A pellet stove burns primarily pre-fabricated pellets of wood. Pellet stoves became increasingly popular in the 1970s, due to the costs of heating using fossil fuels that resulted from the oil crisis of that era. As oil prices increase once more, and environmental concerns become more prevalent, the pellet stove is experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
Pellet stoves burn compacted pellets of wood to produce heat. The user fills a bin with the wood pellets, and the stove automatically feeds the pellets into the fire. The stove's automatic feeding system continues as needed until the bin, also called a hopper, is empty. The process of heating one's home using a pellet stove requires very little interaction from the user due to the level of automation available.
The wood pellets burned by a pellet stove are compacted from sawdust and wood chips that are recovered from sawmills and other construction sites. This is not only cost efficient and user friendly, but also environmentally conscious. In addition, the emissions from a pellet stove are minimal, and they do not produce any smoke whatsoever. The residue from burning the wood pellets is a very small amount of powder-fine ash.
Pellet stoves require very little space and effort to maintain. They can operate without a chimney or flue, due to the fact that they do not emit smoke. They can be placed next to a wall, because their outside surfaces do not give off heat. The fan system inside a pellet stove pulls air from the room into the stove, and pushes the heated air back out into the room, creating a warm environment without the threat of scorched walls.
Lighting a pellet stove can be accomplished by hand, or with the use of an igniter that automatically ignites the fuel. A pellet stove ignitor works on the same principle as an electric stove's heating element, or a car's cigarette lighter. Simply pushing the appropriate button on the pellet stove will start the ignitor. Heat from the ignitor coil will then ignite the extremely flammable wood pellets.