So you want to heat with pellets, but you don’t yet have answers to your burning questions. Maybe you want to know what your heating options are, how much it’s going to cost you, or how much time you’ll need to set aside for upkeep. Well, look no further.
Pellet stoves are, you named it, stoves used for burning wood pellets to then generate heat. And they’re much less harmful to people and the environment than alternative fossil fuel heating methods.
Maybe what’s stopping you from buying one is the relatively high cost upfront, but there may be room in your budget.
There are different quality levels among pellet stoves, so it depends on what you’re planning to spend. But the higher quality your pellet stove is, the less maintenance you’ll have to do, including cleaning parts and filling the hopper. The lower priced versions tend to have a smaller capacity hopper and need to be refilled more often. Investing in a higher quality pellet stove will also mean it can heat a larger square footage of area and have a higher BTU output range.
Price range: $1,600-$4,800
A pellet stove on the lower end of the scale costing around $1,600 will generate 35,000 BTUs and heat up to 1,750 sq. ft.
A stove costing $4,800 will generate up to 70,500 BTUs and heat up to 2,800 sq. ft.
Maintenance: Maintenance for the $1,600 stove requires daily cleaning of the firepot, weekly ash removal from the firebox and glass, and monthly cleaning of the hopper.
Maintenance for the $4,800 stove requires no daily cleaning. There is weekly cleaning of the baffle, bottom airwash inlet, burn pot, glass, and ash drawer. The hopper only requires yearly cleaning.
Note that the higher quality your pellets are, the less you’ll have to clean. That applies no matter what price range of stoves you’re looking at.
Feeding: Feeding requirements depend on if you buy a top-feed or bottom-feed stove.
Top-feed stoves are the more common type. They have less chance of fire burning back into the hopper, but require the highest quality of pellets if you don’t want too much ash to build up.
Bottom-feed stoves are believed to be more efficient and offer more flexibility with the grade of pellets you can burn in them.
Here are a few examples of homeowners who have made the switch, and their thoughts on the process.
Automated wood pellet heating systems (furnaces)
Fully automated systems (or furnaces) can be used either in residential buildings or by schools or other businesses.
A pellet furnace will require even less maintenance than a pellet stove.
Depending on the level of automation, a furnace could include automatic vacuum fuel feed, ash removal and tube cleaning. Storage options depend on your space requirements, but several sizes exist.
Price range: $15,000-$25,000
This is a very cautious estimate for an average 2,000 sq. ft. home in Canada. Costs can vary greatly depending on which part of the country you live in, varying installation costs and the size of the space that needs to be heated. Best to contact a few local retailers/installers as you would with any major appliance.
But as you can see, a pellet furnace is a bigger investment than a pellet stove.
Maintenance: Ash only needs to be removed about twice a year with modern systems, and controls are automated to essentially eliminate the maintenance factor. But if you can afford one, a system with automatic ash removal is recommended.
Feeding: Wood pellets are blown into dust-free storage rooms via a delivery truck, and frequency depends on what type of climate you live in.
Suppliers and retailers across Canada
Here’s a list of some suppliers who provide pellet-heating options:
- EnergyNorth selling Main Energy Systems furnaces in the NWT
- Biothermic in Ontario
- Pelleco in P.E.I.
- Smart Heating Technology
And here are some pellet mills that also sell pellet stoves and furnaces: