Considering a Pellet Stove? Information To Help You Make Your Decision

Heating with a pellet stove is a viable alternative to natural gas, oil, and electric furnaces. With petroleum prices on the rise, as well as electricity and natural gas, you may be considering an alternative type of heat for your home in the winter. We've already done a review of heating with woodburning stoves, so this article will deal with pellet stoves as a fuel alternative. The cost of pellet stoves is comparable to woodburning stoves, and the pellets to run them are in the ballpark with cord wood costs, unless you have a free or nearly-free source for your firewood. This article will present information on pellet stoves as a source of heat for your home, including what's good and not-so-good about them, the best pellet stoves on the market, price ranges, where to buy the stoves and where to buy the pellets to run the stove. You may be especially interested in this type of heating alternative if you do not live in an area where trees are plentiful. As for brands of pellet stoves, we'll review the top ones, including Harman, Quadra Fire, Lopi, and Breckwell. We'll be reviewing only the stoves, and not pellet inserts, in this article.

Why Consider a Pellet Stove?

As we mentioned in our first paragraph, the cost of heating by oil, natural gas, and electricity goes up every winter. Most people get around the high cost of heating by turning down the thermostat and wearing sweaters, and learning to live with the discomfort of not being quite warm enough. If you're tired of being cold, you may want to consider purchasing a pellet stove. Pellet stoves cost between $1,200 and $3,000, plus installation. If you wait until the end of the cold season, you can usually find some pretty good discount prices. The pellets themselves are a little easier to handle than chunks of wood. Pellets are kept in the stove's hopper and in most stoves, automatically fed into the stove for burning. Most hoppers will hold at least one day's supply of pellets. You should find pellets easier and more convenient to use than wood, and their fuel effificiency is higher than with a wood stove. They do use electricity to power the feeder and blowers, but the cost to power these features is minimal. Many come with a battery backup, so if you live in an area prone to power outages, be sure to consider one with this option.

The pellets used in pellet stoves are made from bark, waste paper, sawdust, agricultural bi-products, and compacted wood chips, then compressed and processed into small pellets that resemble guinea pig or rabbit food. You can buy 40-lb. bags of pellets from your local Home Depot or Lowe's stores for about $4 or $5 a bag, which translates to between $200 and $250 per ton. A ton of pellets is equal to 1 1/2 cords of firewood, which can run about $175-225 per cord, depending on costs in your area. If you plan on using your pellet stove as your primary source of heat, expect to use between two and three tons of pellets a year. Considering that in our area I have heard of people paying as much as $400 a month to heat their homes with electricity, you can easily save quite a bit of money by using your pellet stove over the other types of furnaces.

Pellet Stove Makers and Reviews

Here's a brief review of some of the top-rated pellet stoves on the market at this time. As always, we don't have room to include all stoves, but you can do a little research on your own for other choices. Sites we used include,, and

  • Harman
    Rated one of the top pellet stove makers, Harman makes several models to choose from, depending on your budget, area you're heating, etc. The Accentra heats up to 45,000 BTU's per hour and can heat an area up to 1,450 square feet. The hopper holds 50 pounds of pellets, features an automatic temperature control and automatic turn-on and shut-off capability. The P68 has an output of 68,000 BTU's per hour and can heat more than 2,200 square feet, with a 76 pound hopper. Has automatic turn-on and shut-off capabilities, much like a regular thermostat does. Will automatically shut off if the door is left open or the flue is blocked. The XXV is comparable with a heating capacity of 50,000 BTU's and heating area up to 1,700 square feet. Finally, the PFB100 is for those who desire to replace their furnace with a pellet-burning Has a 112,000 BTU heat capacity with a heating area up to 2,500 square feet. Its hopper holds up to 160 pounds of pellets.
  • Quadra Fire
    The Castille features automatic ignition, a jam-free feed system, and is mobile home approved. Heats up to 1,500 square feet with a BTU rate of 8,000 to 30,000. The Classic Bay 1200 burns at a rate of 15,000 to 40,000 BTU's, heats an area up to 2,500 square feet, and features a jam-free feed system, 80 pound capacity hopper, automatic ignition, and is rated for mobile homes. The Santa Fe burns at 8,000 to 30,000 BTU's, heats up to 1,500 square feet, and features a jam-free feed system, automatic ignition, and a 52 pound hopper. All Quadra Fire pellet stoves come with a limited lifetime warranty.
  • Lopi
    Lopi's Leydon pellet stove has a 29-hour burn time with its 50 pound capacity pellet hopper, and burns at a rate of 45,000 BTU's, heating an area up to 2,250 square feet. Also features easily accessible components, a manual or automatic temperature control, and an easily accessible ash pan. The Pioneer has a 55 pound hopper for a burn time of up to 50 hours, heat capacity of 28,000 BTU's, and can easily heat an area up to 1,600 square feet. Has automatic ignition and a manual or automatic thermostat control. The Yankee is a viable replacement for your furnace, as its hopper capacity is 115 pounds for a burn time of up to 68 hours, burns at 45,000 BTU and can heat an area up to 2,250 square feet. Also features manual or automatic temperature controls and automatic ignition.
  • Breckwell
    Breckwell's Multi-fuel stove burns at a rate up to 50,000 BTU's, heats an area up to 2,000 square feet, and comes with these features: digital control panel, a 90-pound capacity hopper for a burn time of up to 70 hours per fueling, and features an air wash glass window for viewing the fire, fresh air mount system, and a large ash drawer. Their P2700 Series has both deluxe and standard models of pellet stove, with hopper capacity of up to 50 pounds and a burn time of up to 50 hours. Features also include an automatic fuel feed and quiet blowers. Has a heat capacity of up to 45,000 BTU's and is mobile home approved. Also has a lifetime warranty, and you can even purchase ceramic fiber logs for ambiance.

Final Thoughts on Pellet Stoves

Before running out and buying a pellet stove, we advise doing plenty of pre-purchase groundwork first. Check out the sources for pellets in your area, including prices and where you can buy them. Check the dealers in your area for pricing on the stoves themselves, and consider waiting until the end of the cold season before purchasing the stove. You can also find the pellets available for less money in the warmer seasons, too. The cost of the stoves will run anywhere between $1,200 to $3,000, but will be somewhat cheaper after winter is over, as will the pellets themselves. If you've been considering a better and cheaper way to heat your home, heating with a pellet stove should be on your list of considerations.

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