Pellet stoves are an efficient, economical, and aesthetic way to heat your home. They come in various sizes and styles and can be installed in many areas. They are very similar to a wood stove. It uses combustion to produce heat, and you need to feed it with fuel. However, pellet stoves are more efficient, less costly to run, and easier to use than wood units.
Costs vary depending on the size and installation style. The average cost is $3,000 to $6,000, with most homeowners spending $4,000 on a cast iron wall-mounted pellet stove with a fireproof pad. You can also install a freestanding stainless steel direct vent pellet stove for around $1,500 or spend as much as $7,000 on a large insert for an existing fireplace.
|Pellet Stove Installation Costs|
|National average cost||$4,000|
Pellet stoves work using a hopper, auger 1, burn pot, ash tray, blower 2 fan and heat exchangers, and exhaust blower fans. The hopper acts as a tank for pellets and must be refilled when running low to keep it running. The auger is used to decrease or increase heat production to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Modern models have sensors that determine how many pellets are needed to reach the appropriate temperature.
The burn pot is where the pellets are heated to create heat in a space. They move into the burn pot in the combustion chamber through the auger. Fuel and oxygen are needed to start the burning process. The electrical ignition creates the spark to ignite the pellets, while the blower fan brings in the air that completes combustion.
The convection blow brings in air to pass over the burn pot so it can be heated. However, the air still needs to be cleaned. It moves over the heat exchanger, a set of iron bars, to heat the air and move it into the room through a blower.
The air moved into the unit and over the burn pot has gases and emissions from burning the pellets. Therefore, the unclean air needs to be transferred outside of the home through a vent. Most pellet stoves 3 have venting in the back, leading to a chimney or a specially designed exhaust pipe. The unclean air is pushed outside through one of these two methods.
After the pellet is burned as fuel, part of it turns into ash. This will be moved into the ash tray under the burn pot. In most situations, the ash tray needs to be cleaned out once or twice a week when the stove is being used regularly.
Like any heating unit, pellet stoves are sized by their BTU production. However, unlike some heating sources, the amount of BTUs does not always correspond to how many square feet you need to heat. Vaulted ceilings, upper stories, and non-open floor plans may need larger units than the same-sized home with an open floor plan, lower ceilings, and good airflow. Most units produce a range of BTUs, with high and low heat settings. Pellets stoves often have two sets of BTUs - input and output. The input is the number that the pellets could produce if 100% were converted to heat. The output is the actual number produced because these units are only 73% - 75% efficient. Always check the output number for accuracy. Below are some of the more common sizes and average costs.
|BTUs||Average Cost (Unit Only)|
|9,000 BTUs||$800 - $1,200|
|15,000 BTUs||$1,000 - $1,500|
|20,000 BTUs||$1,500 - $3,000|
|30,000 BTUs||$2,000 - $3,500|
|50,000 BTUs||$3,000 - $5,000|
While most pellet stoves are freestanding, some can be installed in existing fireplaces as well. These are known as fireplace inserts, and they can convert your wood-burning fireplace into a pellet-burning stove. Both freestanding units and inserts come in many sizes and styles, and both help heat your home. However, they have different costs and considerations.
|Type||Average Cost (Only Unit)|
|Freestanding||$1,000 - $5,000|
|Wall-Mounted||$1,000 - $5,000|
|Insert||$2,000 - $6,000|
A freestanding unit costs about $1,000 to $5,000. Most pellet stoves are freestanding, resembling an old-fashioned wood stove or contemporary stove box, and they can be installed near an outside wall. This provides greater flexibility for installation and does not require a fireplace.
Freestanding units need a fireproof pad below or be placed on a non-combustible surface. You need to install a chimney or vent if you have one of these units, unless they are a direct vent unit. They have a broader range of styles and can be traditional or contemporary.
You can expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000 for a wall-mounted pellet stove. Some units, called direct-vent stoves, can be wall-mounted. They do not require a chimney because they vent directly outside. These units have to be installed properly to avoid air leaks, but they can save space in homes and look like a fireplace insert. They can be less expensive to install. They cost about the same as other types because they do not need a chimney or pad.
