Pellet stoves have been considered to be a suitable alternative having an automated combustion process and a precise fuel-to-air ratio.
Like all other process equipment, pellet stoves have their downsides. But, are they worth it? Well, you would get to answer that as we discuss the pros and cons of pellet stoves and whether it’s a good option for you.
First, what are pellet stoves and what are the pellets made of?
You can say pellet stoves are an eco-friendly replacement for a traditional fireplace. Pellet stoves are automated which means they use electricity making them not only good for the environment but also convenient and cost-effective.
When you hear about pellet stoves, what should come to your mind is the use of pellets. So, what are pellets made of?
Pellets are made from wood waste like sawdust, wood chips, scrapings, and barks. They can also come from corn stalks, sugar cane shavings, and timber. This makes them eco-friendly as these wastes are converted into better uses.
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Pros and Cons of Pellet Stoves
Diving into the pros and cons of pellet stoves, we will look at the pros of pellet stoves.
Pros of Pellet Stoves
- Easy Installation, Usage, and Maintenance
- Environmentally Friendliness
- They are Efficient
- Can be Placed Anywhere in the Home
- Thermostatic Control
- Pest Resistance
1. Easy Installation, Usage, and Maintenance
Having a fireplace that is less risky and very easy to use is what pellet stoves avail you. With the automatic ignition and power modulation, using a pellet stove comes with ease. Because the main components of a pellet stove are removable, they are easy to clean.
Pellet stoves undergo constant improvement with the latest models being integrated with the smartphone helping users to operate their pellet stoves through their phones.
Also, installing the pellet stove is not complicated in any way. You can do the installation yourself with the aid of the user manual. You don’t have to worry about chimneys or vents as they are not needed, only some vent piping to face outdoors and they are very simple to install. This results in a low or no cost of installation.
2. Environmentally Friendliness
When we talk about clean energy in pellet stoves, we are just letting you in on the fact that pellet stoves use recycled materials as biomass fuel and the burning process is free from moisture content.
But thanks to the pellet stoves being automated, the pellet stove has clean burning and is very low on emissions.
There is always the right fuel-to-air ratio to keep emissions at the nearest minimum thanks to a range of sensors and electronic components controlled by a central unit that analyzes and optimizes the fire.
There are even innovations to start producing pellet stoves with recycled materials. If successful, pellet stoves would be a zero-emissions energy system hence, eco-friendly.
This would replace burning gas and wood which emit greenhouse gases reducing carbon emissions by 78%.
3. They are Efficient
Because of their carbon neutrality and the use of renewable fuel, pellet stoves are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be 70%-90% efficient.
The pellet stoves have a fuel hopper for the storage of pellets which takes less space and produces less air pollution. This is better compared to a classic wood fireplace or open fire that has efficiencies of 40%-50% and 5%-15% respectively.
The pellet can last up to 36 hours in the pellet hopper producing very little ash.
4. Can be Placed Anywhere in the Home
When we talk about a fireplace, there is a need for special construction of the home to be able to have the fireplace at a designated location but, this is not so with pellet stoves as the pellet stoves can be placed at any corner of your home even in apartments, just like placing a fridge someplace in your house.
The pellet stoves are portable and can add to the aesthetics of your home. You can even place a pellet stove in a home where conventional fireplaces cannot be constructed.
5. Thermostatic Control
Pellet stoves have a thermostatic control installed in their electronic system as earlier stated.
What does a thermostat do? Well just like an air conditioner, the pellet stove can be set to heat the room to a particular temperature and it is not going to exceed the temperature it was set to achieve.
It also has a built-in room temperature sensor to be able to produce the amount of heat that will raise the temperature of the room.
6. Pest Resistance
We usually have a problem with pests coming into our house through the fireplace especially when they are not in use. Well, you won’t have a pest problem with pellet stoves and this is because they don’t have chimneys so, no way for pests to come in.
Also, the pellets themselves can be stored anywhere in your home as they come prepackaged in boxes. Having pellet stoves seem to be a safe bet considering the environmental benefits but let’s look at the cons so we can make our conclusion.
Cons of Pellet Stoves
- Needs Electricity
- Pellet Stoves are Noisy
- High Cost
- Pellet Packaging
- Storage Issues
- High Maintenance Requirements
- Life Expectancy
- Less Attractive Flames
1. Needs Electricity
Though pellet stoves burn wood to create heat, they depend on electricity to for the automatic ignition system, the ventilation, and electronic controls to work. There are pellet stoves that don’t use electricity but they are far less common.
