Are pellet stoves worth it? How Pellet Stoves Work FAQ

Updated on January 26, 2023

Are wood pellet stoves worth it?

Pellet stoves are worth it when you consider that a 40 000Btu pellet stove will generate enough heat to warm the average 3 bedroom house up to 25% cheaper than a conventional wood stove. Pellet stoves are cheaper to run as they are more efficient and pellets are cheaper to buy than wood. 

Video – Are wood pellet stoves worth it? Efficiency Tests


What are the pros and cons of a pellet stove?

Best Pellet stove pros

  1. Highly efficient – wood stoves can be 65% less efficient than pellet stoves
  2. Less pollution as pellet stoves make less smoke by complete burning
  3. More economical due to efficiency and lower cost of pellets compare to wood
  4. Wood pellets don’t have pests like wood
  5. Recycled wood is used to make opellets – eco-friendly
  6. Possible tax incentives
  7. Thermostatic control saves fuel
  8. Pellet stoves don’t need a big flue like a wood stove

Disadvantages of wood pellets

  1. Pellet stoves are a bit noisy as they have a fan
  2. If your supply of pellets dries up, you can’t get fuel for your stove
  3. 25% more expensive to buy than a wood stove
  4. Needs electricity to work
  5. Don’t look as nice as conventional wood stoves

Is a pellet stove cost effective?

Pellet stove cost per month

Installation costs all in all are about the same, but the running costs are less, with a cost of the average house at about $45 per month. The average cost of a 40lb bag of wood pellets is $5, so 9 bags would need to be store each month.

Wood pellet costs compared to oil and propane

Is it cheaper to burn wood or pellets?

A cord of maple wood costs about $400 and weighs 2.5 tons. A 2000 square foot house may need 3 cords of maple wood per year, so the average cost would be in the region of $1200 for the year.

Approximately 2 ton of wood pellets might be need for the same house, which amounts to 4000 lbs / 40 lbs = 100 bags. As a bag of wood pellets costs $5, the cost of heating the house would be $500, which is a big saving.

Do pellet stoves use a lot of electricity?

The average power rating of a pellet stove fan is 500 watts, but that doesn’t mean it pulls 500 watts from the supply.

Sometimes the motor is idling, or running just to maintain thermostatic temperature, and other times it’s going full blast, when starting up, for example.

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On top of that motors pull more current when they are starting up, so it’s often difficult to assess exactly what they take from the electricity supply.

The safest way is to actually measure the current over the day. You’ll find that most pellet stoves consume about 300 watts at a cost of about $9 to $15 per month.

How are pellet stoves vented?

Pellet stoves have smaller diameter vent pipes than most straight wood stoves, but the same basic rules apply to venting:

  • If possible, vent upwards as soon as possible after the pipe leaves the stove
  • Avoid long horizontal pipe runs, particularly straight from the rear of the stove
  • Any horizontal run should have a slight incline
  • Don’t vent out of a window. If you have to, don’t terminate the pipe run outside the window
  • All vents should ideally terminate above the roof of your home
  • Venting into an existing chimney is a great option – great draw
  • Typical vent size is 3″
  • Buy the correct vent kit for your stove

Why does my pellet stove keep shutting off?

Main reasons for a pellet stove shutting off are:

  • Not enough draft – adjust the damper
  • Thermostat or wiring problem
  • The fire has gone out – check pellet hoopper
  • Too much clinker – clean all areas regularly

Can you burn wood in a pellet stove?

Wood used for kindling or logs cannot be used in a pellet stove. Pellet stoves can only burn pellets of a specific size, depending on the stove model. The wood use in pellet burners must have specific consistency in terms of energy used and how it is fed to a fire.

Can you burn wood in a pellet stove?

Does a pellet stove use a lot of electricity?

Related Post

Do pellet stoves need to be vented?

Yes, pellet stoves need to be vented in two ways:

  1. Toxic waste gases created by combustion need to be vented to outside the building
  2. There needs to be an adequate draft (supply of fresh air) to feed the fire with oxygen

Problems with either form of venting will mean that the pellet stove may be dangerous and/or it won’t work as it should, bringing the efficiency right down.

