pellet stove pipe

Best Pellet Stove Pipe- Reviews and Buying Guide (August. 2017)

Pipes may not be glamorous, but you definitely need them. In this brief article, we hope to explain the essential function, installation, and brands of pellet pipes. Armed with this knowledge you will be a better consumer.

Why you need pellet stove ventilation

Although pellet stoves do not create a lot of smoke, they do release ash, exhaust fumes, and water vapor. These are natural waste products that come from burning pellet fuel. Make sure you buy the best pellet stove you can afford to help ensure quality is where it should be. You don’t want these substances leaking into your home, so a pipe is attached to the stove connecting it to the outside. In this way, all the harmful byproducts of running the stove are safely outputted outside.

There are two main ways this excretion process can occur: mechanically or naturally. With a mechanical exhaust, a small fan blows the “bad stuff” through the stove pipe and sucks fresh air in from the other end. This fan is similar to the ones on handheld vacuums. Conversely, a pellet burning stove without a fan uses the natural air draft of the room to propel the exhaust particles out and provide oxygen for the fire.

Things to Consider before buying

Read this before you go out and buy a pipe. There is nothing worse than returning from a trip and realizing that you bought the wrong item. Actually, there are a lot of things that are worse, but making a wrong purchase is still up there.

  • PL Vent Pipe: This type of pipe is made and tested solely for pellet stoves, so if you care about maximizing safety and functionality you should buy a PL “pellet vent” pipe. These pipes are double walled with air space in between. All joints on these pipes should be properly sealed during installation. Additionally, IF YOUR PELLET STOVE HAS A PL PIPE REQUIREMENT->USE A PELLET VENT PIPE!
  • What NOT to buy: Any vent meant for appliances such as dryers, stovepipes that don’t feature the double walled construction, and plastic pipes.
  • Stove Pipe Reviews: Amazon can give you a lot of information on which pipes work out for people, but be careful not to over rely on Amazon reviews at the expense of doing your own research.

Installation Tips

Although stovepipes are great (read: essential) to have, installation can be a chore. On the positive side, you only have to install the pipe once. If you do it right the first time, you’ll never worry about it again (except for having it cleaned). Here are a few things to consider to make the process go smoother.

  • Clearance: Aside from stove burning byproducts, some heat also travels through the stovepipe. For this reason, there is a minimum distance the pipe must be from any other objects that could potentially catch on fire. This distance is listed in the installation guides.
  • Exhaust Methods: Think about how you want the stove pipe to be set up. It can be attached to the stove parallel to the ground (cheapest method) but the downside is that smoke can drift back into the house in the event of a power outage stopping the fan. The other option is attaching the pipe to the top of the stove, perpendicular to the ground. In this case, there is natural draft that will prevent exhaust back spill in the case of a power outage. These are the two main exhaust methods, but there are other variations that you can check out on this site. NOTE: If you are using a chimney for exhaust, be sure to have it inspected and cleaned.
  • Instructions: Follow instructions carefully, and make sure that all pipe joints are properly sealed. Many of these are pressurized and you don’t want gas to leak. If the instructions given by the pipe manufacturer are less stringent than the stovepipe installation instructions given by the pellet stove manufacturer, always go with the stove instructions. Better yet, seek out the professional opinion of someone who works at a fireplace store
  • Other Factors: You should also consider how easy it will be to clean the stove, what altitude your house is at (affects drafts), and the construction of your house (airtight houses vent less effectively). Finally, make sure you buy the best wood pellets, so you minimize any buildup of creosote in your pipe. 

Pellet Stove Pipe Reviews

Unlike our other review sections (e.g. wood stoves). There is not much to review about different types of pipe. What we can do is give you some insight into two of the most popular brands: Selkirk and Simpson (Duravent).

Selkirk vs. Duravent: In general, people prefer duravent as they say it is made at a higher standard of quality. This is obviously harder to assess when dealing with pipes. The duravent is also favored, because there is no need for locking bands between class A sections. Finally, the Duravent also comes in a longer max size (five inches while the Selkirk is one inch less.)

