Buying A Pellet Stove (Your Complete Guide)


Wood and pellets with fire in background.

Pellet stoves are household heating appliances that use solid fuel and are related to wood-burning stoves in that they both use solid fuel, but there are a few key differences.

Because they can automate flames far better than other types of wood stoves, pellet stoves are popular because they are the most energy-efficient way to heat a home with solid fuels in general.

For us, it was important to find an alternative to our wood and multifuel stoves that would allow us to heat our living room without having to pay attention to it constantly.

Pellet stoves are ideal in these situations, but before making a purchase, be sure you know everything there is to know about pellet stoves, what to look for in a pellet stove, and how to install one in your home.

Due to the complexity of pellet stoves, we’ve put together this comprehensive buyer’s guide. We will discuss: 

  • What to know before buying a pellet stove
  • What to consider before buying a pellet stove
  • What to look for when buying a pellet stove

What To Know Before Buying A Pellet Stove

Before purchasing a pellet stove, you should be aware that they can be large appliances that require electricity and can only burn pellets as fuel. You should also be aware that waste air must be vented externally and that fresh air can either be vented internally or externally, depending on the model.

Due to owning a pellet stove, we have first-hand knowledge of everything you need to know about pellet stoves.

Before you buy a pellet stove, make sure you know these things:

  • Pellet stoves can be relatively large appliances. When choosing a pellet stove, keep in mind that depending on the model, it may be an eyesore in a compact space. Due to the size difference between our pellet stove and the open fireplace, we were unable to use our pellet stove in this fireplace. An open fireplace with a classic wood-burning stove is less obtrusive and easier to install, although pellet stoves incorporated into the brickwork are also an option.
  • Electricity is required for pellet stoves. All pellet stoves (save for a small number of non-electric models) must be connected to the house’s electrical system. A standard plug is included on the rear of the unit, so you may plug it into any of your regular home electrical outlets using it.
  • In order to use a pellet stove, you must have access to pellets. The most prevalent type of pellet stove fuel material, wood pellets, may not be compatible with all stove models. Unlike a regular wood stove, a pellet stove cannot be used with conventional wood logs.
  • Waste air from pellet stoves must be vented to the outside. Stove waste air must be vented outside your house since pellet stoves have a genuine fire inside of them. If local building codes/regulations require it, you can install a flue that extends horizontally from your home and then climbs up the side of the house to above the roofline, or you can utilize a flue liner to vent into an existing chimney.
  • Internal or external venting options are available for releasing fresh air. Air can be drawn from the room or an external wall of a residence, depending on where the pellet stove will be located and the needs of local building standards and regulations.

What Should You Consider Before Buying A Pellet Stove

There are several factors to consider when purchasing a pellet stove for your home, such as power supply and ventilation, to make sure there aren’t any problems with the installation of the pellet stove.

Before purchasing a pellet stove, think about the following: where the stove will be placed, how waste and clean air will be vented, whether an electrical outlet is close, how the pellets will be supplied, and the price of the stove, installation, and operation as well as all of the above factors.

When shopping for a pellet stove, keep these things in mind:

  1. The area where the stove will be placed to heat.
  2. The location of the stove.
  3. How clean and waste air will be expelled from the burner.
  4. Just how the stove gets its electricity.
  5. Is it possible to use the stove with a generator in case of a blackout?
  6. The surface on which the stove will be placed.
  7. How well the stove complies with local construction requirements and rules.
  8. How and where you’ll store the bags of pellets.
  9. Costs associated with acquisition, installation, and operation.
  10. Find out if pellet stoves are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Below, we go into greater detail on the factors to consider when purchasing a pellet stove.

Heating Area

Many factors, such as how big an area you wish to heat with a pellet stove is and where it is located, might influence the size and type of stove you need as well as where the stove should be situated.

Therefore, before investing in a pellet stove, think about how much of your home you want to heat with a pellet stove.

One room heating is all you’ll need in this case. Thus an air-heating pellet stove will be fine.

However, if you want to utilize a pellet stove to heat your entire house, you’ll need to start looking into stoves that can transmit heat more efficiently or simply deliver more heat, such as the following:

  • Hydro pellet stoves
  • Ducted pellet stoves
  • Pellet stove boilers

Stove Location

Waste air and sometimes clean air from a pellet stove need to be vented to the outside when using it.

