Everyone loves to stay warm during the cold season. Did you know that one-third of the entire household utility bill is spent on heating in cold areas? Keeping warm should not be expensive or sophisticated. As winter approaches, you are often tasked with looking for cheaper ways to warm your indoors. Traditionally, heating the house required the hassle of hauling to acquire or buy firewood to prepare a fire. Chopping, storing, and constant stocking of firewood is also a hassle. Health-wise, wood smoke is harmful. It contains many compounds that, in addition to causing many adverse effects on various body parts, pollutes the environment. Pellet stove is a perfectly viable alternative to wood stoves. They are an excellent way to keep your indoors warm during the winter seasons. They are convenient, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly.
Up to the twentieth century, wood was the most common type of fuel. Estimates indicate that nearly ninety-two percent of Americans depended on wood as the primary means of heating their indoors. The emergence of fossils fuels saw wood drastically falling out of fashion and replaced by electricity alternatives. The energy crisis of the 1970s revived the dependence on wood owing to its renewability. Since then, the percentage of users has risen and is still growing.
What are Pellets?
Pellet stove is environmentally friendly, unique, and affordable electric appliance that offers an option for heating. It uses a modern fuel known as pellets which people easily confuse with rabbit food due to the close resemblance. Wood pellets are a byproduct of sawmills. They are made from sawdust and wood shavings recycled by sawmills. The process of making wooden pellets is not only easy but is also affordable and Eco-friendly. The rate of pollution associated with pellets compared to other fuels is less. They can also be made from corn and grass, although you cannot use them on stoves made for use by wood pellets. They are compressed to hardwood pellets of a quarter inch in diameter and three-quarters long and stored in 40-pound bags.
When purchasing wood pellets, you must ensure that they are of high quality. To ascertain the quality of the wood pellets, ensure the manufacturer is a member of Pellets Fuels Institute. On average, each household consumes about two to three tons of pellets each heating season. The recommended price of each ton of wood pellets in America is between two hundred to three hundred dollars.
How Pellet Stove Works
Pellet stove is electronically operated. A pellet stove comprises different parts.
At the hopper location, there is a laden from which the pellets are fed to the auger. The auger is operated by a motor that determines how high or low the temperatures of the stove will heat the room. From the auger, the pellets drain through the tube to the flame. Models with a laden on the top ensure the risks of the hopper getting burnt are reduced. However, ashes end up clogging the tube. To curb the clogging, you are always advised to use pellets that produce minimal ash. Models whose feeding part is located on the bottom part have the laden horizontally assembled. The best advantage of horizontally placed laden is that you can use standard pellets since the ashes move away from the burning area. Unlike top feed models, bottom-feed models require minimal cleaning as the air inlets are less prone to clogging.
Type of Ignition
Pellet stove depending on the model, uses two types of ignition: manual ignition or automatic ignition. Manually, you use a flammable material, either gel or liquid starter, lit together with the flame, similarly to making fire at a conventional fire. Automatically, models present a button on switching on prompts the stove to push the pellets into the burn pot, which self-ignites to heat the room. Combustion happens in the burn pot housed in the combustion chamber. At the burn pot, the pellets are compressed to maintain them at a high density and low moisture. Heavy compression is vital in producing a hotter flame hence higher temperatures for heating the room. The burn pot is considered the stove’s carburetor, where the fuel and air mix undergo complete combustion. The chamber also has an ash pot where the pellets’ ash produced is captured and cleaned regularly.
Heat Output Levels
Pellet stove is designed with different aspects that ensure that they heat rooms of various sizes. Each model produces heat at different levels hence the customization. Heat levels are measured by a standard unit, the British thermal units (Btu), per hour. Most models available in the American market produce heat levels ranging between forty thousand and sixty thousand per hour. Heating a room through a pellet stove is through convection, where hot air rise to heat the room. All the cool air in the room is pulled through convection to the burn pot, where it enables even and efficient burning of the pellets to produce warm air. It is passed over a heat exchanger that transfers clean air through the blower into your room.
While an ordinary pellet stove heats one room at a time, it can be equipped with additional equipment to enable multiple room heating. Installation of specially designed fans in the primary room makes it is easy to transfer heat from one room to another, provided they are connected. If you want to heat the whole house, you can use a wood pellet furnace that has been specially manufactured to integrate with your current vent system.
Types of Pellet Stoves
There are two broad types of wood pellet stove; insert pellet stove and free-standing pellet stove. For insert stoves, a pre-existing fireplace should already be available. An insert stove is fixed to the fireplace provided it fits in the firebox. It is then connected with the vents of the chimney in the firebox.
Free-standing stoves are an alternative to pre-existing fireplaces. They come with their exhaustion pipes. The pellet stove is designed in different sizes, styles, and colors that suit your home’s requirements.
The performance of a wood pellet stove depends on the layout, regional climate, and insulation of your home. However, from experience, a stove that produces approximately five thousand British thermal units of firepower can sufficiently heat a room measuring up to two hundred square feet. It is always advisable to consult a dealer who will visit your home and, after thorough scrutiny, gives you the most precise model match for your space.
Safety precautions when using a stove pellet for heating purposes include:
- It must be placed at least thirty-six from draperies and furniture
- For households with children, they should be kept far from foot-traffic are
- It would be best to seal the exhaust pipe tightly to prevent flue gases into the home through the tube.