Find out what others have to say about Selkirk Pipes on Amazon

Read what everyone is saying about Duravent Pipes on Amazon:

NOTE:  A large amount of the above info was culled from posts on the forum Hearth.com. This website gives great info on all varieties of wood burning stoves, pipes, and related accessories. Be sure to check them out.

Where to Buy

These pipes can either be found at your local hardware store, a specialty fireplace shop, or online on websites like amazon.com.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best wood pellet stove pipe can seem like a complex endeavor, but that is definitely not the case. The relative uniformity of pipe options means that there are small differences between manufacturers. As long as you follow the guidelines for buying the right type of pipe (and installing it properly) you should be fine. ALWAYS consult with a professional if you are uncertain about something. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

best wood pellet

Best wood pellets – Our Complete Wood Pellet Buying Guide (September. 2017)

Last Updated: September 2017

People often wonder what pellets are best for pellet stoves? The problem is that there are hundreds of different varieties and a lot of local dealers. It can be overwhelming to search through all these to find the best pellet fuel for your stove. Also, there’s the simple questions like “what are pellets?” and “should I buy hardwood or softwood?” That’s where we come in. We did the research for you, and wrote this guide to share our insight into finding and buying the best stove pellets.

If you want to learn more about pellets skip to the NEXT section and come back for the reviews

Best Pellet Stove Pellets of 2017: Premium Wood Pellet Reviews

  • Okanagan Douglas Fir: Softwood composition with SUPER clean burn
  • Vermont: Softwoods with high BTUs AND low ash
  • Kirtland Premium: Blended composition + ZERO broken
  • Bear Mountain : Consistent, reliable QUALITY
  • Cleanfire: Subscription shipping = CONVENIENCE

Owning a pellet stove can be a rewarding investment. You aren’t tied to the grid for heat, and you get the cozy nostalgic feel of fire. So let’s say you went and bought a brand new pellet stove like our favorite Castle Serenity (see the best pellet stove), but now you need fuel. There are hundreds of different pellet brands out there, so we wanted to take the time to highlight a few of our favorites. Although not all of these can be purchased online, it will give you a better idea of what constitutes a great pellet.

Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets

These pellets have received some of the highest customer satisfaction reviews. They are made completely of softwood sawdust, and are considered one of the cleanest burning pellets on the market. Some reviewers note that ash output can be as little as 3-5 tablespoons per bag. The premium quality of these pellets makes them a bit more expensive, but in the grand scheme of things you save time and energy. No one wants to constantly be worried about their pellet stove pipe getting dirty, or their pellets not burning properly-with Okanagan pellets you don’t have to.

 

 

 

vermontVermont Pellets

These softwood pellets are a cult favorite among stove owners. These are some of the highest btu pellet fuels, and extremely low ash production. This makes sense considering all the effort thecompany has put into over engineering their pelle manufacturing process. They have trademarked their “Heatright” process which was invented to create pellets with cleaner and hotter burn times. Additionally, the softwood used to make the pellets is sustain-ably harvested. If this all weren’t enough, all the employees of Vermont Wood Pellet Co. burn their own pellets in their homes. I can think of no greater endorsement.

 

 

KirtlandKirtland Premium Pellets

These pellets are from Michigan and are a blend of both hard and soft woods. There is almost no bark in them, which means that the ash content will be very low. Finally, the pellets are put through two screening processes in order to ensure that no broken pellets are shipped. One final benefit is that these pellets can be bought online from Standish Mill. A discount is currently running which would give you $50 the price of a ton of pellets ($250).

 

 

 

bear mountainBear Mountain Pellets

As with other Douglas fir pellets,  Bear Mountain delivers a superior product with a more intense and longer burn time. Reviewers also note that the bag does not contain much extra sawdust or debris. Bear Mountain is exemplary for their consistent quality. One pellet dealer mentioned that he recommends Bear Mountain to all of his “finicky” customers, because he knows they will most likely be satisfied.

 

 

 

 

cleanfireCleanfire Pellets

These pellets are the most convenient to order online, but sadly have some annoying issues. On the positive side, they burn very intensely and the heat output is good. On the negative side, there is a large amount of dust that escapes when the pellets are being poured into the stove’s hopper. Additionally, the ash content is not low (average) especially when compared to a high performer like the Okanagan Douglas fir. One benefit to their website is that it also shows the locations of other retailers that are close to your personal zip code.