So, if your home is subject to power outages, then a pellet stove will not serve you. It’s just like an air conditioner but this one produces heat. It might be safe to say that pellet stoves can run on a generator but that is producing more carbon emissions which you are trying to minimize to the nearest minimum.
Pellet stoves being run by electricity also tells us that pellet stoves can develop an electric fault which would incur additional costs.
2. Pellet Stoves are Noisy
Pellet stoves are noisy. This noise may be low depending on the functionality of the pellet stoves but, this noise can be pretty annoying. This noise comes as a result of sounds coming from the motor and blower fan. You may like other people get used to this noise.
Sounds like a little price you pay for the greater good.
3. High Cost
Pellet stoves are costly. They may even cost higher than a typical fireplace furnace. Their cost ranges from $1,500 for a home of about 1000 square feet (93 square meters) and about $3,000 for larger homes. This is quite expensive for average earners.
Now for the pellets themselves, they can be cheap but that depends on whether they are available in your area or not. This gives us another problem of availability. If they are scared they become expensive, especially in this period when everyone is trying to become environmentally friendly.
You might have to look at travel expenses which can be stressful and economically draining if you don’t have them in your area.
So, you have to do your homework on the availability of pellets in your area before purchasing a pellet stove because the pellet stoves cannot work without these pellets.
4. Pellet Packaging
Pellets are packed in a plastic bag or box to preserve them and prevent pest infestation and also because the pellets are too heavy for paper bags presenting us with a plastic problem.
Purchasing pellets in bulk would be a cost-effective option but you would have to deal with the amount of plastic bags. Only if these bags can be recycled would we have a solution to this problem.
Another packaging problem we face is the fact that the plastic bags themselves are heavy and this is because the bags we damage if not strong enough and so a heavy bag would mean a stronger bag.
Imagine a bag full of pellet, how heavy it will be when both the bag and the pellet is heavy?
Pellet stoves are large and can consume a large amount of space. This is because the pellet stove houses the fuel they burn to produce heat. So, this is a good consideration if you are looking to switch from a fireplace to a pellet stove because having a pellet stove would take much more space than a fireplace.
Pellet stoves not only occupy big spaces, but they are also heavy. They can’t be lifted by one person but, would need two or three people to carry it from one place to another. Some people even purchase a trolley to be able to move their pellet stove from one place to another.
7. Storage Issues
This is a big issue, I mean, where will you put your pellets knowing that you have to buy a large quantity as a bag last for 24-36 hours?
So, except you have a store designated for this, storing your pellets would be a problem or you are ready to make trips every day or two to purchase a bag of pellets.
What if the purchase location is far from your area or you are restricted by the weather to go get one?
Pellet stoves are more complex than our regular fireplaces. This would need professional help if anything goes wrong because it doesn’t just burn wood but it is also electric and have some electronic control system which might be difficult for you to understand.
There are modes for day and night heating, cleaning modes, and more. This can be overwhelming for a first-time user.
9. High Maintenance Requirements
Pellet stoves are not your typical fireplace, they are not also air conditioners. I would say they are the combination of the two so, apart from being complex, they also need to be maintained which can incur costs.
Majorly, the maintenance would involve cleaning the combustion chamber after every round of burning but would need professional help as they are some segments of the pellet stove that would need cleaning and you might not be able to do so.
10. Life Expectancy
Pellet stoves have a lower life expectancy than a typical fireplace reason being that the pellet stove is an electric heating system consisting of different components which can develop a fault after some time compared to a fireplace which has lesser components and can last for ages though the spare parts are becoming increasingly available in the market.
11. Less Attractive Flames
Since the pellet stove is an electric-made fire that focuses on efficiency than just a nice view, the flames are less attractive than conventional fireplace flames. They deny you of that aesthetic view you get in front of a fireplace for the greater good of heating your home and getting you warm.
Are Pellet Stoves Worth It?
So, are pellet stoves worth it?
Well, except if you just love the view of a fireplace, I would tell you that using pellet stoves is a safe bet.
Though, you would have to get your home ready to receive a pellet stove. Have the money in hand, create a space for the storage of your pellets, and be ready to recycle the plastic bags.
Having looked at the pros and cons of pellet stoves and noticing that the cons are more than the pros, I will tell you that the pros are weightier than the cons, and if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, get a pellet stove for the heating of your home though they can be a little noisy.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.