8 Powerful Pellet Stoves – Reliable And Safe House Heaters

38 Models Considered
67 Hours of Research
6 Experts Interviewed
133 Reviews Analyzed

When it comes to heating your home or workshop through the winter, one of the best alternatives to a full-fledged home heating system is a pellet stove. These stoves burn specially made pellets of compressed wood to produce heat. Although they are similar in many ways to a wood-burning stove, the best pellet stove is significantly more efficient, safer to use, and doesn’t require spending days outside chopping wood to heat your home. Another major advantage to pellet stoves is that they cost far less to run than an electricity- or gas-based heating system.

To help you find the right pellet stove to heat your home or shop, we considered a number of features that differentiate these heaters. The first is the size of the pellet stove – after all, these heaters will take up a significant amount of space within the room they are placed. We also considered the heating power and area, which affect if it’s an effective heater for a large room, a shop, or even an entire home heated. Finally, we considered things like the hopper capacity – how much pellet fuel the stove can hold before needed to be refilled – and the manufacturer’s warranty.

Top 8 Pellet Stoves Review 2019

We spent tens of hours researching pellet stove models, reading technical specifications and customer reviews. The result is our list of the eight best pellet stoves, highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each pellet stove complete with pros and cons. Our Buying Guide covers everything you need to know about pellet stoves and how to choose the right stove for your needs. Finally, we recap our three favorite pellet stoves for on the market today.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 (Editor’s Choice)
A powerful and good-looking pellet stove that will heat up your whole room in no time and can work all night on one pellet load
Comfortbilt
2. Napoleon Timberwolf Economizer Pellet Insert TPI35 (Best Pellet Stove Insert)
A space-saving solution for a large area to heat – this pellet stove comes as safe 38,250 btu heater
Timberwolf
3. US Stove Company 5520 (Best Wood Pellet Stove)
This pellet stove comes as a highly easy-to-maintain unit with powerful heater and an impressive heating area
US-Stove
4. Summers Heat 55-SHPEP (Best Pellet Stove for Mild Climates)
A durable pellet stove with an eye-catching design comes with many additional features that help adjusting item’s heat to fully suit your needs
Summers
5. Ashley US AP5780SS (Best Maintenance Pellet Stove)
A carefully thought through design of this pellet stove will let you have more time for enjoying the warmness it provides rather than cleaning it
Ashley
6. US Stove GW1949 Wiseway (Best Non-Electrical Pellet Stove)
A powerful pellet stove that will brighten and warm up the whole room with its gorgeous looks and a 40,000 btu heat output
US-Stove
7. Castle Pellet Stoves 12327 Serenity (Most Compact Pellet Stove)
A pellet stove that will take little space and still do the great job on sustaining a cozy atmosphere in the room
Castle
8. US Stove Company 4840 (Budget Pick)
A fairly priced pellet stove with a decent heating area and output will show its worth in close-to-none need of maintenance and sturdy construction
US-Stove
Features
  • Size: 36 x 30 x 24’’
  • Heat output: 50,000 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 55 lbs
  • Heating area: 2800 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: 1-year parts, lifetime limited

More features: auto ignition, ash pan, programmable thermostat, remote control included, EPA certified

OVERALL RATING: 10 out of 10

Users can’t say enough good things about this massive pellet stove from Comfortbilt. First of all, the stove simply looks good enough to make it a welcome addition to any home – the front panels feature bay-style glass windows to provide a large viewing area similar to a traditional fireplace. The hexagonal shape also adds some style so that it can fit into the aesthetic of a wide variety of rooms.

In terms of performance, it’s hard to beat this 50,000 BTU stove. Comfortbilt claims – and users agree – that the stove is capable of heating a 2,800-square foot area even in cold conditions. Better yet, users report running it for several months straight in harsh winter temperatures with no issues.

