Pellet stoves are a great heating solution for your home. They are easy to use, have a great heating capacity, and they also provide a nice and warming atmosphere.
But did you know that using a pellet stove is also good for the environment?
Unlike regular fireplaces and wood stoves, pellets stove have an emission level so low, it’s virtually non-existent. All the emissions are safely blown outside your house without needing a chimney, so installing a pellet stove will also be cheaper.
The following article explains what the pellet is, how pellet stoves work, and what are the advantages of choosing a pellet stove over a wooden one.
Our comprehensive buying guide will explain what to look for if you want to find the best pellet stove for your home, and how to use it safely.
Read our short pellet stove reviews to find out which are the best-selling models in 2017.
- Castle 12327
- BTUs: 31,960
- Heating area: 1500 sq ft
- Efficiency rating: 78%
- Ignition: auto
- Hopper: 40 lbs
- Burn time: 16-18 hours
- Dimensions: 18.25 x 34 x 23.75
- Other: 24-hour programmable controller, built-in thermostat, adjustable feed rate, hopper safety switch, vacuum safety switch, air wash system, EPA certified, mobile home approved
- US Stove R5824
- BTUs: 36,000
- Heating area: 1500 sq ft
- Efficiency rating: 85%
- Ignition: auto
- Hopper: 40 lbs
- Burn time: 20 hours
- Dimensions: 21.5 x 20 x 33.5
- Other: air wash glass, electronic controls, EPA certified
- Pleasant Hearth PH50CABPS
- BTUs: 50,000
- Heating area: 2200 sq ft
- Efficiency rating: 85%
- Ignition: auto
- Hopper: 120 lbs
- Burn time: 24-70 hours
- Dimensions: 24 x 26 x 25.75
- Other: Outside Air Kit, Convection blower, EPA certified, mobile home approved, 5 heat settings, Comfort Control System, Integrated Diagnostics
- Comfortbilt HP50
- BTUs: 42,000
- Heating area: 1700 sq ft
- Efficiency rating: 86%
- Ignition: auto
- Hopper: 47 lbs
- Burn time: 24 hours
- Dimensions: 20 x 26 x 37
- Other: EPA certified, programmable thermostat, remote auto ignition
- US Stove AP5710
- BTUs: 48,000
- Heating area: 2200 sq ft
- Efficiency rating: 85%
- Ignition: auto
- Hopper: 25 lbs
- Burn time: 24 hours
- Dimensions: 20.4 x 18.5 x 30.1
- Other: top mounted digital control board, remote control, 200 CFM blower, EPA certified
Top 5 Pellets Stoves in 2017
Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style Pellet Stove
This is a high efficiency pellet stove that produces sufficient heat for an area of up to 2,200 square feet. The stove has an EPA certification, and it’s rated at an 85% efficiency, meaning that at least 85% of the pellets burned at all times are transformed into heat.
The heater has 5 different heat settings, and it produces 50,000 BTU when it’s working on its highest setting. You can set the stove to run continuously either on the lowest setting or on the highest one.
The hopper has a capacity of 120 pounds, and you can run the stove continuously without refilling between 24 – 70 hours, depending on the heat intensity you choose.
The outside air kit and the convection blower are included in the box, and the stove needs some assembly.
- 5 Year Limited Warranty – When the manufacturers offer you such an extensive warranty period, it’s clear they are confident enough that their product will last more if it’s used properly. A big plus for every product.
- Large Sized Hopper – The large hopper will hold up to 3 40-pound pellet bags, so you don’t have to worry about refilling it too often. Depending on your needs, this amount of pellets can last up to 3 days without refilling.
- No Ash Drawer – This unit does not have an ash drawer, so you will have to clean it every day if you want to use it efficiently.
- Control Knob – The temperature control knob will maintain the same temperature throughout the day, but you will need to adjust it at night when the temperatures drop.
Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove
This is a good pellet burning stove that produces enough warm air to keep a surface of up to 1,500 square feet nice and cozy in the cold season. The heater is EPA rated at 78% thermal efficiency, so more than 78% of the pellets it uses will be transformed into heat.
