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Pellet Stoves: Pros, Cons, 3 unique examples & How they work

Pellet stoves,

Pellet stoves are made of high-quality materials with an emphasis on efficiency and a focus on ecology and comfort. Pellet stoves have ninety percent energy-efficiency and automatic control of the heating system. Smaller rooms can be warmed up by pellet stoves directly. Pellets can burn in boilers and stoves connected to the central heating system. A pellet stove is a replacement for a wood stove. When the stove is full of pellets, it can work longer, and it is not necessary to constantly maintain the fire. Also, starting a pellet stove does not mean lighting a fire but pressing a button. 

It is promising that wood pellet heating has become popular in the world in the last few years. This type of heating provides the possibility of environmentally-friendly heating with a relatively local, renewable fuel source.

Wood pellets are a fuel made of wood mass and are absolutely not harmful to human health and the environment. The correct operation of the pellet stoves largely depends on the quality of the pellets used. Our recommendation is to use pellets produced according to the EN plus standard, within which the classes pellets A1, A2, and B. Have a look at certified producers here.

Pellet stoves Pros

  • Carbon neutrality- Eco friendly
  • Relatively clean burning
  • Rare heating/filling
  • Regional fuel
  • Convenience & Economy
  • Weekly programming 
  • 5 power level operation. 
  • A remote control device using a smartphone application and a WiFi modem. 
  • Built-in safety thermostats prevent overheating of the water in the boiler and self-ignition of the stove.
  • Cleaning systems that further facilitate the maintenance of the furnace and enable reliable operation. 
  • Possibility of heating sanitary water (in the boiler) and connection to the underfloor heating system.

The pellet stoves are Carbon neutrality- Eco friendly. The life cycle of wood pellet production is close to neutral. When people use natural gas, propane, or heating oil, they take carbon seized underground millions of years ago and release it as a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Where it contributes to global warming. When we burn wood pellets, we again release the same amount of stored carbon into the atmosphere. However, carbon seized in the wood fibers in just a few decades, and if we manage our forest farms properly, the entire life cycle results almost without new carbon emissions.

The pellet stoves have a relatively clean burning. Wood pellets are much cleaner than coal or wood. A fan supplies a constant flow of air to the furnace. When lighting a pellet stove, as an electric heating element heats the pellet to start combustion, little smoke is produced, but once the pellet stove is started there is no visible smoke. Differential temperatures on the thermos should be set relatively high not to go out and burn too often.

Pellet stoves have integrated buckets that you refill every few days, and most pellet boilers have stand-alone buckets that hold the pellets for several months of heating. It is not necessary to fill in regularly, unlike wood stoves. The time it takes to set up the heating system depends on the energy efficiency, the outside temperature, the stove volume or basket holds, and the thermostat setting.

The fuel can be local or regional. The proximity of pellet production further increases its already positive environmental impact. Buying pellets locally reduce the pollution of the planet by reducing the distance that the product travels.
Pellets are usually packed in 15 kg/ 40 lbs plastic bags that can be recycled.

Pellet filling

These pellet stoves are easier to handle than a wood stove. There is no cut, struck, and transport several hundred meters of wood several times over the years. It’s much more convenient to handle 15-20 kg of pellet bags. Pellet stoves are economical. The price of pellets is lower than heating oil, propane, or coal, so you can save money that would otherwise go to buy some of that type of fuel. You can save more money with a pellet stove by heating just a few rooms instead of the whole house – although there are often ways to do the same with other heating systems.

Pellet stoves Cons

  • Dependence on electricity
  • Noise
  • Comfort
  • Plastic bags
  • Complexity
  • Not always cheaper.
  • Daily cleaning

Dependence on electricity is one of the main disadvantages of pellet stoves. When the electricity goes out, the stove or pellet boiler cannot work. However, there are some new types of pellet stoves that have back up power. An important disadvantage to consider in rural areas prone to power outages. Of course, you can always use the car battery to start the furnace fan to heat the space while there is a power outage.