The large ash pan and 55-pound hopper together mean that you don’t need to pay attention to this stove more frequently than once every day or two, and users report that the ash pan is easy to clean with a shop vac. Users also love the programmable thermostat on the top of the stove, which makes it easy to regulate the blower based on the temperature of your home, as well as appreciated the remote control so you can adjust the thermostat from another room. Another favorite thing about this stove is how quiet it is – one user reported not being able to hear it at all from just the opposite side of the same room!

Comfortbilt offers a one-year warranty on the parts of this stove and a lifetime warranty on the stove body, as well as very helpful technical assistance during the installation process and early phases of use.

PROS:
  • Stylish design
  • Large ash pan
  • 55-pound hopper capacity
  • Extremely quiet
  • Great heat output
  • Heating area is impressive
  • Lifetime warranty on body

CONS:
  • Large footprint
  • Small hopper

Features
  • Size: 30 x 26 x 21.5’’
  • Heating power: 38,250 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 45 lbs
  • Heating area: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: lifetime limited

More features: flashing with black trim, 30-hour burn time, EPA certified, digital control panel, 120 CFM blower kit included

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

This pellet stove from Napoleon Timberwolf may have a large footprint, but it has the unique advantage that you can put it up right against a wall thanks to the unique wall guard that sits behind the stove. This pellet stove is relatively small and simple, with a design that resembles a traditional wood stove. Although the viewing window is somewhat small, this was not an issue for users who were not looking to achieve a fireplace aesthetic.

The 38,250-BTU heating power is in the middle of the range among pellet stoves we reviewed, making it a good choice for people who live in moderate climates or who have a smaller home in the range of 2,000 square feet. However, Napoleon Timberwolf didn’t skimp on the hopper capacity – at 45 pounds, you won’t have to add pellets to the stove more than once per day, and even less often in the shoulder seasons. When burning an inexpensive pellet mixture of corn waste and wood, the full hopper is rated to last up to 30 hours. The stove also features a digital control panel with a thermostat so that the heat output can be easily adjusted according to the temperature you want.

Users especially like the 120 CFM blower kit that comes with this pellet stove, which they found does an excellent job of distributing heat around the house. Users also appreciated excellent customer support from Napoleon Timberwolf, as well as the company’s generous lifetime warranty that covers the entire stove.

PROS:
  • Large black flashing to protect walls
  • 45-pound hopper burns for 30 hours
  • 120 CFM blower
  • Lifetime warranty and good customer service

CONS:
  • Small viewing window
  • Large footprint
  • Expensive for its heat output

Features
  • Size: 34 x 27 x 26’’
  • Heat output: 48,000 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 120 lbs
  • Heating area: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: limited lifetime firebox warranty, 1 year all other parts, 1-year electrical parts

More features: automatic ignition, LED display, EPA certified

OVERALL RATING: 9.4 out of 10

If you’re looking for a stove that you can leave to burn for days on end without much maintenance, there are few choices better than this pellet stove from US Stove Company. The most attractive part of this stove is the enormous 120-pound pellet hopper, which you can load up once and not return to for several days. This means that you can in essence load the hopper and clean the ash pan all at once, and then forget about your pellet stove for several more days.

The stove also performs when it comes to heat output and is rated for 48,000 BTUs – enough heat to keep a 2,000-square foot home warm during a harsh winter, or for an even larger home in mild conditions. Users appreciated the automatic ignition and digital LED control display that together make this pellet stove extremely easy to operate and control. The stove uses a mechanical ventilation system, which users found was quite effective, to stoke the flame and to prevent smoke from ever spilling into your home.

The only downside to this stove is that given its output, it has an extremely large footprint and is also quite tall. The glass panel is also relatively small, so the size of the stove is not made up for by providing a fireplace-style view.

US Stove Company offers an excellent warranty policy on this stove, including one-year protection for all of the electrical and mechanical parts as well as a lifetime warranty on the stove body itself.

