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Pellet Stove, Furnace & Insert FAQ’s


  1. Renewable resource.
  2. Recycled materials.
  3. Helps reduce heating bills.
  4. Condensed fuel saves storage space.
  5. Flexibility with installation.
  6. Easy to operation.
  7. Automated wood burning fire.

To create the pellets, scrap wood, paper and bark are condensed and combined to become ¾ inch pellets about the width of a pencil. Every pellet is the same size, shape, and density and therefore has the same moisture levels and produces the same amount of energy.

There are substantial differences between different types of pellet fuel. There are two different grades of wood pellet which are premium and standard grade. The main disparity between the types if the percentage of ash that each contains. Standard grade pellets contain more ash than premium grade but premium grade still has many differences depending on the manufacturer. The best pellets will have the highest BTU output and the lowest percentage of ash content.

Pellets can be purchased in manageable 40 pound bags similar to water softener salt. To store these bags, it takes four times as many bags of pellets to fill up the same area with cordwood. This means that a supply that will last all winter long will only take up an area about 6 feet wide by 6 feet deep by 6 feet high. These bags can be stored in any dry room such as the garage, shed, basement or furnace room.

Pellets are clean for the environment and clean for your home! Pellets come in easy to handle bags that can be stacked and stored away till they are needed. Pellet stoves and inserts burn this renewable resource without bringing messy logs with spiders, bark, and dirt into your home.

Most commonly, pellet stoves and inserts need a three or four inch Type “L” vent pipe. This vent pipe is not necessary when the pellet stove or insert is installed in a masonry chimney or if it is connected to a pre-fabricated stainless steel chimney. This Type “L” vent pipe can be used to vent the by-products out through a side-wall or vertically up through the roof.

There are many highly reliable manufacturers of pellet appliances. Warranties for this equipment can be found from seven years up to a Limited Lifetime Warranty. To purchase your pellet appliance, make sure to go to a highly regarded specialty hearth dealer. Purchases of this equipment at big box store or from an inexperienced dealer may cost less initially, but it will be apparent that the cost savings were due to a reduction in the quality, performance, burning efficiency, amount of heat produced, maintenance needed and the reliability of the appliance.

Typically, pellets stoves are lit by an automatic ignition system while allows for the burning process to start with just the flip of a switch. Wall thermostats may also be an option to control the amount of heat the pellet stove releases into the room. Stay away from models that require a manually lit flame using gelled alcohol.

The pellet stove process, starts when the pellets are poured into the hopper located at the top of the stove. Then, the circuit board monitors the process of feeding the pellets into the burn pot at exactly the right rate to ensure even and constant heat. Then high pressure air is pushed through the burning pellets to ensure complete burning of the pellets and a cleaner burn process. This creates a burn process of about 95 percent efficiency, which means that more heat for each pellet is sent into your home. The only residue left behind from this process is a fine powdery ash. Next, the heated air is sent through a series of heat exchange tubes in the upper area of the firebox and then this heat is sent out into your home with the built in multiple-speed fan.

As with any other appliance, the amount of space heated depends on the BTU’s per hour produced. More BTUs will produce more heat for a greater area of your home. With pellet stoves, the burn rate can be adjusted. Some pellet appliances can produce a range anywhere from 40,000 to 45,000 BTU per hour when turned to full power. To heat a smaller area, a simple adjustment to the feed rate can be made. A standard small stove will typically operate at 8000 to 28,000 BTU per hour and large appliances will burn at 14,000 to 45,000 BTU per hour. A pellet appliance can heat anywhere from 300 t0 2000 square feet of space.

The amount of heat produced from the pellet appliance is determined by the rate at which the pellets are burned and the speed of the blower fan. The more pellets added to the system, the more heat the appliance will produce.

The maintenance required for a pellet appliance consists of cleaning the stainless steel firepot and the heat exchange tubes. The ash pan must also be cleaned out, along with the exhaust blower. The system should also be checked around the doors, glass and ash pan to make sure there is no air escaping. This should all be done on a regular basis.

For pellet stoves, there is an ash pan that collects the ash from the burning pellets which has a handle to allow the ash to be removed while the fire is still going without even opening the door. Pellet inserts have an ash pan underneath the door that can be pulled out an emptied.

Pellet appliances burn at approximately 80-85 percent efficiency.

When purchasing your pellet hearth appliance, you must keep in mind the general rule of business where you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, paying a small amount for a large return is not possible. Therefore, when shopping for a new pellet appliance be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Ultimately, if you pay too much for an appliance, you may have spent a little too much money. But if too little is paid, you risk receiving an appliance that will not work or meet your standards. Therefore, rather than a small amount of money wasted on a good quality appliance, all of your money is wasted on a useless pellet stove or insert. As with everything else these days, there are always options where the quality is sacrificed to be sold at a lower price. Unfortunately, those who save on products like these initially, rarely save in the end.

Or as John Rusking (1819 - 1900) said:

"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the item you purchased was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and people who consider the price alone are this man’s lawful prey."

If you have other questions, please feel free to give us a call at (563) 582-5156 or fill out our online contact form and an expert team member will promptly reach out to you!

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