Pellet stoves are solid fuel burning home heating appliances and although they typically use distribution blowers or hydro circuits to transfer the heat to a room, the body of a pellet stove can still get very hot because a real fire is contained inside.
Pellet stoves are commonly found in freestanding form and will typically be placed on the floor of a home, which could be made from combustible materials such as wood and carpet.
Pellet stoves must be placed on a floor that is made of non-combustible materials to be in line with local building codes and regulations and manufacturer guidelines. If a pellet stove is to be installed on a combustible floor then a floor protector such as a hearth pad will be required.
The manufacturer of our own pellet stove required us to have our pellet stove installed on a non-combustible floor.
Building regulations for our area of residence also influenced the requirement for a suitably sized hearth to be used along with the pellet stove installation.
We’ve explained in more detail below what the options are in terms of suitable hearths when looking to install a pellet stove in your home, including:
- Whether pellet stoves need a hearth.
- What to put under a pellet stove.
- Pellet stove hearth requirements.
Do Pellet Stoves Need A Hearth?
All pellet stoves need to be placed on a suitable hearth to ensure that the floor of a building is protected from the heat of a real fire inside the stove. Pellet stove hearths need to be constructed on non-combustible materials to protect any combustable materials on the floor of a home.
Pellet stoves are solid fuel burning home heating appliances and use a real fire to burn fuel in the form of pellets to generate heat.
The fire in a pellet stove is located within the combustion chamber, which is typically located within the middle front area of the stove and the flames are commonly visible through a glass front.
Although the fire in a pellet stove is contained within a sealed combustion chamber and the stoves favour distributing heat through convection of air rather than simply radiating heat through the body, a pellet stove can still get hot and the front area of the stove can become very hot to the touch.
Much like required with other forms of wood stove, certain installation requirements need to be met to ensure that a pellet stove remains a safe appliance.
Installation requirements can include meeting clearance distances from a pellet stove to nearby walls or combustible objects, but also to ensure that the base of a pellet stove is kept off any combustible materials.
Pellet stoves are typically tall appliances and may not be able to fit inside the opening of an existing masonry fireplace (as was the case with our own stove).
Existing open fireplaces could provide a suitable hearth for a pellet stove but in many cases the stoves are too big.
As many pellet stoves come in freestanding form and not able to fit inside an existing fireplace they’re often placed on the floor of a room in a corner or up against an external wall.
Unlike many models of wood burning stoves, pellet stoves don’t typically have any form of legs on which to stand on. Instead, pellet stove usually opt for a flat base.
This base of a pellet stove can still get hot during operation and so a suitable platform (known as the hearth) on which to place the stove on the floor of a home will be required if that floor is made from combustible materials such as wood or carpet.
For example, we wanted to install our pellet stove in our living room but the floor is constructed from wood laminate.
Installing a pellet stove in a room with a combustible floor such as wood or carpet will be common with many other households.
Protection of a floor in the form of a hearth is therefore required when installing a pellet stove.
We therefore needed to look into getting a suitable form of hearth before having our stove properly installed.
What To Put Under A Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves must be placed on a suitable non-combustible platform. If a pellet isn’t to be placed on an existing hearth, a hearth pad can be put under a pellet stove to provide protection to the floor below.
As many installations of pellet stoves are on combustible floors, the best option for protecting the floor of a home is to use a hearth pad.
Hearth pads are essentially a moveable slab of non-combustible material that can be bought and placed under a pellet stove (or any other form of freestanding solid fuel burning appliance).
Hearth pads can come in a range of materials to suit your preference, including:
Hearth pads can also come in range of shapes and sizes, such as:
Pellet stove hearth pads can also come in a range of patterns and designs to suit your preference.
As our living room floor is made from a combustible material we needed to purchase a suitable hearth pad before it could be installed.
Hearth pads for stoves such as pellet or wood burning shouldn’t be confused with fireplace hearths, which also do the same job but are designed to work with an open fireplace rather than a freestanding appliance (you can read our complete guide on fireplace hearths for more information).
It may also be possible to install a pellet stove on an existing hearth associated within an open fireplace, but whether a pellet stove is placed on an existing hearth or a hearth pad, the hearth will still need to meet the requirements of local buildings codes and regulations for your particular area of residence.
Pellet Stove Hearth Requirements
Hearths for use with freestanding solid fuel burning appliances such as pellet stoves should be sized in accordance with local building codes and regulations for size and thickness, including minimum cover areas and minimum extensions from the front, back and sides of the appliance.
The individual requirements for hearths for pellet stoves can come down to what is set out by the manufacturer in the instruction manual and any building codes or regulations that need to be met.
Heath pad requirements for pellet stoves often cover:
- The thickness of the hearth.
- The requirement for the hearth to extend a certain distance out the front, back and sides of the stove.
For our own pellet stove, the manufacturer explains:
To ensure good operation, the pellet stove should be levelled. The floor on which the pellet stove is placed must be of non-combustible materials (concrete, marble etc.).Victoria-05
The manual doesn’t provide any further information or requirements in regards to protecting the floor below the below stove but we also had to take into account local building codes/regulations for our particular area of residence.
In the US, pellet stove hearths will need to be in line with the requirements of local fire and building codes such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 211 Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances.
Pellet stove hearth pad regulations can include the requirement for a pellet stove to sit on a non-combustible platform that extends at least 6 inches beyond the front and back of the stove and to be at least half an inch thick.
In the UK, pellet stove hearths will need to meet the requirements outlined within the Building Regulations Approved Document J: Combustion Appliances and Fuel Storage Systems.
Such regulations can include the requirement for a hearth pad to extended at least 300mm to the front and 150mm to the sides, be at least 12mm thick, be made from a non-combustible material and cover a certain minimum area.
When looking to understand the requirements of a hearth for a pellet stove always check the buildings codes and regulations applicable to you.
If you’re unsure about the hearth pad requirements for pellet stoves in your particular area of residence be sure to speak to the manufacturer of the stove and speak to a certified professional who will be able to advise on the code requirements.