Installing a Pellet Stove

You've looked into a number of heating appliances, including those powered by wood, gas, oil, and electricity. And now you've come across something called a 'pellet stove' and wonder just how this appliance compares to all the others. We've done some research for you, so read on to find out more.

High-Tech Efficiency = Sophisticated Simplicity

Although they appear rustic, the technology behind installing a pellet stove is actually quite sophisticated. Relying on computers and circuit boards to establish the amount of pellets to be burned, pellet stoves also feature two burn settings, at minimum, and some models offer thermostatically controlled temperature settings. Heat is distributed via a forced-air system at ten thousand to sixty thousand BTUs every hour, depending on what model you install.

Chimney Requirements

Installing a pellet stove means no standard chimney will be necessary. Because these appliances burn wood (actually high-grade sawdust compressed into pellets) so efficiently, all that's needed to vent them is a pipe installed into a small hole in the wall to the outside.

These type 'chimneys' are called pellet vents or Class L chimneys and consist of stainless steel interiors and galvanized aluminum exteriors. If preferred, the homeowner can, of course, vent the stove through the roof utilizing a Class A chimney, but the vent should still be relined using stainless steel pipe.

Lots of Benefits

One of the advantages to installing a pellet stove lies in the need to refuel it less often than other type stoves or fireplaces require. Pellet stoves come equipped with hoppers in which anywhere from 35-130 pounds; depending on the size of the stove, of the sawdust pellets are poured. Augers push the fuel down into the fire chamber by means of either a top- or bottom-located loading system.

The convenience, neatness, and safety typically enjoyed after installing a pellet stove makes them appealing to many people. Easy and compact fuel storage (you can keep a ton of bagged pellets in a space half the size needed for a cord of wood), almost no production of smoke and odor, and the lack of radiated heat which makes burning yourself accidentally unlikely gives these appliances some real advantages. But the downside to pellet stoves does exist.

The Cons

You may find, after installing a pellet stove and wanting to get ready for the winter, that the pellets needed to fuel them are hard to find. You can check the phone book or ask a dealer about locating the closest source of pellet fuel, but the best thing is to make sure a reliable supplier exists near your home before you purchase a pellet stove. Shipping from somewhere across the country could run into significant costs.

It's also a good idea to check local building codes before installing a pellet stove. The federal government's HUD regulations expressly forbid the installation of such stoves in new mobile homes, for instance. Considering the price of pellet stoves, which range from $1200 to $3100, educating yourself before purchase could make a big difference in whether or not a pellet stove is right for you.

If installing a pellet stove seems right for you and your family, the benefits can be truly terrific. Otherwise, it's best to leave pellet stoves to those whose homes, lifestyles, and regions of living are more in keeping with the advantages of pellet stoves. And, anyway, you've already educated yourself on the other types of indoor heating appliances, so you're a step ahead of the game after all.

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