 

What is in a wood pellet?

The contents vary, but pellets are generally made from compressed sawdust and sometimes mixed with other substances such as paper, glue, cardboard, and bark. There are also biomass pellets made from organic materials. The sawdust is a byproduct of lumbar processing, so through buying pellets you are helping to utilize every part of the tree. The type of tree that pellets are made from, the moisture content, ash production, and additives all influence the overall quality of a pellet.

Hardwood vs. Softwood Pellets – The classic debate

Hardwood vs softwood pellets

There is a lot of misinformation out there on whether pellets made from hardwood trees such as beech and oak are better than those made from softwood (cedar, pine, spruce, etc.). Hardwood is used in high end furniture, and has gained a reputation as being better for burning, but when we examine the facts objectively softwood has the advantage. Softwood outputs 9%-20% more heat per pound than hardwood. It may seem strange to hear considering that hardwood is often marketed as superior, but if you care about maximizing heat output softwood is the way to go.

What to Look for in a high quality pellet

NOTE: There is little regulation for what is put on the labels of pellet stove pellets, so you will have to test some brands for metrics like heat output and ash content yourself. It is a little bit of trial and error, but once you find a brand that works for you then you’re set.

  • Heat output: This is measured in BTUs, so you want to look for pellets that have higher BTU ratings. The best pellets are in the 8,000-8,500 range. It is important to note that you may see a “moisture free” label. This indicates the BTU rating when all the water is removed from the pellet. This rating is unrealistic, because you don’t store your pellets in a vacuum. If it is the only BTU rating available then aim for something between 8.2k to 8.8k BTUs.
  • Low Moisture Content: This influences how long it takes you to light your pellet stove. If you use low moisture pellets as fuel it won’t take as long. The best pellets have a moisture content of 6.5% and below.
  • Low Ash Content: This describes how much ash is left over in proportion to how much wood was burned. Having a lot of ash produced will make your stove run less efficiency, so look for pellets that say “low ash content”
  • No additives or bark: Pellets without bark, cardboard, glue, or recycled materials burn hotter and produce less ash.

Where to buy them?

As with a lot of important decisions-it depends. Unlike buying a stove, buying pellets for a pellet stove can be challenging. There are a few important questions you have to ask yourself. 

Q: How much is a bag of wood pellets?

A: A bag of pellets costs between $4 to $6 for a 40 pound bag. The Home Depot wood pellet price will be similar. Prices are competitive, but we always recommend local suppliers. Most people buy pellets buy the ton, which cost around $200-$250 dollars. In total, you will probably go through 7 tons in a year, so the combined cost of pellet stove fuel ends up being $1,400-$1,750 per year. Considering the high price of other energy sources (heating oil) that figure isn’t bad.

Q: Are these pellets good?

A: Aside from following the buying criteria (and buying the top pellet  brands) we outlined above, there is a simple way to get a general idea of the pellet quality-take a sniff. No seriously, if you open the bag and smell the pellets and there is a chemical odor then you probably shouldn’t be burning those pellets. Premium pellets are made with wood alone, and as a result they just smell like wood.

Q: Are you buying in bulk?

YES: If you are purchasing a year’s worth of pellets then you are going to be ordering around 1 ton of pellets. Special delivery men will have to deliver and unload a pallet containing the pellets (known as a skid). These types of orders can only be serviced by local lumber mills or pellet providers. 

NO: You can order online from companies like Sears or Home Depot or buy at the physical locations of these retailers. We advise carefully checking the pellets to make sure there are no additives, because the highest quality pellets are not always available. If this is an issue then maybe consider wood stove vs. pellet stove. 

Q: How far away do you live from the supplier?

FAR: If you live far from the supplier (e.g. different state) then the shipping costs of delivering such a large load will be very expensive. Just as with buying bulk, it is always better to purchase from a dealer in your area.

CLOSE: Nice, you lucked out. Form a relationship with the supplier and they might be able to give you a deal in the future.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it, our A to Z guide about finding the best pellets. Once you find a supplier everything (NOTE: local wood pellet prices vary) will go far more smoothly. Stay up to date on our website, so you don’t miss any important information/rating changes/product releases. 

 

Cheap pellet stoves

Best Cheap Pellet Stoves – Complete Buying Guide (August. 2017)

Winter is coming and what better way to keep your home warm than a stove that uses pellet fuel. These small furnaces are great at providing warmth throughout the year, while being relatively easy to maintain. Many homeowners would love to experience these benefits for themselves, but there’s a problem-stoves are expensive! They are rarely discounted or for sale, so you need to focus your search on current models/prices.  What we tried to do in this article was highlight some of the cheapest options for the money. Hopefully we save you time and energy in your search for the best pellet stove!

  Heat RadiusOur RatingPrice
Castle 12327 SerenityCastle 12327 Serenity 1,500 Square ft.4.5 star$
US Stove R5824  with Igniter FurnaceUS Stove R5824 with Igniter Furnace~1,200 Square ft.4.5 star$$
Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 50000 BTU's Pleasant Hearth 2,200 Square ft.4.5 star$$

Our Top 3 Value Picks: Inexpensive yet Reliable!

Below we review some of our favorite stoves for bang for your buck all the while keeping an eye on quality. These are all for sale on Amazon, and are relatively attractive.

 


#1 Castle 12327 Serenity 

Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove with Smart Controller

Quick Facts:

  • 78% + thermal efficiency
  • 1,5000 sq. ft. heating capability
  • Auto ignite
  • 40lb Hopper
  • 1 year warranty (limited)
  • EPA Certification
  • RV Home Approved

This is one of the most highly loved and sought after products in the category. Reviewers love the easy installation, high efficiency, and programmable controller. This unit even looks great, and it’s design mean that it fits well in small spaces. Let’s take a closer look!

  • Design: The Serenity’s small size and compact design makes it easy to install within a few hours. It is approved for use in mobile homes, and can be directly vented, so no chimney is required. These features make the Serenity great for first time buyers who may be intimidated by the installation process.
  • Efficiency: In regards to efficiency, the Castle Serenity is one of the most efficient stoves on the market. It uses an innovative heat exchange system which maximizes the internal surface area to promote the highest amount of heat exchange. Not only do these features contribute to EPA certification, but they also save you money.
  • Programmable: The final standout feature is the inclusion of a programmable controller. You can have your pellet heater operate in manual, thermostat, or weekly operational (set it for different times/days of the week) mode. The benefit of the automatic scheduling is that if you want your house to be warm when you get home from a hard day of work, but don’t want to waste loads of pellets throughout the day, you’re in luck. The one downside is that while in thermostat mode, there is no automatic shutoff if the target temperature is reached-the stove just continues to operate on the lowest setting.

IMPORTANT: One important thing to realize before wrapping up is that this product only heats 1,500 square feet, which is on the lower end-especially when compared to the stove below The quality and other features elevate this pick, but the heating area brings it’s score down a bit.

Final Thoughts: This item is backed by a great company, which offers quick customer support for all of your questions. Castle has earned their strong reputation by delivering a great customer experience. Overall, between the attractively compact design, ease of use, efficiency, and features- the Castle Serenity 12327 is a great pick.

 

#2 Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 

Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 50000 BTU's Pellet Stove

Quick Facts:

  • Heats 2,200 sq. ft.
  • 50,000 BTU
  • 120lb Hopper
  • Epa certification
  • 85% fuel efficiency
  • Auto Ignition
  • Mobile Home Approved
  • Heat control system

Pleasant Hearth is a familiar name on the site, and we have reviewed one of their wood burning models. This one follows suite with it’s siblings, and provides a generous heating area for an affordable price.

This particular unit has extremely high efficiency at approximately 85% and is EPA certified, so you will be getting the max possible burn from your pellets. Other than that, this is a very no-frills product, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s well designed, efficient, and has easy temperature controls. The cast iron construction and solid ceramic glass viewing window lend a rugged feel to this simple burner. Don’t forget to look into purchasing the best pellet stove pipe.

Final Thoughts: Reviewers love raw power and reliability. It is not uncommon for this product to be referred to as a “beast,”because its heat output is impressive for its size, and not to mention price. This is one appliance that is the truly in the best value for the money category. If you need the extra heat, and don’t mind not having some of the niftier features like programmability then this stove is for you!