The stove has an automatic ignition system and it can be programmed to start and stop at specific hours for each day of the week. This is a great way to save pellets and money, as you can turn the heater off when nobody’s at home and still be sure that your home will be warm when you come back from work.
- Thermostat – This stove has a programmable thermostat. This is a great feature, as you can use it to keep the temperature in your home at an even level, without having to manually stop the stove every time it gets too hot.
- Programmable – This unit can work according to a weekly schedule. This is a great way to lower your heating bills, as you can make sure the stove is not running uselessly when nobody’s at home.
- Small Hopper – This unit’s hopper has a storing capacity of only 40 pounds. This means that in the cold days of winter you might have to refill once or even twice a day, depending on where you live.
- Hopper Is Too Tight – Even though the hopper has a capacity of 40 pounds, it’s so tight that only two-thirds of the bag will actually fit in before the pellets stop feeding the auger.
US Stove R5824 Pellet Stove
This pellet stove is a good heating solution for a smaller rather than a large space. With a heating capacity of only 30,000 BTU, this unit can be used as a supplemental heating source for a large home, or as the primary heat source if you want to use it in an area of up to 1,300 square feet without too many obstacles that could block the heat distribution.
The stove has a large viewing window made out of Air Wash glass, providing a nice atmosphere but at the same time allowing you to see how well the heater is burning, so you can actually see when it’s time to clean the burner.
The hopper has a filling capacity of 40 pounds, so you can load a full pellet bag into it and leave it running for up to 20 hours without refilling, depending on your heat settings.
- Simple Design – This unit’s simple design helps it blend in with most decors, traditional and modern alike. The design also allows for a close clearance tolerance.
- Good For Zonal Heating – This unit is not large enough to be used as a primary heating source in a large home, but is a great zonal heating. You can place it in a living or dining room where it will act as a heater and will create a nice ambiance as well.
- Small Hopper Capacity – This unit has a small 40-pound hopper, so you’ll need to refill it every day in the colder days.
- High Consumer – This unit uses more pellets than other models to produce the same amount of heat.Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP50.
Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP50
This is one of the best rated pellet stoves in our list. It has a heating capacity of 42,000 BTU, which should be sufficient for an area of up to 1,700 square feet, depending on the obstacles blocking the warm airflow.
The heater has an EPA certification and it has been rated as 86% efficiency, so at least 86% of the pellets you’re using will be transformed into heat at all times.
This pellet stove has a built-in thermostat which further increases its efficiency. You can use the thermostat to keep the temperatures at a constant level throughout the day without having to change the number of pellets burned. This will be changed automatically.
- Thermostat – The thermostat is a great feature because it will maintain the room’s temperature constant while using fewer pellets to do it. This is a great way to lower your heating bills.
- Remote Control – This pellet stove has a fully functioning remote control, so you’ll be able to control all of its features remotely, as long as you have a clear line of sight to the stove.
- Small Hopper – This stove’s hopper has a maximum capacity of 47 pounds, which should be enough to last for up to 20 hours when the temperatures are not very low, but when the temperatures drop really low, you’ll have to refill the hopper twice a day.
- 1-Year Limited Warranty – Because you use the pellet heater only during the cold season, the one year limited warranty actually means you’ll be able to benefit from it only for a single season.
Ashley Indoor Pellet Stove
This small pellet stove uses the same heating engine as larger units, but it uses a very compact casing. This allows it to produce a large amount of heat, but still be able to fit in the tighter areas of your home.
The stove uses a 25-pound hopper which should be able to last for about 24 hours of continuous use without refilling. The small amount of pellets it uses makes auger jams a rare occurrence since the majority of pellets are burned completely so only a little ash remains.
The top-mounted controls offer an easy and practical access and the stove also has a fully functioning remote control which will allow you to operate the heater from a distance, as long as you have a clear line of sight towards it.
