Pellet stoves are becoming more of a common sight in homes as a way to help heat a house through the combustion of solid fuel in the form of pellets.
Unlike other forms of fireplace such as electric fireplaces which don’t have any real flames, pellet stoves do burn real fires inside meaning that all of the safety precautions typically associated with real fireplaces need to be adhered to when installing and using a pellet stove.
Pellet stoves are considered to be very safe residential heating appliances and modern pellet stoves typically incorporate a range of safety features such as automatic shutoff in case of a problem. However, pellet stoves should still be used with caution with proper safety procedures put in place.
We understand that complete safety will never be guaranteed when using our own pellet stove but consider the appliance to be very safe, with the likelihood of any serious problems occurring to be extremely low.
We undertake a number of things to help keep our pellet stove operating as safely as possible, which we’ve discussed in more detail below.
Are Pellet Stoves Safe?
Pellet stoves are considered to be very safe home solid fuel heating appliances.
Unlike other forms of wood stove, pellets stoves are electronic appliances that need a source of electricity in order to work, which allows them to be able to control each and every fire more accurately.
Pellet stoves control both the air and fuel supply to fires and use a range of sensors and a central control unit to automatically adjust the air and fuel supply for the best fuel to air ratio in order to achieve the most efficient and safest burn.
This automation removes the requirement for any user input during fires and therefore user error that could lead to issues occurring such as more smoke and emissions being produced if the fuel and air isn’t adjusted correctly.
Ways in which a pellet stove allows a fire to burn safely in your home include:
- Burning fires inside a sealed combustion chamber constructed of fire-resistant materials, with the flames out of reach unless the door is opened.
- Controlling the rate at which pellets are fed to the fire to ensure that there’s never too much fuel in the fire that could cause the flames to be too large or hot.
- Automatically adjusting the amount of air getting to and from the fire to control the rate at which the fire burns.
- Removing waste air that could include harmful emissions and particulates from a home via the chimney flue.
- Using a range of sensors such as for temperature and pressure to understand how a fire is burning at any moment.
- Using a central control unit to analyse information from the sensors and optimize the fire for efficiency and safety.
Much like for wood stoves, the fire in a pellet stove is safely contained within a sealed combustion chamber.
This allows the fires to burn within an enclosed environment where the fire is kept away from any combustible materials within the room.
Waste air from a pellet stove, that could potentially include small amounts of carbon monoxide, can be safely removed from a home when the stove is connected up to a suitable chimney flue.
In order for a pellet stove to operate to the high levels of safety it was designed for, a pellet stove must be installed, used and maintained correctly.
As with all solid fuel heating appliances, pellet stoves will never be completely safe but there are things you can do to ensure that a pellet stove always operates as safely as possible to minimize the potential for any serious problems to occur.
Ways in which you can maximize the safety of using a pellet stove include:
- Have a pellet stove installed by a certified professional, with the correct venting arrangements put in place.
- Ensure that a pellet stove is plugged into a suitable electrical outlet.
- Fully understand how a pellet stove works and how it should be operated and maintained.
- Clean and maintain the stove in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have a technician perform a service on the stove seasonally, or as and when required as stated by the manufacturer.
- Use the right quality of pellets in line with what the manufacturer recommends.
- Dispose of the ash from the stove safely and away from the house, especially if still warm from a recent fire.
- Ensure that the chimney flue is swept at least annually.
- Leave a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room as the pellet stove and periodically check that it’s working.
- Be aware that a pellet stove can become hot to the touch during operating.
We’ve had our pellet stove installed by a professional, we follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the pellets we burn and the cleaning and maintenance we undertake, have the stove checked by a certified technician seasonally to identify and fix any potential problems, and also have the chimney flue swept every year.
By undertaking all of the above we’re never been concerned about the safety of using our pellet stove.
We do understand however that using our pellet stove can carry a small safety risk and so we treat it with care and ensure to always have a carbon monoxide detector located in the same room as the stove.
Ultimately, modern pellet stoves are very safe heating appliances and safety concerns shouldn’t detract you from getting one. Just be aware of the potential risks (albeit very low) and take precautions to keep the risks to a minimum by having the stove installed and checked by a professional and following the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation and cleaning.