Heating homes using pellet stoves has grown as a popular alternative to appliances that utilize fossil fuels, and for good reason, since they can help you cut your heating bills drastically.
The best pellet stoves also offer the ease of use and convenience of being able to set a thermostat allowing you to heat your home automatically as opposed to needing to ignite a fire manually, which for many is seen as both time-consuming and inconvenient.
Admittedly, choosing a pellet stove isn’t the easiest thing to do since there are so many brands and different models available out there, so to make your life a little easier we tested over 20 stoves, compiled the results and make our recommendations based on the pellet stove reviews listed below.
We’ve also compiled some buying information too so that you have enough information to choose the best pellet stove for your home.
|Pellet Stove||Heat Output (BTUs)||Heating Capacity (Square Feet)||Burn Time||Dimensions (Inches)||EPA Approved?|
|Castle Serenity Pellet Stove||Up to 31,960||Up to 1500||up to 24 hours||23.8 x 18.5 x 34||Yes|
|Comfortbilt Pellet Stove||Up to 50,000||Up to 2,800||up to 22 hours||24 x 29 x 36||Yes|
|Pleasant Hearth Pellet Stove||Up to 50,000||Up to 2200||up to 24 hours||31 x 30 x 43.8||Yes|
*All links above will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com or you can read our in-depth pellet stove reviews below.
We will begin with an in-depth look at the information every pellet stove owner ought to be aware of before making a purchase, after which we will take a look at some of the most popular stoves.
If you have any questions regarding the information on this page or any of the pellet stoves we discuss, then feel free to share them in the comments below and we’ll try to answer you as best as we can.
Top Picks: Best Pellet Stove Reviews
The Castle Stoves brand is a relatively new manufacturer.
A good reason it has been added to the list is that the Serenity pellet stove overall has had some fantastic user reviews and are credited with offering superb customer service support.
Appearance & Design
A major benefit with the Serenity stove is it’s simple and quick Do-it-yourself installation.
There’s a limited number of components and it largely comes pre-assembled, which is a rare feature in the stove world. All you’ll need to do is follow the easy installation instructions, which should take you around 2 hours, this stove can also be direct vented, so can be installed in properties without chimneys such as mobile homes.
The digital control is easy to understand, simple and user-friendly. The stove display itself is digital and will display the heat setting (of which there are 5), date, thermostat temperature, blower settings and on/off switch. You can also lock the display, allowing you to “lock” the digital display, preventing any settings being altered in error, which is an extremely useful safety feature, offering peace of mind.
As mentioned, this stove has a built in thermostat, meaning you don’t need a separate thermostat on the wall with a wire running to the unit, which can look ugly and require more work.
The stove has a built-in programmable controller that allows you to program the stove for each day of the week and has the ability to cycle on and off and adjust to the built-in thermostat depending on when heat is needed. This is an ideal function for efficient use of your stove throughout the year.
As you may expect, like the majority of pellet stoves, the Serenity comes equipped with an array of automated features to make heating your home hassle-free.
This includes an automatic ignition as standard, as well as a set of pellet stove fans that can be turned on and off via the digital interface. This circulates the heat effectively throughout your home, allowing you to make the most of the heat, increasing heating efficiency and saving money on fuel usage.
Equipped with over 5 different feed rates and heat settings, this stove is perhaps best suited to those who prefer to be in complete control of the level of heat, since the majority of models have a simple on/off switch, this is certainly something worth noting.
For instance, if you left the stove running on the medium heat setting, it will typically use around 50lb bag of pellets for a full day and so knowing this you can adjust the settings to your liking to moderate temperature and fuel consumption.
Heat Output & Efficiency
The Castle is an EPA certified stove and is a great sized stove for those looking to heat a cabin or other small living area. However, it is certainly adequate for those with medium sized living spaces as it has the capacity to heat up to 1,500 square feet.
This stove stands out from others due to its built-in heat exchanger, which the manufacturer states was modeled after the fins on air-cooled engines. This feature provides 2.5 square feet of additional surface area for maximum thermal exchange in a compact space.
This EPA certified stove does require electricity to run the hopper and stove fan, though it is extremely economical – requiring just 2 watts to supply the motors, which is considerably less than electric inserts and fireplaces.
