What Is A Pellet Stove?

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What Is A Pellet Stove?A pellet stove is a stove usually used inside a house for heating. What separates a pellet stove from a regular stove is that rather than burning wood or oil, the fuel is small pellets most often made from “waste” wood.  These stoves burn much more cleanly than traditional wood stoves.

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A pellet stove is usually more complex than a standard wood burning stove, as many of them now feed the pellets in automatically from a “hopper” that can usually hold enough pellets to provide several hours of heat. And, as a general rule, pellet stoves require electricity to operate.

The pellets can be purchased at most feed stores, some of the larger discount stores, and through the internet. A 40 pound bag can range from $4 to $6. If you buy them in large quantities (a ton or more) you can expect to pay (as of early 2014) about $250 a ton.

How Many Pounds Of Pellets Does It Burn?

There is nothing we hate worse than asking a question like this and getting only the answer “Well, it depends on your situation.” We know it depends on the situation, but if someone is truly an expert in their field, it seems they should at least be able to provide an educated estimate of an upper and lower range for this question.

We barely consider ourselves in the “fairly knowledgeable” category about pellet stoves, but we were able to find enough information to answer that question with a plausible quantity.  A typical amount of pellets burned in a single day is between 1 and 3 bags (40 to 120 pounds) in a day.

Yes, that depends on many factors –

  • How large is the space you’re trying to heat
  • Do you like to have your house at 80 degrees?
  • Is it 40 degrees outside or -40 degrees outside?
  • Is there a little wind blowing or is it ripping shingles off your roof?
  • Is your house new / well insulated or is your house old and drafty?

All of these have to be taken into consideration. If you’re trying to heat an area roughly the size of that recommended on a particular stove, and if you like your house around 72-73 degrees (F), and if it’s around 40 degrees, and you have a well-insulated house – you can probably expect to be in the one bag a day range.

Even if you’re trying to heat the recommended square footage, if you crank the thermostat up and if it’s too cold for “man or beast” to be outside, and you know your house is not very well insulated – then you can expect to use at least three bags a day.

If you know how many BTU’s are currently needed to heat your house, you might be able to estimate better.  The average 40 pound bag of wood pellets provides about 330,000 BTU’s.

Although heating with pellets may sound expensive, if you are currently heating your home with propane, you can probably save more than a few bucks by switching to a pellet stove. You can also save more by making your own pellets. (See our next post to find out more about making your own pellets.)

Our last comment – everything we have read seems to say the cheaper stoves are often quite a bit of trouble to run. Not everything in life that is more expensive is better, but that does seem to be the case with pellet stoves.

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