Unlike wood burning stoves, pellet stoves use a range of electrical and mechanical components to help make the process of burning solid fuel to provide heat more automated.
A downside to having more moving and electrical parts can be more things that can potentially go wrong. Pellet stoves can be relatively expensive up-front purchases and may need to last a number of years for that cost to be recuperated, and so are pellet stoves reliable enough to justify the initial purchase and installation expenses?
Pellet stoves can be very reliable solid fuel burning appliances, but care must be taken to ensure that a pellet stove is used correctly and cleaned and maintained in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines to help keep a stove operating smoothly with minimal problems.
Our own pellet stove hasn’t had any problems as of yet but we expect that further its in life some parts may break and will need to be replaced.
To help maximize the reliability and prolong the life expectancy of our pellet stove we’re ensuring to follow all of the cleaning and maintenance procedures as outlined in the manufacturer’s guidelines.
We’ve explained in more detail below using our own stove as an example:
- Whether pellet stoves can be considered to be reliable.
- What can go wrong with pellet stoves and what can be replaced.
- How to help prevent any problems arising from the use of a pellet stove.
Are Pellet Stoves Reliable?
Pellets stoves are electrical appliances and need a source of electricity in order to work.
The is required to power the number of electrical components inside a pellet stove that are used to automate the burning process for efficiency purposes.
These electrical parts can operate all of the main functions on a pellet stove including:
- Fuel delivery using a screw auger rotated by a motor.
- Air supply and venting using a combustion blower located within a fume extractor.
- Hot air forced into the room using a distribution blower.
- A range of sensors including temperature and pressure.
- A central control unit with touch screen display.
These electrical components are found on our own model of pellet stove.
To provide the cleanest burn possible the above mechanical and electrical parts allow for the burning process to be automated, meaning that no manual input is required during fires unless it’s to top up the stove with pellets.
A downside of this is that the whole heating process relies on all of these components being fully operational.
The problem with having so many components working together is that there are more opportunities for something to go wrong and so the potential for reliability issues with pellet stoves can be considered to be increased over other forms of wood stove.
As an example, our own wood burning and multi fuel stoves don’t have any electrical components or moving parts during fires and so there’s less that can potentially go wrong.
As a result we’ve been using these other forms of wood stove for numerous years without any issues. At some point we may need to replace a component or two in these stoves but the performance shouldn’t be too adversely affected if there are any problems.
We would consider our wood burning and multi fuel stoves to be very reliable but consider that our pellet stove will be slightly less reliable in the long-term.
This doesn’t mean to say that pellet stoves aren’t reliable.
We fully expect our pellet stove to last around 10 years before any major components will need replacing.
Pellet stoves require a higher level of maintenance between fires compared to other forms of wood stove and undertaking the required cleaning and maintenance procedures in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines will help to prevent any problems for occurring prematurely.
As our pellet stove is still within its 2-year warranty period we can’t personally comment on the reliability of our own stove but the wide range of spare parts available for our particular model of stove gives us comfort that if anything does go wrong then spare parts will be available to help extend the life expectancy of the stove.
Pellet stoves differ between makes and models and some will be more reliable than others.
The reliability of a pellet stove can be influenced by a number of factors including:
- The quality of the materials used.
- The quality of the build.
- Whether the stove was installed correctly.
- Whether the stove is used correctly.
- Cleaning and maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- The quality of the pellets used.
- How often the pellet stove is used.
- How long the pellet stove is used for during each fire.
The length of the warranty period provided with a pellet stove can also give an indication of the manufacturer’s faith in the product. Longer warranty periods can signal that a pellet stove is more reliable.
Reliability of Main Pellet Stove Components
There are a few main components that are key to allowing a pellet stove to achieve such high efficiency ratings and automation.
The reliability of these components can be influenced by the factors outlined above but ensuring that a pellet stove is appropriately cleaned and well-maintained will help to reduce the potential for problems to occur.
The combustion chamber is where a fire in a pellet stove will be located. It’s here that the air is mixed with the fuel to generate heat.
Combustion chambers should be cleaned out regularly in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
This will include the actual combustion area that, although there are no moving electrical parts, should be cleaned out regularly to maximize the potential for a clean burn.
Ash located within the ash tray will also need to be regularly removed to keep the stove clean and operating reliably.
The ignition system below the combustion area may need periodic cleaning and may also need to be replaced every couple of years.
Fuel in the form of pellets is delivered to the combustion chamber from the hopper using a motorized auger. This auger may become jammed with fine particles and so it’s important to try and keep dust out of the hopper through regular cleaning and being careful when adding pellets to the stove.
The motor that drives the auger may burn out and need to be replaced at some point during the life of a pellet stove.
Waste air from a pellet stove is sucked out from a stove through the fume extractor, which should be periodically checked and cleaned as part of the maintenance regime to keep it working reliably.
Hot air generated by a pellet stove is pushed into the room using a distribution blower. This blower will be working the whole time a pellet stove is on and so are typically constructed to be reliable but like most other components may have problems towards the end of the life expectancy of the stove.
Maximizing The Reliability Of A Pellet Stove
The reliability of a pellet stove can vary depending on the model of stove and the situation.
However, there are a few things that you can do to help keep a pellet stove operating reliably without any major problems for the life expectancy of the stove:
- Have the stove installed by a certified professional.
- Understand how to fully and correctly use a particular pellet stove.
- Clean the stove in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations such as daily, weekly, seasonally and yearly.
- Have the stove maintained by a technician at the intervals outlined in the stove’s guidelines.
- Burn good quality pellets in line with what is recommended by the manufacturer.