Inserts cost more on average than freestanding units at around $2,000 to $6,000. They come in many styles and sizes and have higher installation costs than other types. Inserts convert your fireplace into a pellet stove. They can use your existing chimney, but you may need a new liner, depending on the age and condition. You may also need to have electricity run to the insert, which can increase the project cost. However, you do not need a fireproof pad because the hearth is already in place.
Pellet stoves are available in cast iron and stainless steel. Each material creates a very different unit in terms of looks and costs, although their performance is similar. For most people, the choice comes down to appearance because one may fit better with your aesthetics than another.
|Material||Average Cost (Unit Only)|
|Stainless Steel||$1,000 - $3,000|
|Cast Iron||$1,500 - $4,000|
Depending on the size, stainless steel pellet stoves cost between $1,000 and $3,000. They are more contemporary than cast iron. While a cast iron unit looks like a century-old wood stove, a stainless steel one has a much more modern appearance. These units are sleek, round, or rectangular columns, often taller and thinner than cast iron. They come in top and bottom-loading and a full range of sizes. They perform the same as a cast iron one, but stainless steel does not hold heat as well. While the stove is running, it puts out consistent heat, but when it shuts off or runs out of fuel, there is no heat left.
Cast iron pellet stoves have a much more classic appearance than stainless steel and cost between $1,500 and $4,000, depending on the size. This is what people think of when they hear “wood-burning” or pellet stoves. They are often heavier, shorter, and wider than stainless, with a very traditional aesthetic. They come in many colors so that you can find one that complements your decor. They also come in top and bottom-loading styles and a full range of sizes. Cast iron holds heat better than stainless, which means that the unit can give off residual heat once the burner is off.
Pellet stoves are fueled by compressed, biobased pellets made from a mixture of wood, sawdust, food scraps, and other items. Those pellets are fed into the hopper, where they are conveyed to the combustion chamber. Pellets can be fed into the unit from the top or bottom. The method you choose comes down to personal taste, safety, and cost.
|Combustion Method||Average Cost (Unit Only)|
|Top-Feed||$1,000 - $3,500|
|Bottom-Feed||$2,000 - $4,000|
Top-feed stoves cost between $1,000 and $3,500. In one of these units, the pellets are placed in the top of the stove and fed down into the combustion chamber. This is a gravity feed, and most units use it. This method causes fewer accidental fires but can lead to ash buildup, lowering the unit’s efficiency. If you use a top-feed unit, you need low-ash pellets. Some models have a pellet backup, which can cause the unit to jam.
Bottom-feed stoves move the pellets from the bottom directly back into the combustion chamber and cost $2,000 to $4,000. This is a more efficient way to move the pellets because there is less chance of jamming. The flames may sometimes reach the hopper, but the ash drops harmlessly downward. Newer models include vacuums and pellet breakers that prevent issues with flames, making them even safer to use. Using this type requires you to empty the ash collection about once a week. This option is rarer, produced by only a few companies, so your choices are limited.
Many companies produce pellet stoves. Some specialize in a specific style or feed method, while others may have many products. Each has a cost and other attributes to consider as well.
|Brand||Average Cost (Unit Only)|
|King||$900 - $1,500|
|St. Croix||$1,400 - $3,000|
|Harman||$2,000 - $5,000|
|MCZ||$2,200 - $6,100|
|Ravelli||$2,500 - $4,000|
|Enviro||$3,000 - $5,000|
|Lopi||$4,000 - $5,000|
The average King pellet stove costs between $900 and $1,500. If you want a basic unit that cheaply produces heat, consider the King brand. These are a budget set of stoves that you can find anywhere. They come in many sizes and are made mostly of stainless steel. They feature top feeding technology and are designed to be easy to set up and install.
