Pellet Fuel Guide

If you've decided to go with a wood pellet appliance, this list will help get you up and running.

Location

Where do you want to put your wood pellet stove or fireplace? Often, that choice can be virtually made for you. An existing masonry or prefab fireplace can be the ideal location for a pellet burning insert.

If you're starting from scratch, choose a major living area where you and the family spend a lot of time. Remember, this appliance isn't just a decorative fireplace for the family to gather around and talk about how cozy it seems. These things put out a lot of heat and are meant to supplement if not replace your other home heating system.

Wherever you put it, make sure that it can vent properly to the outside and draw outside air for combustion. Make sure there aren't any combustible materials like curtains or railings too nearby. The stove or fireplace you purchase will list the acceptable minimum clearances. And locate it close enough to a properly wired outlet.

Installation

If you're installing a free-standing stove or fireplace, you need to make sure your floor is properly protected. The instructions will specify the minimum size for a noncombustible floor protector. If installing into a pre-existing fireplace, the existing hearth may be all you need.

The most important aspect of installation is venting. You will need to decide how air is drawn in from the outside to fuel the fire and how exhaust gases are vented out again. A sidewall horizontal system is the least expensive, but also the least reliable and can result in smoke spilling into the house. A vertical venting system is to be preferred. If there is an existing chimney, you may use that, but the manufacturer may recommend that the chimney be relined.

Use

A pellet stove is easy to use. Just read the instructions. A manual ignition type may require a gel or solid starter that you light to get the pellets going. This will require you to monitor the fire until it's burning smoothly. An automatic ignition model just requires you to make sure the hopper is full of pellets and then push the start button.

Once the stove starts, you can adjust the settings to provide the amount of heat you desire. Stoves with a thermostat make this job even easier. When you're done with the fire, simply turn the control to the "Off" position.

Care

Check the burn pot daily and clean it when it's dirty to make sure the air inlets stay open. Empty the ash drawer once or twice a weak. Check the hopper for pellet dust and clean it with a damp cloth. Empty the auger tubes occasionally to make sure there is no blockage. Clean the glass only when it is cool with a regular glass cleaner.

Other maintenance should be scheduled on an annual basis. A professional can empty your ash traps, clean and lubricate fans and motors, clean the heat exchanger and exhaust pipes, reseal the venting system, and verify and adjust the settings as needed.

Where to Learn More About Pellet Fuel

The following resources might be helpful for a person looking to learn more about pellet fuel types, benefits, and uses.

Pellet Fuels Institute: Non profit association web site that serves the pellet fuels industry. This consists of fuel makes, applicance makers, and other industry participants. Site contains articles, links, and benefits of pellet fuel.

Energex: manufacturer of wood pellet fuels. Learn how wood pellet fuels are made and where these products are sold on the company's web site.

Where to Buy Pellet Fuel

Many different stores carry pellet fuels. Home improvement stores should offer pellet fuels along with most specialty fireplace, grill, or heating stores. Pellet fuels are also available for delivery and online ordering over the Internet. Here are a few places to purchase pellet fuels.

Earth Sense Energy Systems: Sells pellet fuels along with pellet fuel stoves.

Dell Point: MAker of pellet stoves that also offers pellet for sale.