Pellet Stove Buyer's Guide
Pellet Stove Buyer's Guide
Like any other heating appliance, choosing the right pellet stove to heat your home requires a little bit of research. There are many considerations to take into account when choosing a pellet stove for your home and each and every one are key factors in how safely and efficiently your pellet stove operates. This pellet stove buyer's guide offers valuable advice that will help you choose the perfect pellet stove to heat your home.
Why Choose a Pellet Stove
First of all, let's take a look into why you might consider heating your home with a pellet stove. Perhaps your reasons are economical and you are looking to lower your annual home heating bills. Pellet stoves are becoming a popular choice among homeowners due to rising fuel costs. Maybe you have pets or small children and you don't have room in your home to surround a wood burning stove with a safety gate. For the most part, pellet stoves remain relatively cool to the touch on the exterior making them a safe choice for homeowners with pets and children.
Fuel costs aren't the only thing on the rise and more and more homeowners are starting to be mindful of the pollutants that some heating appliances release into the environment and the air we breathe. Pellet stoves use condensed wood pellets that burn very efficiently and contain little moisture so less harmful gases are released into the air. Those who are conscious of the environmental effects of home heating appliances also appreciate the fact that the wood pellets used in pellet stoves are made from recycled by-products and no trees are cut simply to manufacturer them.
Pellet stoves might be an appealing home heating option for those who live in areas where harvesting your own firewood is not an option or areas that don't have well-seasoned firewood readily available for you to purchase. Also, if you are physically unable to or don't want to put the time and effort into splitting and harvesting your own firewood, a wood pellet stove may be your best option.
Buying a Pellet Stove - What to Consider
Before picking out a pellet stove you'll need to do a walk-through of your house and take some notes on the layout and build of your home. These notes, along with a few other things, will be keys parts and deciding factors on which pellet stove you choose. Consider the following guidelines before investing in your wood pellet stove.
Insulation - How well your home is insulated should be considered when choosing a pellet stove to heat your home. This is because a home that is poorly insulated will need a more powerful pellet stove with a higher BTU range to compensate for the lack of insulation in your home. If your home is well insulated you will not need as powerful of a pellet stove. You can make an educated guess to determine how well your home is insulated. Typically you can assume that newer, quality-built homes will be well insulated while it's safe to predict that older homes are going to be poorly insulated.
Windows - Take note of the amount of windows you have in your home. Also pay close attention to the condition that the windows are in. If your home has a lot of windows or windows that are in bad shape, this is another deciding factor that will require an increase in the BTU range of your pellet stove.
Ceiling height - Homes with high cathedral ceilings will require a more powerful pellet stove with a higher BTU range. This is because hot air rises and heat can collect above the living area and get trapped where it is of little use. You can solve this problem by installing paddle fans along with your pellet stove to push the warm air back down into your living space where it is most needed
Climate and geographical location - Another determining factor in choosing a pellet stove is your geographical location and the climate in which you live in. This is for obvious reasons because a homeowner who lives in a primarily warm climate where maybe two months out of the year it reaches low temperatures of 30-40 degrees isn't going to need as powerful of a pellet stove as a homeowner who lives in an area that has a harsh winter season that lasts for 3-4 months and reaches low temperatures in the single digits or below zero.
There are two major categories of pellet stoves including high output and low output pellet stoves. Whether a pellet stove is placed in the high output category or low output category depends on the amount of heat the stove is able to generate. This is known as the pellet stove's efficiency or heat output range. Generally pellet stoves have efficiency ratings of 75 to 90 percent and a heat output range of 40,000 BTUs or higher.
The physical size of the pellet stove you choose for your application will depend on the heat generating capabilities and hopper size of the pellet stove. A smaller pellet stove will keep a large room warm but if the hopper on the pellet stove is small the heat will not last very long due to the small amount of wood pellets it can handle at any given time. So heating larger areas will require a larger hopper and a higher BTU range while while heating smaller areas will require a smaller hopper with a lower BTU range.
Pellet Stove Size Considerations
There are a few things that you should take into consideration to will help you determine the BTU range, hopper capacity and size of the pellet stove your application will require. Choose your pellet stove size by following these guidelines:
How often will the stove be used - Decide how often you will be operating your pellet stove. If you need constant heat you will want a pellet stove with a higher BTU rating and a bigger hopper so that it can hold more wood pellets and provide longer burn times. If you will be using your pellet stove for a couple of hours at a time a pellet stove with a smaller hopper and lower BTU range will work.
Area to be heated - Determine how much area you will be heating with your pellet stove. Decide if you want to try and heat your entire home with your pellet stove and use it as a primary heat source or if your main goal is to zone heat a single room or a couple of small rooms and use it as a secondary heat source.
Pellet stove placement - Decide where you are going to install your pellet stove. Keep in mind that you should install your pellet stove in an area that is going to allow it to provide the most coverage and heat the largest area. Place your pellet stove in an area that will allow the blower to push and circulate heated air throughout your home.
Zone Heating with Pellet Stoves
Zone heating uses an alternate heating source along with your central heating furnace to heat the rooms in your house that you and your family use the most. This prevents you from wasting precious fuel and money by putting the heat where you need it, when you need it.
Pellet stoves are great zone heaters because they warm the area within the room and around the stove rather than the perimeter walls like most central heating systems do. Zone heating with a pellet stove is a very energy efficient way to heat your home because it creates warm and cozy living areas and cooler outlying bedrooms for sleeping.
Zone heating your home with a pellet stove is an obvious solution for homeowners who are concerned about rising fuel costs and could potentially save you up to 30 percent on your annual home heating bill!
EPA Certified Pellet Stoves
An EPA Certified stamp on a pellet stove is your guarantee that the stove you are purchasing will not only burn cleanly and efficiently but reduce your home heating costs and protect the air that we breathe. In order for a pellet stove to be EPA exempt, is must comply with strict emissions and efficiency regulations designed to reduce pollution and control energy costs.
Because they pollute so little, pellet stoves do not require EPA certification; however, some manufacturers voluntarily seek this certification to prove that they achieve the following:
- Burn more completely
- Offer greater heat output
- Produce less creosote build-up
Pellet stoves use either standard or premium wood pellets to operate. Some pellet stoves require premium wood pellets with low inorganic ash content to run properly. Check with your local pellet store or supplier to make sure they carry the type of pellets you will need.