What’s a Pellet Stove?

 In Stoves

Pellets are an alternative fuel to wood or gas, and are great for supplementary heating in any home. They were invented in Washington state in 1973, and quickly popularized. Now they’re made by most manufacturers, and are considered a typical heating source for residential homes. 

How it Works

Stoves and inserts are the most common pellet-burning appliances. During install they require a chimney, but can use direct vent technology, which means that the vent doesn’t need to go straight up. This is because pellets put off minimal exhaust. Then, the stove is set to a desired temperature. Most pellet stoves will have a thermostat built in. They will sense the temp of the air around them and turn on and off to heat to whatever temp you set. 

Before it can burn, a pellet stove needs to be loaded. This is as easy as pouring pellets into a large opening called the hopper.. From there, the stove will ferry pellets from the hopper to the combustion site where they’ll burn. You’ll know it’s working when you hear the gentle tinkle of pellets falling, and then feel the warm rush of air from the blower. In between burning, the stove will deposit ash into an ashtray, which is easily removed for quick cleaning. 

What’s in a Pellet?

If you’ve never seen them before, wood pellets are about the size and shape of a large pill. They’re made of combustible organic matter, like sawdust and corn husks. Most of this is obtained by the manufacturers from industrial sawmills, forestry operations, or agricultural facilities. That’s to say, it’s the by-product of wood and other plant matter that would otherwise go to waste.

Instead, these products get mixed up into a wet filling and poured into molds about the size and shape of a straw. Then they’re dried and snapped into pieces an inch or so long. If you’re interested in a more detailed explanation, check out this article on pellets. When you buy pellets, they come in 40 pound bags.

Other Pellets of Information

Pellet stoves are great for moderating a single room, such as a living room, in a home. It is often not recommended that pellets are your primary heat source because they become less efficient in larger spaces.

Many people with curious children or pets choose pellet stoves because they are almost impossible to hurt oneself on, if used properly. Although all types of stoves are safe for children,      most pellet stoves only become hot in a single location, and the warm air is blown into the room. Because the whole stove isn’t hot, you’ll find that pellet stoves are able to be tucked in closer to the wall, meaning you take up less space in your room. 

For questions on pellet burning appliances, or to check one out for yourself, visit us at Alaska Stove and Spa in Anchorage. We promise to help you out and be pell-ite!

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