Other great features include automatic ignition making it more convenient than the more traditional fire poking styles, five feed rates and blower speeds providing you with optimum temperature control.
The HP22 is the most popular pellet stove by Comfortbilt and is renowned for its extremely high-quality craftsmanship, and design. The sturdiness of its construction and the beefiness of the rope gasket on the door cries out; “quality made”.
Many people refuse to buy any stove manufactured in China, but this model has blown all of those preconceived ideas out of the water, with review upon review vouching for the quality and beauty of this stove.
Heat Output & Efficiency
This manufacturer claims that this stove has a heat output of 50,000 BTU’s (42,000 on the manufacturer’s website) and can heat up to 2,000 square feet, which is suitable for heating the average sized home without any issue. For illustrative purposes, on the maximum setting, this stove will heat throughout the entire house and easily maintain a toasty 83 degrees through-out.
The downside of pellet stoves is the fact that they need a power supply in order to operate the ignition and motor, however, there is a workaround for this – a backup power source (don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds). For example, a modern battery backup system such as the cyberpower 1500w pure sine wave computer UPS can easily provide power for your stove through surges and power outages.
Many users vouch for the solid appearance of this stove and it’s easy to see why the presence of this stove would add a charming quality to any home. This stunning steel pellet stove will light up your home with its large view window, offering fantastic views of the fire.
Noise is another common concern for people considering buying a pellet stove, so the good news is that this stove is extremely quiet, notoriously quiet in fact, allowing you to watch the TV without any distraction from a noisy motor operation.
In addition to its contemporary design, the Comfortbilt stove offers efficiency, high quality and great value for money. The ash pan is large and won’t need to be emptied as often as smaller models, perhaps once a week at most.
This can easily be done with a vacuum. Although not one of the cheapest models, this mid-range stove offers a highly durable design, sure to last years into the future.
Thanks to the digital control panel, this stove is easy to use, requiring little to no manual labor like the traditional wood burning stoves. This includes the auto-ignition feature, meaning there’s no need to worry about getting the fire up and running, which isn’t ideal after a hard days work.
A programmable thermostat also allows you to easily choose the rate at which pellets are feed from the hopper into the firebox, allowing you to easily monitor the amount of fuel used and temperature of your home.
Another feature well worth mentioning is the powerful blower that ensures the heat generated is circulated and distributed into your home. This helps prevent the hot air being trapped in pockets near your ceiling or being lost via the backdraft; both being common problems.
Some people have pointed out that the hopper is relatively small in size, meaning that adding pellets isn’t as easy as it would be with a larger opening. By no means is this a big issue, it just requires a little more patience to add the pellets.
By cutting the corner of the pellet bag and a little finesse, you’ll have the technique down to funnel the pellets in more efficiently. Another solution is to use a scoop and gradually add small portions. In our view, this unit is one of the best pellet stoves currently on the market.
The Pleasant Hearth brand of stoves is manufactured by the GHP Group, a market leader in North America with over 100 years of industry expertise in the fireplace and heating sector.
This particular EPA certified stove offered by GHP has earned a fantastic reputation for its reliability, especially among mobile home users.
With that said, this cabinet style stove is best suited for individuals looking to heat a relatively small area.
However bear in mind that a medium and large version of this stove are also available, with an equal reputation to match.
Appearance & Design
With the chrome spiral handle, steel rectangular structure and lack of traditional wrought detailing, this steel stove a good fit for the modern home. The large ceramic glass window provides both safety and an amazing view of the burning fire inside.
The best part? It arrives requiring very little assembly, so you don’t need to be an expert to put the stove components together.
Heat Output & Efficiency
One of the major reasons people choose pellet stoves, to begin with, is due to them offering automation and being less labor intensive than wood-burning stoves. The 120lb hopper capacity means this stove will be able to heat for approximately 24 to 70 hours before you need to refuel the pellets, saving you time and energy.
Also included is an outside air kit and convection blower which is very handy to have as it ensures no heat is wasted up the chimney or elsewhere, as it recirculates the heat nicely throughout your living space for maximum performance.
The air wash system is another helpful feature that helps reduce the amount of maintenance. Airwash is a design element that uses a specially positioned vent or vents to draw in air from the outside to wash over the inside of the glass.
This helps to keep the glass clean, allowing you to get pleasure from the charm of your fire for longer.