How many watts does a pellet stove use?

Pellet stove electrical power varies according to the size of the stove, but is generally uses between 400 and 850 watts, for the blower and feed motors.

It diosn’t used the maximum power all the time, however. It takes most watts when the motor starts or when the fire is starting and the blowing is fierce.

Tests have been down on a 50000Btu pellet stove and found that it draws about 300 watts when running continuously, accounting for dips and troughs as the thermostat calle for more heat and the blower starts again.

Test report user

Does a pellet stove need electricity?

The vast majority of pellet stoves need electricity to work, but a small number have been developed that can operate without electricity.

Why does a pellet stove need electricity?

  • Pellet stoves can be ignited using an electrical element automatically and also by hand, if needed.
  • A fan forces air into the combustion area to ensure complete and efficient combustion.
  • Hot air can be pushed out of the stove by another fan to circulate hot air around the room.
  • An electric motor operates the auger mechanism for bring pellets into the combustion are.

Are pellet stoves bad for your health?

Pellet stoves can be bad for your health in two ways:

  1. Stored wood pellets can become damp, forming mold which is dangerous for lung health.
  2. Poorly vented pellet stoves can cause lung problems as particulate size is very small

In general, the same precautions as for wood stoves apply. Correct venting is essential so that carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses are pushed away from living quarters.

Good ventilation is also essential in living quarters, particularly the room where the stove is. If a small problem develops and the stove isn’t functioning properly, a well-ventilated room will ensure no gases accumulate.

Can a pellet stove heat a whole house?

Pellet stoves are best at heating one room, or two, if you fans blowing the heat through. Heating a whole house with one pellet stove is a tough call, particularly if it isn’t open plan, so plenty of walls and doors to block the heat passage.

The best solution for heating an average 2000 square foot home is to install a pellet boiler or furnace.

In this way you would reap the benefit of pellet stove efficiency while enjoying the benefits of central heating. The pellet furnace would heat up a central store of hot water which can be pumped around base-board heaters or radiators.

This is a gentle heat that keeps out humidity and reaches everywhere in the house. It should save as much as 25% on the cost of running a gas or oil furnace.

What size pellet stove do I need?

Pellet stoves range from 15000 to 65000  Btu, so not a big range. A 60000 Btu is recommended for the average 2000 square foot home, but does that mean that 30000 Btu is needed for a 1000 square foot home?

Not quite!

It doesn’t work quite like that, as it’s more of a sliding scale that a linear. (See the chart below.)

Table: What size pellet stove is needed to heat your house?

Home Size (in square feet)

Pellet stove size (in BTU)


20 000


28 000


34 000


36 000


44 000


50 000


56 000


60 000


64 000

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Can you burn corn in a pellet stove?

Normally it isn’t advised to burn corn in your pellet stove. It might work but the heat output would be down, it would be less efficient and you’d most likely void any warranty that cam with the stove.

Special stoves are made that burn just corn. As a general rule, burn wood in a wood stove, wood pellets in a pellet stove and logs in a wood stove.

You can also buy multi-fuel stoves which burn pellets, corn, wood chips and most anything else that is dry and comes in the the same size as pellets.

How much does it cost to run a pellet stove?

It can cost up to $160 per month to run a medium size (45 BTU) pellet stove if it was running for 24 hours. However, this is unusual.

Most people buy a pellet stove for a room or small space that needs extra heating, like a small space heater, using a more central heating system for the home’s main heating.

In this case, the pellet stove would only run 6 to 8 hours a day and cost about $50 to $60/month to run.

Can you cook on a pellet stove?

Unfortunately, it depends, depends, depends!

First of all, while most pellet stoves have flat tops making it easy to place saucepans, some don’t. Pellet stoves aren’t designed to radiate heat from the top, but tend to be pretty well insulated.

