What’s a Pellet Stove: Basic Guide For Newbies
As we look for ways to efficiently use fuel, many of us are turning to alternatives like pellet stoves.
A pellet stove uses pellets made of compressed wood or biomass, which it burns to provide heat for residential use. Other fuel sources include grain, corn, seeds, or waste paper.
An automatic mechanism feeds the pellets from the storage hopper into a burn pot, and a constant flame flares up.
Unlike with traditional wood stoves, you can leave your pellet stove for a while without fear of the fire dying, because it requires minimal physical adjustment from you.
Components Of a Pellet stove
- Hopper – It stores the pellets before delivering them to the burn pot.
- Burn pot – It holds the pellet, and is where combustion takes place as the pellets are ignited.
- Auger – It moves the pellets from the hopper and feeds them into the burn pot.
- Heat exchange tubes – They release the hot air into the surroundings, for instance into the room.
- Convection fan – It helps air circulate through the heat-exchange tubes before being released into the surroundings.
- Grille – It enables the air in the surroundings to be drawn into the stove by the convection pan.
- Intake vent – It draws the air from the surroundings into the burn pot.
- Exhaust vent – It gives passage to combusted gasses released by the burn pot.
- Combustion fan – It draws in the air from the surroundings into the combustion area, and exhausts gasses.
- Ashpan – It collects the charred remains of unburned pellets.
Types of Pellet Fuels:
Leftover, discarded wood is obtained from sawmills in the form of sawdust and scrap, and is compressed to form wood pellets.
Most people love using wood pellets because they help kill two birds with one stone: one, they help keep the environment clean by recycling waste wood instead of cutting down trees; and two, wood pellets are a much cheaper fuel source than gas, oil, or electricity.
Other than sawmills, the raw material needed to make wood pellets is also obtained from furniture manufacturers, roadside scraps, paper packaging plants, logging residue, and recycling centers.
You can buy wood pellets at building supply stores, department stores, hearth appliance stores, home improvement stores, or feed supply stores. You could also contact an online retailer to get them home-delivered to you.
Pro tip: a bit obvious, but I will still say it: wood pellets don’t burn well if wet, so please store them in a dry place (preferably off the floor).
Corn pellets are just as cost-effective as wood pellets. However, the pellets produce much more ash than wood pellets which produce minimal quantities.
You will also have to buy a pellet stove which exclusively burns corn pellets because your wood pellet stove is ill-equipped to handle the excess ash.
In addition to their cost-cutting advantages, corn pellets have a positive environmental impact, as they burn cleanly and provide recyclable, renewable energy.
Types of Pellet Stoves
Pellet fuel appliances may either be freestanding stoves or fireplace inserts. Freestanding pellet stoves are the subject of this article. Depending on their feeding system, pellet stoves may be either top-fed or bottom fed.
Top-fed pellet stoves have their auger inclined at an angle that enables them to feed the pellets into the top or side of the combustion chamber.
The top-fed system does not force ash away from the firebox grate, and these causes the ash deposits to form into clinkers after being repeatedly heated and cooled.
And clinkers can block the flow of combustion air, leading to the flaring out of the fire. So to prevent clinkers from developing in your top-fed pellet stove, it’s best that you only burn premium grade, low-ash pellets.
On the other hand, bottom-fed pellets stoves contain a horizontal auger. As the pellets move horizontally through the system, and into the fuel chamber, they shove aside any ashes and clinkers they encounter, causing them to collect in the ash pan.
So if you have a bottom-fed pellet stove, you don’t have to use high quality, low-ash pellets.
Why You Should Buy a Pellet Stove:
For the sake of the environment
For one, you don’t destroy natural resources like forests or drain non-renewable resources like oil when you use pellets. Wood pellets are made from recycled wood, the by-product of sawmills.
They compact the waste sawdust and wood shavings into tightly condensed fuel sources. So pellet stoves are useful for recycling. Besides, the pellet stove is CO2-neutral and has a low level of particle emission.
For an easy-time
Unlike wood stoves, pellet stoves are simple to operate. As we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to tend to the flame, adjusting this or that. Once the flame starts going, it does not go out until it has consumed all the pellets you’ve deposited in the hopper.
Other user-friendly features include automatic ignition and power modulation. You can even adjust the temperature using a remote control. And if that’s not enough, some pellet stoves can be controlled using text messages or an app.
Tired of wiping soot off your chimney or ceiling? Good news for you then: pellet stoves generate no smoke. They offer a clean burning, smokeless experience, and do not produce fumes or odors.
To save money
With the high cost of living nowadays, it doesn’t hurt for you to find hacks to help cut down on those extra costs that send your utility bill skyrocketing. As we have already seen, wood pellets are much cheaper than other fuel sources like gas, oil, or electricity.
How to Maintain Your Pellet Stove
- Visually inspect the hopper and auger plate.
- Lubricate and clean the convection and combustion motors.
- Check the electrical wiring, the vacuum sensors, and the heat switches.
- Check the electrical sensors and igniter – test them to see if they are alright.
- Check the pressure and the latch switches.
- Clean out all the ash residues from the exhaust pipes.
- Clean the fire chamber and its components: the burn pot, the fire walls, the ignition assembly, the draft chambers, the exhaust ports, and the heat exchangers.
If you are looking for a way to survive the economy, or if you want to keep the environment clean, you will want to buy a pellet stove.