What is a pellet stove?

There are many different ways to heat your home, whether it’s a gas furnace, wood fireplaces, or pellet stoves.  Wood pellet stoves are a popular choice among homeowners because they put out a lot of heat and have relatively low operating costs.  However, there are also some disadvantages.  We find that pellet stoves are particularly popular with our customers in Columbia, MD.   Read on to learn more about pellet stoves, including how they work and the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

pellet stove installed in Columbia, MD

How Do They Work?

Every heat source uses some form of fuel to create heat. Pellet stoves use pellets made from compressed wood as their fuel source. These pellets are eco-friendly because they are made from compressed wood, plus they produce significantly less smoke and fumes than traditional firewood.  Many people prefer pellet stoves over other heating options such as wood stoves, gas fireplaces, or electric space heaters.

Pellet stoves work by using electricity to ignite the pellets. Fresh air is pulled into the unit from your home, stoking the fire and allowing the pellets to burn effectively and evenly. The resulting gases are vented outside through a small pipe in the back of the stove. This pipe can be vented through a hole in the wall or an existing chimney.


Types of Pellet Stoves

Freestanding Pellet Stove

Freestanding pellet stoves are stoves that are not reliant on an existing chimney or fireplace.  They stand on their own.  They can be placed anywhere you have room to fit them.  Free-standing fireplaces are a great option for adding the beauty of a fireplace to a room that currently does not have one.

installed free-standing pellet stove in Howard County, MD

Pellet Stove Inserts

Pellet stove inserts are designed to fit inside of the existing masonry opening of wood fireplaces.  Inserts are flush with the wall for a sleek, space-saving look, but they have to be mounted in a spot where there is an existing fireplace.

pellet stove installed in Germantown, MD


Freestanding fireplaces vs fireplace insert?

It depends on your priorities and where you want to install it. While pellet stove inserts may fit with the existing configuration of your room,  they have smaller hoppers and can be more challenging to clean.  A freestanding pellet stove, on the other hand, takes up a decent chunk of space that could otherwise be used for furniture.  The type of pellet stove you choose ultimately depends on the benefits that you are seeking.

Advantages of Pellet Stoves

The most significant benefits of pellet stoves lie in the fuel source:

  • Wood pellets are a byproduct of sawmills which makes them eco-friendly
  • Wood pellets produce less smoke and ash than firewood, resulting in less pollution, less creosote, and less of odors in your home
  • Pellet stoves often generate more heat than gas stoves of a similar size
  • Pellet stoves cost less to operate than gas because pellets are relatively inexpensive.
  • The automatic ignition makes pellet stoves easy to start and use, even for novice users
  • A 20-lb bag of pellets can provide constant heat for as long as 12 hours.  Most people only need to fill the hopper once every couple of days.
  • Pellet stoves have a simple look with neutral colors.  They fit with just about any decor
  • Refilling a pellet stove is easy since all you need to do is pull the hopper out and fill it with pellets.
installed pellet stove insert

Disadvantages of Pellet Stoves

While the benefits of using a wood pellet stove may seem enormous, there are some drawbacks as well. Here are some of the issues you may face if you use a wood pellet stove:

  • Pellet stoves require a lot more maintenance than gas or electric furnaces, including weekly vacuuming of the burn pot and other cleaning requirements.
  • Since pellet stoves have so many moving autonomous parts, they can be a bit noisy—especially when you’re just turning one on.
  • While a fireplace can be used when the power is out, a pellet stove cannot since it uses electricity to ignite the pellets and vent the smoke.
  • Pellet stoves produce a small flame when compared to wood stoves.  Some homeowners feel that they don’t provide the same cozy fire feeling produced by woodburning fireplaces.
  • Paying to have a pellet stove shipped to you can be expensive.
  • Wood pellets must be stored and kept on hand for future use.  You will need ample storage room to maintain a reasonable supply of pellets on hand.
  • In some areas, local stores may not carry wood pellets.  As a result, homeowners may have to pay the shipping cost to order them online.

Want to learn more about pellet stoves?  You may find our previous article to be helpful.

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