This EPA certified stove also features an ‘exclusive’ Comfort Control System, which allows you to operate the stove with a minimum or maximum option, enabling you to comfortably control and modulate the temperature of your living space easily and effortlessly.
If it’s convenience you want, then this is one of the best pellet stoves you can get, with a single knob operation it doesn’t get any easier. The most effort required to run this stove will be when you have to feed the hopper with fresh pellets every 24 to 48 hours, and when you need to empty the ash tray every few weeks. This is dependant on usage of course.
Efficient Zonal Heating
As mentioned this sleek stove is more suited to small areas and can heat up to a maximum of 2,200 sq. ft. This is the perfect size for mobile home use, a small family and small space heating. The rectangular and sleek design is also handy as it enables you to easily fit the stove into properties where space is precious.
What Is A Pellet Stove?
As the name suggests this is a stove that utilizes biomass pellets as a fuel source to heat your home. A pellet is created using recycled and compressed biomass such as wood chippings and sawdust that is typically collected in excess from the building industry, which every year produces an incredible amount of wood waste.
These pellets are then fed into a hopper that stores the pellets, this is connected to an auger which feeds them into the combustion chamber when more fuel is required.
If your stove has a thermostat this will determine the speed at which pellets are fed into the chamber. A slower auger speed will create a slower burn and lower heat, while a faster speed will have the reverse effect.
The combustion chamber also holds a fire pot and burning ring where the auger deposits the pellets. Oxygen is fanned into the chamber to maintain a strong flame, and while many models have a self-igniting flame, there are many that also have a manual ignition.
For more detailed information on the precise components and structure of a pellet stove, refer to our guide in our blog.
Are Pellet Stoves Expensive To Run?
Wood pellets are substantially cheaper than the average cord of wood, they are typically sold for around $100/cord depending on your location and time of year. One of the major reasons stoves are so popular in the US is because they save people so much money, a huge 12 million people use stoves to heat their homes in the united states so there’s definitely something they know about the benefits of pellet stoves.
The major reason for stoves being cheaper is primarily due to wood and wood pellets being cheaper to source than other forms of energy such as traditional fossil fuels including oil, gasoline and electrical power.
But there is another key reason stoves save you more money than other heating options and that’s due to the way people tend to use them.
For example, because wood and wood pellets are tangible objects unlike gas and electric it is very easy to visually monitor, allowing you to easily keep track of and control the amount of wood fuel you and your loved ones consume. This often leads to people becoming more aware of their heating and fuel consumption, leading to a more environmentally friendly and money saving attitude.
Advantages Of Using Pellets
There are many rewards to be earned when choosing a pellet stove to heat your property, which simply cannot be achieved with any other fuel-burning appliance.
- Carbon Neutral – Since wood pellets are largely sourced from recycled wood – mainly from the construction industry, and the trees used can easily be replanted, it is considered a carbon neutral practice. For instance, instead of wood waste being sent to landfills, you are using it as fuel, meaning it is less harmful to the environment than traditional fossil fuels.
- Prices are steady – Pellets are available throughout the country and are priced reasonably, especially in comparison to other forms of fuel, such as coal and gas. Price fluctuations often observed with other types of fuel are also incredibly uncommon. As a result, it is easier to plan ahead for the running costs involved with heating your property all year round.
- Efficiency – There is an ever-increasing number of companies offering stoves with efficiency ratings in the 80% and 90% and above range, which is superior to most other forms of home heating appliances.
- Living off the grid – Pellet burners are ideal for those wanting to live free from the dependency on the national grid network. Although many models require electrical power for ignition, there are still many out there that can be ignited manually.
- Easy to Use – Unlike other stoves such as wood burners and oil burning stoves, there is barely any mess to deal with, since all the ash and embers are often collected from a removable burn pot for easy maintenance. In addition, many modern stoves offer automatic ignition at the flick of a switch, meaning there’s no need to ever worry about lighting a fire by hand again.
What Size Stove Will You Need?
Size is a consideration for two important reasons, firstly: the space you have available to install a stove, as well as the heat output. If a models heat output isn’t adequate for your living space it won’t provide enough hot air to heat your property. On the other hand, if the heat output is excessive, it will make your living space unbearably warm.
When deciding on what size stove you need, it’s important to factor in the size of your property, the insulation of your home, the location of the stove and whether your home is open planned or not. A good guideline for the stove you need is as follows:
- 60,000 BTUs rating – this will heat up to a 2,000 sq. ft. space and is suitable for open plan properties.
42,000 BTUs rating – this will heat up to a 1,300 sq. ft. open plan area.
Where you install the stove also has a huge impact on how efficiently the stove heats your property.
Typically, the stove is installed in the room that you want to heat, but if you want to heat your entire property, it’s a good idea to install the stove in a central location and a stove fan to help circulate the warm air throughout your home.
Do You Need Electricity To Run A Pellet Stove?
Since the vast majority of pellet stoves come equipped with key components that require the use of motors they do require an electricity supply to operate, and although only a minimal amount is actually used to power these components it is certainly something worth bearing in mind for other reasons.
For instance, in the rare occurrence that there was a power outage, you would not be able to use it, although today there are a few models available that don’t require a direct power source.
Components of the pellet stove that utilize a motor and therefore require a supply of electricity commonly include the fan motors, auger motor, and stirrer motor.
The auger is the delivery system that consists of a spiral length of metal contained within a tube. This functions to transport the wood pellets stored in the pellet stove hopper to the burn pot for combustion.
The fan system also typically operates using an electrically powered motor. The job f the fan is to push the heat into the living space and helps to evenly circulate heat throughout the property.
Some people get concerned when they first hear that a pellet stove requires electricity since electric heaters can be quite costly to operate on a regular basis. Thankfully, pellet stoves don’t require anywhere near as much electricity, requiring approximately 2.5 amps to 3.0 amps to operate.
This means that it would consume around 300 watts per hour. Since the average price of a kilowatt is $0.08, the average electrical cost to operate a stove would be .303kw x .08 = 2.42 cents per hour.
Top Or Bottom Fed Pellet Stoves?
There are two major pellet feeding systems found in pellet stoves: top-fed and bottom-fed.
In top-fed systems, the auger (the part of the stove that feeds pellets from the hopper into the combustion pot) is inclined at an angle and transports the pellets to the top or side of the combustion chamber. This reduces the risk of a fire occurring in the auger and spreading to the hopper, which stores the pellets.
However, top-fed systems are not perfect as they may not move ash away from the firebox grate. In this event, clinkers that form when ash solidifies due to repeated heating and cooling may form.
Clinkers can impede combustion air flow and lead to a weak flame. To prevent clinkers from forming in top-fed systems manufacturers advise users to only burn premium grade, low-ash pellets.
Bottom-fed designs usually feature a horizontal auger and since they feed fuel into the combustion chamber horizontally, they also transport clinkers and ash into the ash pan. As a result, they can reduce the risk of clinker formation and mean premium pellets are not required.
Wood Stoves Vs Pellet Stoves
A very common and frequently asked question is which is better a wood stove or a pellet stove? And the short answer is that in terms of saving money on fuel, wood burning stoves tend to win, however pellet stoves do have many other advantages, for example, they tend to be safer, greener and easier to maintain.
The reason wood stoves tend to be cheaper to run is that you can often buy wood by the cord for very little from local suppliers, and can often source free wood from your own land in which case it’s incredibly cost-effective and so are a great choice for people living in rural locations. Wood stoves also don’t require energy electricity to run, so you can essentially still heat your home off the grid and without other electrical sources, the reason for this is that pellet stoves often require electricity to power the motorized hopper that delivers the pellets into the stove.
Pellet stoves are better for the environment than their wood counterparts, as although today stoves are tightly regulated by the EPA, wood emits 0.00612 pounds per kilowatt-hour of CO2. Whereas pellets emit 0.035 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, meaning they are by far the greener option. Although bear in mind both options are classed as “carbon-neutral” so don’t pose a considerable threat to the environment.
Any form of heating is often very risky due to the presence of flames or sources of ignition around flammable material, therefore ensuring a safe form of heating is often a high priority. For this reason, wood stoves are far more hazardous than pellet stoves due to them giving off flame sparks which have the potential to lead to burns. Pellet stoves are much safer as the fire is more contained, although they do tend to become much hotter to touch so this must be considered.
Both types require maintenance, however pellet stoves are much easier to maintain as you can pretty much just follow the guidelines that accompany your model. You simply have to ensure everything is in working order such as the motor and fans and remove any debris, whereas a wood burning stove requires maintaining your chimney. Another big inconvenience of wood stoves is that they require inspection of the catalytic combustor, and that must be done 3 times each season alone.
