Originally Posted by ~Purity♥Lake~
What are pellet stoves?
A pellet stove is a more high tech woodstove. Instead of burning lengths of cordwood, it burns pellets made from compressed sawdust that are bound together with a binding gum made from tree sap. (The pellets look like large gauge hamster food and make rockin' good kitty litter.
The idea here is that the sawdust would otherwise just be waste, so this is a "green" option that doesn't contribute to deforestation. The downside is that you can't scavenge fuel.
Pellets aren't expensive, though. Bought from Menard's (a sort of regional Home Depot) they are $5/40# bag (so cheaper per pound than the cheapest generic kitty litter). Bought in bulk, they are $150/ton. 4 tons gets us through a U.P. winter in a medium size drafty old barn of a house with a little leftover. (Hopefully, AMCAB comes thru, we get our attic insulated, and need fewer pellets. :fingerscrossed)
We use half a bag a day through November and March, a bag a day in December and January, two bags a day in Februrary, and average about five bags a month throughout April and October.
You do have to scoop the ashes out when it's cooled, about every other day. I use an offset trowel that cost $3 at the hardware. This is not a fantasically messy process, as ours only has about 2c. of ashes at a go. We have a galvanized bucket with a tight fitting lid that we scoop the ashes into, so the mess factor is minimal. When we empty out the bucket outdoors, that
is messy, but it's outside, so I don't care.
Then, when it's warm outside and the stove is dormant, you do have to take it apart and vacuum it well. This is a PITA, but it's only once a year, so, again, I'd rather deal with two hour project than pay another $2K per year for heat.
The pellet stove has a computer in it that regulates things like burn temp, so (theoretically) it produces less ash, and it is more efficient than a traditional wood stove. They are also more expensive up front, and like I said before, you can't scavenge fuel, so that's a tradeoff.
They're really easy to load, though- you just dump the bag in the hopper, close the lid, and push a button. No kindling or lighting.