A pellet stove is a stove that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat for residential and sometimes industrial spaces. By steadily feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn pot area, they create a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments. Today’s central heating systems operated with wood pellets as a renewable energy source can reach an efficiency factor of more than 90%.
Pellet stoves are a 21st century woodburning technology – turning them on and off at the flick of a switch, totally programmable and thermostatically controlled operation, loading as infrequently as every 86 hours – and the satisfaction of knowing that you are heating your home in an environmentally responsible way using a low carbon fuel.
They can be used as cookers, domestic pellet boilers, utility boilers and insert boiler stoves right up to a dual fuel log and pellet boiler stove for the ultimate in controllability and economy. Most pellet stoves are automated, self igniting and cycle themselves on and off under thermostatic control. Stoves with automatic ignition can be equipped with remote controls.
A properly cleaned and maintained pellet stove should not create creosote, the sticky, flammable substance that causes chimney fires. Pellets burn very cleanly and create only a layer of fine ash as a byproduct of combustion. The grade of pellet fuel affects the performance and ash output.
Pellet stove users should be aware of the different grades of pellets as a lower grade pellet, and an inconsistent wood quality can cause serious effects to the electronic machinery within a short period of time.
A pellet stove is normally associated with pelletized wood. However, many pellet stoves will also burn fuels such as grain, corn, seeds, or woodchips. In some pellet stoves, these fuels may need to be mixed with wood pellets.
Unlike wood stoves which operate exclusively on a principle of chimney draft, a pellet stove must use a specially sealed exhaust pipe to prevent exhaust gases escaping into the living space due to the air pressure produced by a combustion blower.
A pellet stove uses electricity and can be connected to a standard electrical outlet. They require certified double walled venting, normally three or four inches in diameter with a stainless steel interior and galvanized exterior. Because pellet stoves have a forced exhaust system, they have the advantage of not always requiring a vertical rise to vent, although a 3-to-5-foot (0.91 to 1.52 m) vertical run to induce some draft is recommended to prevent leakage in the case of a power outage. Like a modern gas appliance, pellet stoves can be vented horizontally through an outside wall and terminated below the roof line, making it an excellent choice for structures without an existing chimney.