Due to the rising costs of gas in the U.S., it is estimated that more than half a million homes in North America currently use pellet stoves for heat. Not to be confused with traditional stoves, a pellet stove isn't actually a stove used for cooking, but rather a heating device used to heat a single room or an entire home.
How Pellet Stoves Work
A pellet stove works by dispensing pellets from a hopper on the back of the stove into the firepot by an auger. An auger is a rotating helical shaft used to convey fuel materials. A thermostat is used to control heat output. The auger slows when less heat is needed and speeds up when more is needed. A built-in fan circulates air through heat exchange and an exhaust fan pulls gases away and into the outdoors through a vent pipe in the wall.
Instead of using gas, pellet stoves work by burning a variety of environmentally friendly, natural waste materials such as plant fibers or wood chips. Some people even prefer to use hemp or paper pulp. Pellet stoves are either freestanding units or simple fireplace inserts and they can weigh up to 40 pounds or more.
Freestanding units are easy to install as they do not do not require the use of a chimney. They consist of an automatic feeding system with:
- Top or bottom feeding capabilities
- A fan
- A thermostat.
The components of a pellet stove require electricity, so it's important to remember that if for some reason, the electricity isn't working, the pellet stove won't work either.
Why Pellet Stoves?
Pellet stoves are mainly used because they:
- Function just as well as gas furnaces
- Help lower gas bills
- Are environmentally friendly.
Types of Pellet Stoves
There are two types of pellet stoves on the market today:
Wood pellet stoves operate by using natural waste materials as fuel. These waste materials can either be gathered from the environment or they are bagged and can be purchased in stores. However, wood pellet stove supplies and bags may be difficult to find in some places.
Corn pellet stoves are pretty much identical to wood pellet stoves except shelled corn is used as fuel. Corn pellet bags are fairly easy to locate. With a few minor adjustments, a corn pellet stove may also be easily converted to a wood pellet stove.