- Remote Control – This unit has a remote control, so changing its settings is simple and straightforward. You don’t need to get close to it every time you want to set the flame burning brighter or dimmer.
- Small – This unit is small, so you can set it up in locations other pellet stoves wouldn’t fit in. This is a great advantage if you want to place the stove under a tight existing chimney.
- Small Hopper – This unit uses a hopper with a maximum capacity of just 25 pounds. This means you can only feed the stove a little over half a bag of pellets at a time, so you’ll have to do it more frequently.
- Difficult Cleaning – This stove heater is harder to clean than other models.
What Is a Pellet?
A pellet is an artificial type of fuel made out of compressed biomass. Pellets are usually made out of wood, but they can be created from crops, lumber, food or agricultural waste.
Wood pellets are usually made out of sawdust resulted from the manufacturing process of furniture and wood products, but other forms of biomass can be used, like coconut shells, branches leftovers after the logging process, or crops leftovers. This biomass is collected and compressed tightly, resulting in a pellet shape.
Because pellets are small and uniform both in shape and size, they can be quantified with great precision when they’re fed into a burner. Due to their compressed nature, they are dense and easy to store and move around. Their small size makes them perfect for storing over long periods of time.
Pellets are a type of fuel used for generating the heat in a specially designed stove. Different stove models can hold different quantities of pellets at a time, so usually you don’t need to feed a pellet stove as often as you would a wood burning one.
How Do Pellet Stoves Work?
They might look simple once they’re installed, but pellet stoves use a complex mechanism to allow you the control over the heat output and the amount of pellets burning every hour.
The pellet burning stoves are electronically enhanced appliances offering a low-cost environmentally friendly heating system for your home. These stoves use electricity for power. A hopper placed on the bottom, or on the top of the unit is loaded with pellets. Then an auger, a motorized device looking like a screw moves the pellets from the hopper to the burning pot. When you control the heating output of the pellet stove, you’re actually controlling the speed the auger has when moving the pellets.
The burn pot housed inside the combustion chamber is ignited. After the compression the pellets are very dense and dry, so they create a very hot flame. The burn pot acts like the stove’s carburetor, mixing fuel and oxygen to create combustion. After the pellets burn, they’re transformed in ash. This ash is captured in a pot which needs periodical cleaning.
Unlike regular fireplaces which use radiation for heating the room, pellet stoves use convection. When the air in front of them is heated its density gets lower, so the hot air rises pushing the cold air beneath it, towards the stove. This process is repeated, and the hot and cool air currents circulating the air around the room. The cool air in the room also provides vital oxygen to the burn pot, keeping the flame burning hot, so the pellets burn efficiently.
The warm air moves over a heat exchanger specially designed for transferring the clean air via the room blower. The heat exchanger is located inside the combustion chamber and it’s similar to a furnace, preventing the exterior of the stove from getting too hot.
All the by-product gasses are blown outside the home by the exhaust blower through an existing chimney or a hole in a wall. Even though the chimney is not strictly necessary, a vertical angle will help the exhaust blower to be more effective.
A thermostat is used to control the number of pellets feed into the fire by the auger. Burning more pellets will produce more heat.
Advantages of Pellet Stoves
- Cheap Heating Solution – Even though a pellet stove might seem expensive at a glance, look at it as an investment. You have to pay more money at first, but the overall cost of your heating will be lower than that of other heating systems.
- Cheap And Efficient Fuel – Pellets are one of the most inexpensive type of fuels you can use for a heating system. The only fuel cheaper than pellets is wood, and that only in some areas where you can buy it at a cheap price. This is one of the reasons why using a pellet stove is cheaper than other heating systems.
- Efficient – A pellet stove provides sufficient heat for your entire home. At the same time, more than 90% of the fuel they use is transformed into heat, making them more efficient than traditional fireplaces.
- Easy To Use – Pellet stoves are very easy to use. They have an automatic ignition and power modulation. You can adjust the stove’s temperature using a remote control or with the help of a room thermostat, depending on the model. Some models available on the market can be set to work on a daily or weekly schedule, while the most efficient pellet stove can be controlled remotely using an app or a text message.