Pellet Stove Maintenance
Since pellet stoves are slightly more sophisticated, consisting of many motorized moving parts, it is not as straightforward to maintain as is the case with the average wood burner. Therefore, it’s advisable to maintain your stove well to ensure it lasts as long as possible and to reduce the risk of encountering any issues.
The majority of stoves come equipped with an ash pan, where the ash and waste are deposited, ideally, you should aim to vacuum daily or several days a week (depending on usage) and this will help ensure that the waste ashes don’t clog up the heater.
In addition, look for clinkers, these are formed when ash melts and hardens, which can impede airflow and alter the oxygen levels in the burn pot. Remove them with a poker, or other ash tool made for this purpose.
It’s also important to keep the glass door as clean as possible so that you can keep an eye on the flame. This is not only vital for safety reasons but will also allow you to easily assess whether fuel is burning efficiently or to just enjoy the flames.
Today, there are many stoves that come with an automatic cleaning feature that helps to reduce the amount of soot and carbon particulates building up.
Since the pellets are constantly stored in the hopper and fed into the combustion pot via the auger, naturally sawdust and wood particles can build up over time. Therefore, it’s a good idea to allow the auger tube and fuel hopper to completely empty every so often to ensure pellet debris don’t build up and jam the feed system.
Lastly, you will want to get your stove serviced at least once annually by a professional. Obviously, the keen eye of a professional is a wise idea, which will help mitigate hazards and potential threats you may not notice yourself. Today, there are many service providers that allow you to subscribe to their services for a relatively cheap cost.
Pellet Stove Installation
Installing a pellet stove is very much like installing a wood burning stove and the method is often determined by the type of stove you choose. Should you choose a freestanding pellet stove then you will need adequate space to place it, preferably a large, open area so that the heat can be distributed more evenly.
While a pellet stove insert is designed to fit existing fireplaces, whichever you select, it is always advisable to read the manufacturers instructions to ensure you following the correct safety procedures.
When installing a pellet stove, the following factors need to be taken into consideration:
Placement of the Pellet Stove – To ensure you make the most effective use of the heat produced by the stove, always try to install the stove in a central area of your home. This will ensure that the heat is distributed to all the rooms of your homes most efficiently and evenly.
Floor Protection – It is necessary to ensure your floor is well protected from the heat of the stove to avoid a possible fire. If you already have a hearth installed to place your stove on, great, if not you will need to install suitable floor protection that meets the requirements specified in the stove manufacturers specifications.
Venting – The purpose of venting is to remove toxic by-products of combustion and correct venting is a must for the safety and peak performance of a stove and are essential for keeping the air quality in your home clean.
The majority of stoves are installed with draft producing fans that supply the air to the fire and vent the exhaust gases, often referred to as mechanical venting. In order to meet the requirements of local building codes, you will typically need to use a PL (double wall) vent pipe, tested to UL 641 specifications.
The best pellet stove models provide the option of direct venting (the vent can go directly through a wall) or venting directly up through the roof. If you opt for the direct vent unit, fit a vertical section on the exterior of the building that clears roof overhangs to mitigate damage to the outer building. It’s worth noting that if there is ever a power outage, a direct vent model may force some smoke into your property.
Ensuring you select the correct vent size (diameter) is essential for safe and efficient operation. It is vital that all joints and seams are sealed with a sealant as specified by the vent manufacturer or supplier.
There are many top rated pellet stoves out there, but finding one that both matches your aesthetic tastes and is also the most efficient pellet stove can be a difficult task. Like all types of heating appliances, the ultimate pellet stove cost usually boils down to a combination of the brand and its reputation.
Therefore, it’s crucial you are equipped with the right information when shopping for your stove as it is very likely to be carrying out the very demanding role of keeping your home heated for years to come.
So, always remember that it’s better to spend a little more to secure a safer, reliable and more efficient stove, which will save you time and money in the long run.
If you are looking for a more rustic feel that reminds you of a bygone era, then a traditional wood burning stove may be more appropriate. However, be warned that they require more maintenance than pellets and don’t come equipped with the autonomous features that make modern pellet stoves so popular.
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.