- To prevention errant embers, the stove must rest on a non-combustible surface such as ceramic tile, stone, etc.
Advantages of Using a Pellet Stove for Heating Purposes
They are easy to use and maintain
Pellet stoves are very user-friendly due to the automatic ignition and power modulation they contain. Power modulation is either controlled by inbuilt thermostats or remote controls. As technology keeps advancing and getting more sophisticated, some pellet stoves are controlled via mobile phones. Commands are either sent via mobile applications or text messages. Unlike other fuels that present the risk of creosote building up, the risk is eliminated with pellets, making it easy to maintain.
Pellet stoves are highly efficient
Compared to conventional fireplaces and wood-burning stoves in the heating range, wood stove is ninety percent more efficient. Also, a pellet stove’s use and energy consumption rate are cheaper than using electricity and fossil fuels for heating purposes.
The hassle of continuous loading and tending is eliminated with pellet stoves. Provided your stove has an inbuilt hopper, it will remain functional for about twelve hours provided it is fully loaded. Introducing an additional thirty percent load relieves you tending for a whole day and a half.
It is environmentally friendly
Pellet stoves have an in-built computer system that makes sure the stoves burn cleanly. Clean burning leads to deficient production of ash hence very minimal clogging of air inlets and outlets. It is estimated that the ash content production in a pellet stove is between 0.5 to 1 percent. In addition, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions are also very low since pellets are certified as carbon neutral. Emissions regarding toxic chemicals and smoke for pellet stoves are low compared to gas and other conventional fossil fuels such as wood. The fact that pellets are made from recycled materials such as wood shavings, sawdust, and nutshells makes them highly friendly to the environment.
Wood pellets as a fuel are convenient
Pellets are very affordable compared to other sources of energy and have enjoyed price stability over the years since their emergence. Convenience in use is because they are readily usable, and in terms of packaging, the storage bags fit conveniently in storage areas and stockpiles.
The installation of pellet stoves compared to conventional fireplaces enjoy elementary installation procedures. First, installing expensive chimneys and vents is not mandatory since the emissions are very few with pellet as a fuel. For wood pellet stoves, a vent pipe to let out burnt gases after burning is enough. Installation of the vent pipe is not sophisticated and only requires straightforward and simple steps that one can complete without the assistance of a professional.
Disadvantages of Wood Pellet Stoves
Maintenance requirements for pellet stoves are costly
The efficiency attached to using wood pellet stoves for heating purposes makes many people overlook the costs incurred in maintenance. First, the stove’s burn pot requires regular vacuuming, usually weekly. In addition, cleaning out the burn pot every three months and getting it checked and serviced by a professional usually once every year is advised. A pellet stove has sophisticated parts such as the hopper feed, blower fan, and temperature sensors that you must maintain regularly lest the appliance spoil.
A pellet stove is noisy
The stove runs on various parts controlled by motors such as the auger motor, in-built ventilation system. Engines are known to produce a lot of noise during usage. Recent models are gradually sorting the problem by upgrading previous models to make less minimal noise.
The stoves are dependent on electricity
Traditional fireplaces operated with or without electricity. In case there is no electricity, pellet stoves become useless as they cannot work. They have in-built computer systems that must run on electricity.
The initial investment of a pellet stove is high
Depending on the model chosen, you must part with a high financial backing to heat your room with a pellet stove. Cheap models cost around two thousand euros at retail and up to four thousand euros for more complicated and sophisticated models.
The use of plastic bags for the storage of pellets is environmentally unfriendly.
A purchase of less than a ton of pellets requires packaging on plastic bags. Regular purchasing of less than a ton means that more and more plastic bags will be used and probably disposed of after usage. As the globe struggles with complications brought by plastic pollution resulting from poor disposal, this is escalated. The issue is addressed by packing in reusable bags made from cloth or plastics classified as degradable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the pros and cons of a pellet stove?
The best advantages of using a pellet stove lie with the automatic ignition, ease of use, clean-burning, very low toxic emissions, and high-level efficiency. Also, pellets used in a pellet stove are considered a clean fuel and environmentally friendly. In addition, you will enjoy an automated control, high heat output, easy, flexible, and affordable installation. However, with pellet stove, you will put up with noise, low life expectancy, high maintenance requirements, complexity and sophistication, and the dependence on electricity. Also, a stove pellet is heavy and produces a small flame.
How long will a 40 lb bag of wood pellets burn?
A 40-pound bag of wood pellets is estimated to burn a whole day without regular tending. Depending on the stove’s temperature, you can heat your house a full day with a bag of forty pounds. The higher the temperature, the faster the pellets will finish, and the lower the temperature, the longer the bag will last.
How do pellets stoves work without electricity?
In preparation for a power outage situation, it is always advised to equip your stove with a backup system running on rechargeable batteries. The batteries operate on AC power which as soon as the power goes out, the backup battery switches on automatically, and the stove continues working without significant interruption. The battery backup system acts as an interface between the furnace and the AC power outlet.
Are pellets stoves worth it?
Yes. It is more convenient to operate a pellet stove compared to an electric fireplace and wood stoves. In addition to convenience, the combustion rate and efficiency of wood pellets used in a pellet stove are higher hence a lower rate of air pollution. Pellet stove is ranked as one of the cleanest types of solid fuel used on residential heating appliances.