BTU (or Btu) stands for British thermal units and is essentially a measurement of energy—in this case, heat—generated by your pellet stove. A stove’s BTU rating is a solid indicator for whether or not the stove will completely heat your home when measured against the exact specifications of your home’s size and square footage.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a stove rated at 60,000 BTU will generally be sufficient for 2,000 sq. ft. while 42,000 BTU will heat 1,300 sq. ft. If you are not sure whether the BTU rating of your preferred pellet stove will be sufficient for the space you want to heat, check the manufacturer specifications or call the company directly.
Cost and Difficulty of Installation
Pellet stoves are easier and cheaper to install than a fireplace system, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. Some models can be used basically as-is once unpacked, while others might require the installation of an exhaust vent or need to be integrated into an existing fireplace system. Expect to pay between $1,500 and $7,000 to have your pellet stove professionally installed, with an average of $4,000 for a cast iron stove, heating pad and vent.
Type of Pellet Stove
Two basic types of pellet stoves are common. The first, a freestanding stove, is just as it sounds—a fully contained stove including a combustion chamber, hopper and blower in one body that requires a separate venting system for exhaust.
The second type, called an insert, is installed directly into your existing fireplace and relies on your existing chimney for venting exhaust. These stoves save floor space and increase your fireplace’s efficiency and heating capacity.
Burn time is an important consideration regarding the convenience of your pellet stove. Large-capacity hoppers can hold up to 130 pounds of pellet fuel to provide multiple days of heat before needing a refill. However, large hoppers require more space for your stove which could make them inconvenient for smaller spaces. Smaller hoppers are commonly found on insert models and freestanding pellet stoves designed to heat smaller homes.
Closely related to a pellet stove’s BTU rating is the amount of space the model can effectively heat. Generally, the higher the BTU rating, the more space the stove can heat. However, that’s not the whole story. Blower capacity, the heat distribution system and the installation location all affect the overall heating area estimate. Typically heating area sizes range from a few hundred square feet to over 3,000 square feet.
The energy-efficiency rating of a pellet stove is an average of three figures, including its heat transfer, electrical and combustion efficiency ratings stated as a percentage. Typical efficiency ratings for pellet stoves range from 70% to 83%, with some models exceeding or falling below that threshold.
Among several advantages pellet stoves have over other heat sources are added convenience features that simply aren’t possible with a traditional fireplace or wood-burning stove. Features such as the following make maximizing your pellet stove’s potential simple.
Electronic controls allow you to easily switch between heat settings and blower fan speeds to customize the comfort level in your home.
LED display relays information about the pellet stove’s operation to the user. Information can include a thermostat setting, room temperature reading, error codes should something go wrong and basic stove functions.
Glass windows on pellet stoves are a convenience feature that provides real-time feedback on the condition of the flame inside the combustion chamber.
Pellet stoves that meet stringent emissions regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency display a certification tag on the product itself. Although the vast majority of pellet stoves for sale in the U.S. are EPA certified, ensure the model you choose includes the certification emblem to know that it’s safe for indoor use with proper ventilation.
A manufacturer warranty speaks volumes about a company and the product. A comprehensive and long warranty protects you and your investment while also proving the maker’s confidence in their pellet stove. Look for pellet stove warranties of one year or more when making your selection.