PROS:
  • 120-pound hopper
  • LED control display
  • Effective mechanical ventilation system

CONS:
  • Large footprint and tall design
  • Small glass viewing window

Features
  • Size: 34.5 x 26 x 23’’
  • Heat output: 25,100 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 45 lbs
  • Heating area: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: limited 5-year

More features: EPA certified, digital control board, auto ignition, heat range adjustment and blower speed adjustment, air wash system

OVERALL RATING: 9.2 out of 10

This modest stove from Summers Heat is perfect for those living in mild climates or who only need to heat several rooms. The stove is rated for just over 25,000 BTU, which users found is perfect for a 2,000-square foot home when the temperatures outside are reasonable or for heating a central suite of rooms when the mercury really plummets. The 45-pound hopper is designed to burn for up to 27 hours straight, meaning that you can load this stove each morning and not have to worry about it until the next day.

With a base of just 26” x 23”, this stove is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to footprint but boasts a massive glass viewing window that users loved for the aesthetic it provides. The stove is also loaded with helpful features like a digital control board that includes easy adjustment controls for the heat output and blower speed. The stove also comes with an automatic ignition function so you don’t have to worry about starter gels.

The main issue that users had with this stove is that it requires a significant amount of maintenance. Users found that the auger will squeal if dust from pellets is allowed to build up for more than a few days, so it requires frequent cleaning. In addition, the stove can be finicky about what types of pellets will burn without leaving a smoldering flame that chokes the ventilation. Users appreciated the five-year limited warranty for Summers Heat for when any of these small issues led to breakages within the mechanical parts of the stove.

PROS:
  • Large bay-style glass viewing pane
  • Digital control board and auto-ignition
  • Five-year warranty

CONS:
  • Requires a lot of maintenance
  • Can be finicky about types of pellets it will burn

Features
  • Size: 37 x 22 x 20’’
  • Heat output: 48,000 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 46 lbs
  • Heating area: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: limited 3-year

More features: EPA certified, removable side panels, digital thermostat controls, remote control included, 100 CFM blower

OVERALL RATING: 9.2 out of 10

Don’t let the small footprint of this pellet stove from Ashley US fool you – it puts out a whopping 48,000 BTU of heat. Users agreed with the manufacturer’s recommendation that this is plenty of heating power to keep a 2,000-square foot home warm even in harsh winter conditions. Plus, the 46-pound hopper capacity ensures that you don’t need to tend to this stove more than once per day.

One of the unique design aspects of this stove is the removable side panels that make it easier to maintain and clean out the auger and hopper. However, it is worth noting that the side panels are mismatched with the rest of the stove in terms of style, which somewhat depreciates the aesthetics of this stove. In addition, Ashley US designed the stove with an ash pan that cannot be removed, which means that you will need a shop vacuum in order to clean out the ash every few days.

The stove comes with a digital thermostat on the top of the unit, which makes it easy to adjust the 100 CFM blower fan’s speed as well as to set a desired temperature. Even better, this digital thermostat can be controlled from another room thanks to the included remote control. Ashley US provides a three-year limited warranty to protect your investment, although users did not report any issues with the stove breaking down after several seasons of use.

PROS:
  • Small footprint and 48,000 BTU output
  • Removable side panels for maintenance
  • 100 CFM blower and digital thermostat

CONS:
  • Side panels look different from rest of stove
  • Ash pan cannot be removed

Features
  • Size: 52 x 24 x 15’’
  • Heat output: 40,000 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 60 lbs
  • Heating area: 2000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: limited lifetime firebox warranty, 1 year all other parts, 1-year electrical parts

More features: EPA certified, 3-inch pellet venting, gravity feed system

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

If winter storms knocking out power are a frequent occurrence in your area or you’re in the market for a pellet stove for an off-grid home, this fully non-electric pellet stove from US Stove is a great option. The stove uses a gravity feed system rather than a mechanical auger to deliver pellets from the hopper to the combustion chamber, which users found works extremely well – as long as you clean out the system every two to three days.

