Wood Pellet Stoves – Benefits
Most pellet stoves are self igniting and cycle themselves on and off under thermostatic control. Stoves with automatic ignition can be equipped with remote controls. Recent innovations include integrated microcontroller monitoring of various safety conditions and can run diagnostic tests if an imminent problem arises.
A properly cleaned and maintained pellet stove should not create creosote, the sticky, flammable substance that causes chimney fires. Pellets burn very cleanly and create only a layer of fine fly ash as a byproduct of combustion. The grade of pellet fuel affects the performance and ash output. Premium grade pellets produce less than one percent ash content, while standard or low grade pellets produce up to six percent ash. Pellet stove users should be aware of the extra maintenance required with a lower grade pellet, and that inconsistent wood quality can cause serious effects to the electronic machinery over a short period of time.
A pellet stove is normally associated with pelletized wood. However, many pellet stoves will also burn fuels such as grain, corn, seeds, or woodchips. In some pellet stoves, these fuels may need to be mixed with wood pellets. Pelletized trash (containing mostly waste paper) is also a fuel for pellet stoves.
Unlike wood stoves which operate exclusively on a principle of chimney draft, a pellet stove must use specially sealed exhaust pipe to prevent exhaust gases escaping into the living space due to the air pressure produced by a combustion blower. Pellet stoves require certified double walled venting, normally three or four inches in diameter with a stainless steel interior and galvanized exterior. Because pellet stoves have a forced exhaust system, they have the advantage of not always requiring a vertical rise to vent, although a 3-to-5-foot (0.91 to 1.52 m) vertical run to induce some draft is recommended to prevent leakage in the case of a power outage. Like a modern gas appliance, pellet stoves can be vented horizontally through an outside wall and terminated below the roof line, making it an excellent choice for structures without an existing chimney. If an existing chimney is available, manufacturers urge use of a correctly sized stainless steel liner the length of the chimney for proper drafting. Modern building techniques have created tightly sealed homes, forcing many pellet stove manufacturers to recommend their stoves be installed with outside air intake to ensure the stoves will run efficiently and prevent potential negative pressure within the home.
Pellet stoves are approved for use in mobile homes, while standard wood burning stoves are not.
In many states pellet fuel is exempt from sales tax.