Before you buy pellet stoves
Before you buy pellet stoves you need to make sure you get the best pellet stove for you and your home or office. Once you have the best pellet stove for you there are also some things to consider for your pellet stove installation.
A brief history on pellet stoves and home heating
Before the 20th century, 90% of Americans burned wood to heat their homes. As fossil fuel use rose, the percentage of Americans using wood for fuel dropped, falling as low as one percent by 1970. Then during the energy crises of the 1970s, interest in wood heating resurfaced as a renewable energy alternative.
Newer on the scene are pellet fuel appliances such as pellet stoves, which burn small pellets that look like rabbit feed and measure 3/8 to 1 inch in length. Pellets are made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials.
Some pellet fuel appliances can burn a wide variety of biomass fuels, including nutshells, corn kernels (including so called corn pellet heating stoves), small wood chips, barley, beet pulp, sunflowers, dried cherry pits, and soybeans.
Think of this when you buy pellet stoves and before your pellet stove installation begins
Today you can choose the best pellet stove from a new generation of wood- and pellet-burning appliances that are cleaner burning, more efficient, and powerful enough to heat many average-sized, modern homes.
It's also important to use properly sized pellets stove for the space to be heated. When a pellet stove is too big, residents tend to burn fires at a low smolder to avoid overheating, which wastes fuel and is one of the biggest causes of air pollution.
A reputable dealer should talk with you about size requirements, but a good rule-of-thumb is that a stove rated at 60,000 British Thermal Units (Btu) can heat a 2,000 square foot home, while a stove rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300 square foot space.
The backside of wood burning
Wood-burning appliances and fireplaces may emit large quantities of air pollutants. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate matter, many of which have adverse health effects. In many urban and rural areas, smoke from wood burning is a major contributor to air pollution.
Because of this, some municipalities restrict wood heating appliance use when the local air quality reaches unacceptable levels. Others restrict or ban the installation of wood-burning appliances in new construction. Before installing a wood-burning system, you should contact your local building codes department, state energy office, or state environmental agency about wood-burning regulations that may apply in your area.
Upgrade to new wood pellet stoves
If you have an older wood-burning appliance, consider upgrading to one of the newer appliances certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They include a catalytic combustor that allows combustion gases to burn at lower temperatures, thereby cleaning the exhaust gas while generating more heat.
All woodstoves sold today should bear an EPA certification sticker. High-efficiency appliances not only have lower emissions but they are also often safer, since complete combustion helps to prevent a buildup of flammable chimney deposits called creosote.
If you want to retrofit an existing non-catalytic wood-burning appliance with a catalytic combustor, you can buy a catalytic damper. These are available as kits and are usually installed in the flue collar. To monitor the stove temperature after adding a catalytic combustor, you should also install at least one heat sensor on the stove body or stove pipe.
Several manufacturers sell retrofit kits, and they may be available from wood stove retailers. They are not appropriate for all types of stoves. Again, be sure to follow the manufacturer's installation and operating instructions.
Best pellet stove installation
The location of the appliance (and chimney) will influence how well heat is distributed and conserved in your home. Most wood- and pellet stoves are essentially space heaters, and should be put in the room where you spend most of your time. Ideally, there should be a way for heat to circulate to the rest of the house.
For safety, and to maximize efficiency, after you buy pellet stoves you should consider having a professional do your pellet stove installation. A professional will carefully evaluate everything from your chimney to your floor protection to get the best pellet stove performance. A certified professional can also help you choose the best pellet stove to heat your home.
A big thank you to the US Department of Energy for their help with the data for how to buy pellet stoves and for this pellet stove installation information.