Wood Pellet Stove Heating - A Practical Alternative?
A wood pellet stove is now a viable alternative to modern methods of heating your home, and is itself a surprisingly recent innovation. During the 1980's this form of heating became quite popular, and has recently enjoyed a resurgence in interest. But what are the advantages of a wood pellet stove, and why should you consider one for your home?Firstly what exactly is a wood pellet stove? Generally free standing but also available in fireplace insert form, a pellet burning stove simply uses special hardwood pellets and is designed to offer the same convenience and cleanliness expected of modern appliances, including safe and clean operation, thermostatic controls, and most importantly it is self feeding so constant attention is not required as with traditional wood burning stoves.
Simply fill with pellets switch on and set your thermostat and the stove will burn for hours or days at a constant regulated temperature with no intervention from you. An important distinction between wood pellet stoves and traditional wood burning stoves is that due to the construction and burn properties of the wood pellets they are consumed at a steady and predictable rate with virtually no creosote buildup. In addition they are incredibly safe, posing much less risk to the surrounding environment such as walls and furniture than traditional stoves.
Wood pellet materials and construction are integral to the safety and predictability that exemplify modern wood pellet stoves. Wood pellets are constructed from timber and other timber by-products often unused for other purposes, making them inherently environmentally friendly. They burn with almost no smoke and critically do not contribute to greenhouse effects and consequently global warming.
Just as importantly no wood chopping is required making the process of heating a home much easier and certainly more pleasant. Another huge advantage is that the wood pellet stove outlet at the back or top of the unit does not become hot anywhere near to the same degree as a traditional wood stove, which means a masonry chimney is not necessarily required in your home. If you have one then it can of course be used, but if not the stove can be installed wherever a metal liner or flue can be positioned through a wall or out of the roof.
This is often impossible using a wood burning stove. It must be noted however that a wood pellet stove is not as useful for remote locations where a traditional stove may be the better choice. In remote homes with no electricity for example a stove which burns chopped wood may be the only available option as most pellet stoves require electricity to run, in particular to power the electronic thermostatic controls.
Remember this is a modern appliance designed for modern convenient living, but with the advantage of being particularly clean and environmentally friendly, it is not designed for rugged outdoor living. Interestingly the fuel costs associated with a wood pellet stove are comparable with oil and natural gas, much lower on average than electricity prices. So to answer our question, is a wood pellet stove a viable and practical alternative for heating your home, the answer would appear to be yes.