A Wood Pellet Stove Turns Waste Wood Into Home Heat

For a convenient, eco-friendly, and potentially money-saving method of home heating, give some thought to using a wood pellet stove.

| February/March 2009

Wood is a great renewable heating option — widely available and clean burning (in EPA-certified stoves). But for some of us, handling the firewood and tending the fire require too much time. If a traditional woodstove isn’t right for you, you might want to consider a wood pellet stove; as the name implies, they burn pellets made of compressed wood byproducts and other biomass.

The pellet-heating lifestyle fits somewhere between the automated convenience of gas, oil, or electric systems and the hands-on requirements of a woodstove. Pellet appliances vary from designs that are lit manually, with heat output controlled directly by the homeowner using a dial or buttons, to those units that ignite electrically, with pellet supply and heat output controlled automatically by a wall-mounted thermostat.

Another reason to consider switching from fossil-fueled heat sources to a pellet stove: It can reduce your carbon footprint. Wood pellets produce almost no net climate-changing carbon dioxide if they are used as fuel — although some fossil fuels typically are used in the manufacture and transportation of pellets.

The technology for modern residential pellet heating systems was invented back in 1983. This technology is now reliable, mature, and effective. The main question left to answer is whether the pellet lifestyle makes sense for you. And to answer this question you need a glimpse inside the process.

Life with Pellet Heat

Starting a pellet stove takes about five minutes. Even without a thermostat, you can choose the amount of heat you want, because heat output is variable by changing the setting of a single control that adjusts the exhaust fan speed and the speed of the auger that feeds pellets to the burn pot.

Pellet consumption ranges vary, depending on settings and circumstances. Manufacturers list input in British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr). Maximum input ranges from 30,000 to 48,000 Btu/hr, with many stoves claiming around 40,000 Btu/hr. (Actual heat output will be less because not all wood energy ends up as heat delivered to a building.)

1/1/2015 7:29:47 PM

Get a good one that burns corn too Corn is cheaper this year to burn 378 bushel and burns hotter than pellets.Get a good stove. You get what you pay for at the dept stores We've had a Countryside made by American energy systems for over 6 years now and had no problems with it! We just got another for the basement ! We have a 2 story farmhouse and it keeps it very toasty!

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Tim Sefton
11/17/2011 3:18:41 PM

We working on a project developing and building a low cost stirling engine for electrical generation that would work well with wood pellet stoves - We are targeting a building cost of $110 for a 1KW output - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/672465444/low-cost-sterling-engine

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