 

#3 US (United States) Stove R5824 

US Stove R5824 Pellet Stove with Igniter Furnace

Quick Facts:

  • Can heat up to 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Compact design
  • Up to 20hr burn time
  • Ceramic viewing window
  • 48,000 BTU
  • EPA Certification

The pellet heater landscape is heavily populated by low quality cheap offerings, and we wanted to cover this unit to make sure people stay away. This USA manufactured product (unlike others) lacks a robust feature set, and does not come with installation materials, and reviewers claim is prone to breakdown/requiring fixing. 

Final Thoughts: Reviewers reported that online chat support and phone support were not that good, and that the product sometimes came damaged. There were also multiple reports of breakdowns relatively early into the stove’s life cycle. We don’t like to put down a model, but in this case there are better options like the Pleasant Hearth (above) that will fit the bill and cost the same.

 

Final Thoughts

Selecting an inexpensive yet reliable product can be difficult, but with the right guidance it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully our reviews have given you some insight onto what to select. We hope you find a unit that adds warmth, ambiance, and value to your home! 

best pellet stove review

Best Pellet Stoves – Top 5, Buying Guide, & Reviews (November. 2017)

Updated: November 2017

Pellet stoves are a popular option for homeowners who want a cost effective way to heat their homes, and like the rustic allure of a wood heat. The problem is that there are hundreds of options on the market, and it can be difficult to separate the good from the bad. That’s where we can help. We’ve researched the top selling models on Amazon, and our proud to present you with this year’s top 5 pellet stoves.

Our Top 5 Best Rated Picks 

 Product NameHeat RadiusOur RatingPrice
Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove with Smart ControllerCastle 12327 Serenity 1,500 Square ft.4.5 star$$$$
Pleasant Hearth Cabinet Style 50000 BTU's Pellet StovePleasant Hearth 2,200 Square ft.4 star$$$$
Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22Comfortbilt HP222,000 Square ft.4.5 star$$$$$
US Stove 5500M King Pellet Burner with IgniterUS Stove 5500M King Pellet Burner1,400 Square ft. 4.5 star$$$
US Stove 5660 Bay Front Pellet StoveBay Front 20151,800 Square ft. 3.5 star$$$$$

Read Our Reviews


#1 Castle Serenity 12327 – (The best value for the money)

Quick Facts

  • Heats 1,500 sq feet
  • Greater than 78% efficiency
  • Programmable
  • Great Price

The Serenity is one of the most popular small pellet stoves on the market. This type of well received support most likely comes in response to the Serenity’s sturdy construction, reliable heating, and advanced features. 

The stove is well crafted, and does not have many interior parts, which helps ensure it is easy to clean. It is able to accommodate a 40lb bag of pellets in it’s hopper, and requires minimal installation work. The heat output is consistent and radiates a comforting warmth throughout the room.

Where this stove truly shines is with its programmable features. You can use the controller at the top of the unit to set specific temperatures that are based on the day and hour. This means you can have the temperature set lower during the nighttime when you are sleeping, and higher during the day when you need more warmth. This is a great idea for those who are trying to conserve their pellet fuel. You can still manually adjust the thermostat or burn intensity (5 levels) if you don’t feel like programming it. The best part about all of this-there’s an included remote that can do everything we just mentioned.

These high quality and innovative features would be in vain if the customer service were shoddy, but this is the polar opposite with Castle. They are the only pellet stove company that offers live customer support. In the event that a part needs replacing they stock all service parts to make maintenance a breeze. This allows buyers to purchase with confidence which is something everyone appreciates.

The only downside we can think of is that the Castle Serenity might be a bit small for some homeowners, but this is a minor  complaint in light of the other benefits. Overall, if you have a smaller home and want a highly reliable pellet stove with programmable options-this is the purchase for you. For a more in-depth look check out the full Castle Serenity Review.

 

#2 The Pleasant Hearth  – (best for large house)

Quick Facts

  • Heats up to 2,200 sq feet
  • 120lb hopper
  • EPA certified 85% efficiency

Pleasant Hearth is a big player in the industry. You may have read about them in some of our other content, but we love them for making a great pellet stove at an affordable price. With this product their philosophy is no different-maximum value for minimum price. Overall, this mentality works out well, but there are some quality control issues we will cover below.

