When it comes to home heating options, most people think of gas, oil and propane as their main fuel options. But, there's another heating fuel to consider: wood pellets. Wood pellet stoves burn pellets that have been made from wood waste products, such as shavings and bark, generating heat. Today's large pellet stoves can be used to heat entire homes, thanks to devices that can integrate them with air ducts or a boiler system. Is a pellet stove right for your home? Read through these pros and cons, and decide for yourself.
Pros of Pellet Stoves
Wood pellets are a renewable energy source.
Oil, gas, and propane are non-renewable resources. Once they are gone, they are gone (well, at least for thousands of years). By choosing wood pellets as your heating fuel, you are helping to conserve these non-renewable resources. More trees can always be planted, and since wood pellets are generally made from the byproducts of milled wood that would not otherwise be used, you're essentially burning a waste product and saving it from a landfill.
Wood pellets are safe and easy to store.
If you choose oil or propane as your heating source, you need to keep it in a tank on your property -- and worry about messy leaks and fumes. If you have natural gas heating, you need to worry about leaks in the gas pipes. Wood pellets, on the other hand, are safe to store. If a few spill, they're easy to sweep up, and they won't put your family in any danger. You don't have to pay someone to come fill up your pellet storage bin, either. You just pick the pellets up at a home improvement store when it's convenient for you.
Cons of Pellet Stoves
You do need to be around to re-fill the pellet loader.
Today's pellet stoves are typically fitted with automatic feeder devices which slowly add pellets to the burning chamber. However, you will have to refill the automatic feeder at least every couple of days. This might be a hassle if your travel a lot and leave your home empty during heating season; you'll have to ask a friend to come fill the pellet stove while you're away.
Pellet stoves require frequent maintenance.
Soot and ash are formed as the pellets burn. If the stove is not cleaned regularly, this buildup can interfere with its function. Regular cleaning and maintenance entails emptying the ash tray, vacuuming out the burn pot, and wiping off the heat exchanger and burn chamber door every week or so. You'll need to have the system inspected and cleaned by a professional on an annual basis, too. If you don't think you'll do a good job of keeping up with this much maintenance, you might be better off with a different heating system.
Speak to local HVAC services for more information.