- Long Autonomy – The pellet stove’s built-in hopper can run autonomously. Most stove’s hopper can run for up to 12 hours at a full load, but if you set it at a partial load of 30%, they will run for up to 36 hours without having to control them again.
- Environmentally Friendly – Pellet stoves are considered environmentally friendly because they are CO2 neutral and because the computer control system ensures an efficient burn. The ash content resulted after burning the pellets is only 0.5 – 1%.
- Easy Maintenance – Most of the maintenance of a pellet stove can be done by the owner/operator. All you need to do is to vacuum the burn pot once a week and clean the whole stove every three moths, or at the beginning and the end of the cold season, depending on the area you live in. However, you still have to have it professionally serviced once a year.
- Convenient Fuel – Besides the fact that pellets are cheap, they have had a stable price for the last several years. They are packed in bags which are easy to store, and they are always available.
How to Choose the Best Pellet Stove – Buying Guide
Finding the best pellet stove for your home is not as simple as it might seem. These are complex heaters, and all of them are different. Some produce more heat and some less, some have remote controls and some don’t, and so on. Here is a short guide on how to chose the best pellet stove for your house.
This is one of the most important factors you need to take into consideration when you’re thinking about buying a pellet stove. Different stove models produce different amounts of heat, so you should calculate your home’s surface and compare it to the one recommended by the manufacturer.
Keep in mind that most manufacturers test their stoves in open areas, not in regular homes, so even if a stove should provide enough warmth for an area of up to 1,700 square feet, the farthest room from it might still be cold even though you’re house is only 1,300 square feet large. This is because walls and door impede the warm air from reaching all the space. If more obstacles are interposed between a room and the stove, the room’s temperature will rise lower and it will never be as warm as other places in the house. A good solution for this problem is using fans to distribute the warm air around your home.
You should also keep in mind that stove manufacturers don’t calculate heat leaks in their pellet stove ratings. A home with ten windows will need more warmth than one with only 6 windows, even if their surface is the same. Always try to compensate for the heat leaks by buying a larger unit.
You’ll notice this is a feature largely debated in pellet furnace reviews. A pellet stove’s hopper capacity should also be an important factor in your decision. A stove using a larger hopper will have a longer period of autonomy. This means you’ll be able to refill the stove more rarely. This is a great option for people who like to travel, who are away from home for longer periods of time, or who live in colder areas.
When you live in a colder area, you don’t want to refill the hopper twice a day because that can be tiresome, even though it doesn’t take long to accomplish. It’s better to have a unit with a larger hopper and refill it only once a day, or even rarer.
Pellets are very important because they represent the fuel of the stove. They are the ones giving the flame it proprieties. Pellets can be produced from various sources. Some models are produced out of sawdust resulted after different wood objects or furniture manufacturing process. Other models are produced out of coconut shell leftovers, which result after the coconut is extracted for the food industry. Other models are produced out of agricultural or food waste.
Each different type of pellets has its advantages, and each has disadvantages as well. Hardwood pellets are considered the most valuable as they have the highest heating value, but they’re also more expensive. Softwood pellets represent a good fuel, but they’re also expensive, although they’re cheaper than hardwood models. Coconut shell pellets can have a high combustion efficiency, but they’re harder to find and they can be expensive, sometimes more expensive than hardwood, depending on the manufacturer. Pellets made out of agricultural and food waste are usually cheap, but they don’t have a high combustion efficiency. However, they can still produce enough heat to warm up an entire house.
Another important matter to consider is how you want to use the pellet stove. Do you intend to use it as a primary source of heating, or do you intend to use it as a supplemental space heater? The answer to this question can be crucial in deciding how to use the pellet stove properly, and how much you should spend on running it.
Primary Heater – If you want to use a pellet stove as the main heating system in your house, make sure you use the best pellets belonging to the type recommended by the manufacturer.