To begin with, this stove is a powerhouse in both heat output, and hopper size. If you want to warm a large area this model has what it takes. A woman living in Colorado mentioned that it kept her toasty even in 5 degree temperatures. The temperature will remain constant due to a control system that automatically maintains the temperature you initially set.

The hopper can hold three bags of pellets at 40 pounds each, so you will be able to wait a day between refills if you like. Compared to other stoves’ hoppers this is three times the capacity. 

One of the biggest concerns people have when purchasing stoves is dealing with shipping and installation. The product is shipped attached to a pallet, so when you get yours you will have to unscrew the legs. Other than this simple step, setup is considered relatively easy by most users. As always, we recommend professional installation to ensure safety and adherence to local zoning regulations.

Appearance wise, it  takes up a relatively small footprint in the house, and is styled after a steel made burner. The chrome accents on the handle and ceramic glass viewing window add to this cozy vibe. It is worth noting that the flame pattern will not be as beautiful as a log version. With pellet stoves you get a yellowish flame that does not flicker as much. 

The majority of reviewers find this unit to be a workhorse that keeps them comfortable, but some have also had issues with the reliability of the components. Most common, the fan or augur (feeds pellets to the hopper) has stopped functioning for some buyers. There is a 5 year limited warranty, but most important components only have a 1 year warranty making the decision slightly riskier. d

Overall, if you need maximum heat and want a machine that can cover a large area efficiently-this is an ideal buy for you. 

#3 Comfortbilt HP22 LARGE– (Highest Quality for a large house)

Comfortbilt

Quick Facts

  • Heats up to 2,000 sq feet
  • 86% EPA rated efficiency
  • Built to last
  • Large fire viewing window

The Comfortbilt pellet stove is very similar to the Pleasant Hearth in heat output and efficiency, but differs in its construction and reliability. Whereas the Pleasant Hearth had some complaints for poor quality parts, the Comfortbilt has received accolades for its hefty construction. Customers have raved about the high quality of certain components like the door’s rope gasket.

Aside from quality manufacturing, the product comes with the normal suite of electronic control features such as 24/7 automatic runtime and a programmable thermostat. These are fantastic, but some reviewers struggled to actually understand how to use them. 

In regards to general usage this large machine is well regarded for its high heat output. The efficiency rating is higher than the industry average, which means you will get more heat per bag of fuel. Speaking of pellets, Comfortbilt claims the hopper can hold 55lbs, but in customer experience it seems that around 40-50lbs is more accurate. One minor quibble is that the hopper opening is small relative to the size of fuel bags, so you have to be careful when loading. Alternatively, you could pour the pellets into a bucket and then transfer them into the stove, but most people just prefer going at it with the bag. 

Finally, the design is a slightly more modern aesthetic, but the large window helps showcase the fire, and lend a cozy atmosphere to whatever space the product is in. Some pragmatic design features also include a built in ash pan and automatic ignition.

It is worth noting that the US distributor is very helpful to his customers, and does everything in his power to leave them satisfied.  A large part of identifying a great pellet stove is making sure there’s a company standing behind the purchase ready to support you every step of the way. This is one of those cases. There is a one year parts warranty, and if you ever need any help with installation/technical work there is support.

Overall, this is a great choice  for large spaces. The downside is that it costs about 400-500 more than its closest competition the Pleasant Hearth. In the end the decision is up to you, but if you have the choice we would recommend that you go with the Comfortbilt.

#4 US 5500M King Pellet Burner

Quick Facts

  • Buy a different model

This article is technically meant to point out exclusively our favorite products , so in this case we thought it necessary to briefly cover the worst as well. There are takeaways that will help you understand warning signs in other products you may be thinking of purchasing.

One of the biggest complaints about this bad pellet stove is that the parts deteriorate. One owner had the augur (feeds pellets to the machine) break down multiple times another had to have the electronic components replaced multiple times….the list goes on and on. Read through the amazon ratings, and all you’ll find are dissatisfied customers who have become close with USSC’s (bad) support.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Another issue with this item is a fire hazard caused by two holes on the bottom of the unit. There are supposed to be bolts inside those holes, but that is not always the case as one user found after his version started smoking.

