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Everything You Need to Know About Pellet Stoves, Part 1

Pellet StoveWhether you’re interested in reducing your heating costs or going green, a high quality pellet stove is a great option. The oil crisis of the 1970s is what sparked the invention of this revolutionary heating system that produces low emissions and relies on recycled products. With a heat output that is able to rival electric and gas furnaces, at a lower cost to you, it is a wise & reliable choice for any homeowner.

Since pellet stoves are relatively new technology and only recently becoming widely popular, most homeowners know very little about them. This three part series will let you know all of the important information about pellet stoves so that you can determine for yourself if one is right for you.

How Pellet Stoves Work

Pellet stoves are very different from regular wood burning stoves. The most obvious difference is that you cannot burn logs in pellet stoves. They have been constructed to use small wood pellets that are made from wood milling byproducts, like sawdust and wood chips, that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. It is also possible to use pellets that are made from cherry pits, corn kernels and other natural products but these are not recommended for most stoves. The shape and size of these pellets allows them to be fed into the fire automatically by the stove. Due to the low amount of moisture in pellets, they burn cleaner and more efficiently than wood.

What really sets pellet stoves apart from wood stoves is their construction. While pellet stoves come in many designs, some looking like regular furnaces and others looking similar to ornamental wood stoves or fireplaces, they all operate similar to coal stoves. Every day or two, pellets need to be placed into the hopper or storage container on the stove. From the hopper, an electrically-run auger will feed the pellets into the combustion chamber, also known as the fire pot.

The stove’s temperature is regulated by the amount of pellets being fed into the fire pot. One of the added benefits of a pellet stove is that you can control the heat output easily, either by setting the rate that pellets are added or setting the thermostat on your stove (depending on the model).

All pellet stoves have a convection blower which brings cool air from your home into the stove to be heated and circulated. A separate combustion blower provides air for the fire in the burn pot to burn more evenly and efficiently. A heat exchanger, similar to those in regular furnaces, then transfers heat to the household air being heated. Through this process, comfortable heated air will circulate in your home.

Unlike furnaces, pellet stoves also produce a significant amount of radiant heat primarily through the infrared radiation coming through the door glass. Radiant heat penetrates skin and muscles & is a very relaxing and enjoyable heat source.

Pellet Stove PelletsUnlike wood stoves, the best pellet stoves produce little to no creosote. The small amount of smoke and gas that is produced can be vented through a special pellet vent pipe that runs outside eliminating the need for a big masonry chimney. If a chimney already exists, the stove can usually be vented through it.

Pellet stoves do require some electricity for the operation of the auger, the igniter, the convection blower, and the convection blower. However, the amount of electricity is small in contrast to that of an electric furnace or space heater. The average electrical cost is only $9 a month. It is also possible to connect your pellet stove to a backup battery or generator so that it can still be utilized during a power outage.

For more information about pellet stoves, stop back for parts two and three of this pellet stove information series or contact one of our experts.

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