If you have a large home or a home in a brutally cold region, then electric and gas heating costs can take a hefty chunk out of your wallet in the winter. Instead of running the heater on full blast to keep the house at a livable temperature, consider installing a pellet stove in the basement. Though they may seem old-fashioned today, these powerful heaters can be used to supplement an existing heating system, cutting down on costs significantly. When properly connected and smartly placed, a basement pellet stove can keep multiple rooms on multiple floors comfortable during the cold months, all while being environmentally mindful.
An Eco-Friendly Heating Option
A pellet stove is a type of wood-burning stove used as a supplemental heater. Distinct from traditional wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves – at the cost of requiring a small amount of electricity to run – burn wooden pellets made from wood waste to produce heat. There are two common types of pellet stoves: freestanding pellet stoves, which are their own units and can be set nearly anywhere given the appropriate connections, and pellet stove inserts, which are placed inside a fireplace and can be removed when desired.
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Freestanding stoves are more effective at producing heat but take more effort to install. While not as effective at covering an entire house as a modern heating system, a pellet stove provides more heat per dollar than electric, oil or gas heating systems. Installing a freestanding pellet stove in your home is an investment but is one that makes its cost back over time.
Basement Safety Precautions
The basement is one of the best locations to install a pellet stove because the lowest floor in a home will always be the hardest to keep warm, and with the proper placement, convection can keep both the basement and the upper floors toasty without a full reliance on the main heating system. However, care must be taken to minimize the potential fire and gas hazards. While modern pellet stoves have automatic shutdowns and similar safety systems, careless installation could risk your health and that of others in your home.
In regard to placement, pellet stoves should be kept on fire-safe mats atop a safe surface. The stove's manufacturer will list the appropriate places for your stove, but generally, basement concrete is the best possible surface on which a stove can rest. Stoves should be kept away from flammable objects on all sides, ideally in a central location in the basement.
Most important, however, is to account for the pellet stove's venting. The smoke and carbon monoxide produced by the stove needs to be sent out of the home. You can either vent your pellet stove through the chimney on the floor above, if one is present – though a professional will need to inspect and prepare the chimney for the new venting – or vent the stove through an exhaust pipe made in the wall specifically for the stove. In the latter case, note that PVC pipe, dryer vent hoses and gas appliance vent hoses cannot be used to vent the stove under any circumstances.
Pellet Stove Installation
Once the appropriate precautions have been taken, the procedure for pellet stove installation is actually fairly simple, though you may want to hire a professional to ensure that everything is done correctly and up to code. Place the pellet stove in its desired area and connect it to its venting path. Fill the hopper with wood pellets and then plug the stove into an electrical outlet, ideally on its own circuit. You will then be able to start up your pellet stove and enjoy the benefits of it through the winter.