Expect prices to range from $1,400 to $3,000 for St. Croix pellet stoves. St. Croix makes many models with an emphasis on sustainability. They have traditional cast iron and stainless steel models. They also make inserts that go into existing fireplaces. Most of their models are simple, with an emphasis on quality.
Harman is the leader in the bottom-feeding pellet stove industry, with them ranging in price from $2,000 to $5,000. Their units are very high-quality with many safety features that ensure a smooth loading with little chance of jamming or fire reaching the hopper. They have many technical advances to make adjustments via remote as well. Their products come in cast iron and stainless steel in many sizes.
Ravelli makes many attractive high-end units ranging in price from $2,500 to $4,000. Their units come with ceramic liners in different colors to improve their aesthetics. They have remote control features to adjust fan speed and heat effortlessly. They make a full range of contemporary and traditional models.
Prices range from $3,000 to $5,000 for Enviro pellet stoves. Enviro makes several freestanding models. Their products range from contemporary stainless steel models to traditional cast iron. Their high-efficiency models reach up to 60,000 BTUs, higher than many other brands. These are high-quality units designed for easy use.
Lopi manufactures luxury pellet stoves with costs ranging from $4,000 to $5,000. Their units are premium state-of-the-art models that can burn up to 57 hours in one hopper. They include easy-to-use controls and are made of cast iron for better heat retention and durability. Their stoves are more traditional in appearance.
A pellet stove from MCZ ranges from $2,200 to $6,100, depending on the model. These are premium units in styles ranging from stainless steel to powder-coated aluminum and cast iron. Many of them feature an integrated micro-computer that can be controlled by a smartphone to ensure the unit is performing properly.
Pellet stoves are relatively simple to install. Some can be installed inside a wall and vent directly outdoors. Others do not require a vent and instead vent back into your home. However, most need a chimney or vent with a fireproof pad. For installation, direct vent models are mounted into the wall and sealed in place. For most others, a fireproof pad is placed, the stove set on top, and a chimney installed by cutting a small hole in the wall.
Some units may need an air intake at the back, which requires another cut. This takes around 2 - 3 hours but may take less if you have previously installed a stove or an existing vent.
The average cost of installation is about $35 to $55 an hour. However, the final installation price depends on the size of the unit, its heating capacity, required finishes, accessories, the amount of needed preparation, and the labor rate in your area. Units that use a direct vent or a small chimney to operate are the simplest to install. If an electrical power supply needs to be installed, this increases the price. A professional is recommended for the process in either case.
Pellet stove installation costs range from $200 to $2,000, depending on the model being installed and where it will be located. Freestanding models can be placed anywhere in a room and create heat for the space. Wall-mounted versions sit on the wall to leave the floor clear while warming up the room. The latter often has a more modern look, while freestanding can have a rustic appeal. Inserts are designed to fit into a fireplace opening to make it more versatile and allow the use of wood pellets.
|Type||Labor Costs||Total Costs|
|Freestanding||$200 - $800||$1,200 - $5,800|
|Wall-Mounted||$500 - $1,200||$1,500 - $6,200|
|Insert||$1,000 - $2,000||$3,000 - $8,000|
The average labor cost to install a freestanding unit ranges from around $200 to $800, while the entire installation cost, including materials, runs about $1,200 to $5,800. The installation of a freestanding unit is straightforward and inexpensive other than the need to install a vent. Horizontal vents go through the wall to the outdoors, while ceiling vents go through the roof and are more expensive to install. Freestanding units tend to be placed in large open areas on top of a hearth pad.
Having a wall-mounted pellet stove installed ranges in cost from $500 to $1,200. Labor and materials combined range from $1,500 to $6,200. This type of heater is placed on a mounting bracket 4 and hangs from the wall to take up less space than a freestanding unit. Since the installation process is more complicated and takes more time, the price is higher. These models tend to be smaller than freestanding ones and are used to heat small spaces within a home quickly.
Pellet stove inserts are easy to install with liners costs of around $300 and installation labor of about $1,000 to $2,000 for the liner and insert. With the insert, expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000 for the unit fully installed. The insert is set into place, with flanges filling any remaining space around the unit. Some chimneys may need a new stainless steel liner designed to work with the stove. This liner is very easy to install because most are flexible.
Pellet stoves are fairly versatile in where they can be installed, but they have some restrictions. Ideally, they should be placed along a wall for easy venting, approximately 6 inches from the wall, on a fireproof pad flooring material.
Some models can be vented back into the room. If you opt for the traditionally vented types, this limits you more because you must determine the best place to run a chimney. These units must be set 36 inches from furniture or drapes and kept out of foot traffic.
Consider the area you are heating. If you have an open floor plan, your pellet stove can efficiently heat a larger area. But if you have smaller sectioned rooms, the unit needs vents and fans to reach larger areas.
If you have several locations to install the stove, keep in mind how far you need to carry the pellets and where the pellets will be stored. You also need a 120-volt outlet near the unit’s final location.
Two main factors determine the size of pellet stove you need. The first is where you are located. The United States is broken down into five climate zones depending on how warm or cold temperatures are. The first climate zone is the warmest, and the fifth is the coolest. Those who live in a warm, hot, or moderate climate will need a smaller unit as the temperature doesn’t drop as much as those in cold climates.
The other thing to keep in mind is how large the space is that you need to heat. Someone with a small 250 sq.ft. space will not need as large of a stove as a person who is heating a huge room. The table and map below show the BTUs that you need to heat one square foot in the different climate areas.
|Zone||BTUs per Square Foot|
|Zone 1||30 - 35|
|Zone 2||35 - 40|
|Zone 3||40 - 45|
|Zone 4||45 - 50|
|Zone 5||50 - 60|
The job of a pellet stove is to produce heat. These units are rated by how much heat they can produce in BTUs. Size your stove directly to the room or area’s size. Larger rooms and spaces require more BTUs and a larger unit.
The heat produced by the stove is dry and comfortable. The unit may allow the heat to radiate out naturally or use fans to blow and direct the heat into the room. To ensure even and consistent heating, keep the hopper filled with pellets.
Most individuals use pellets made from wood chips or sawdust in pellet stoves. Pellets can be purchased in standard or premium quality. The main difference is that a standard pellet uses waste created in the forestry industry. Ash production from standard pellets will be higher. Premium grade pellets create less ash and have less moisture. In most cases, these pellets do not include tree bark. Standard wood pellets range in price from about $3 to $5 per 40 pound bag, while premium pellets are a bit more expensive at $5 to $7 per bag.
Premium wood pellets typically have an ash content of no higher than 0.7%, a moisture content of less than 10%, and have better durability. Both types of wood pellets have the same length and diameter. Many units are made to use premium pellets, but some can be used with both. The stove will be branded with “PFI Premium” or “PFI Standard,” depending on the specific requirements.
|Pellet Type||Average Cost per Bag (Unit Only)|
|Standard||$3 - $5|
|Premium||$5 - $7|
Alternatives to wood pellets exist but are not widely used. Some of the other options available include wheat pellets, dried corn, cherry pits, dried soybeans, and sugar beet pulp pellets. In some regions, alternative fuel sources may be less expensive than regular wood pellets. However, not all pellet stoves are made for alternative fuels, so make sure to check the model information.
Pellet stoves burn small compressed pellets to produce heat. These are made of various materials, including pressed-down sawdust that is easy to scoop and feed. Depending on your unit’s efficiency, you could have hoppers that hold enough pellets to run for two days at a time.
These units use a small amount of electricity. This keeps the unit working and the fan circulating. Unlike wood stoves, you can adjust the heat setting on a pellet stove ranging from low to high. The lower you keep the temperature, the longer the fuel burns.
Pellets cost roughly $3 to $7 for a 40-pound bag, and most places sell palettes of 50 bags for $250. The exact amount that your pellet stove burns and how much you need depends on the stove size, hopper size, how often it runs, and the unit’s running temperature. Many hoppers can hold 40 or 60 pounds of fuel at a time, with enough for a continuous burn of 48 hours or more on low heat.
The average cost to run a pellet stove on a monthly basis is about $40 to $50. The cost of fuel is the most expensive operational factor. In most cases, the cost of fuel will be around $25 each month, but this varies based on how often the unit is used. The other major monthly cost is for the electricity needed to power on the unit. The average cost for this runs around $10 each month. The additional cost is for maintenance. This may not need to be done monthly but should be factored in as an annual cost.
A pellet stove’s electricity use varies, depending on the unit’s size, whether it is on low or high heat, and how many hours you use it a day.
The average stove requires between 360 and 460 watts to ignite. They may use between 80 and 345 watts per hour, depending on your unit and the setting.
To calculate total costs, find the exact number of watts used per hour by your model and the cost of electricity per watt in your area.
Pellet stoves are fairly low-maintenance. Beyond keeping them filled, you need to periodically either empty the ash tray for bottom-loading feeds or clean out the auger in top-loading feeds. Look for deposits of melted ash and remove them. You should also clean the heat exchanger based on the unit’s manual and wipe down the glass. Check that the flame is bright yellow or white on occasion.
Service the stove yearly or every other year to ensure that the circuit board and moving parts are in good condition. The original installer of the unit typically provides this service. Other ways to maintain the stove include allowing the auger tube to empty occasionally to avoid buildup and unloading unused pellets at the end of the season since they absorb moisture and create rust to the unit.
Like any heating system, pellet stoves have pros and cons. They are a relatively inexpensive and easy way to heat your home. They are more sustainable than other methods because the pellets can be made of many materials, including recycled sawdust. They are also attractive and easier to use than wood-burning stoves.
However, if the power goes out, a pellet stove ceases to function. While they can produce enough heat to technically warm 2,000 sq.ft. or more, they can only do so if you have the right airflow in your home. Vaulted ceilings, second floors with stairwells far from the unit, and no vents between floors all mean that your unit may only heat a small portion of your home. They are good for supplemental heat and heating the main living areas of your home but often do a poor job of heating a larger space effectively.
The closest alternative to a pellet stove is a wood stove which costs about $2,500 to $5,000. Both look similar and come in freestanding or insert styles. While pellet stoves burn compressed pellets fed into a hopper, wood stoves burn split logs fed by hand. The latter do not rely on electricity, making them a better choice if you worry about power outages, but they are higher maintenance and more difficult to use.
Pellet stoves cost around $3,000 to $6,000 and can be operated remotely and allow you to switch between high and low settings easily. Wood stoves need constant monitoring and do not operate at different levels. However, wood can be gathered from nearly anywhere to burn in the unit, while pellet stoves rely on synthetic fuel. However, their costs are fairly comparable at the start. Some wood stoves cost more for larger models.
|Type||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Wood||$2,500 - $5,000|
|Pellet||$3,000 - $6,000|
Gas stoves are another method of efficiently heating your home without a furnace or boiler and cost around $2,000 to $4,000. Gas stoves are cast iron glass-front units with a traditional appearance like many wood and pellet stoves. They run on natural gas or propane 5 fed to the unit via a gas line. Like pellet stoves, they can run on high or low settings.
Pellet stoves require electricity to run and cost about $3,000 to $6,000, but many gas stoves do not, which means they can function in a power outage. While you need to feed a pellet stove, gas stoves run without direct contact with the fuel, so you do not need to worry about fuel supply beyond making sure the gas line works. Otherwise, the two options look similar and can be installed anywhere. They have similar costs for purchase and installation.
|Type||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Gas||$2,000 - $4,000|
|Pellet||$3,000 - $6,000|
Another alternative is a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces operate via a gas line like a gas stove and do not require electricity to run. They can look like a traditional fireplace or have a modern appearance. While pellet stoves take more room, gas fireplaces are usually flush with the firebox they are installed in and can be placed anywhere inside a wall. Pellet stove inserts can be used inside an existing fireplace but often extend farther into the room. Gas fireplaces tend to cost more, with a built-in unit costing around $2,650 to $5,800, while a pellet stove averages about $3,000 to $6,000. They can be more invasive to install than a pellet stove. While a pellet stove only requires a vent, gas fireplaces need full enclosures.
