Pellet stoves use pellets as fuel, which are small pieces of compacted material such as wood and are typically bought in large amounts such as in 15kg bags.
Pellets are added to the hopper of a pellet stove, which in turn are automatically fed to the fire in the combustion chamber for burning, but do these processes create mess and are pellet stoves messy?
Pellet stoves typically provide a very clean burn of the pellets and so minimal ash can be produced. However, pellet stoves should be cleaned regularly to prevent build-up of ash and any unburnt pellets in order to prevent mess and to ensure that the stove continues to operate without any issues.
The combustion area of our own pellet stove isn’t as messy as our wood burning or multi fuel stoves because it provides a cleaner burn.
However, the fuel in the form of pellets for pellet stoves can be messier compared to the fuel in the form of firewood logs for wood stoves. The quality of the pellet fuel used can also affect how much mess is made at end of each burn.
We’ve explained in more detail below using our own pellet stove as an example whether pellet stoves are messy and which aspects of owning and using a pellet stove may create more mess than other aspects.
Are Pellet Stoves Messy Or Dirty?
Pellet stoves are typically less messy forms of stove compared to wood burning stoves.
This can be largely due to the fact that pellet stoves are typically very efficient and produce minimal wastage in the form of ash thanks to using electronically automated processes to have a clean burn of the fuel.
The ash generated from a fire in a wood stove will usually fall into a dedicated ash tray and so less viewable mess can be created within the combustion chamber of a pellet stove compared to a traditional wood burning stove.
However, more mess can be created by the fuel itself for pellet stoves in the form of pellets compared to the logs used for wood stoves.
This can be due to the pellets being much smaller pieces of fuel compared to logs and are manufactured pieces of material compressed into a smaller area. Pellets may break up in transit or storage, leaving fine bits of material and dust within the bag that can be messy when added to the hopper.
We’ve explained more about any mess that you can expect to be created through the use of a pellet stove in three parts:
- The pellets
- The pellet stove hopper
- The combustion chamber
Pellet Stove Pellets Mess
The pellets used in pellet stoves as the fuel for burning to produce heat are small and compacted bits of materials, commonly made from wood in the form of chippings or cuttings.
Compressing the materials into small pellets help keep storage space low and increases the amount of energy released from each piece of fuel.
The pellets also need to be small enough for an auger within a pellet stove to deliver the fuel to the fire down a small chute. Pellet stoves therefore can’t burn other wood in the forms of logs or kindling.
The instruction manual for our particular model of stove states that Class A1 wood pellets should be used, with a maximum diameter and length to work with the stove.
These pellets are classed as good quality pellets, meaning that they have a low maximum moisture content and a low maximum ash content.
- Low moisture content in pellet stove pellets helps to provide a cleaner burn with reduced wastage and therefore less mess thanks to efficient combustion of the fuel.
- Low ash content for pellets also helps to reduce mess with less leftover ash after each fire.
Using poorer quality pellets than what’s recommended can leave more mess after each fire.
The manual for our own pellet stoves explains:
‘The use of wood pellets with a lower quality results in a need for more frequent cleaning of the combustion chamber, reducing heat output and efficiency.’Victoria-05
The pellets used for pellets stoves also typically come in bags of certain weights. For example, we buy 15kg (33lbs) bags of wood pellets to burn in our own pellet stove.
Some of the pellets can be broken down in the bag into finer material through general movement of the bags and so some mess may be created if the bags become split.
However, as pellets come in bags they can be stored away more easily with less mess created than if storing a number of firewood logs.
Pellet Stove Hopper Mess
Unlike other forms of wood stove where the fuel in the form of firewood logs are added to the fire manually, the pellets for pellet stoves are stored within the stove itself inside a hopper before being automatically delivered to the combustion chamber during a fire.
The hopper on our pellet stove is located at the top, and we simply need to pour a bag of pellets into this hopper in order for them to be ready to burn.
We like to close the lid to the hopper straight after pouring the pellets in as some dust can be created from doing so.
The capacity of the hopper on our particular model of pellet stove is 24kg and so we add one 15kg bag of pellets at a time.
An advantage of pellet stoves using a hopper is that less visible mess is created, and any mess from any broken up bits of pellets are kept contained within the sealed hopper.
However, small bits of dust from the pellets may block up the hopper over time and so we try to ensure any small material from the bags don’t make their way into the hopper.
Pellet Stove Combustion Chamber Mess
The combustion chamber inside a pellet stove is where the fire is located and where the heat is generated.
This is also where any mess produced by the fire such as ash will be contained.
The fire in a pellet stove will be found within a smaller combustion area located at the bottom of the chamber, where fresh air from outside the stove is fed directly underneath the flames and where pellets from the hopper are fed to down a chute.
The tray located around this combustion area is the ash tray, which holds any excess ash produced by the fire. As pellet stoves are clean burning, the amount of ash produced won’t typically be as much as experienced with other forms of fireplace or stove.
The ash tray on our particular model of stove can be removed for ease of cleaning and helping to reduce overall mess created by burning pellet fuel to produce heat.
To help keep mess in a pellet stove to a minimum to promote the most efficient and cleanest burn possible of the pellets, the manual for our particular model of pellet stove recommends daily and weekly cleaning.
The cleaning processes recommended include:
- Removal of the ash tray to throw away the ashes.
- Removal and cleaning of the main combustion area to ensure that air can get to the flames.
- Vacuuming the combustion chamber to remove any excess mess.
- Cleaning the ignition.
- Periodically emptying and vacuuming the pellet hopper.
The manufacturer also recommends seasonal maintenance of the stove undertaken by a professional to clean any parts that may be out of reach to help keep mess to a minimum.