The Pellet Stove- An Inside Look

The pellet stove is a relatively new twist on the old standby wood burning stove. While wood burning stoves have been around for centuries, the pellet stove first entered the home heating market around 1979.

The chief claim to fame for the pellet stove is that fact that it burns pelletized wood. These pellets are manufactured from wood that is not normally harvested or used for conventional log burning stoves.

Wood pellet sources include:

-saplings cut down during land clearing and road development projects
-pruned tree limbs
-wood chips
-sawdust
-other byproducts of the wood processing industry.

While these wood sources used to end up in landfills or discarded by the side of the road, they are now finding their way into thousands of homes where they are burned for heat in pellet stoves.

Environmentally and Economically Freindly

The pelletizing of this former waste wood has also created new jobs and revenue sources for lumber producing states and has even won the hearts and approval of many environmental groups who are otherwise opposed to lumbering activities.

Pellet stoves also burn more efficiently than traditional wood log stoves do. This results in less ash being crated and more BTUs of heat being produced pound-for-pound.

Less Moisture to Burn

Most of the efficiency differences stem from the fact that the fuel for a log burning stove contains about 20% water which must be converted to steam and burned off before the wood begins to burn efficiently. The pellet stove uses fuels which contains as little as 5% water so the ignition time is greatly reduced.

A wood stove requires substantial space, both inside and outside, to store the logs. Pellet stoves use a small hopper, located above the firebox, to store the pellets. Pellets can be easily added to the stove without fear of sparks being emitted or partially burned logs rolling out when the door is opened.

Although pellet stoves produce more than enough heat for normal use, the outside of the stove remains substantially cooler than log stoves do which enables a pellet stove to be installed closer to walls. In fact, with the proper heat shielding material installed, many pellet stoves have been approved for use in mobile homes.

Be sure to check with your local building code authorities to make sure that pellet stoves are mobile-home approved in your location before installing one.

Pellet Stove Cost Benefits

Pellet stoves run around $2,500 new and can be found for around $1500 in good used condition. Although this is more than the average wood stove costs, the savings comes from the fact that they do not require a specially lined ceramic chimney or insulated metal flue.

Fuel costs can run 20 to 30% cheaper than buying log wood, and the increased efficiency means that you will spend less money keeping warm this winter.