|Type||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Gas Fireplace||$2,650 - $5,800|
|Pellet Stove||$3,000 - $6,000|
Carbon monoxide detectors are important for the safety of those in the household. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that is dangerous to humans and animals. Any home with a heating system that uses wood, oil, gas, or propane should have a detector to avoid potentially hazardous situations. If excess carbon monoxide is in the home, the detector will set off an alarm so you can leave the space and seek assistance.
A carbon monoxide detector costs around $20 but can reach about $90 for a smart version. With smart detectors, you can get alerts on your phone and see what is going on in your home without actually being there. Some also feature voice notifications to ensure the home inhabitants know if the level of carbon monoxide is too high. Pellet stoves do not produce as much carbon dioxide as wood stoves or other flame-based heaters, but they produce some.
Pellet stoves cannot run without electricity. If you want to ensure continuous use, consider installing a generator for between $10,000 to $20,000. The main reason to have a generator installed is to ensure the unit functions if there is a power outage. In addition, the generator can help power other important appliances in the home, such as the refrigerator, stove, and lights.
An ash vacuum makes cleaning the unit easier. They cost between $80 and $200 on average. This vacuum is smaller than a traditional vacuum and easily picks up ash from pellets. Using an ash vacuum is recommended since it is made of metal and can handle the extreme temperatures associated with ash. However, it’s best to only vacuum ash that has had time to cool fully. Wait about 12 hours after using the unit to vacuum up debris.
Some pellet stoves can be adjusted via remote control. You can alter the temperature settings remotely on the built-in thermostat. These units are higher-end than the others, with costs starting at $1,250 and reaching as high as $3,000 or more.
A pellet hearth pad ranges in price from $150 to $600. This accessory is required so that the heat does not reach the floor. These pads are made of non-combustible materials and can be used under pellet stoves or other fuel-burning appliances. The pads come in several materials, including glass, slate, granite, and steel. They are also available in several shapes, including square, curved, rectangular, circular, and teardrop.
If the pellet stove will be vented externally, perhaps through a wall rather than through an existing internal flue, there is an additional cost of between $200 and $800. A simple horizontal vent will be at the lower end of the cost range, while a ceiling vent will be more expensive. In some locations, a separate air vent is required based on building regulations and codes. This will be the same price as listed above.
A pellet stove uses electricity to run. It needs to be near a power outlet when installed. The outlet should support 110 volts. If this isn’t present, it will need to be installed. The average cost to install a heavy-duty outlet with its own circuit will be $120 to $200. Since electricity runs the stove, a power outage disables the unit. A backup generator can be used to ensure you have heat if there is no electricity present.
A 40-pound bag of pellets can burn for 24 consecutive hours.
Natural gas is cheaper than a pellet stove in the long term.
If you use the stove 24 hours a day, you will use one bag a day.
Yes, you can install a pellet stove in an existing fireplace and make use of an existing chimney.
Yes, a pellet stove can be vented through an exterior wall. The unit can be mounted directly to the wall, or you can have a chimney installed.
Yes, any type of stove raises your insurance rates. This is the same as a wood-burning stove.
This varies by area, but typically a 40-pound bag of pellets costs around $5. You can also purchase a full pallet for around $250.
Yes, they are efficient. Each stove has an efficiency rating, and the efficiency changes based on whether you are running the stove on low or high heat. The lower setting improves the efficiency rating over the higher setting.
The average weight of a pellet stove is about 250 lbs. However, some weigh closer to 200, and others will be 300 lbs. or more. If the unit includes a boiler, the weight could be as much as 1,000 lbs.
Assuming typical usage, the average pellet stove will last around ten years. However, this varies based on the quality of the stove. An inexpensive unit of basic materials may only last half this time. A quality stove might last longer than ten years.