Introduction to Pellet Stoves – Part 1
If you’re in the market for a new cost-effective home heating system, be sure to take pellet stoves into consideration. There are a lot of great reasons to go with this furnace type of heat source. But if you’re like a lot of people, you don’t really know much about pellet stoves. For instance, are you aware that a pellet stove is not just another version of a fireplace or wood stove; but, rather, it has distinct differences? Read on to learn what those differences are, including why these appliances are a favorite with people who strive to make environmentally conscious decisions.
Electricity is Required, But a Chimney is Not
A pellet stove is designed for the specific purpose of burning wood pellets, not logs. These biomass pellets, which are made from wood waste, slowly move from a hopper into a burn-pot area where a constant flame burns. Electricity is required for some of the stove’s components. In some models, there is an auger, a motorized device, which releases more pellets from the hopper to the burn pot according to the setting on the stove, to control the heat level. Another component that depends on electricity is the exhaust blower, which pushes gases away from the fire either through a chimney or through a vent in the outside wall. There’s also a convection blower; more about that below, where the operation of the appliance is covered in more detail.
The type of outlet needed for a pellet stove is a 110 volt AC electricity outlet. There are battery backups available, in case the lights go out. You can also hook the stove up to a backup generator, if needed. Here’s more good news; the amount of electricity required for a pellet stove is very minimal. In fact, if you go from an all-electric heating system to a pellet stove, your electricity costs should plummet.
If you aren’t looking to replace a fireplace and therefore don’t have a chimney, that’s not usually a problem. Pellet stoves create very little smoke and no creosote buildup and can be vented directly outside through a hole in the wall.
Proper installation is very important. A licensed professional, such as a certified chimney sweep, should be consulted to ensure that the stove is placed in such a way that the heat can circulate through the room and throughout the home. A protective floor pad must be placed underneath the stove, and the right type of electrical outlet should be nearby.
More About How the Stove Operates
There’s a hopper on the stove that you fill with the wood pellets. The pellets are released into the combustion chamber or burn pot either by gravity or an auger. In the burn pot, air and fuel are mixed to keep the fire going.
Ashes from the fire fall into an ash pot, which should be cleaned regularly.
Pellet stoves utilize convection blowers which make a big difference in the efficiency of the units. The convection blower pulls in the room’s cool air and passes it over the combustion chamber; this causes the fire to burn hotter, more evenly, and more efficiently.
The heated air moves across the heat exchanger, which is in the burn pot and blows clean, warm air into the room.
Some pellet stoves have a thermostat which controls the speed at which pellets are fed into the combustion chamber. The more pellets that are being burned at one time, the hotter the fire.
Be sure to read Part 2 of this series, to learn about the environmental benefits of choosing a pellet stove to heat your home.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110