Supplemental Heater – If you plan to use the pellet heater as a supplemental heater, you don’t necessarily have to buy the best pellets available. All of them will provide enough heat to heat a zone in your home. Keep in mind to buy the recommended pellet type.
Pellet Stove Safety Tips
Pellet stoves are considered a safe way to heat your home. However, you should always keep in mind that pellet stoves use a live flame for burning the pellets, so it represents a fire hazard. Here are some safety tips you should follow if you want to use pellet stove safely.
- If there are children or pets in your household, never leave them near the stove without supervision. Most pellet stoves stay cool while they’re working, but the front glass can become very hot the flame is burning.
- Teach your children that the pellet stove is not a toy, if they’re old enough. If they’re still not old enough to understand, place a guard to keep them at leat 3 feet away from the stove.
- Install the pellet stove in a well-ventilated part of your house, so that the risk of emissions accumulating in your home is low. Even so, it might be better to install an oxygen level sensor to alarm you if the oxygen level in the room is too low.
- Always make sure that the ashes you collect from the pallet stove could not cause a fire. You should collect the as in a covered metal container, and dispose of them away from the house. Under no circumstances should the container you collect the ash in be placed inside your home.
- Every pellet stove has to be serviced once a year. A licensed professional will determine if the stove is functioning properly and if the ventilation and other safety aspects are in order. You should also check the stove for buildups of ash periodically, and make sure the stove’s air holes are not clogged.
- You should always read the manufacturer’s instructions, even if you’ve used pellet stoves before. Even though all pellet stoves work in a similar way, there might be differences from one model to another, even if they’re produced by the same manufacturer, so make sure you know how to use your stove properly.
- Always make sure you use the recommended pellets if you want to use the pellet stove as safely and as efficiently as you can. You will find the recommended pellet type in the instructions manual or on the manufacturer’s website. If you can’t find this information, call customer service. Using other types of pellets can make the stove run inefficiently, can produce a lot of smoke, or it can lead to the accumulation of by-products in the air.
Pellet Stove Maintenance
As any other heating system, pellet stoves need regular and adequate maintenance if you want them to operate efficiently. Just how frequent you need to clean a pellet stove depends on the stove’s design and the type of fuel burned.
- Not all types of pellets are produced the same. Generally speaking, the more expensive pellets will have a cleaner and hotter burn than cheaper types. However, you should always follow the manufacturer’s indications when it comes to the types of pellets to use, but you can switch from one pellet brand to another and make a comparison between them. You don’t have to buy a large quantity of pellets from a brand if you want to test their products, just a few bags will suffice. Even if they’re the same type of pellets, you’ll notice that some of them will produce less ash and residue, while others will produce a lot. As a general rule, top pellet stoves will make better use of premium pellets, while lesser models will burn them exactly like pellets of a lesser quality.
- How frequent you need to add pellets depends on the hopper’s size and the intensity of the flame. A stove with a small hopper will need to be filled once or twice a day, while pellet stoves with large hoppers will run for five or more days before you need to fill them again.
- Before each cold season, you need to have a licensed professional inspect and evaluate the pellet stove, and clean it if necessary. If you buy a new pellet stove, ask the supplier about a service contract. Most companies will recommend a service provider in your area.
- Besides the annual professional evaluation, pellet stoves also need regular maintenance, but that usually consists of cleaning. Pellet stove cleaning is not very complicated, so you’ll be able to do it by yourself, without professional help. If you want to make your life easier and preserve the life of your vacuum cleaner, you could buy an ash vacuum.
Here is a list of the weekly operation you need to do to keep your pellet stove working at maximum efficiency.
- Empty The Ash – The ash trap/drawer is usually situated behind the stove.
- Look For Hardened Ash – Also called clinkers, these accumulations of hardened ash can disrupt the proper working of the stove, so remove them with an ash tool or a small rake.
- Clean The Heat Exchanger – You will be able to find the necessary information on cleaning the heat exchanger in the owner’s manual.
- Clean The Glass – So you can notice if the fuel is not burning properly.
- Check The Flame – If the flame is another color besides bright yellow or white, call for a professional’s help.