This way the fan can be used to direct heat from the front or side of the stove to wherever it’s required. Any heat coming out of the top of the stove would need to be pretty intense to cook; or would it?

I could easily envisage putting a slow cooker on top of a flat pellet stove and leaving it to cook a stew for a few hours. I think this is easily doable, but for general cooking, no.

How hot does a pellet stove get?

Pellet stoves don’t get as hot as a standard wood stove, which can a single or double skin with or without a ceramic components. Wood stoves are also intended to radiate heat, whereas pellet stoves are convection devices.

You’ll notice that the outer skin of a pellet stove, while too hot to touch in places, isn’t scorching at about 500 degrees. You’ll remove your hand very quickly, but it won’t take your skin off.

Most pellet stoves are designed to expel air into the room at a temperature of up to 250 degrees, but this quikcly reduces as it dissipates and moves away into the volume of air.

They can heat up a small room very quickly because of the forced convection design.

Do pellet stoves smell?

In normal operation pellet stoves don’t smell at all. They are designed for complete combustion, so any combustible particles that are created are quickly recycled and burned in the intense heat in combustion chamber.

This means that the there are less fumes and toxic gasses to smell and pollute. Carbon dioxide will be prersent and to a lesser extent, carbon monoxide, although the latter should be mostly burned up.

The only time you might detect a strange smell is when the pellet stove is lit from new, when parts will be burning off any products used to protect bare metal for storage purposes.

After the first hour or two of operation a pellet stove shouldn’t smell at all.

Can a pellet stove heat a two story house?

How much a pellet stove can heat depends of several factors:

  1. the pellet stove output in BTU
  2. the heat loss efficiency of the home
  3. air circulation

A 60000 BTU pellet stove can adequately heat a well-insulated two story 2000 square foot home. If poorly insulated, then heat will lost through windows, etc, and more BTUs will be required.

It’s a simple idea – it’s no good putting heat into a house if it’s leaving through gaps in windows and badly insulated floors, walls or ceilings. Insulation is the first step in installing a new heating system in a house.

Next, 2 stories can present difficulties for a pellet stove. They are best at heating one largish space. If there are doors, floors and walls seperating living spaces, then a distribution system is needed.

It may be best to invest in a pellet furnace in combination with a ducted air heating system or central water-based system.

How safe are pellet stoves?

Pellet stoves are as safe as any other form of heating as long as they are professionally installed. This means that any permits needed are procured, all materials are to code and the installer is authorised.

Pellet stoves correct installation is vital to correct and safe operation. In particular, correct distancing from other objects in the room and vent installation are key.

Correct venting ensures that CO2 can’t build up in the living space, which should also be well-ventilated. Make sure you have a rigid maintenance schedule and clean all recommended parts to the time schedule provided.

Each year have the stove safety checked by an installer and arrange a major overhaul every two years.

Can you vent a pellet stove through the roof?

Most wood stoves are best vented directly through the roof, but with pellet stoves you have the choice of a vertical or horizontal outlet.

When venting vertically through the roof the installation is exactly the same as an ordinary wood stove. The only proviso is that the diameter of the pipe is that recommended by the stove manufacturer and this may vary accord to the vertical pipe run through your roof.

For horizontal venting, it’s best to use the kit provided by the pellet stove supplier. In this way you’ll know that everything is to specification and safe.

Can you leave a pellet stove unattended?

Pellet stoves are designed to operate for 24 hours a day with no hazard. They are not known for exploding, or causing massive fires. In fact, they have a better safety record than most other forms of heating.

Pellet stoves can be generally left unattended for hours without concern. The key to it all is cleaning and maintenance. Make sure you follow the maintenance schedule, arrange an annual safety check and you’re good to go.

Do pellet stove chimneys need to be cleaned?

In fact, pellet stoves need to be cleaned more than a wood stove, simply because there are more moving parts.

There is wiring, electronic components, an auger mechanism for delivering pellets and at least two fans for efficient combustion and heat distribution.