Although the stove is rated to 40,000 BTU and is described as being large enough to heat a 2,000-square foot home, users warn that these ratings are optimistic and this stove is best used for heating only a few central rooms. Although the 60-pound hopper is quite large, users find that the stove burns through pellets quickly when operating at full heat and the hopper must be refilled every 12-20 hours. In addition, users note that the ash pan must be cleaned out every day in order to keep the stove running at high efficiency.

The stove uses a direct venting system, which is another advantage for those looking to go off-grid but requires some forethought about where you will place the stove since it requires putting a ventilation pipe through your roof. That said, users appreciated the relatively small footprint of this stove as well as the modern aesthetic – although the viewing pane to see the fire is also relatively small.

US Stove offers a limited lifetime warranty on the body of the stove, although users reported few issues since there are no electrical parts.

PROS:
  • Non-electric with gravity feed system
  • Small footprint
  • Direct ventilation system

CONS:
  • Heat output ratings are optimistic
  • Requires lots of cleaning to run at high efficiency

Features
  • Size: 34 x 24 x 18’’
  • Heat output: 31,960 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 40 lbs
  • Heating area: 1500 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: limited 1-year

More features: EPA certified, smart controller, easy-to-access firepot, 3’’ exhaust pipe, thermal overload protection, safety shut off, heat shields included

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

This inexpensive pellet stove from Castle Pellet Stoves was designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. Compared to other pellet stoves, everything from the shape of this stove to the digital controller is designed to let you worry about anything but your stove. The controller offers not only manual controls, but also an automatic thermostat control and a schedule controller that allows you to set the stove to operate on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule – perfect for people who travel frequently during the winter or who are out of the house for work each day. The 40-pound hopper also means that you don’t need to refill the stove more than once each day, and the stove design makes it easy to access the combustion chamber and ash pan for cleaning – either with a vacuum or by removing the ash pan to dump out the ashes.

The stove has a relatively modest heat output of just under 32,000 BTU, which makes it more suitable for mild climates or for heating a small number of rooms – the stove is rated to heat an area of just 1,500 square feet.

It is worth noting that the blower fans on this stove can be quite loud, especially for about 15 minutes right after startup and shutdown. In addition, users found that while the scheduling feature on the digital controller is nice, the thermostat control does not work intuitively – leading to the temperature being often much hotter than you would like. Users also reported that the hopper is relatively tight and will stop feeding the auger even when there are pellets remaining.

PROS:
  • Inexpensive
  • Simple design with schedule controller
  • 40-pound hopper

CONS:
  • Hopper is tight and stops feeding auger before emptied
  • Loud during startup and shutdown
  • Thermostat control is not intuitive

Features
  • Size: 36 x 27 x 12’’
  • Heat output: 24,000 btu
  • Hopper capacity: 28 lbs
  • Heating area: 1000 sq. ft.
  • Warranty: not specified

More features: EPA certified, automatic ignition and diagnostic controls, 5 heat settings, vent kit included, 120 CFM blower included

OVERALL RATING: 8.8 out of 10

If you’re on a budget and only need to heat a small area of your home with a pellet stove, it’s hard to beat this moderately sized and inexpensive stove from US Stove Company. This stove is capable of putting out 24,000 BTUs and is rated to cover just 1,000 square feet with its heat – so don’t expect to heat your entire house in harsh winter conditions with this stove. That said, users loved this stove for heating a central living room or a detached workshop and found that the five thermostat settings provided plenty of customization to reach a pleasant temperature. The stove has a modern aesthetic, but note that the glass viewing window is extremely small – this can be a deficit for people who want to see the fire, but a plus for people who are worried about children or pets being burned by hot glass.

