Pellet Fuel Introduction

Pellet burning stoves and fireplaces provide an economical way to get a genuine wood fire without the inconveniences associated with gathering wood and starting such a fire. Pellet burning appliances control the burn exactly with circuit boards and computers. Simpler models will have two burn settings. Fancier models will give you a thermostat and let you set the burn precisely. A pellet burning appliance can give anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 BTUs per hour with a minimum of pollution.

Here are some of the advantages inherent in any pellet burning stove or fireplace:


Made from pressed sawdust, wood pellets burn more efficiently than even the most seasoned hardwood. Cordwood and wood chips have between 30 and 60 percent moisture content. Pellets range between 5 and 10.

Heat Output

Wood pellets output 350,000 BTUs per cubic foot. That's 4 to 5 times as much as for cordwood or chips. They put out far more heat with far less fuel.

Clean Burn

The efficient burn and low moisture combine to make pellet fuel much cleaner than ordinary wood. Pellet stoves exhaust only 1.2 particulate grams per hour, well below the EPA limit of 7.5.

Saving Space

The efficient burn and high heat output also combine to make sure you can store a lot of fuel in a small space. A bag of pellet fuel can produce the heat you need in a space 1/4 the size that would be required for a similarly productive amount of cordwood.

No Chimney Required

The efficiency also means that your pellet burning appliance may not need a chimney. It can simply vent through a tiny hole to the outside world. That means you don't need a chimney sweep and you don't have to worry about chimney fires.

Ease of Use

You don't have to build a pyramid of logs with carefully place kindling and attention to air space. Just take the bag of pellets and dump some in the hopper until it's full. The stove or fireplace will regulate how much to use based on settings you choose. Refill the hopper once a day with a smaller hopper (30 pounds) or with heavy use. Leave it as a once a week, five-minute chore with a larger hopper (130 pounds) or with lighter use.

Environmentally Friendly

Wood is a renewable resource, which makes it better than oil, gas, or electricity. Wood pellets are made from sawdust, which would otherwise be a waste material and contribute to the local landfill.


A wood pellet appliance can cost from $1,200 to $2,100. The pellets cost about $3.00 for a 40 pound bag.

With all those advantages, do be aware that this is a somewhat new technology. You'll want to make sure you know where to get a steady supply of the wood pellets.