Everything You Need to Know About Pellet Stoves

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Last updated: 
March 24, 2024

The Rise of Pellet Stoves: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Home Heating


In recent years, a beneficial trend has emerged in the form of 'green homes'. With the effects of climate change becoming more apparent, such as melting polar ice caps and significant weather changes, it has become clear that we need to take better care of our environment. One of the easiest ways to start is by making our homes more energy-efficient. According to research, turning our houses into energy-efficient units requires some changes, but they are not difficult to make. One such change is upgrading heating facilities, and pellet stoves have quickly become a popular solution among environmentally conscious homeowners.

What Is a Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove is a specific type of stove that uses wood or biomass pellets to generate heat. It is primarily used in residential spaces but can also be used in industrial settings. When the burner is continuously fed with fuel, the stove produces a consistent flame that requires little to no adjustment. The use of pellets allows these stoves to achieve an energy efficiency factor of more than 90%.

The first miniaturized pellet stove appeared in the 1980s in Washington, derived from the idea of using pine sawdust in the form of Presto-Logs back in the 1930s at pine mills in Lewiston, Idaho. Modern pellet stoves are constructed from steel or cast-iron pieces, with stainless steel encasing the circuitry and exhaust areas. They can be either freestanding units or inserts into existing stone fireplaces. Some pellet stoves are also compatible with other types of fuel, such as sunflower seeds, wheat, corn, or cherry pits, although manufacturers often recommend using a special corn and pellet mixture designed for this purpose.

Corn Stoves: A Variation of Pellet Stoves

A variation of the pellet stove is the corn stove, which uses whole corn kernels as a combustion source instead of pellets. Corn stoves also feature an additional metal stirring rod in the burn pot and may come with an ash removal system. Both pellet stoves and corn stoves offer excellent energy efficiency.

Pellet Fuel

Pellet fuel is typically sold in 40-pound bags at an average price of $3 per pound. Experienced wood pellet stove users recommend that beginners purchase pellets by the ton to ensure a consistent supply throughout the winter. An average-sized house typically requires 2 to 3 tons of pellets per year, which costs approximately $200 per ton, making it a cost-effective heating solution.

It is important to note that most pellet fuels have a moisture content between 5% and 10%. Some types may also contain petroleum or non-petroleum lignin, which is used as a lubricant during the manufacturing process. However, the majority of pellets are additive-free. When purchasing pellets, it is crucial to check the quality by examining the bag for dust and dirt, as these debris can form clinkers in the stove. High-quality pellets should have less than half a cup of dust at the bottom of a standard 40-pound bag.

Pros and Cons of Pellet Stoves


  • Compact size and easy storage of pellets
  • User-friendly operation
  • Minimal smoke and ash production
  • Cost-effective heating solution


  • High initial cost of the stove and installation
  • Limited availability in some regions
  • Frequent pellet purchases may be necessary for small homes or apartments
  • Reliance on electricity, requiring a backup generator during power outages

Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

Although pellet stoves and wood stoves may seem similar, they have several key differences:

Pellet StovesWood Stoves
More efficient, requiring fewer pelletsLess efficient, requiring more wood
Pellets are less expensive than woodWood is more expensive than pellets
Produce 75-80% more BTUs than wood stovesProduce fewer BTUs than pellet stoves
Pellets are compact and easy to storeWood requires bulk purchases and ample storage space
Minimal smoke and ash productionProduce more smoke and ash than pellet stoves
Rely on electricity, may fail during power outagesDo not require electricity to function

Best Pellet Stove Brands

According to online reviews, some of the best pellet stove brands include:

  • Harman Pellet Stoves
  • Whitfield Pellet Stoves and Parts
  • Breckwell
  • Englander
  • Lopi

Other notable brands include St. Croix Stoves, Maine Stoves, WoodMaster, Avalon Fire Styles, Lowes, Enviro, Napoleon Fireplaces, and Accentra pellet stoves. Pellet stoves can also be purchased at local Home Depot stores or on eBay.

Choosing the Right Pellet Stove

When shopping for a pellet stove, consider the following factors:

  • Decide on the type of pellet stove (stand-alone or insert, modern or regency)
  • Research the ratings and reviews of the specific model
  • Inquire about the price, installation cost, and who will be installing the stove
  • Ask about troubleshooting and support from the seller
  • Familiarize yourself with the stove's manual and ask questions about any unclear aspects
  • Look for top deals, sales, or clearance offers
  • Thoroughly inspect used pellet stoves for potential issues with venting, hot air direction, or pellet burning
  • Consider a window stove for small homes, as they are safer in terms of venting and furnace


Pellet stoves offer an eco-friendly and cost-effective home heating solution. By understanding how they work and considering factors such as your home's square footage, budget, and pellet availability in your area, you can make an informed decision when choosing the perfect pellet stove for your needs. Embracing this green technology not only benefits your household but also contributes to a more sustainable future for our planet.

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