellet stoves emit extremely low outside air particulates, and some stoves can be up to 89% efficient.
Many homeowners install a pellet stove to work in conjunction with their existing central furnace or boiler. Efficiencies are gained by turning the central furnace temperature down 10-15 degrees and using the pellet stove to zone heat the rooms that are used the most, such as the family or living room areas. Similar to the concept of a hybrid car, the pellet stove does the primary heating with the furnace as a backup – working together to gain efficiencies and a more environmentally responsible outcome.
Examples of technologies that boost performance and efficiency are Harman's Pellet Pro System™ and Exhaust Sensing Probe™.
• Many pellet stoves can provide 24 hours of steady heat for as little as $3 per day, and can be up to 89% efficient.
• Depending on the size of the stove and the floor plan, some pellet stoves can heat up to it 2,500 square feet.
• Pellet stoves expel extremely low particulate emissions due to high burn efficiency and the density of the pellet fuel.
• According to the Pellet Fuels Institute, burning one ton of pellets instead of oil reduces carbon emissions by nearly 1.5 tons.
• Pellet stoves help homeowners get closer to “living off the grid” and produce less greenhouse gases than fossil fuel systems.
What is Pellet Fuel?
Pellets are renewable fuel made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, and agricultural crop waste – turning materials that may otherwise go to a landfill into energy. They are a cost stable, low carbon fuel that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions when used as an alternative to fossil fuels such as heating oil, propane and natural gas.
Pellets can be purchased in 40 lb. bags at fireplace dealers, nurseries, building supply stores, feed and garden supplies, and some discount merchandisers. In certain areas of the country, pellets can be purchased in bulk. When burned in a high efficiency pellet stove, one bag can provide up to a full day of steady heat.
Pellet Stove Use and Maintenance
Pellet stoves require simple maintenance to keep them running their best. They should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year, or after each time one ton of pellets have been burned through. You can do this yourself by carefully following instructions in the owner’s manual, or you can hire a professional. Most pros will also inspect vital components like the auger, motor, hopper, switches, blowers, wiring, seals, sensors and exhaust pipes.
Over the course of the heating season, ongoing maintenance is needed to keep your stove functioning properly. This includes cleaning ash out of the burn chamber and the ash pan, scraping of the burn pot, and keeping vital components free of ash. Be sure to wear heat resistant gloves to protect your hands and arms, and deposit ashes in a metal container with a lid that’s stored far away from any combustibles. Consult the owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Why buy a Pellet Stove?
What are your reasons for considering a pellet stove? Is it because today’s state-of-the-art technologies have made pellet stoves convenient and easy-to-use? Or because some stoves are thermostatically controlled and easy to maintain? Or maybe it’s the advanced burn technology that produces less ash and low outside air particulate emissions? Whatever your reasons, the bottom line is still that pellet stoves can help to save money while utilizing a renewable fuel. And because pellets are grown, harvested and produced right here in the U.S., you’re also helping to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.
You can learn more about pellet stoves by visiting our Harman page, and by checking out our pellet stove options.