When venting through an open fireplace or chimney, pellet stoves must be placed against an exterior wall to make the process easier.

As long as you follow local construction codes/guidance, pellet stoves can be installed up against a back wall or in the corner of your room.

If you want to heat an entire house rather than just a single room, you’ll have to think about how the heat will be distributed throughout the house. Installing a pellet stove in the center of an open-plan home will help, as will placing a hydro pellet stove in the proper location on the central heating system.

Since we just needed it to heat our living room, we had it installed in a corner where it could be vented directly to the outside wall.

Venting Requirements

Pellet stoves use a real fire to generate heat, so all waste air from a pellet stove must be vented directly outside the house.

Pellet stoves are forced induction machines. Therefore they don’t require as much ventilation as traditional wood stoves.

If you have an external wall, you can usually install a horizontal exhaust fan (with the flue then heading vertically up the side of the house to above the roofline if required).

Even yet, it’s not unheard of for the flue to be routed up an existing chimney. Installing a flue through the roof is much more expensive than either of these alternatives.

Local building codes and ordinances determine whether fresh air can be vented inside or externally by leaving the vent in its current location or connecting a wall-to-ceiling duct extension.

Electrical Supply

Pellet stoves are electrical appliances, so before you buy one, think about how you’re going to power it.

To use a pellet stove, simply plug the included power cord into an electrical outlet in your house.

Our pellet stove, for instance, came with a separate power cable that had to be plugged into the stove’s rear before being plugged into an electrical outlet nearby.

Fortunately, there was an electrical outlet nearby where we planned to build our pellet stove, and the power line could easily reach it.

If the location where you wish to put your pellet stove doesn’t have an electrical outlet, you’ll need to: Pellet stoves are electrical appliances, so before you buy one, think about how you’re going to power it.

To use a pellet stove, simply plug the included power cord into an electrical outlet in your house.

Our pellet stove, for instance, came with a separate power cable that had to be plugged into the stove’s rear before being plugged into an electrical outlet nearby.

Fortunately, there was an electrical outlet nearby where we planned to build our pellet stove, and the power line could easily reach it.

If the location where you wish to put your pellet stove doesn’t have an electrical outlet, you’ll need to:

  • Move the stove to a different spot.
  • Install a new power outlet.

When using a pellet stove, make sure it’s hooked directly into an electrical outlet and not into an extension cable of any kind.

Backup Electrical Supply

Electricity is required to operate a pellet stove.

Consider whether or not you’ll need a backup battery or generator before investing in a pellet stove.

Backup batteries are available as an optional extra for some pellet stove models, but if utilizing a generator, check with the seller or manufacturer to see what would be possible with a specific stove model.

The Hearth

Pellet stoves are solid fuel-burning appliances. Therefore they must be installed on a hearth of some sort.

Our living room floor is laminate wood, so we had to purchase a hearth pad to go with it before having the flooring done.

A local installer can tell you exactly what you need and what kind of fireplace or hearth pad you’ll need based on your floor’s construction and local codes.

Local Building Codes/Regulations

There are both manufacturer’s requirements and local and/national construction laws and regulations that need to be followed when installing a pellet stove.

Items like clearance distances from combustibles and venting criteria are included in this specification.

To find out what it takes to install a pellet stove in your home, talk to a local installation, manufacturer, or seller.

Sourcing & Storing Pellets

A good quality pellet is required for pellet stoves.

It’s critical to think about where you’ll get your pellets and how you’ll store them before making a pellet stove purchase decision.

If you reside somewhere where pellet bags come in weights of 40lbs or 15kg, you can get them there too.

For a pellet stove to be affordable, you’ll need to find a local supplier of pellets.

The type and quality of pellets you use with a certain pellet stove model should be checked as well (often wood by-product pellets).

When it comes to our own pellet stove, for example, the manufacturer mandates that we only use wood pellets of Class A1 quality and burn only those.

We can keep our fuel expenses down by purchasing bags of these high-quality pellets when we need them.

Before investing in a pellet stove, be sure you can get the right kind and grade of pellets (at a fair price) to keep your operating costs down.

Bulk orders of pellet bags will save you money, but you’ll have to plan ahead for where you’ll keep them.

A few bags of pellets are kept outside in a detached garage until they’re needed.

