How to buy a pellet stove
A pellet stove buying guide
Pellet stoves are types of stoves that burn small pellets made of recycled wood, sawdust or even corn for the purpose of heating a home. When deciding how to buy a pellet stove, there are many considerations that you should keep in mind, including the amount of heat that you will need, the kinds of pellets available and if you have a proper exhaust system in your home.
>> Pellet stove introduction
Most pellet stove designs have similar configurations and accomplish the same tasks. Pellet stoves will usually contain a hopper, vents, firebox, control panel and safety system. These stoves use pellets made from recycled wood, food products or even garbage as fuel. Pellet stoves are not like electric stoves or tabletop electric stoves, but are similar to wood stoves. You can use your pellet stove as the primary heating source in your home or as a supplement to other heating sources.
>> Why do you want a pellet stove?
You'll want to figure out how to buy a pellet stove because, except for wood, pellet fuel costs less than other fuels. If you replace your furnace with a top-rated pellet stove, you'll most likely pay less in pellet costs than you would on your heating bill. Even if you only use your pellet stove as a secondary heating source, you can still save money on heating costs if you turn down your heat when using it. Pellet stoves often come in rustic designs such as open fire stoves. Additionally, pellet fuel is a renewable source of energy, it emits fewer toxins than other heating sources and it often is made from recycled material. These pellet stove advantages make them an attractive option especially for those who are environmentally conscious.
>> How much heat do you need?
How much heat you need and how much heat your stove can emit can really affect which pellet stove brand you buy. Heat is measured in BTUs and BTUs per hour (BTU/h). The first step in figuring out how much heat you need is to ask yourself if your pellet stove will be the primary or secondary source of heat in your house. This will affect how much square footage you need to heat. How much heat you actually feel, however, is determined by many different factors, the most important of which is outdoor climate. If you live in a mild climate, you should estimate that you would need between 30-40 BTUs/h per square foot. For colder climates, 50-60 BTUs/h per square foot is necessary. For example, if you want your pellet stove to heat your living room, which is 300 square feet in size, and you estimate that you need 55 BTUs/h per square foot because you live in a chilly climate, you would need a pellet stove that is capable of emitting 16,500 BTUs/h to heat your room. You should check the product description of the stove that you want to see if it meets your heating needs. The quality of the pellet fuel that you buy can also affect how much heat the stove emits. If you plan on using lower-quality pellets, then you might want a stove with a higher heating capacity, as well.
>> What kinds of pellets can your stove burn?
The kinds of pellets that your stove can burn can greatly affect your reasoning about how to buy a pellet stove. Pellets come in different types (such as wood pellets, corn pellets, wheat pellets and garbage pellets), grades (such as low, medium and high grades) and sizes (normally 3 inches or 4 inches). Check the box of the pellet stove brand that you are interested in buying to make sure that it is compatible with the pellets that you plan to use. The pellet stove must have a safety and ventilation system that is capable of handling the grade of pellets that you choose. However, pellet stove designs that handle a large variety of pellets might be beneficial for you because pellets are limited in market availability. Always check the product description for the type of pellets when you shop for pellet stoves.
>> Do you have a proper exhaust system in your house?
You'll also want to think about how to buy a pellet stove because most pellet stoves do not need to have a chimney exhaust system, unlike wood burning stoves. However, they do need an exhaust system and are sometimes compatible with chimneys. Pellet stoves almost always require double-walled venting to prevent toxic exhaust from escaping the ventilation system. You'll want to make sure that the chimney or exhaust system that you plan to use for your pellet stove is double vented before you compare pellet stove brands. If you do not have an adequate exhaust system in your home, it is best to hire a professional chimney installer to create a good exhaust system.
>> Consider how much control you have with your pellet stove
The top-rated pellet stoves have many different features that can give you control over the stove. Air blowers and vent adjustments are popular pellet stove features that control how much heat is created and how that heat is distributed by the pellet stove. Many pellet stove designs include a warning system that tells you when the hopper runs low on fuel. Pellet stove control panels often include a way to adjust the pellet feed rate into the firebox. This can help to maintain a higher heating level when you use lower-grade pellets. Additionally, some types of pellet stoves are self-cleaning. After every 60 minutes of use, these stoves will empty the firebox into an ashbin automatically. This can help to reduce maintenance time and prevent the release of some toxic fumes.
>> Consider other pellet stove features
Design is an important feature when considering how to buy a pellet stove. Generally, there are three pellet stove designs. Potbelly pellet stoves resemble traditional potbelly stoves, while other pellet stoves are freestanding, box-like or resemble conventional furnaces. Pellet stove fireplaces are also a common design, and some pellet stoves are wall-mounted, resembling wall-mounted wood-burning stoves. Pellet stoves are, for the most part, made of either cast iron or stainless steel and often come polished or encased in enamel.
One final point to consider in order to find the best pellet stove to buy is airtight construction. Airtight construction reduces the risk of toxic emissions leaving the firebox or ventilation system when the pellet stove is in use. You should check the product description to see whether your pellet stove has airtight construction.