Pellet stoves are an efficient alternative way to heat your home. They use inexpensive fuels made from biomass and don’t produce a lot of waste. With natural gas and oil prices on a steady upward trend, pellets stoves have become increasingly popular and worth a look.
Pellet stoves can use compressed wood by-products, corn and one manufacturer, Bixby, offers pellets made from small food waste like olive pits and almond shells and stoves that can switch between fuel sources.
The wood and corn pellet stove is designed to burn their specific biomass pellets. While this can, and has, caused some supply issues; the technology diverts waste into a highly functional capacity.
Wood stove pellets can be made from sawdust and wood shavings that might otherwise be casually discarded. Corn pellet stoves operate similar to wood-burning units but rely on corn kernels for fuel. Both versions have been popular for their heat output and the convenience of storing the small fuel sources.
As these types of stoves gained in popularity, consumers found themselves in a pellet shortage and pellet prices increased significantly. No pellets for your fuel specific stove means no heat.
The crisis sent pellet stove manufacturers into solution overdrive. The most prominent of these is GP Power in the UK: By designing stoves that weren’t dependent on just one pellet type; GP Power stoves helped alleviate some of the problems associated with tremendous popularity of these home heat sources.
Pellet stoves are rated at their BTU capacity and percent combustion efficiency. The first value, BTU capacity, can help you choose the right size model for your home’s needs. The second value indicates the amount of ash the stove produces. The higher the combustion efficiency, the less ash the stove kicks out.
Pellet stoves are not cheap and depending on the features can become a hefty investment. However, their reliance on inexpensive fuels and their extreme efficiency allow home heating at around half the cost of oil or natural gas.
One buying consideration for pellet stoves is that although they seem relatively simple, the technology is rather complex. They do require regular maintenance to keep performing at optimal output. It’s a good idea to check with the dealer and think about a service contract.
The other important factor is fuel source availability. A typical pellet stove burns between 1 to 3 tons of pellets per heating season. Be sure to research the availability and prices of pellets in your area before committing to a particular type of stove. The closer the pellet source the better for your wallet, your heat and the environment.