5 Features of the Best Pellet Stoves 5 Features of the Best Pellet Stoves
Pellet stoves have become a fantastically efficient alternative to the energy leaking traditional fireplace. Since most pellet stoves look about the same on the surface here are 5 features to look for to ensure you are getting the best pellet stove for your home heating needs.
Feature 1 - Heating Capacity
Knowing the size of the space you will be heating is the first step in determining the best pellet stove for your home. Heat is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour, with the range of stoves measuring from a few thousand to over 40,000 BTUs.
The best way to determine just how much stove you need is to work out the room calculations with a sales representative. Overall efficiency is often listed along with BTUs. These ratings, ranging from 75% to 90% indicate how much fuel is actually being converted into energy. Better quality pellet stoves will have efficiency ratings in the mid 80% range and above.
Feature 2 - Ease of Maintenance
Motors, fans and electrical circuitry are all components of a pellet stove, which will need to be serviced on a regular basis. Shop for stoves that provide easy access to these standard operating features. If maintenance is not your thing, inquire about a service plan to be included in the purchase price.
Feature 3 - Loading Method
There are 3 pellet feeding locations to choose from. A top "hopper" which is located at the top of the stove, or a feeding system that is on the side or the bottom. On the surface a top hopper appears to be the best choice, but it does have a tendency to get clogged with clinkers (ash deposits that build up from constant heating and cooling).
To prevent this clogging most manufactures will recommend you use a higher priced pellet product with lower ash producing properties. Since the side and bottom fed systems do not deal with rising ash, there is no need for the the more expensive pellets, but overall heating performance may be affected.
Feature 4 - Power Options
A pellet stove has a number of electrically dependent parts so it will need to be located near an outlet when installing. Does your area have frequent power outages? Since there really is no benefit to having a unit when the electricity is interrupted, look for a stove that has a battery back up system built in.
Feature 5 - Quality
Aside from the options of a larger stove, amount of BTU's and energy efficiency you will also want to check for quality of the stove itself. Price is a good first indicator because the old saying "you get what you pay for" does apply to the pellet stove industry.
External design can be deceptive since most pellet stoves look about the same regardless of price point. What is different, however, is the manufacturing materials themselves. Cheaper stoves are often made out of a thinner sheet metal that has a higher risk of rusting or burning out.
Prices range from $1,500 to $3,500. If you are someone who likes to tinker with things, you can save money without sacrificing quality by choosing a stove that has more manual controls over the more sophisticated automatically adjusted systems. These options include:
- Starting Systems
- Air Intake
- Feeding Levels
- Glass Air Wash System
- Burn Conditions
- Ash Disposal Monitoring