Looking for an alternative heat source that was not as labor intensive as an ordinary wood-burning stove led us to investigate wood pellet stoves. Certainly less labor intensive to use, no chopping and hauling firewood, but the operating costs were a bit of a put-off. Compare the pros and cons of owning and operating a wood pellet stove to see if one may be right for your home.
* Pellets are made from processed logs and are a renewable energy source, that’s a pro, they’re made from logs that have been de-barked, pulverized, dried, then compressed into small pellets.
* Pellets are generally cheaper than electricity, oil, kerosene and propane.
* Pellets are easier to use than cut firewood – load a hopper with pellets in the morning and the fire in the stove will keep burning for 16 hours or more before the hopper needs re-loading. This is a great convenience for home owners who are gone most of the day and wish to maintain a certain indoor temperature throughout the day and return home to a warm home at night.
* Pellets take up less storage space than firewood and make less of a mess in the storage area.
* Stoves come in a variety of BTU sizes and have the ability to heat large or small homes.
* Stove ashes have to be cleaned out less often than a traditional wood heater.
* Wood pellets are renewable and cheaper than most fuel sources, but it does require the use of electricity to operate the pellet-burning stove. The hopper which feeds the pellets into the stove as-needed requires electricity, as does the stove fan which blows and circulates the warm air. The electrical needs also means you will not have heat during a power outage. Some stove models do have a battery that can be used in case of a power outage, but it will only provide a limited number of usage hours.
* Processed wood costs more than traditional cut firewood. If you cut your own wood to save money, buying wood pellets would increase home-heating costs tremendously.
* Pellets are not easily available in all areas. Driving costs and time spent procuring the fuel have to be figured into the operating costs too.
* Bags of wood pellets typically weigh 40 pounds, a little on the heavy side for some people to lift.