- Empty The Pellets – Always remove the unused pellets from the stove at the end of the cold season. They can accumulate moisture and damage the stove if you leave them until the next cold season.
Wood Stove vs Pellet Stove
Wood and pellet stoves work in a similar way, and both heating systems have advantages and disadvantages.
- Installation – Installing a wood stove is difficult and pricey because a wood stove needs a chimney and proper ventilation. If you already have a chimney, the process gets easier. For pellet stoves, the exhaust evacuation can be a simple hole in an exterior wall, but vertical exhausts are more efficient.
- Power – Once you install a wood stove, all you need to worry about is having enough wood to last you all winter. Unlike a wood stove, pellet stoves will need electricity besides a the pellets to run. Electricity is used to operate the auger and the blower, so there’s not much you can do if you don’t have power and you want to use a pellet stove.
- Emission Levels – Even modern wood stoves have a large by-product emission, so they need a well-configured ventilation system to ensure that no harmful gasses enter your house. The ventilation system also needs to meet strict regulations. Pellet stoves also emit by-products, but their emissions are so low, they can be blown out the exhaust easily, so they are virtually non-existing. This means that they are better for the environment and better suited for your home as well.
- Fuel – Wood stoves use wood as fuel. This means that, depending on where you live, the fuel can be procured for free, at a very low price, a low price, or it can even be expensive. If you live in an area where wood is cheap or free to come by, there is no better way to heat your home than a wood stove. Pellet stoves use pellets for fuel. The pellets are priced differently, depending on their components, so hardwood pellets will be more expensive than softwood pellets, which in turn will be more expensive than pellets produced from agricultural waste.
The best way to lower your heating bills when you’re using a pellet stove is to buy the pellets during the warm season when their prices might drop a bit because pellets are easy to store. They are usually packed in bags, and they need only a third of the storage space wood needs.
Another way to find cheaper pellets is to skip the middle man, or in this case the hardware shops or garden supply shops, and try to buy them from a producer directly.
Pellet Stove Installation
Pellet stoves need to be installed according to the local legislation, so unless you’re experienced in installing this kind of stoves, the best way to install your stove is relying on a professional’s help. A licensed professional will assess your home and determine the safest and the most efficient location for the pellet stove. A professional installation will also guarantee that the exhaust is evacuated properly outside your home and that the installation process is done accordingly to the local regulations and the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you want to use a pellet stove for heating the entire house, you will either need a house with an open plan and a few barriers to stop the heat, or you will need to transport the warm air to further rooms through a distribution system, like a ducted air heating system. The latter option also requires a pellet stove which is equipped with a blower.
If your heater has a blower, you can place it near the forced air’s cold air return, so the warm air will be drawn into the heating system and circulated in various rooms around the house. This kind of system can either be used as a primary heating source or a supplemental one.
If you want to use a pellet stove with a forced air ventilation system as the primary source of heating in a large home, make sure you choose a model with a large hopper. This will ensure that the heating system will be able to heat the entire surface. If the system is not effective enough to heat the whole house in the coldest nights of the year, you can use electric heaters as supplemental heat sources in the cold parts of the house.
Pellet heaters can also be used as supplemental heat sources for wide areas in your house. You can use it for aesthetic purposes when the temperatures are not so low, or to lower your overall heating bills.
Using a pellet stove is a cost-effective way of heating your whole home. If you choose the best pellet stove available on the market today, you can benefit from features like a daily or weekly schedule, thermostat control, and remote operation.
Pellet stoves are easier to use than wood burning ones, and their maintenance is cheaper and simpler.
In some parts of the country, using pellets for fuel is actually cheaper than core wood, so you’ll benefit from one of the most inexpensive ways of heating systems available.
Our buying guide has explained how to use pellet stoves safely, but you should still read the manufacturer’s instructions before you use a stove for the first time, even if you used one before.
We’re certain that after reading our pellet stove reviews you’ll be able to decide which model is the right model for your home, and we hope you’ll enjoy it.