Best Pellet Stoves

Updated November 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

10 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
125 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pellet stoves

Last Updated November 2019

A pellet stove is an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat your home. Rather than burning logs of wood, these compact stoves produce heat by burning pellets of recycled materials, which burn more efficiently and produce fewer particles than wood.

Pellet stoves may be freestanding models or inserts, which vary in their price, installation, and design. They may also be electric, with an electricity-powered auger to feed pellets into the furnace and a blower to disperse heat. The size and output of pellet stoves will vary, so it’s important to find the right stove for the size of your home and the area you need to heat. Though it’s easy to keep a pellet stove running with no need to chop wood, pellet stoves require a fair amount of maintenance due to their complex inner workings.

A pellet stove is a major investment, so you should have a clear idea of your needs and wants before you buy. To learn more about the types of pellet stoves available, continue reading our shopping guide. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our recommended models.

Since pellet stoves rely on venting to expel exhaust, they can be installed almost anywhere in your home.

Pellet stove pros and cons

Pros: Pellet stoves have grown in popularity for their ease of use, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly design. The pellets are made of compressed materials, such as sawdust, wheat bran, and corn stalks. These materials are dried out during the compression process, resulting in dense pellets with little moisture. By comparison, firewood contains significantly more moisture even when properly seasoned, resulting in a less efficient burn that produces far more particulates per hour.

Cons: However, there are cons to pellet stoves. First, you have the difficulty of installation, which may require a professional. Then you have the ongoing cost of bags of pellets and the difficulty of storing them. While the bags themselves are not expensive, you will need to buy them regularly if you plan to keep your pellet stove running, and you will need to either keep them in their plastic bags or find a suitable container that is devoid of moisture.

Pellet stoves are zone heaters — they warm the air in one area but do not circulate air. For this reason, they should be paired with another central heating system.

Key considerations

When shopping for a pellet stove for your home, you should consider the space you intend to heat (as a pellet stove likely cannot heat your entire home) and where you plan to install the stove.

Heat output

The output of pellet stoves (and other heating devices) is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. Pellet stoves usually provide between 8,000 and 80,000 BTUs, which is a similar range to wood-stoves — however, wood-stoves require more fuel to burn efficiently.

For every 100 square feet, you need around 3,000 BTUs to provide sufficient heat.

Insert vs. freestanding pellet stove

  • A freestanding pellet stove sits away from the wall and can be located anywhere in your home where it has access to ventilation just like a wood-stove. These models have a larger hopper, allowing them to burn for longer without requiring more pellets. In addition, installation is easier and more flexible.

  • A pellet stove insert must be installed in a fireplace, resulting in a sleek look. Though these small stoves look great, they are smaller in size and thus have smaller hoppers that require frequent refilling. Installation is also more involved and can be expensive, but there is no need for additional venting.
DID YOU KNOW?

Though many pellet stoves depend on electricity for their internal motors, the energy consumption is relatively low.

Features

Electric functions

Most pellet stoves require electricity to operate two internal motors:

  • The auger is the part of the stove that pushes pellets into the burn pot, which is the area where the pellets are ignited and burned. Depending on how you have adjusted your heat settings, the auger will periodically load pellets into the pot or stop loading.

  • The blower uses a fan to push heated air into your home to provide heat more efficiently.
     

Note that there are also a few nonelectric models, which use gravity to feed pellets into the pot and tubing to heat your home.

Top-fed vs. bottom-fed pellet stoves

You may not think it matters much where the pellets are put into your stove, but the location of the feeder can affect the efficiency and safety of your stove.

  • Top-fed stoves are highly efficient and unlikely to ignite due to their design. However, the burn pot may become clogged with ash.

  • Bottom-fed stoves are less efficient but also less likely to cause clogs. Ashes are moved to an ash pan that must be emptied roughly once a week.

Safety features

Due to their various safety precautions, pellet stoves are incredibly safe. However, their safety features may vary:

  • A backup battery can keep essential motors running in the event of a loss of power. This battery charges continually while the stove is plugged in and is used if the stove loses power.

  • Many stoves have an automatic shut-off that kicks in when triggering events occur, such as the burn pot reaching a certain temperature or the front door being opened.

  • A thermostat allows you to set a specific temperature at which point the stove will stop feeding pellets to the burn pot. This allows you to let your stove run without frequent monitoring.

  • Automatic ignition is both convenient and safe, as it eliminates the need to manually ignite the pellets with a match, lighter, or propane torch.

Pellet stove prices

Inexpensive: Pellet stoves for $1,000 to $1,500 are usually more compact and have lower heat outputs. They may be freestanding designs or inserts. At this price, additional features like thermostats and automatic ignitions may not be present. These stoves are best suited to smaller spaces.

Mid-range: Stoves for $1,500 to $2,250 tend to have higher BTU outputs and may have additional features like backup batteries and larger hoppers.

Expensive: For $2,250 to $3,000, you’ll find larger pellet stoves that have high heat outputs and larger hoppers that require less frequent refilling. These typically have excellent safety features as well as automated features.

EXPERT TIP

One bag of pellets, typically around 40 pounds, will burn for up to 24 hours.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Depending on the motor of a pellet stove, noise levels may vary.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

Installing, maintaining, and operating a pellet stove can be a complicated business, but we have a few tips to help you along:

  • Installing your pellet stove in a room with a ceiling fan can increase circulation and heating efficiency.

  • Hiring a professional to install your stove is the safest and best way to ensure that it operates properly.

  • When considering costs, don’t forget to take installation and pellets into consideration. Don’t forget the cost of installing a vent as well.

  • Consider purchasing an ash vacuum to thoroughly clean out any debris and ash from your stove.

  • Clean out the ashtray as regularly as the manufacturer recommends, and vacuum parts, like the tray and fan, as well to keep your stove operating smoothly.

  • If you opt for a manually ignited stove, you will need a proper starter material — another additional cost.

  • Clinkers are chunks of hardened ash. These can interrupt airflow and cause your stove to burn inefficiently. As a result, they should be removed during maintenance.

Other products we considered

If you would prefer a pellet stove with plenty of automatic features, the U.S. Stove Company Bay Front Pellet Stove is an affordable freestanding option. At 34,000 BTUs, it’s a smaller stove for mid-size homes, but its LED controls are intuitive and it operates very quietly. In addition, the large bay windows give this stove more of a traditional look. A comparable but lower-priced option that we like is the Pleasant Hearth Medium Pellet Stove, which pumps out 35,000 BTUs. Despite the price, this stove has multiple heat settings and automatic ignition. Some customers have reported issues with the automatic ignition, and the five-year warranty only covers the steel. However, most customers reported no issues and found installation to be straightforward.

Many pellet stoves have a window that allow you to see the action in the burning pot. While it’s not quite the same as a wood-stove or fireplace, a pellet stove can still cast a pleasant glow over the room.

FAQ

Q. Can a pellet stove be connected to a forced air system?
A.
It is possible but challenging. Some pellet stoves may be specially designed to connect to forced air systems, but these are uncommon.

Q. Do you need a chimney to have a pellet stove?
A.
No. Unlike fireplaces, pellet stoves use venting systems that can be installed to output exhaust through a wall.

Q. Do I need a permit of any kind before installing a pellet stove?
A.
This depends on where you live. Many U.S. states require building permits before you can install a pellet stove.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey