Monday, 23 February 2009

The Differences Between Wood and Pellet Stoves

Those looking into buying a stove to reduce their heating costs or add ambiance to their home may be confused about the difference between different types of stoves. Stoves come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and can be chosen to match just about any d├ęcor. A stove is also a great alternative to a fireplace and can act as a space heater.

Stand-alone stoves can use gas, wood, or pellets for fuel. At first, the wood and pellet choices may look very similar to a homeowner, but there are major differences between the two. Carefully consider each fuel type before choosing and installing a stove.

What is a Wood Stove?

A wood stove is a freestanding appliance that is used to contain a fire within the home. The stove is designed to allow enough air to keep the fire burning evenly and may have an igniter. They are very similar to traditional fireplaces, but there is no mantel or hearth.

What is a Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove is design to burn small pill-shaped fuel made from wood byproducts. These pellets look a lot like rabbit food. A pellet stove is heats evenly, but lets off little exhaust. They have become preferable for their environmentally friendly fuel and efficiency.

Differences in Design

These two kinds of stoves look the same on the outside, but each of them has been designed to handle their recommended fuel. A wood stove looks like a fireplace firebox from the outside, but on the inside it has special ventilation mechanisms that keep the fire burning well in the small space of the stove. A properly designed wood stove should be able to heat the room without making it uncomfortable.

Some of these stoves use the hot air inside to rotate a ventilation fan above the fire that draws in air. The extra oxygen helps the fire continue burning. Other stoves circulate air around the stove in order to pull fresh air inside. Wood burning stoves also require specific kinds of flues that can handle the build up of carbon and creosote.

Pellet stoves are much different than wood stoves on the inside. The biggest difference is the hopper full of extra fuel that sits above the flames. The pellets are gravity fed into the stove at a constant rate. Most have feeding mechanisms that ensure the right amount of fuel is added to the fire. Pellets stoves also have exhaust fans that remove heat from the stove and bring in air.

Individual Advantages

Pellet stoves have become very popular in recent years because they have many advantages over older stoves. Since pellets are made from sawdust and other filler material, they are more environmentally friendly than any other kind of burning fuel. Using them for heating disposes of materials that would otherwise be dumped with other waste. The pellets also burn cleanlier than other fuels. They do not give off creosote like wood does.

Pellets provide even heat that spreads from the stove. Wood stoves are known to heat the room they are in so well that home HVAC systems shut down, leaving other rooms cold. Since wood burns much less efficiently than pellets, it also has a much higher chance of throwing sparks and starting a fire.

Another advantage to pellet systems is that they are easier to place and install because they can use different kinds of flues and exhaust systems. The stove retailer should be able to advise a homeowner of the best system for their home. Some companies provide home installation services that take the guesswork out of making the system efficient.

Wood stoves are preferable to pellet stoves for those who have lots of wood on hand. Pellets can be hard to come by and usually only come in large quantities, but firewood is available just about anywhere.

Choosing a Stove

Though pellet stoves have skyrocketed in popularity recently, there is still reason for a homeowner to install a wood stove. Those who don’t have the space for a freestanding stove can purchase fireplace insets that utilize the same heating techniques.

Homeowners looking for a stove should ask themselves how much they would like to spend on a stove, what kind of fuel is most readily available in there area, and if the primary purpose of the stove will be heating or aesthetics. The purchase and installation of a new stove can cost a few thousand dollars, so the decision should not be made lightly.

Both varieties of stove will provide warmth during the winter and the kind of comfort that only a fire can provide.

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