Which small pellet stove is best?
Pellet stoves use small compacted bits of recycled materials to provide clean-burning and long-lasting heat that is best for small spaces, including mobile homes and tiny houses. Because of their price and the fact that installation can sometimes be challenging, you must take some time to select the best small pellet stove for your space.
The Wiseway Non-Electric Pellet Stove is a great choice for off-grid houses up to 2,000 square feet. It uses easily adjustable natural drafts to regulate the temperature of this small but mighty stove.
What to know before you buy a small pellet stove
Freestanding vs. insert
Small pellet stoves come in two types: freestanding and inserts.
- Freestanding: These are best for homes that do not already have a stove. They can be situated wherever there is ventilation, making them a more flexible option. The hoppers on freestanding stoves can hold more pellets for longer unattended burn times.
- Inserts: If your old fireplace is inefficient and needs an upgrade, consider an insert pellet stove. These are smaller and go directly in an already existing fireplace. Although they preserved the style of your fireplace, their hoppers are small and require more attention. Because installation is more complicated, you may also need professional assistance.
Top-fed vs. bottom-fed
Where you feed pellets into your stove can affect its efficiency. Top-fed stoves are more efficient than their bottom-fed counterparts, but clogs are more likely in the burn pot. Bottom-fed stoves create ash that you must empty weekly if the stove is used regularly.
Electric or manual start
Electric start pellet stoves are the easiest to operate, but they don’t always work in the event of a power outage. A manual start stove is an option for off-grid use and guaranteed heat when the electrical grid sputters.
What to look for in a quality small pellet stove
The larger the hopper that holds pellets, the longer your stove can burn without attention. Look for a small pellet stove with at least a 40-pound hopper.
As a general rule, you’ll need 3,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hundred square feet you want to heat. For houses between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet, look for around 40,000 BTUs.
Exclusive to electric pellet stoves, the auger and the blower increase your stove’s efficiency. The auger guides pellets to the burn pot, adjusting the rate depending on the need, and an electric blower disperses heated air into your home.
Non-electric pellet stoves do not have these features and rely on natural drafts adjusted through grates in the stove itself.
As with all other home heating appliances, operating a small pellet stove does carry some risk. Look for safety features that include:
- Backup battery: This allows you to operate your stove even during a power outage.
- Automatic shut-off: A sudden change in temperature, either hotter or cooler, automatically shuts the stove off and prevents more pellets from loading.
- Thermostat: Thermostats regulate the feeding rate of pellets so that your stove operates without the need for monitoring.
- Automatic ignition: This feature is only available on electric pellet stoves.
How much you can expect to spend on a small pellet stove
Although efficient and money-saving in the long run, the initial purchase price can result in a bit of sticker shock. Expect to spend $1,000-$3,000.
Small pellet stove FAQ
How are pellet stoves different from fireplaces?
A. The main difference is that a pellet stove does not require a chimney. They are installed with a venting system through a wall.
Their burn system is different, too. Rather than setting a large piece of wood in a fireplace and setting it on fire, pellets use a hopper that stores pellets and an augur that smooths and feeds them into a burn pot where they burn just like a piece of wood. A blower moves the heated air produced by this burning around the room. The small amount of ash that results from the burn is collected in the ashtray, and an exhaust fan vents any contaminated or unclean air out of the house.
Since pellet stoves typically produce twice as much heat as a fireplace, this entire system is a more efficient and effective way to heat a small space.
Are pellet stoves environmentally friendly?
A. Yes. The pellets themselves are made from 100% recycled materials that include:
- Wood scraps
- Wood shavings
- Crop waste
These are bound together without adhesives of any kind, making them clean-burning. They release fewer particles into the air as they burn, and they do not produce any creosote.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pellets are also more efficient heat producers than their gas and wood counterparts.
What’s the best small pellet stove to buy?
Top small pellet stove
What you need to know: It’s small in stature but puts out enough heat for a 2,000 square foot home.
What you’ll love: It does not require electricity to light. It provides 40,000 BTUs of heat and is gravity-fed for efficiency. It has a window so you can see the fire, and it’s approved for use in mobile homes. Small clearance on the sides and the back make it optimal for tiny houses, too.
What you should consider: Some people are not comfortable lighting this with a propane torch.
Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot
Top small pellet stove for the money
What you need to know: The double auger smoothes the pellets for more efficient burning.
What you’ll love: The variable speed blower and thermostat in this option allow you to dial in your preferred temperature. This stove heats up to 1,500 square feet. It’s freestanding and comes with a five-year limited warranty.
What you should consider: It does not feel as substantial as other pricier models.
Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This efficient, well-designed stove heats up to 2,200 square feet.
What you’ll love: It’s an EPA-certified clean-burning pellet stove with auto-ignition. It has a 120-pound hopper for long unattended burns (up to 70 hours when full). The ceramic window provides a clear view of the fire, and the temperature is easily adjusted with a simple dial.
What you should consider: Installation is challenging and may require professional help.
Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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