Pay particular attention to cleaning:

  • The combustion chamber
  • The pellet delivery mechanism
  • The vent pipe/chimney

Video – How do you clean a pellet stove?

Can you use a pellet stove without electricity?

Most pellet stoves don’t run without electricity, as they have control circuits and electric motors to drive.

Pellet stoves electrical components:

  • Auger driven by a motor for pellet delivery
  • Fan for complete combustion
  • External convection fan for heat distribution
  • Thermostat and heat sensors
  • Control board

Some pellet stoves don’t need electricity. In this case an improved drafting system from beneath the combustion chamber grating ensures enough draft for complete combustion.

The pellets are delivered down a gravity-fed chute, instead of by a motor-driven auger. Any thermostatic controls are of the mechanical variety and heat delivery into the room is overhead by natural convection.

Can you put a pellet stove in a fireplace?

Yes, it’s possible, and even desirable, to install a pellet stove in a fireplace.

It’s a great idea to use an existing fireplace chimney, making sure that it’s cleaned before use. In fact, pellet stove exhaust fumes have a very low concentration of particulate soot content, so the chimny won’t get as dirty as with a wood stove or fire.

Pellet stove installation

It’s normal practice to install a vent pipe several yards up into the chimney to ensure great draw, and using the chimney fabric after that distance. If there’s any doubt about the integrity of the brick-work inisde the chimney, then run the vent pipe all the way to the top and secure it there.

The only thing left to do is to blank off the chimney just above the pellet stove so heat doesn’t convect up the chimney and out of the home.

Does a pellet stove need to be vented?

Yes, all pellet stoves need to be vented to a location away from the exterior of the house. This can either be done vertically, through the roof, or horizontally through an adjacent wall.

The area around the pellet stove needs to be ‘vented’, in that there should be plenty of air circulating to ensure good pellet combustion.

How do pellet stoves work without electricity?

Pellet stoves make use of electricity for improving combustion, circulating warm air and feeding the stove with pellets. Because of these elements, a control circuit is also required.

Pellet stoves do exist that don’t need electricity. Combustion areas are very well vented through the bottom grate and pellets are fed into the fire by gravity, down a shiny chute made of stainless steel.

The only thing that can really suffer is hot air circulation around the room. In this case, it’s purely a case of rising heat from the stove being directed around the heated space.

Is pellet stove smoke toxic?

Surprisingly, pellet stove smoke is more toxic than wood stove smoke, for a couple of reasons.

While it’s true that pellet stoves produce a lower volume of particles, the particles of a much smaller, which means they can be drawn into the lungs and penetrate much deeper. This encourage cancer growth.

Pellet stove smoke carries toxic gases, notably CO2, but these are not excessive during normal operation when the stove is idling under thermostatic control.

However, during start-up and shut-down phases, the toxic compounds present in the smoke and vented outside is considerably more and represents a health hazard.

Do you need a chimney liner for a pellet stove?

Strictly speaking a chimney liner isn’t needed to install a pellet stove in an existing chimney. Pellet stoves make very little soot or creasote and should be fine as long as the installation is checked for cleanliness each year.

If the condition of the brickwork inside the chimney isn’t known, or if it’s very old, I would install a stainless steel liner as a precaution. Such a liner is simply hauled up the chimney from the top and anchored there.

How often should I clean my pellet stove?

Pellet stoves have more moving parts than a wood stove and these should be cleaned regularly. The combustion chamber should always be kept in good condition.

Follow the schedule shown below:

  • Brush out the internal chamber each time the fire is out.
  • Once a month thoroughly clean the combustion chamber and pellet auger.
  • Once a year schedule a maintenance call for operation and thermostat action.
  • Once every two years order a complete overhaul of stove and vent.

How long will a pellet stove burn?

Once the pellet fire is started, how much it consumes depends on how you use it. If you have a big room then it’s going to use more. A good rule of thumb is to allow for a full 24 hours running for each 40lbs bag of wood pellets.

Why does my pellet stove smoke when starting?