Pellet stoves make a lot of noise. There is no escaping the fact that pellet stoves are noisy. There are usually two fans: one to supply combustion air and the other to circulate heated air into the room. Some people find this noise very irritating. Certainly, this is very different from the quiet crackling of wood in a wood stove. Some pellet stoves operate passively, and which are quieter. Pellet boilers are also noisy, but they are usually in the basement or the boiler room, so this is not a problem.

pellet bag
Pellet bag (15 kg)

Pellet stoves do not deliver heat radiation. Pellet stoves (most at least) do not heat in the same way and do not emit heat. Almost all the heat is delivered through the fan. Plastic bags are a big problem with pellet distribution. Unless the pellets are delivered in bulk, they produce polyethylene plastic waste from the bags. Most pellets are delivered in packages of 15-20 kilograms in plastic bags, which they have to be recycled, which certainly creates a big problem. Unlike wood stoves, pellet stoves have moving parts that can wear out and require maintenance.

There are blowers, temperature sensors, spirals for pellet delivery, and other components. Most retailers recommend annual servicing, which significantly increases the operating costs of a pellet stove or boiler. Pellet mills use huge presses to extrude wood fibers through pellet molds. You cannot make pellets yourself. Although pellets are cheaper than most other fuels, they are not cheaper than natural gas or some types of heat pumps. The price, of course, depends on market conditions, and buying in bulk can bring you some savings. Occasionally there may be a shortage of pellets, which leads to a significant increase in prices.

Examples

  1. This is my first year with a pellet stove for the living room, Alpha commo 21. My experience with the Alpha plam commo is satisfying. It has been working without problems since October. Depends on the outside temperature, it can use from one up to two bags per day. My house has thermal isolation and about a hundred square meters.
  2. My experience so far is good even though you never know what kind of pellet you bought. Sometimes I find sand in the stove. I had this experience with Eastern pellets. Now, I don’t know about the others. Supposedly with the Premium without bark, there will be no problems. I have a new house and PVC windows.
  3. I spend two bags a day this winter, but it doesn’t work 24/7 – I turn it on in the morning around 9 or 10 a.m., and it usually goes off at 9 p.m. Last year, for example, I kept it on for 24 hours and spent about 3 bags a day, when it was really cold, four bags a day, when the temperature is deep below zero.
Pellet stoves

Read the full customer review with details and illustration for Alpha Plam commo pellet stove here.

How do Pellet stoves work?

The control panel is on the back of the upper hob and consists of an LCD and six buttons. The display shows all the necessary information about the current condition of the oven. The control panel allows communication with the electronic controller by simply pressing buttons. By pressing the appropriate buttons, it is possible to access various menus. There are different types of display of the current state of the oven. The desired operating mode is easily programmed. The program can be set up in detail on a daily or weekly basis, and a WIFI controller can be ordered as an option. It provides additional comfort in the use of the stove and maximum fuel savings throughout the heating season.

Pellet boilers heat buildings because they are connected to the central heating system. This solution is most interesting for households with a central heating system with a wood or coal boiler because such a boiler is replaced by one that uses pellets. One of the options is to install a pellet burner on an existing solid fuel boiler. A special burner enables the pellet to burn in the existing boiler. This system provides all the advantages as a classic pellet boiler, a smaller amount of ash, the inclusion of “push-button,” longer autonomy of work. However, one detail disqualifies this solution, and that is the degree of utilization.

Pellet stove display

Double combustion system

The proper combustion of wood obtains the flame. The furnace emits the same carbon dioxide released from the natural decay of the tree. The quantity of carbon dioxide obtained by combustion or decomposition of a plant is the same as the amount of carbon dioxide, which the plant has from the environment. It converts carbon dioxide into oxygen for the air during its entire life.
The use of non-renewable fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), contrary to what happens to wood, releases, or emits enormous amounts of carbon dioxide collected over millions of years. Using wood as a renewable fuel in ecological harmony with nature.

What is pure combustion, and how does it take place?
The stove regulates the primary air, and when it is necessary, inserts the secondary air. That creates secondary combustion or post-combustion. It produces a secondary flame that is inherently more radiant and stronger than the primary fire. The addition of new oxygen (via the injected air) enables additional combustion of gases. This significantly increases the thermal effect and reduces the harmful emissions of carbon monoxide, because incomplete combustion is minimized.

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