Purchase, Installation & Running Costs

Pellet stoves include more electronic and mechanical components, so they cost more than other kinds of wood stoves on average.

As a result of the lower installation costs associated with pellet stoves than with wood stoves due to the lack of onerous venting restrictions, wood stoves tend to be more expensive than pellet stoves on average (when venting straight through an external wall).

Obtaining estimates from professional pellet stove installers in your area will help you estimate the cost of installing a pellet stove in your house more accurately.

Operating expenses consist of pellets, electricity, and upkeep.

Pellet prices and energy rates can vary widely depending on where you live, so it’s critical to calculate these costs for yourself.

It’s true that a pellet stove has more moving parts than other types of wood stoves, and this means that as the parts wear out, maintenance expenses will be higher than with traditional wood-burning stoves that don’t have any moving parts.

As a result, before making a pellet stove purchase, evaluate these expenditures to see if another type of domestic heating device would be more cost-effective in the long term.

Insurance

Check your house insurance policy to determine if you can use a solid fuel heating item like a pellet stove, and seek rates if you can’t.

What To Look For When Buying A Pellet Stove

Many factors should be considered before purchasing a wood pellet stove, but also look for other items when making the purchase.

When purchasing a pellet stove, the most important features to look for are the heat output and combustion efficiency ratings, as well as the capacity of the hopper, the purchase price, the warranty duration, and the availability of spare parts.

When purchasing a pellet stove, keep the following features in mind:

  1. Type of pellet stove
  2. Heat output
  3. Efficiency rating
  4. Energy efficiency rating
  5. Ease of cleaning and maintenance
  6. Hopper capacity
  7. Type of pellet fuel required
  8. The life expectancy of stove and warranty period
  9. Thermostatic control
  10. Approved pellet stoves (EPA etc.)
  11. Purchase cost
  12. Backup power
  13. Appearance
  14. Spare parts
  15. Flame viewability & aesthetics

Below, we go over each of these points in further depth.

Type of Pellet Stove

When heating a single open space, a few rooms or a small house is needed, a conventional air space-heating pellet stove can be sufficient.

The most common type of pellet stove is a space heater with an inbuilt distribution blower that distributes heat evenly across the room.

A distribution blower on our pellet stove distributes heat evenly throughout our living room, and warm air emerges from the front grille of the stove, effectively heating it.

However, if you’re trying to heat a larger house, you’ll need to look at a hydro pellet stove or pellet boiler, which can be connected to the central heating system or use a network of ducts to distribute heat throughout the house.

With the help of a competent installation, figure out what type of pellet stove is best for your needs.

Heat Output

For a pellet stove, the maximum heat output should match the space being heated.

Insufficiently sized pellet stoves will struggle to keep the room(s) warm, while excessively huge stoves will make the temperature unbearable.

There are two ways to measure how much heat a pellet stove puts out: BTUs and kW.

A good example is our air pellet stove, which provides 6.1kW (21,000 BTUs) of space heating in our living room and works well.

However, our stove has thermostatic control, allowing us to set the required room temperature with greater precision.

Depending on your situation and the number of rooms you want to heat, an installer, manufacturer, or reseller can provide you with specific information about the heat output requirements of a pellet stove.

Combustion Efficiency

With a variety of sensors and a central control unit constantly regulating burns for the best fuel-to-air ratio, pellet stoves are extremely efficient domestic solid fuel heating appliances.

Efficiencies should be higher than with other types of wood stoves on average.

An efficient pellet stove is one that gets the maximum heat out of every piece of fuel while producing minimal waste (ash and pollution). To find one, look for a high-efficiency rating on the stove.

Getting more out of your fuel with a better combustion efficiency rating can entail paying more for the stove.

For example, our pellet stove, which has a combustion efficiency of 87 percent, is quite efficient, but if we had one with even more efficiency, we would have had to pay more.

Energy Efficiency

However, compared to combustion efficiency, energy efficiency measures how successfully a stove uses power to turn the fuel it is burning into usable heat.

Pellet stoves need power to operate, so buying one with a higher energy efficiency rating will save you money in the long run. However, this may not be the most significant consideration when deciding on a pellet stove.

Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning and maintaining pellet stoves according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is critical to their long-term efficiency.

Cleaning out the burn pot and ashtray before each fire is a normal practice, but it can also entail cleaning out the hopper on a regular basis.

