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Pellet Stoves

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Pellet stoves have been around for decades, but their popularity has steadily increased in recent years due to pricier gas and home heating oil. Learn how much pellet stoves cost and why they make a great primary or secondary heating source in this free consumer guide from Home Improvement Educator.

Advantages of a Pellet Stove

Pellet stoves have several advantages over other types of heating stoves. They include:

  • Installation: A pellet stove can be installed as a free-standing unit or as a fireplace insert. And unlike conventional wood stoves, which use chimney updraft to clear smoke from the home (smoke typically enters the house when starting a fire, however), pellet stoves use built-in blowers to deal with smoke. This allows pellet stoves to be vented horizontally outside the home instead of directly upwards through a chimney. Most local laws also allow the top of a pellet stove vent stack to terminate below the roof line, saving on both materials and labor costs (most traditional wood stove chimneys must terminate 2 feet above any part of the roofline that's within ten feet of the chimney).
  • Eco-Friendly: Pellet stoves are considered a green heating option due to the heating fuel they run on. Most pellet stoves burn wood pellets made from recycled/reclaimed wood and sawdust. Pellets made from renewable sources such as corn, grain, and various types of seeds are also available (check with the stove's manufacturer to see if the stove is designed for these alternative pellet fuels).
  • Technology: New pellet stove technology provides computerized temperature control as well as automated pellet release. You won't find any such features on wood stoves.
  • Emissions: Pellet stoves burn incredibly clean. In fact, the EPA does not even regulate them. Wood stoves, on the other hand, must pass an EPA that proves they don't emit too much smoke per minute.
  • Usability: Unlike wood stoves, which must be constantly stoked and loaded, a pellet stove needs no stoking and typically has a hopper large enough to accommodate a full day's supply of fuel.

Other Considerations

  • Pellet stoves rely on electricity to cycle on and off, but do not require it to give off heat. The additional charge on an electrical bill is negligible; expect to pay an extra $5 to $10 per month for electricity if using a pellet stove as a primary heating device and only a few extra dollars if using one as a secondary heater.
  • While burning pellets does not create creosote, it does create a significant amount of ash inside the stove. For proper operation, a pellet stove should be vacuumed out once per day with an ash vacuum (available at most pellet stove distributors).

Pellet Stove Costs

The following prices are compiled from national data; actual costs may vary depending on the area of the country you live in.

  • Pellet stoves are available for as little as $1,000 and as much as $4,000 (for a large, computerized model). Installation costs $500 to $1,000 depending on local building codes and how far out and up the vent stack must protrude from the house.
  • Pellets typically cost $100 to $200 per ton depending on the type and quality of pellets purchased. Most homes that use a pellet stove as a primary source of heat consume 2-3 tons per year. Using a pellet stove as an accessory heating device brings this number closer to 1/2 to one ton.

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