Quality control errors as egregious as those outlined above should never be the most well known features of a product. If you want to save money then purchase a Castle Serenity or save up for a bigger model, but do not, I repeat DO NOT purchase the US 5500M King Pellet Burner. It is more like a peasant than a King.

#5 Bay Front Wood Heater 2015

Quick Facts

  • Electronic Ignition and Digital Thermostat
  • Heats about 1,800 sq feet
  • 40lb hopper

This is a small little pellet stove that will get the job done without too much trouble. It has a pretty slick operating interface, which allows you to see temperature, what phase of combustion it’s in, and whether the feeding motor is working. Other than the display the rest of the design/features is admittedly average, which is not a bad thing.

We have a few qualms with it though. One is the high price, which does not make sense considering the size of the hopper. Another, is the unclear heat output. In a response to a customer’s inquiry the manufacturer stated that the model would heat 1,800 square feet easily, but could even go as high as 2,500 square feet based on the height of the room. This approximation is exceptionally wide, when you consider other manufacturers will give a single digit response. There is truth to the fact that heat output will vary based on room size, but the lack of a specific number seems odd to us.

Overall, this seems to be a reliable product, but is relatively unpopular with consumers. If you don’t like anything by Comfortbilt, Pleasant Hearth, or Castle then this is probably the choice for you.

How Does a Pellet Stove Work?

It works by burning wood pellets (vs. logs like a wood stove), which are compressed pieces of wood waste such as sawdust.

The Fuel

Sometimes there are additives mixed into pellets like glue and the ratio of wood types (hardwood to softwood) varies. These variations in quality make it very important to only purchase high quality pellets like Okanagan. You’ll be buying a lot of pellets considering that most stoves use a single 40lb bag per day. Make sure to test some pellets out before committing to a large order. Ideally, you want a pellet that produces very little ash and buildup in the stove.  The pellets will be delivered on a pallet, so make sure you have space for them in your garage-you don’t want them getting wet.  

Step-by-Step

  1. The pellets are loaded into the hopper. This is the storage tank for the fuel. 
  2. They are fed into the burn pot (steel bin for burning)  by an augur (corkscrew conveyer belt). There are also gravity fed versions that do not require an augur, but these are normally much larger machines. The speed at which this process occurs is what dictates how hot the stove burns. A faster feed speed leads to more pellets being burned at once and thus hotter temperatures- vice versa for slower speeds.
  3. They are ignited by an electric ignitor or manually with a grill lighter.
  4. A series of electric combustion fans and air intakes causes them to burn intensely, and the heat to radiate around the room (also excretes exhaust gas).

Electricity Consumption?

As you may have noticed from the step-by-step, these little machines require electricity to operate the fans, thermostat, and circuit board which controls the operation. For everyone who believed pellet stoves were their way of sticking it to the man and becoming independent of the grid…I’m sorry. It’s not all bad though. These electrical components make the final product more hands off than log burning burners, but the downside again is that you are reliant on electricity. A simple solution would be to connect a backup battery pack that uses an inverter and a battery from a small car or boat. There are non electric varieties, but those are rare. 

Popular Benefits

  • Efficiency: Since the internal air circulation is managed by electrically programmed and optimized fans/blowers, pellets burners have a high average efficiency. The actual number is between 60-80% efficiency depending on the model (as rated by EPA). This means you will be getting more heat from your fuel.
  • Save Money: Overall, the cost of heating is cheaper than using electricity or oil (but still not as cheap as natural gas). Additionally, there are some states that give tax incentives. The other benefit is that there are not as many price fluctuations like you would experience with some other fuel types. This allows you to better budget for fuel costs with more peace of mind.
  • Clean: They burn cleanly and produce only a fine ash. If you take care of your model it will not produce creosote, which is a sticky black substance that can accumulate in the exhaust, ignite, and pose serious damage to property.
  • Easy Maintenance: Simply dump fuel in, and clean the ash out. This is a bit oversimplified as you might also have to clean the glass or replace parts, but for the most part it is not that bad. In terms of glass, some stoves have self cleaning glass. If your stove doesn’t you can always purchase stove glass cleaner to help you with the job. In regards to part repair, it’s important to look at company’s support and whether they offer part replacements/warranty/live support etc. 
  • Approved for RV homes: ALTHOUGH not all of them, so make sure you check that yours meets requirements for use in a mobile home. We can’t stress this enough-be careful!
  • Horizontal Venting: Unlike a other stoves, which requires a vertical exhaust pipe, these have a double walled exhaust pipe that is oriented horizontally. This mean you can route it directly outside same as you would while cooking. This can make the stove easier to install in theory. 