Users had mixed results with actually using the stove. Many found that the 28-pound hopper would frequently clog from dust, even with ample cleaning, unless it was filled only to the halfway point – which requires refilling the hopper every few hours. In addition, some users experienced issues with the auger malfunctioning. Users’ experiences with customer service ranged from very good to very poor, depending on the exact problem with the stove – so be sure you are handy enough to diagnose problems as they come up if you opt for this stove. It is also worth noting that US Stove Company does not specify a warranty period, which may explain some of the mixed results that users had in addressing issues.

PROS:
  • Small, inexpensive pellet stove
  • Modern aesthetic

CONS:
  • Frequent issues with hopper and auger
  • No warranty specified, mixed results with customer service

Buying Guide

Now that you’ve learned more about our eight favorite pellet stoves on the market today, how do you choose between them to find the pellet stove that’s right for you? Pellet stoves differ widely in their performance and efficiency, so it’s important to know about how these heaters work and how you plan to use yours before investing in one. In our Buying Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about pellet stoves and the features that set them apart from one another.

Create a cozy atmosphere at home – invest in a pellet stove

While many people may be reluctant to switch away from traditional gas-powered or electrical home heating systems, pellet stoves offer a huge number of advantages over these heating systems.

Pellet Stove

First, pellet stoves are one of the least expensive ways to heat your home. This is, for many people, what gets them interested in switching over to heating with a pellet stove in the first place. Compared to gasoline and electricity, wood pellets are significantly cheaper and do not experience the wild price fluctuations of these other fuels. A cord of wood pellets is also typically cheaper than a cord of pre-cut wood – and doesn’t require the effort of splitting lumber from uncut wood rounds that you would have to put in to make operating a wood stove cheaper than a pellet stove.

Pellet stoves are also significantly more environmentally friendly than other forms of heating fuels since the pellets being burned are made of wood – a renewable resource. Most wood pellets are sourced from trees downed as collateral in construction or other large-scale industries, so producing this fuel doesn’t even require additional logging of forests.
Plus, pellet stoves encourage you to moderate your fuel consumption since, in contrast to gas or electricity, it is easy to keep an eye on how much wood you are burning to generate heat.

A common concern that people who are new to pellet stoves have is that these heaters will either produce too much heat, or not enough. However, pellet stoves are highly efficient and larger units can produce just as much heat as an electrical or gas-powered heater. Pellet stoves are also controllable, with adjustable fans and heat settings so you can turn the heat down when you’re in the same room as the stove or turn the heat up to warm adjacent rooms.

Lastly, pellet stoves are a terrific option for warming your home if you’d like to take it off the grid, or at least reduce your dependability on the electrical or natural gas grid. Wood pellets are available year-round from most hardware stores and can be stockpiled ahead of the winter since they last for years.

What are pellets?

The pellets burned in pellet stoves are typically made from the waste wood of other industries, which is in part what makes pellet stoves so environmentally friendly – they burn wood that would otherwise go to a landfill. Many wood pellets are made of compressed saw dust from lumber mills, from excess wood discarded by the furniture and logging industries, or from unusable lumber like trees killed by pine beetle. More and more, pellets are also being produced from agricultural waste such as cornstalks to make the most of agricultural byproducts.

Pellet

How does a pellet stove work?

Pellet stoves look relatively simple on the outside, but the inside actually houses a few separate chambers. Typically, to start your pellet stove running you’ll load pellets into a hopper, where they’ll be stored temporarily. An auger feeds pellets to the combustion chamber, with the feed rate determining in part how much heat your pellet stove will put out – this is usually one of the things that the thermostat on the exterior of the pellet stove controls. Although many pellet stoves automatically ignite the pellets in the combustion chamber when you first turn the stove on, some pellet stoves require you to manually ignite the pellets – after this, however, the fire will keep burning as new pellets are added. The pellets are burned in the combustion chamber to produce heat, and a heat exchanger blows air from the room past the combustion chamber back out into the room to deliver the heat safely.

How to prolong a pellet stove’s life?

Unlike a wood-burning stove, a pellet stove has several moving parts that can break over time if not maintained properly. Therefore, you’ll want to make stove maintenance a regular part of your winter heating routine.

The first and most important thing that you need to do to maintain your pellet stove is to clean out the ash tray so that it does not clog the air intake to the combustion chamber. A good method for cleaning this is to simply vacuum up the ash. Expect to vacuum the tray at least every few days during the winter months when you are using your stove heavily.

You’ll also want to keep the glass door of the stove clean so that you can look inside to make sure the fire is burning properly. Specifically, you want to keep an eye out for clinkers – hardened balls of pellet ash – that can clog up the air intake in the combustion chamber. These can be removed or broken up with a fireplace poker whenever you find them.

Every now and then, you’ll want to allow the hopper and auger to empty completely as well. The reason for this is that debris from the pellets – which are often made from sawdust and other crumbly materials – can build up in the hopper and auger and clog the feeding mechanism if they are not cleaned out. Allowing the hopper and auger to completely empty will typically clean them out, although you can also clean them by hand.

Finally, it is a good idea to have your pellet stove inspected by a professional once a year – typically before cold weather starts! There are a number of companies that provide subscription services so that you don’t have to worry about this and so that the price is relatively modest.

Tips on installing a pellet stove

Installing a pellet stove is relatively straightforward, but there are a number of things to consider before you actually get to the point of placing a stove inside your house.

Installing a pellet stove

First, you need to figure out exactly where you are going to put a pellet stove. You may have a specific room where you want the stove, or alternatively where you want to put the stove may be dictated by the size of the stove model you like. In general, it’s a good idea to put the stove in a central room within your house so that the heat it produces can be distributed evenly and effectively to the surrounding rooms.

You need to consider how you are going to protect the floor from catching on fire when operating a pellet stove. Most manufacturers will provide recommended options for types of flooring material that can be put beneath their pellet stove to protect your floor. Alternatively, if you already have a hearth installed in one room, that may dictate the size and placement of your stove.

Ventilation is also extremely important when choosing where and how to set up your new pellet stove. Relatively free air movement is needed both to keep the stove burning at the highest possible efficiency and to distribute the hot air produced by the stove around the house. Most pellet stoves use a mechanical venting system, in which a fan assists in the movement of air. Typically, these stoves will require a double-walled PL vent pipe to meet building code requirements. Alternatively, some high-end pellet stove models offer direct ventilation, in which air is vented directly to the exterior of your home through a wall or roof vent. In this case, you’ll need a chimney on the outside of your home that clears all roof overhangs and that is fully sealed to prevent smoke from leaking back into your house.

Safety advise for pellet stove users

Obviously, safety is paramount whenever lighting a fire inside your home. The most important thing you can do to prevent a fire in the room around your stove is to make sure there is nothing combustible in the vicinity of the stove – including the floor surface and walls. Most pellet manufacturers will provide a list of materials that are safe to use under your new pellet stove. Manufacturers will also provide instructions on the types of pellets that are safe to burn with your stove – be sure to stick with the recommended pellets to prevent any gas buildup, smoke, or flames.

It is also important to keep an eye on the stove from time to time. Don’t let children or pets play alone in the room with the stove when it is on since the stove surface and front glass can be extremely hot. In addition, you’ll want to install a carbon monoxide monitor and smoke detector in the room with the stove.

Equip your house: necessities for the pellet stove owners

Although a pellet stove is a large expense, you’ll want to plan on a few additional items to make sure that your home and family are safe when your pellet stove is running. These include carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, both of which can be placed in the same room as the pellet stove to alert you if dangerous gases or smoke is building up in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is especially important as this gas cannot be seen or smelled. Although fires from pellet stoves are rare, it is also a good idea to stash a fire extinguisher in the same room as the pellet stove.

pellet stove

Depending on the model of pellet stove you opt for, you may also need to invest in a blower fan. Many higher-end pellet stoves come with a fan to circulate the hot air they produce, but when purchasing a budget stove there may be no built-in mechanism to distribute heat away from the stove itself. While a ceiling fan might do the trick if you are only heating a single small room, if you need the heat circulated throughout several rooms a blower fan will work significantly better.

Features to consider while buying the greatest pellet stove

How do you differentiate between pellet stoves to get one that’s the right fit for your home? In this section, we’ll take a look at the most important features to consider when choosing a pellet stove and explain how they can affect performance.

Size

Pellet stoves simply aren’t small – they take up a decent amount of space in a room of your home. For this reason, the size of different pellet stoves is a major factor for many homeowners. The pellet stove you choose needs to fit comfortably within a central room of your home, with enough space from any surrounding walls to prevent the walls from overheating. For many people, a taller stove with a smaller footprint – like the model from US Stoves – is a good option for small rooms.

In addition, size is important because it affects heat output – larger pellet stoves will be able to put out more heat than smaller pellet stoves. In general, you’ll want to choose a pellet stove that offers enough heating power to heat your entire home but without providing too much excess heat that will leave you sweltering.

Material

The material that the pellet stove you choose is made from can have an effect on its heat transfer and durability. Nearly all pellet stoves will get hot on the outside when operating, so it’s important to keep your body and children and pets away from the stove when it is on. That said, the exterior of every pellet stove is designed with cast metals so that they are flame-retardant even at extremely high temperature and durable under these same temperatures.

Pellet stove

Top or bottom hopper?

One of the major differences between pellet stoves is whether they are top-fed or bottom-fed.

Top-fed stoves feature an auger that is placed near the top of the combustion chamber and uses an inclines surface to transfer pellets from the hopper to the chamber. Because of this design, there is little chance of the auger catching fire and spreading flame to pellets in the hopper. However, top-fed stoves are also at risk of developing clinkers – masses of clumped, hardened ash – that can impede ventilation to the combustion chamber if they are not cleaned out with a fire poker. As a result, most top-fed pellet stoves require premium, low-ash pellets that can be somewhat more expensive over time.

Bottom-fed stoves have a horizontal auger that doubles as a cleaning mechanism to move ash and clinkers into the ash pan. These stoves are somewhat more expensive up front than top-fed stoves, but because they automatically remove clinkers they don’t require premium pellets.

Hopper capacity

The capacity of the pellet hopper, where pellets are stored before they are delivered to the combustion chamber, can vary widely – from the 28-pound hopper on the US Stove Company 4840 to the 120-pound hopper on the US Stove Company 5520. A small hopper in the 28-pound range will require you to refill the hopper frequently – up to twice a day during the winter – so this can be problematic if you are out of the house frequently and need to keep it warm. On the other hand, a massive hopper can enable you to only worry about adding pellets to the hopper every other day.

Heating power

The maximum amount of heat that a pellet stove is capable of putting out is measured in BTUs – British thermal units – per hour. In general, the amount of heat that you will need from a stove depends on the climate you live in and the size of your home. If you have relatively mild winters, you can get away with about 40 BTU per hour per square foot. However, if you live in colder locales, you will want to budget 60 BTUs per hour per foot or more. Remember that the heating power ratings are given by manufacturers typically recommend the maximum output when burning the optimal (and sometimes most expensive) type of pellet – so you will want to budget for a stove that offers slightly more heating power than you think you will need.

Thankfully, pellet stoves are available in a huge range of heating powers so that you have a lot of choices based on the calculation of heating power that you need. The stoves we reviewed range from as little as 24,000 BTU per hour on the US Stove Company 4840 – great for small homes or if you only need to heat several rooms – to as much as 50,000 BTU per hour on the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove – perfect for extremely cold climates and large homes.

Venting

Ventilation is extremely important both to provide air to the combustion chamber of the stove and to vent away noxious gases and smoke to the outside of your home. The majority of stoves are installed with draft fans in order to provide mechanical venting. Another option for ventilation is direct ventilation, in which smoke is shunted vertically through a pipe to a chimney on the outside of your home. However, this type of ventilation system will typically shut down in the event of a power outage – such as during a winter storm.

Automatic features

Automatic features can be a big benefit if you like to take a hands-off approach to operating your pellet stove. Potential automatic features include automatic pellet ignition, such as is found on the Comfortbilt and Summers Heat stoves among others, and thermostat control that automatically adjusts the blower speed to modulate the heat coming out of your pellet stove.

What type of pellets does it burn?

Not all pellet stoves burn the same type of pellets – and this can lead to major differences in the cost of operating your stove over time. In general, top-fed pellet stoves are more likely to require expensive low-ash pellets since these are less likely to produce clinkers that can block ventilation to the combustion chamber.

Noise

Pellet stoves aren’t silent, and some models – especially those with large mechanical ventilation fans – can be downright noisy. The best way to evaluate whether a particular stove model makes a lot of noise is to check customer reviews since complaints of noise are common on noisy pellet stoves.

Warranty

A pellet stove is a major investment, so you want to be sure that your purchase is protected with a manufacturer’s warranty. Warranties on pellet stoves range from as little as one year for the Castle Pellet Stoves model to lifetime warranties on the Comfortbilt, US Stove Company, and Summers Heat pellet stove models.

FAQ

Yes! A pellet stove is typically well-ventilated so that the air circulating inside your house is not hazardous to pregnant women or anyone else. However, it is always a good idea to install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to ensure that your ventilation system is working as it should.

Pellets need to remain cool and dry to last for a long time and burn efficiently. That typically means storing them inside whenever possible, and using a dehumidifier if you live in a particularly wet environment. If you have to store your pellets outside, make sure that they are in a location that they will not get wet – such as under a waterproof tarp and stacked on several pallets to be raised off the ground.

No! Although in theory a pellet stove could be placed in a bedroom if it was properly ventilated, most building codes do not allow a heating unit of this size to be placed in a bedroom and most home insurances will not cover damage from the stove if it is placed in a bedroom. In addition, bedrooms are typically not the most effective places to put a pellet stove since they are not often centrally located within a home.

The best way to get started with your pellet stove is to read the instructions from the manufacturer since every pellet stove is slightly different. Once you’re ready to start the stove, the ignition depends on whether the stove has an automatic ignition or whether it needs to be lit manually. In the latter case, the instructions should provide information about what types of starting gels and solid starter materials can be used.

Because the feeder and ventilation fans in a pellet stove require electricity to operate, you won’t be able to continue using your stove in the event of a power outage. Any pellets that are already burning in the combustion chamber will continue to burn, which can lead to some smoke spilling into your home if your stove relies on a mechanical ventilation system.

Our Verdict

Our three overall favorite pellet stoves on the market today are the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22, the Napoleon Timberwolf Economizer Pellet Inset TPI35, and the US Stove Company 5520.

What sets the Napoleon Timberwolf model apart from the competition is the large insert that allows you to back the stove right up against a wall so that it takes up significantly less space in a room. In addition, the stove’s hopper lasts an impressive 30 hours and Napoleon Timberwolf offers a lifetime warranty on their stove.

The US Stove Company model has an enormous 120-pound hopper that allows users to ignore the stove for several days at a time, as well as a handy LED digital thermostat controller that makes it easy to use.

We feel that the Comfortbilt stove is the overall best pellet stove for the majority of homeowners because it puts out a whopping 50,000 BTUs of heat – enough to cover a 2,800-square foot home – features huge bay windows for viewing the fire, and comes with a number of helpful features like automatic ignition, a digital thermostat, and a remote controller.

10/10 Total Score
Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 - Editor's Choice
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