The pellet stove is an increasingly popular alternative to the familiar wood burning stove, a standard appliance in many homes. If you’re planning to shop for a pellet stove, there are several important issues to consider. The first point to understand is that a pellet stove is not a perfect substitute for a wood burning stove. Though the two may look very similar sitting side-by-side, there are some key differences. The following brief guide is intended to highlight these differences and help you prepare to shop for a pellet stove.
Pellet stoves are typically equipped with automatic ignitions, self-feeding hopper devices, and fans, which require a constant electric connection. This means that standard pellet stoves are not well-suited to mountain cabins or other off-grid locations, unless you are equipped to generate electricity. Many pellet stoves are also outfitted with a thermostat which allows automatic adjustment of the burn rate to maintain a preprogrammed temperature. Models with automatic ignitions can be set to fire up at set times each day, which is wonderful on cold winter mornings.
Pellet stoves are designed to burn a dense biomass fuel composed of wood matter and other organics. The material is formed into small, hard pellets that can be purchased in bulk. Typically, the pellets are loaded into a hopper device that slowly releases the pellets into the combustion chamber to maintain a desired temperature.
On-board pellet storage capacities range from about 10 kilograms to well over 50 kilograms, depending on the model. Though pellet stoves are increasingly common, you should make sure in advance that there is a convenient pellet supplier in your area.
When shopping for a pellet stove, you will find that each model is rated to a particular heating capacity, usually measured in British Thermal Units (Btu). It is important to purchase a stove that is suited to the space in which it is installed. Several factors influence this determination, including the volume to be heated, the typical outdoor climate, and whether the space is insulated. To choose the right heating capacity, speak to your local pellet stove sales professional.