Although features like removable ashtrays and burn pots should be standard on pellet stoves, it’s always worth checking to see if a particular model will make cleaning as simple as possible.

Because our pellet stove includes removable parts for cleaning, we don’t have to worry as much about keeping it in good working order.

Hopper Capacity

Hopper storage is a term used for the pellet-burning stove’s integrated pellet storage.

There will be a limited number of pellets that can be held in each pellet stove model’s hopper at a given time.

The weight of the hopper’s capacity is usually specified in pounds or kilograms. Our pellet stove, for example, has a hopper that can store up to one and a half standard weight bags of pellets, or around 24 kilograms (53 pounds).

To put it another way, our stove runs for 24 hours straight on an average burn rate of 0.7 to 1.5kg/h (depending on how hard it is working).

If you want to use your pellet stove for lengthy periods of time without having to keep refilling the hopper, search for a model with a higher capacity.

Type of Pellet Fuel

In most situations, pellet stoves require wood pellets as fuel. However, some manufacturers may accept some corn in the mix.

Pellet stove manufacturers are also able to specify the type of pellets the stove is designed to burn.

If delivery of certain types of pellet fuel is problematic, it’s worth looking for a pellet stove that uses the sort and quality of pellets that you can get locally. Otherwise, your fuel bills will skyrocket.

Life Expectancy & Warranty

When problems start to emerge and parts need to be replaced, pellet stoves typically survive over ten years before needing replacement.

Pellet stoves from well-known manufacturers tend to be better built and have a longer lifespan, but they also cost more money upfront.

Repairs and spare parts are covered by the manufacturer within the regular warranty period for pellet stoves.

Our pellet stove, for example, had a 24-month warranty from the date of installation, but the ignition only had a 6-month warranty.

The longer the warranty period on a pellet stove, the more confident the manufacturer is in the quality of their product.

Thermostatic Control

Rather than only having high and low heat output options, many newer pellet stoves come equipped with thermostatic control capabilities that allow the stove to automatically alter the burn rate based on the current and proposed room temperatures.

Certain pellet stoves can be linked to your home’s thermostat if you have one already.

Our pellet stove is thermostatically controlled, which streamlines the heating process. The pellet stove only needs to be set to the temperature we want in our living room, and it will do the rest.

Thermostatic control is what you want if you want your pellet stove to be as automated as possible.

Approved Stoves

Stoves that have been certified have been shown to meet current safety and efficiency requirements for heating.

Your state’s authorizing body may be different from the EPA or DEFRA. However, these are frequent signs of a certified stove.

The certification or approval symbol found on a pellet stove gives you peace of mind that you’re utilizing a stove certified by a regulatory organization.

Purchase Cost

For the same amount of heat output, pellet stoves are more expensive to buy since they can be massive and complex heating machines that require a higher initial investment.

However, the lower venting requirements of pellet stoves mean that installation costs are lower than those of wood-burning stoves, making them a more attractive option.

A cheaper pellet stove will likely cost you more in maintenance and replacement parts, so shop around to find the best deal on a quality pellet stove.

Backup Power

Because pellet stoves constantly need energy to operate, having a backup power source handy during blackouts is a must.

If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, you should search for a pellet stove that has the option of using batteries for backup power or one that can be used with a generator, depending on the brand.

Appearance

Pellet stoves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the tall freestanding black models are the most frequent.

Due to the fact that pellet stoves are large appliances that can be the focal point of a room, it’s important to choose a stove that complements the style of your home and that you’ll enjoy using.

Spare Parts

Pellet stoves have a lot of moving and electrical parts inside, so anticipate having to replace a few of them over their lifetime.

To be on the safe side, opt for a pellet stove that has a wide variety of spare components readily available in case something goes wrong.

Our pellet stove’s manual, for instance, outlines the many spare components that are compatible with our specific kind of stove. We can continue to use our stove even if a part needs to be replaced because spare parts are readily accessible from the manufacturer for all critical components.

Flame Viewability & Aesthetics

A fireplace or stove’s capacity to show real flames and the pleasure it brings is a key selling point.

Flames can usually be seen via a glass front panel on pellet stoves.

There might be significant differences in the appearance of the flames between different pellet stove brands and models, so seeing a pellet stove in action before making a purchase is always recommended.

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