Choosing a Wood Pellet Stove: Five things to look for
Posted by Laurence Jones on 5 July 2011 at 9:28 am
For many, fireplaces are the embodiment of the British household, with the hearth taking pride of place in the home. With the advent of climate change awareness, people are looking to reinstate period features such as these, whilst using an appliance that is efficient, economical and environmental. This explains why wood pellet stoves are enjoying a growth in popularity; but what should you be looking for as a potential buyer?
1. Temperature Control
One thing we love about pellet stoves is their controllability. You can set the temperature with a precision approaching that of a gas or oil heating system. Unlike most traditional room heaters, pellet stoves have an electronic thermostat which can be set with an impressive degree of accuracy.
Most pellet stoves will have the ability to self-ignite, turning themselves on and off as required. This is not done by the owner, but instead via an inbuilt computer that regulates its operation. This means that the stove functions independently, with minimal user intervention needed.
3. Fuel Feed System and Burn Time/Duration
Pellet stoves are fed from an integral fuel hopper (see image) by a motorised feeding screw which supplies fuel to maintain the small fire that heats the room. The size on the stove’s integral hopper in relation to the rated heat output of the stove will determine how often the appliance needs refilling. This is commonly referred to as the burn time and is sometimes quoted for the stove’s full output (the shortest burn time) and the stove's minimum output (the longest burn time). In reality, the frequency of refilling will lie in between these two figures as heat demand will vary on a daily basis.
Some systems allow for this integral hopper to be filled automatically from a larger main store of fuel. Sensors in the appliance tell an auxiliary feed system that it needs topping up and it is then refilled accordingly. External fuel stores do require additional space so may not be suitable for everyone. However, this does mean that refilling is done automatically with larger stores holding enough fuel for a whole season.
As with all solid fuel appliances, greater efficiency means lower running costs and reduced environmental implications as well. You should always look for an appliance that is going to deliver the efficiency you require. A typical pellet stove will operate at a gross efficiency of around 80%. We have a guide where you can compare the efficiencies of various appliances.
If you are planning to invest in this stove type, then you should be aware that correct storage of pellets essential. Pellets will absorb lots of moisture from the surrounding air and from damp on floors and walls. Bagged or loose pellets should be stored in an environment that protects against this. Wet pellets will damage appliances.
About the author: Laurence Jones was marketing support officer at HETAS
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