Pellet stoves provide the opportunity to burn solid fuel more cleanly with reduced wastage and emissions, while also being more efficient at generating heat for a home.
Wood burning masonry fireplaces are traditionally very inefficient sources of heat and so many other types of fireplaces such as wood stoves, electric inserts and gas inserts are installed within open fireplaces to help make them more efficient at heating, but can you also put a pellet stove in a fireplace?
Pellet stoves in the form of inserts are designed to be installed within masonry open fireplaces. Many freestanding models of pellet stoves may typically be too big for the average sized fireplace and offset distances and venting requirements may not be met.
Our own pellet stove is a freestanding version, meaning that it wasn’t specifically designed to fit inside the opening of our wood burning fireplace. If we had wanted to convert our masonry fireplace from burning wood to burning pellets, then we would have needed to buy a pellet stove in insert form.
We’ve explained in more detail below using our own pellet stove as an example:
- Whether a pellet can be installed within a fireplace.
- Whether you can use an existing chimney for a pellet stove.
Can A Pellet Stove Be Installed Within A Fireplace?
Pellet stoves can be installed within existing open masonry fireplaces. Pellet stoves in the form of inserts are specific to installations in fireplaces while freestanding pellet stoves, which can be a more common type, are not specifically designed to be installed within fireplaces.
Pellet stoves are a solid fuel burning appliance and work in much the same way that a wood stove does by burning solid fuel to generate heat for a home.
Traditional fireplaces are typically seen as open masonry wood burning fireplaces.
Other forms of fireplaces such as gas inserts, wood burning inserts and wood burning stoves are often installed within existing open fireplaces because masonry fireplaces can be a very inefficient way to help heat a room or home.
Pellet stoves can also be installed within a fireplace.
As with other forms of fireplace or stove that are typically installed within fireplaces, pellet stoves fit in the opening of the existing fireplace and help to produce heat for a room more efficiently than what is possible using the original fireplace.
However, not all forms of pellet stove are designed to fit exclusively within open fireplaces.
There are two main types of pellet stove that are designed to suit different installations:
- Freestanding pellet stoves, which are typically tall appliances designed to sit on the floor of a home outside of any existing open fireplace and vent either straight up through the roof of the home or out and up an external wall.
- Pellet stove inserts, which are pellet stoves specifically designed to sit within the opening of an existing masonry fireplace and utilize the existing chimney for venting.
Our own pellet stove is the freestanding type.
We bought this version of pellet stove because, although we wanted to increase the heat output from burning wood in the form of solid fuel in our home, we didn’t want to lose the look of our open fireplace or the ability to enjoy the open fireplace experience.
We’ve therefore had our freestanding pellet stove installed within the corner of our living room next to an external wall (for venting purposes).
Even if we wanted to install our pellet stove in our existing fireplace, we wouldn’t be able to (without adjusting the fireplace at great expense) because the pellet stove is too tall and wouldn’t meet the required offset distances.
If you’re looking to install a pellet stove in your home outside of an existing fireplace then look to buy a freestanding pellet stove. You’ll need to consider external venting arrangements and place the stove near an external wall of your home.
However, if you’re looking to install a pellet stove within an existing fireplace then you’ll need to consider a pellet stove insert over a freestanding pellet stove.
Pellet stove inserts won’t typically be as tall as freestanding ones but will be right dimensions to suit a range of fireplace opening sizes.
The main differences that a pellet stove insert will have compared to a freestanding pellet stove in terms of ability to install within an existing open fireplace include:
- A smaller body able to slide into the opening of an existing fireplace and sit within the firebox.
- Use a trim around the body of the stove to fill in the gap between the stove and the fireplace opening.
- Set up to work with a flue liner that needs to be installed within the chimney of the existing masonry fireplace, if there already isn’t a suitable one installed.
When choosing a pellet stove insert for installation within a masonry fireplace, you’ll need to consider the following:
- The size of the opening of the existing fireplace. A pellet stove needs to fit within the fireplace and so it can’t be bigger in terms of the hight width and depth and so you’ll need to measure the firebox of the masonry fireplace before looking at which pellet stove insert to buy.
- Venting requirements. Pellet stoves must be adequately vented meaning that waste air from pellet stoves needs to leave a home via a suitably sized flue. If the existing chimney doesn’t have a flue liner, or the flue liner isn’t the correct size, then a suitable flue of the right diameter may need to be installed in line with the manufacturer’s requirements of that particular model of pellet stove. See our guide to pellet stove venting requirements for more information.
- Heat output. The pellet stove should be sized for the area it needs to heat.
- Electricity. A pellet stove will need a source of mains electricity and so an electrical outlet may need to be installed within the firebox of the existing fireplace. See our guide on pellet stove electricity requirements for more information.
Furthermore, it may not be possible to install a pellet stove within a prefab fireplace. The pellet stove insert may need to be approved for use within the prefab fireplace. Speak to the manufacturer of a pre-fab fireplace for more information.