Pellet stoves are a form of solid fuel burning appliance and differ to traditional wood burning stoves in that they have a number of electrical components helping them to be more efficient at generating more heat from every piece of pellet fuel, while minimizing wastage.
Efficiency can be referred to in terms of both the ability to extract the heat from the fuel as well as transferring the heat out into the room, and so can pellet stoves be classed as being efficient?
Pellet stoves are typically one of the more efficient forms of solid fuel burning appliance in terms of heat production, and can be more efficient on average than wood stoves and far more efficient than open wood burning fireplaces. Pellet stoves provide the cleanest burn possible to help make them efficient.
Pellet stoves have a number of advantages over other types of wood burning appliance and all of these can come together to create an efficient burning experience where the most amount of heat can be produced from each piece of fuel.
Our own pellet stove is even more efficient on paper than our wood burning or multi fuel stoves and so we’ve explained in more detail below using our pellet stove as an example:
- What makes pellet stoves typically more efficient than other appliances.
- How pellet stove efficiency compares to wood stoves.
Are Pellet Stoves Efficient?
Pellet stoves are typically one of the more efficient forms of solid fuel burning appliance.
Pellet stoves are electric appliances and use a range of electronic appliances to help make the process of burning solid fuel to produce heat for a home more automated and efficient. Pellet stoves need to be connected to the home electricity supply as a result.
These electronic components work together thanks to a central control unit that regulates all of the processes to provide the cleanest burn possible.
The manual for our pellet stove explains that:
‘The control unit is equipped with a system for monitoring and controlling the burning process. It ensures higher efficiency, optimizes the fuel consumption and minimizes the emissions.’Victoria-05
Efficiency can be regarded in terms of:
- How well an appliance extracts the heat from the fuel.
- How well an appliance transfers the heat generated into useable heat for the room.
Pellet stoves consider both of these elements and use the range of electronic components and sensors to help them be one of the more efficient forms of solid fuel burning appliances.
The manual for our particular model of pellet stove states:
‘With sensors for the pressure in the fire chamber and temperature sensor at the flue outlet for the temperature of the flue gases, the system analyses the collected data from the burning and automatically controls and optimizes it.’Victoria-05
The ways in which pellets stove help to generate heat from fuel for efficiency include:
- Burning fuel in the form of pellets, which are made from materials such as wood compressed into a smaller space for increased energy output in terms of size.
- The pellets used within pellet stoves typically need to meet a certain standard of quality, which can differ between locations. These standards can include maximum moisture content. In comparison, the quality of firewood for wood stoves isn’t as strictly regulated, and a ‘properly seasoned’ log can mean different things to different people.
- Keeping the fuel within the stove using a hopper so that manual loading isn’t required.
- Regulating the rate at which pellets are fed to the fire in the combustion chamber from the hopper to maximize fuel efficiency for heat output.
- Using blowers within fume extractors to regulate the airflow through the stove, including how much fresh air is being fed to the fire.
- Using a range of sensors to tell the central control unit what to adjust and where for the most efficient burn.
The pellets for use in our own particular model of pellet stove need to be wood pellets of Class A1, meaning that they have been deemed to be good quality for use as fuel within pellet burning home combustion appliances.
Using good quality pellets helps a pellet stove to maximize efficiency in terms of getting the most amount of heat with minimal wastage and emissions. Using poor quality pellets can reduce the efficiency of a pellet stove.
The fire within a pellet stove is kept within a sealed combustion chamber for efficiency purposes.
This allows the airflow in and out of a pellet stove to be controlled for optimum burning efficiency. Too little airflow and the fire can be struggling to produce heat, increasing wastage.
Unlike traditional wood stoves where the firewood needs to be manually added to the fire, pellet stoves store their own fuel within the stove and automatically feed the fuel to the fire as and when required.
This helps to ensure that only the right amount of fuel is being burnt at any one time for increased heat output and efficiency.
Pellet stoves therefore have a number of features integrated into them to help them be as efficient as possible but extracting as much heat from solid fuel pellets is only part of the process towards maximizing efficiency.
Pellet stoves also need to efficiently transfer the heat generated from inside the sealed combustion chamber to the room.
Pellet stoves are able to efficiently spread the heat to the room by:
- Using integrated blowers to move hot air from the stove to the room through convention.
- Channelling the air around the outside of the combustion chamber, allowing the air to heat up along the way.
- Releasing the heat from the combusting chamber to the moving air more efficiently by using heat sinks.
- Radiating heat through the front of the stove around the combustion chamber.
Are Pellet Stoves More Efficient Than Wood?
Pellet stoves are typically more efficient in terms of generating heat for a room from the combustion of solid fuel compared to other forms of wood burning appliance such as stoves or fireplaces.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that:
‘Pellet stoves are typically cleaner and more efficient than wood stoves. Technologies are used to ensure the best fuel-to-air ration in the combustion chamber so that the fuel can burn completely.’EPA
The efficiency rating of our own pellet stove has been rated as 87.8%, as stated within the instruction manual, although it’s not EPA approved.
Comparing this to our other fireplaces and stoves:
|Wood Burning Stove||71.6%|
|Multi Fuel Stove||78.9%|
|Open Fireplace||Typically around 10%|