With efficiency and emissions becoming more important aspects of choosing an appliance to help heat a home, pellet stoves are becoming a more popular form of fireplace.
Pellet stoves can burn fuel very cleanly and can have much higher efficiency ratings compared to other types of fireplace, so what exactly is a pellet stove?
A pellet stove is an appliance that burns fuel in order to produce heat. Pellet stoves burn fuel in the form of pellets, which can be made from a range of materials including wood shavings. Pellet stoves differ to other wood stoves in that they are electronically controlled.
We’ve recently bought a pellet stove to compliment the other stoves we own including a wood burning stove and multi fuel stove.
To explain what a pellet stove actually is, we’ve put this article together to discuss, using our own pellet stove as an example:
- What pellet stoves are and the main components.
- How they differ from traditional wood burning stoves.
What Are Pellet Stoves?
Pellet stoves are a type of stove that can be seen as being in the same family as wood burning stoves and multi fuel stoves, although there are a number of differences between them.
Pellet stoves are typically larger and taller than wood burning stoves or multi fuel stoves. The main reasons for this being that pellet stoves:
- Hold their own fuel within an integrated hopper.
- Have a number of electronic components.
Our pellet stove is much bigger compared to our wood stoves. We’ve had both the wood burning and multi fuel stoves installed within existing open masonry fireplaces but our pellet stove is far too tall to fit within our living room open fireplace.
Like other forms of stove, pellet stoves burn a source of fuel to produce heat.
While wood burning stoves use firewood logs as their source of fuel, pellet stoves use small pellets consisting of various materials. These materials can commonly include wood by-products such as chippings but may also include corn and grain, among others.
Whereas with wood burning stoves you need to manually add logs to the fire when required, with pellet stoves all of the fuel is kept within the stove itself.
The pellet fuel for a pellet stove is kept within a hopper.
This integrated hopper can either be located at the top of a pellet stove (therefore being a top-fed pellet stove) or located at the bottom (therefore being a bottom-fed form of pellet stove). The hopper for our own pellet stove is located at the top.
We therefore need to add pellets into the hopper using the opening at the top of the stove to allow fuel to be added to the fire.
In order for a pellet stove to work it needs electricity.
Unlike wood burning stoves, pellet stoves are electrically controlled, meaning that in order for a pellet stove to work it needs to be located near a standard electrical outlet in a home and plugged in.
A pellet stove needs a mains electricity supply in order to allow:
- The auger to feed pellets to the combustion chamber
- Any screen displays to function
- Fans to work for both combustion and convention
- Any remote controls to work
- The flames to be started
A motorized screw auger helps feed the combustion chamber with pellets to keep the fire burning and ensure that the heat is constantly being provided to the room.
Pellet stove augers are electronically controlled and will automatically adjust how much fuel is being sent to the combustion chamber using information from a range of sensors within the stove to ensure that the optimal number of pellets are being burnt at any one time.
For our particular pellet stove, the auger is located at the base of the hopper.
The auger feeds pellets down a tube to the combustion chamber.
The fire in a pellet stove is also kept behind glass doors, as you would find with other types of wood stove, meaning that pellet stoves created a sealed environment in which to burn the fuel. This helps to make pellet stoves more efficient compared to open fireplaces because both the amount of air and fuel can be controlled for a cleaner and hotter burn.
Within the combustion chamber of a pellet stove there will be an ash tray. Pellet stoves are designed to burn the fuel very cleanly (as long as the pellets themselves are of a sufficient quality) and so ash may not build up as fast as other forms of fireplace, but still needs to be removed every so often.
For our particular model of pellet stove, the ash tray is removable.
As pellet stoves are electronic devices, the whole stove can typically be controlled from a central display screen.
In the case of our pellet stove, there’s a screen located at the top of the stove.
It’s from here that we can:
- Setup days in which the pellet stove automatically turns on.
- Setup times on each day for the pellet stove to provide heat.
- See the room temperature.
- Check how the stove is operating.
- See any problems and identify what the problems are.
Pellet stoves also have similar venting requirements to wood burning stoves, but the air supply can differ.
Pellet stoves need to be properly vented using a suitable form of flue in order to exhaust waste gases from a home.
In the case of our own pellet stove, the flue extends out the back of the stove, through an external wall and up the side of an external wall of the house to above the eaves.
Pellet stoves may also require external venting for fresh air.
In the case of our own pellet stove, there’s a small vent that sticks out the back of the stove and goes through an external wall of our home. This vent provides fresh air to the combustion chamber to feed oxygen to the fire.
What is A Wood Pellet Stove
A wood pellet stove is another way to describe a pellet stove. Pellet stoves can burn wood in the form of pellets, which are often made from compacted sawdust. Wood pellet fuel is often the most common type of fuel used within pellet stoves.
What Pellet Stoves Are – Summary
As an owner and user of a pellet stove, wood burning stove an multi fuel stove, a pellet stove is a great addition to a home and provides a number of benefits over traditional wood stoves, with one the greater advantages being the ability to set a pellet stove to run automatically with no user input required.
In summary, pellet stoves:
- Are a type of stove that provide heat for a room through burning pellets as fuel.
- Burn pellets that can be made from a range of materials including wood by-products.
- Can only burn pellets and not firewood.
- Have an integrated hopper where the pellets can be stored.
- Are electronic forms of stove and require an electricity supply.
- Can be plugged into a nearby standard home electrical outlet.
- Can run automatically with little to no user input.
- Can typically be set to turn on at certain times on certain days as required.