Smoke is always a sign that combustion is not efficient. This could be due to damp or contaminated wood pellets or something else, like a clogged combustion pot or blocked flue.

I would recommend a thorough cleanout, as this often uncovers problems not easily seen before you get into it. Next, is the fuel nice and dry? If damp, then it’ll be difficult to start – incomplete combustion always makes smoke.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check that there isn’t a blockage in the vent pipe. You never know, a bird might have decided to nest up there!

Remember that smoke of all kinds is toxic, so ventilate the room thoroughly, extinguish the stove and go through the steps above methodically.

Pellet stove how many bags per day?

A 40lbs bag of wood pellets should last a day, unless the stove is blasting out full bore. (Resource: Pellet Fuels Institute)

I think this should be taken as a very broad estimate, as stoves vary and also the kind of space you’re heating. For example, a drafty room with a high ceiling is really going to mean keeping a stove going close to maximum output.

The average 1500 square foot home needs about 70 000 BTU to heat it all year, depending on location. Ideally, you’d need that amount of pellet stove power.

Count on using about 130 pellet bags of 40lbs each at a total cost of $650.

How far can you vent a pellet stove?

The easiest way to vent a pellet stove is straight through a wall with a horizontal run not more than 3 feet (less than 1 meter).

The vent should be at least 18 inches away from the window and it would be nice to have a draft to help take the fumes right away from living quarters. Any horizontal run should be rising rather than dead flat.

While a horizontal run is the quickest and easiest to install, it isn’t ideal for a working stove – it just isn’t as efficient as a vertical run, which is best when inserted in an existing chimney.

3″ pipe is recommended up to 15 feet vertical (4.5 meters) and 4″ for anything over that length.

What are clinkers in a pellet stove?

It’s probably not due to the stove operation, but for me this is the start of any investigation into abnormal burning.

As a first step, let the stove out and thoroughly clean it. If clinkers are forming due to poor combustion, a good cleaning might solve the problem.

Clinkers are clumps of material that don’t get burned properly, either because their not combustible, or because the heat isn’t the right temperature.

The most probable cause is low quality pellets. It’s worthwhile buying the best quality, both from the point of view of heating efficiency and stove long life.

If clinker formation is accompanied with too much smoke, then the cause is possible some kind of blockage in the fume vent pipe.

Can I replace my gas fireplace with a pellet stove?

It’s a simple business to remove your old gas fire and insert a pellet stove, but there a some important points to mention.

The pellet stove will be using an existing chimney, so this should be inspected. It’s always advisable to remove the old chimney lining and replace it with one supplied for the job by the pellet stove supplier.

If the vertical chimney run is less than 15 feet, use 3″ diameter pipe. If it’s over 15 ft, use 4″ pipe.

Finally, make sure there is adequate ventilation around the stove and that the room has ventilation. Blank off the chimney above the stove to seal out any possible blow-back of toxic fumes and you’re good to go.

Do you need fresh air intake for pellet stove?

Not all pellet stoves need a fresh air intake, but more and more manufacturers are strongly recommending it. It make sense when you think about.

Initially you might think ‘here we go again, more cost!’ but it really does bring benefits. If you don’t have a fresh it intake, the air to feed combustion is drawn from the room, so it’s taking heated air away from your living space.

Bringing fresh air in through a 2″ pipe will therefore make the heating more efficient and the kits are not that expensive.

Do I need a hearth pad for a pellet stove?

A hearth pad is normally recommended for any kind of stove that is place in a living room. The only exception is if a stove is placed directly on a concret or slab floor, such as in a cellar or basement.

Can a pellet stove be installed in a basement?

The basement is a great place to install a pellet stove. It’s basically a convection device and so heat will naturally rise through the rest of the house, either naturally or assisted.

Pellet Stove Size Calculator

Resources relating to pellet stoves:

What to Know Before You Buy a Wood Stove or Pellet Stove

The Best Small Pellet Stoves for 2021 – Green Coast

Pellet Stoves | Quadra-Fire

Pellet Burning Home Heating | Harman Stoves

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