Installation

We recommend hiring a professional to handle this step for you. This is a complex process, and involves drilling holes into your walls for airflow and ventilation. The average price is between 300 to $1,000 depending on how much work will be needed. This may be steep, but it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are installing on your own then this video from This Old House may help.

Maintenance

There is less maintenance involved, because the overall burn is cleaner. That being said, here are some helpful tips.

  • Refill  daily (depending on the size of the hopper). Most hoppers take a single 40lb bag of pellets, so bear in mind you will have to lift these bags to the stove. 
  • Clean the glass. There is some glass that is able to tidy itself up, but if not then you can expect to scrub away the grime.
  • Empty the ashpan once a week (average if you are using daily).
  • Examine (daily)  the burn pot to make sure the air vents are not being blocked by anything.
  • Professional cleaning/examination once a year. This will take care of hard to reach stuff like vent cleaning, and give you peace of mind.

Accessories

  • Ash Vac: An ash vacuum is a great way to easily get rid of all the ash that wasn’t caught in the ash pan. It’s worth noting, that if you try to dispose of ash by dumping it some particles may become airborne. Ash particles are not healthy to inhale, so using an ash vac will limit airborne exposure. Finally, you’re less likely to make a mess vs. dumping the ash into a plastic bag.
    • We recommend the PowerSmith it has rave reviews, and an affordable price. Its capacity isn’t as high as some pricier models (Cheetah) but it will get the job done.
  • Coal Scuttle: These can be helpful for scooping wood pellets into the hopper if you don’t like/don’t have the strength to dump the entire 40lb bag in at once. Here’s a simple and elegant Scuttle from our friends at Panacea.
  • Stove Fan: We’ve done an entire post with some of our favorites, but these mechanical marvels really do help. They are fans that sit on top of the stove and are powered by the emanating heat. The help spread the heat around your home and require no maintenance or batteries. The most popular option is the EcoFan.

Price

This is always a core consideration when making any purchase let alone a quality pellet stove. Just to give you a better idea of what you can expect, most pellet stoves worth your time cost around $1-2k. This is quite a large sum of money, so gauge you’re alternatives closely before purchasing. You can get wood burning stoves for cheaper and there is also the option to go with an alternative technology such as infrared or alcohol heating.

 

FAQ

Q: Where to get fuel?

A: The best woodfuel is  going to have 1% or less ash content (per 40lb bag) additionally you will want to decide whether to purchase hardwood or softwood pellets. Softwood has a 10% higher heat output, so that is what we recommend. You can buy pellets from stores or online.  Many pellets brands are only available in certain geographic regions, so be sure to look around. Also check out our pellet fuel purchasing guide. 

Q: How long before you refill the hopper?

A: It depends on the size and burn rate, most will go through 40lbs of fuel a day. If the hopper can hold more than 40lbs you will be able to wait more than a day between refilling. Also, if you are burning at a slower rate then it stands to reason you can make it longer before refueling

Q: What is the best pellet stove for RV?

A: Not all mini stoves are certified for mobile home usage, but the one of our favorites is the Dickinson Marine Newport. We put together a review of this stove, and from what we’ve read it is a great performer in small spaces. For a slightly more powerful option there is always the ever attractive Castle Serenity. 

Q: What is the best small pellet stove?

A: Again, this depends on personal preference, but the most popular by far is the Castle Serenity. This is a great option, but if you are looking for something less expensive then we have a full guide to cheap pellet stoves

Final Thoughts

Pellet stoves can be a great source of warmth for your home, and depending on what you currently use as fuel (eg. heating oil) it can be a cost effective alternative. We hope you enjoyed this article, and as always be sure to contact us if you have any ideas for future content we should include.