Pellet Stoves

A pellet stove, like a wood stove, is typically a steel or a cast iron box lined with firebrick. They contain a hopper to hold pellets with a mechanical component to feed them to a cup, where they are burned.

Pellet stoves do not usually need a metalbestos chimney like a typical wood stove. Pellet stoves are designed to burn a wood material. The combustion chamber is a controlled environment because of the uniform size in pellets, the feed rate and the amount of air let into the box.

Pellet stoves require electricity to run a fan, which blows hot air to the room. 

More about Pellets 

Unlike the cordwood burned by woodstoves, pellets are a manufactured fuel source that consists of biomass byproducts such as sawdust, wood chips, waste paper and agricultural waste. The ingredients are bound together by pressure and heat instead of glue, as in a manufacturing plant. They are sold in 40-pound bags at local hardware stores or by the ton from a manufacturer. 

All pellets are refined by manufacturers to be uniform in size, density, moisture and energy content. However, pellets made by different manufacturers will have different characteristics because of the variety in raw materials and manufacturing processes. For consumers to compare the basic characteristics of pellets from different sources, the Pellet Fuels Institute has developed standards for pellet fuels sold in the United States. Manufacturers send their pellets to a third-party lab for testing and pellets are classified into three categories, depending on the standards that the pellets consistently meet.

PFI Utility Pellets

• bulk density of 38-46 lbs. per cubic foot

• ash content 6 percent or below

• moisture content 10 percent or below


PFI Standard Pellets

• bulk density of 38-46 lbs. per cubic foot

• ash content 2 percent or below

• moisture content 10 percent or below


PFI Premium Pellets

• bulk density of 40-46 lbs. per cubic foot

• ash content 1 percent or below

• moisture content 8 percent or below


When purchasing pellets, should consider bags that meet PFI Premium standards as these pellets have a higher BTU content because of their higher density and low moisture content. For pellets not labeled as meeting the standard, consumers should research the moisture content, bulk density and ash content when deciding which brand to purchase.

Related Topics & Keywords: 


Biomass Greenhouse Handbook CCHRC produced a handbook for school districts about how to build and operate a biomass-heated greenhouse.
Wood-Burning Technology Study CCHRC is evaluating the economic and environmental considerations of a variety of residential wood energy appliances, including wood stoves, pellet stoves, wood boilers, and masonry heaters.
Combustion Air/CO Study This study looked at how homeowners provide combustion air for atmospherically vented appliances and assessed the performance of power-vented appliances.
Evaluating Residential Heating Systems This project measured the design heat load of houses by monitoring the runtime of the furnace in relation to outdoor temperatures. The study monitored 20 houses in the Anchorage area during very cold weather to better determine appropriate heating system sizing for the HVAC industry.
Heating Appliance Use Survey This project observed actual patterns of wood heating appliance use at twelve homes in Fairbanks to quantify the amount of wood heating compared to other heating sources.