Pellet Stoves: A Newbie's Guide


Perhaps you've heard of pellet stoves and wondered if this eco-friendly heating option is the right choice for you. While pellet stoves offer a number of benefits, they do require a little more hands-on operation and maintenance than gas and electric heating systems. Read on to learn the basics of how pellet stoves work and are operated, and make a more informed decision as to whether one is right for your home.

What are wood pellets, and where do you get them?

The wood pellets burned in a pellet stove are typically made from wood scraps -- the bark and shavings that would otherwise be sent out to a landfill or used for mulch. These wood scraps are tightly compacted into pellets that are about an inch long. Pellets are typically sold in bags at home improvement and garden supply stores. Since they are made from scraps, and since wood is a renewable resources, they are considered to be an earth-friendly fuel.

Can a pellet stove really heat a whole home?

It's a common misconception that pellet stoves are only suitable for supplemental heating. But in fact, today's larger pellet stoves are designed to heat a full-size home up to about 3,500 square feet. An HVAC professional can connect a pellet stove to the existing ductwork in your home. The heat from the burning pellets will warm the air that is circulated through your home via the ducts.

Of course, if you're just looking for a way to heat a small addition or portion of your house that does not heat well with your standard HVAC system, a smaller pellet stove can be installed as a supplemental heating unit for this area, too.

How do you fill the pellet stove?

This is the one aspect of heating with a pellet stove that can take a bit of getting used to. The stove will be fitted with an automatic feeder; this is typically found on the top of the stove. Every couple of days (depending on the temperature and how quickly you're burning through fuel), you'll need to open the feeder hopper and dump in more pellets. The stove will then slowly feed these pellets into its burn chamber as they are needed. Only a small amount of pellets (a few handfuls' worth) is burned at a time.

The necessity of filling the pellet stove may make this an unsuitable heating option if you travel a lot and don't have someone to regularly stop by your home and refill the hopper while you're gone during heating season.

What maintenance does a pellet stove require?

Underneath the burn chamber, there is a pan that collects ashes. You'll need to empty this every couple of days. You'll also want to turn the stove off, let it cool, and vacuum out the burn chamber every couple of months. This will keep the soot accumulation from getting too dense. Your HVAC professional will probably recommend having the stove and associated vents inspected annually to make sure everything is functioning properly.

What safety considerations must be kept in mind when you have a pellet stove?

As with any burning fuel, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the stove is not ventilated properly. You can minimize this risk by having a professional hook up your stove's vent system and also by mounting a carbon monoxide detector in your home. This way, the alarm will ring and alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide before it has a chance to cause serious harm.

The exterior of the pellet stove does become hot, so there is a risk of burns. Children should be kept away from the unit, as should all flammable materials.

If you don't mind having to refill the hopper and empty the ash tray periodically, a pellet stove can be a simple and earth-friendly way to heat your home. Talk to an HVAC technician or visit websites like to learn more.


26 January 2016

cleaning the air in your home

The quality of the air in your home is something that you should keep in mind every day. If the air that you breathe each day is filled with impurities, it can cause you to get sick more often and complicate matters if anyone in your home suffers from asthma or allergies. This blog is all about purifying the air in your home. You will learn everything about filtration systems and filters for your heating system to what you can do around the home to keep the air as clean as possible and create a healthy living space for your family.