currently more than half a million homes in North America using
pellet stoves for heat, and probably a similar number in Europe.
The pellet stove has changed in appearance over the years from a
boxy workhorse design, to a decorative heating appliance.
stoves can be either free-standing units or fireplace inserts
vented into an existing chimney. Most pellet stoves are
constructed using large, conductive, cast-iron pieces, with
stainless steel to encase circuitry and exhaust areas.
A pellet stove burns small, wood-based fuel pellets - typically
wood sawdust or off-cuts - which are very clean-burning. The
stove uses a a motor-driven feed screw to transfer pellets from
a storage hopper to a combustion chamber. Air is provided for
the combustion by an electric blower. The ignition is automatic,
using a stream of air heated by an electrical element. The
rotation speeds of the feeder and the blower fan can be varied
to adjust the heat output.
stoves are relatively versatile appliances. They can be lit
either manually or through an automatic igniter, and cycle
themselves on and off via a thermostat. The ignition
assembly is similar to the cigarette lighter heating coil often
found in automobiles. Stoves with automatic ignition are also
often equipped with a remote control.
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
ash as a byproduct of combustion.
The grade of
pellet fuel affects the stove's performance and ash output.
Premium grade pellets produce less than one percent ash content,
while standard or low grade pellets produce a range from two to
four percent ash. Pellet stove users should be aware of the
extra maintenance required with a lower grade pellet.
Here for more information about the relative pros and cons
of the different types of fuel: firewood, wood pellets,
natural gas or electricity.