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Do Pellet Stoves Give Off Smoke?

In Pellet Stoves by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Pellet stoves can be one of the cleanest burning solid fuel appliances thanks to a more automated burning process.

However, many different electrical and mechanical components need to come together within a pellet stove to ensure that this clean burn of the fuel remains constant.

Although wood burning stoves don’t traditionally have any electrical components, a number of problems can be experienced with wood stoves leading to poorly burning fires and smoke being produced, but do pellet stoves also give off smoke?

Pellet stoves typically provide a cleaner burn and therefore produce less smoke compared to other forms of wood stove, but issues such as failure to properly clean and maintain a pellet stove or the use of poor quality pellet fuel can lead to increased smoke production.

We find that our own pellet stove produces less smoke compared to our relatively efficient models of wood burning stove.

More stringent regulations on fuel quality and a more controlled and automated burning process helps pellet stoves to typically produce less smoke compared to other forms of stove.

We’ve explained in more detail below using our own pellet stove as an example:

  • What pellets stove do to promote minimal smoke production.
  • Whether you should be smelling smoke from a pellet stove.
  • What you can do to help keep smoke production low in pellet stoves.

Do Pellet Stoves Gives Off Smoke?

Pellet stoves typically produce less smoke than what you would expect with a traditional wood burning stove.

This is mainly because the processes in which the fuel is used, delivered and burnt is far more controlled than what can typically be done with a wood stove.

Pellet Stove Front
A pellet stove is designed to burn the fuel cleanly enough for minimal smoke to be produced

The reasons why pellets stoves typically give off less smoke than their counterparts can include:

  • More stringent rules of the quality of the fuel being burnt, which in the case of the pellet stoves is in the form of small pellets.
  • Using a range of sensors within the body of a pellet stove to allow it to understand how efficiently and cleanly the fuel is being combusted.
  • Using a host of electronic components controlled by a central control unit to automate the burning process to promote the cleanest and hottest burn possible.

Smoke is a by-product of the solid fuel combustion process that is found in the majority of fireplaces and stoves, apart from electric fireplaces that don’t have real flames and therefore don’t produce any by-products.

A pellet stove is a solid fuel burning appliance, meaning that it uses real flames to combust solid fuel in the form of pellets to produce heat.

One of the potential by-products of burning pellets inside a pellet stove is therefore smoke.

Pellet Stove Combustion Area
The combustion chamber is set up to help reduce smoke production from the fire inside

Not all solid fuel burning appliances will produce a lot of smoke. The amount of smoke being generated can vary significantly depending on a number of factors.

The main contributor to more smoke being produced from any form of wood burning fire can be poor combustion of the fuel.

How well fuel is combusted by a fire in a wood burning appliance can be influenced by:

  • The quality of the fuel.
  • The air supply to the fire.
  • The draft.

The quality of the fuel can play an important role in how much smoke a wood burning appliance produces.

  • Poor quality fuel high in moisture content can lead to a struggling fire that can be producing more smoke because the excess water must first be burnt off before the fuel can be properly combusted.
  • Using higher quality fuel sufficiently low in moisture content allows a fire to burn it more efficiently and cleanly with reduced by-products and emissions, such as smoke.

A fire also needs air in order to combust the fuel.

  • A fire receiving insufficient amounts of fresh air in relation to the amount of fuel can also lead to a struggling, smoldering fire that may be producing more smoke as a result.
  • Plenty of air will allow a fire to burn fuel at a faster and cleaner rate.

Wood burning appliances also rely on the draft to help remove waste air from a fire, and in turn suck fresh air in.

  • Poor draft can prevent waste air from leaving an appliance and therefore prevent sufficient fresh air getting to the fire to allow the fuel to be combusted cleanly with fewer by-products.
  • Sufficient draft will ensure adequate airflow in and out of a stove at a rate that allows the fire to burn the fuel efficiently.
Pellet Stove Control Unit
The control unit on a pellet stoves automatically adjusts the fuel to air ratio for clean burning of the pellets and reduced emissions in the form of smoke

Pellet stoves therefore incorporate a number of features to help them to burn the fuel as efficiently and as cleanly as possible to maximize the amount of heat from every piece of fuel and to help minimize the number of emissions and by-products generated, some of which could be in the form of smoke.

High Quality Pellet Fuel

The fuel used in pellet stoves, that comes in the form of pellets, typically needs to meet certain standards for its properties.

For example, our pellet stove is required to take Class A1 pellets, which are premium quality pellets used for household appliances such as pellet stoves and have the least amount of ash content and minimal moisture content possible.

For our pellet stoves these pellets should have a maximum moisture content of 8%, which is much lower than the recommended 20% moisture content for firewood used within traditional wood burning stoves.

Bag Of Wood Pellets
Using good quality pellets will help keep smoke to a minimum

Lower moisture content fuel can mean a cleaner burn. Fuel that is high in moisture content can lead to a fire that struggling to burn and producing more smoke as a result.

Pellet stoves therefore help to reduce the amount of smoke being produced compared to other forms of solid fuel burning appliance by typically requiring the use of premium quality fuel.

Forced Draft

While traditional wood burning stoves that have no electrical components rely solely on the movement of air up a flue (known as the draft) to help keep a fire burning, pellet stoves use electronic components to help force waste air out of the stove and out through the chimney flue.

A fume extractor within a pellet stove uses an integrated blower to pull waste air out of the combustion chamber and uses sensors and a central control unit to automatically regulate the blower to maintain the optimum level of burning.

For example, our pellet stove has a temperature sensor within the flue outlet which relays information back to the control unit to automatically control and optimize the burning process for efficiency, heat output and reduced emissions.

Pellet Stove Flue Socket
A fume extractor removes any smoke from the pellet stove out of a home

A pellet stove can therefore use the more automated control of the air leaving the stove to help ensure that minimal wastage such as smoke is being produced.

Controlled Air Intake

Pellet stoves are sealed systems and so by controlling the air leaving the stove this in turn controls the amount of fresh air being supplied to the fire.

By sucking air out of the combustion chamber, a vacuum is created which pulls air into the stove through the dedicated air vent.

Pellet Stove Air Inlet
Controlled air intake helps to promote clean burning and reduced by-products such as smoke

A pellet stove can therefore help control the airflow to the fire to ensure that it’s receiving enough oxygen, preventing it from struggling and helping to prevent smoke from being produced.

Should You Smell Smoke From A Pellet Stove?

Pellets stoves should not produce a strong smoke smell. Pellet stoves create a sealed environment where the air within the stove is kept separate from the air within a room. A smoke smell can be a sign of a leak either within the stove itself such as the door, or the chimney flue.

Keeping Smoke Production In A Pellet Stove Low

If installed, used correctly and used with the right quality of pellets, pellet stoves should be producing very minimal amounts of smoke by default.

To help keep smoke production from a pellet stove to a minimum:

  • Ensure to always burn the quality of pellets stated by the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular model of stove.
  • Clean the stove as and when required by the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Get a professional to undertake seasonal maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Further Reading

Do Pellet Stoves Build Up Creosote?

Things To Know About Pellet Stoves?

Do Pellet Stoves Burn Clean?

What’s Inside A Pellet Stove

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