Fuel-efficient and CO2 neutral, pellet stoves are a great alternative to electric models, and they burn cleanly and give you all of the heat you need.
While they’ve been around since the 1980s, pellet stoves are seeing a surge in popularity of late from those who like to get their heat while leaving a relatively small environmental footprint, and this is the subject of our article today.
Let’s talk about pellet stoves and their power requirements!
Yes. A standard pellet stove needs electricity for some of its functions. These include starting the ignition process to light the stove, the hopper auger’s pellet-feed mechanism, and various blowers and fans inside for the process of achieving and maintaining proper combustion. Electrical use is quite minimal but required for operation.
With a backup battery, a pellet stove may be used during an electrical outage so that you will still have heat. You need to plan appropriately in advance so that the electrical components of the stove will be functional in this scenario.
Do all Pellet Stoves need Electricity?
While most pellet stoves will require an electrical outlet, there are indeed some models out there that will run on alternative power, such as solar, or which employ specialized modifications such as gravity-feeds to eliminate the need for ‘grid’ reliance when it comes to your power needs.
We’ll discuss these in a little more detail later in this article if you are looking for pellet stove models that are 100% off of the grid.
Why does a Pellet Stove need Electricity?
While compressed pellets burn a long, long time, the pellet stove itself is a little more complex than a standard wood stove and will need power for some of its components (barring the non-electric models we listed previously). Below are some of the components that require power for operating your pellet stove:
- Ignition – Wood pellets are created using a compression process, making them small, dense, and efficient. Of course, they do need to be ignited, and the ignition component will require a small amount of electricity to function.
- Control panel – Control of your pellet stove requires electricity as well, so that your pellet stove may be easily started and configured to your personal preferences when it comes to heating your home.
- Pellet delivery system – Pellets are loaded into a container called a ‘hopper.’ A motorized component called an ‘auger’ feeds these pellets into your pellet stoves combustion chamber to ensure a continuous and uninterrupted burn. At the same time, your stove is being used, which will also use a little power.
- Air intake and the blowers – Finally, you need power for the air intake and the heater blowers to properly function so that combustion may occur and the heated air may be circulated in your house.
How Much Electricity Does a Pellet Stove Use?
Running a pellet stove might be compared in power usage to running a 40-inch television. While it will depend on your specific model, an average example of power consumption for a pellet stove would be 1 kWh daily, assuming 8 hours of use.
However, this is for the actual running of the stove and doesn’t factor in the most power-intensive function of ignition. So let’s break down the usage parameters with a little more granular detail so that you’ll have a better picture!
How Many Watts does a Pellet Stove Use?
The highest wattage requirement is going to be in the ignition of the stove itself. For this, a brief burst of anywhere from 430 watts to 500 watts is required to get the wood pellets ignited. Once this is done, power consumption goes down to a mere 100 watts, on average, as the heating process continues combustion through heat already generated.
Pellet Stove Electrical Requirements
From a standard electrical power supply, running a pellet stove will require a 110 – 120-volt AC outlet and cannot be plugged into a GFCI outlet. While it runs on around 1 kWh of power daily for 8 hours of use, much will depend on the efficiency of the model you select. For instance, some models require 400 to 800 watts of power for the fan assembly.
For an accurate assessment of all of the requirements, you’ll have to consult the manufacturer of the pellet stove which you’d like to use, but to give you an idea of how a pellet stove compares with, say, an electric fireplace stove, consider that the electric stove uses about 1850 watt for full heat and around 925 watts for a low setting.
Even with pellet stoves that use a little more wattage for their fan assembly than average, this is still an appreciable difference in power requirements for heating your house efficiently.
Are there Pellet Stoves that don’t Need Electricity?
Aside from standard wood stoves, just about all stoves will need at least SOME power to properly function. Pellet stoves were originally not an exception to this rule. However, some modern models do NOT require or generate their electricity to function. Below are 2 examples of these:
· Edison ECO 45 – If you want an off-grid pellet stove, the Edison ECO45 from Drolet is a good-looking model compatible with PV solar panel arrays and supports a battery backup. Solar power takes care of the ignition process, and you can enjoy the heat without paying a cent for the power.
· Wiseway Electric-free pellet stove – Odd-looking but super-efficient, the Wiseway Electric-free pellet stove has a gravity feed system for getting your pellets to the combustion chamber, boasts a BTU of about 40,000, and will burn for 28 hours on low heat and 16 hours on high. It’s a great way to get yourself off-grid heating while keeping your footprint small.
Do Pellet Stoves have Battery Backup?
Yes! Most pellet stoves will have the option of installing and using a backup battery in case of a power outage. Further, with many models, ignition and operation using a generator can be quite useful, as the pellet stove draws relatively little energy in the process of regular operation.
How Long will a Pellet Stove Run on a Battery?
In the event of a power outage, you’ll undoubtedly want to know how long your backup battery is going to last, and this will depend on the battery itself. If the battery is charged and in good condition, it will boil down to the A-hr, or ‘amp-hour rating’ for the battery.
So, let’s say that you have a 360 A-hr ‘expanded’ battery, then you are looking at 24 hours of pellet stove operation with an average current draw of about 1.5A. Now, if you have a smaller, 120 A-hr battery, this is the most common backup, and it will give you approximately 8 hours of operation when the main power is out in the house.
How to Run a Pellet Stove During Power Outage
While it’s useful to know how long the battery backup will last, it is also quite an important factor. This is because you’ll want to be aware if your pellet stove shuts down so that you can ensure that it runs safely while the last of the pellets burn down.
By calculating the approximate run time for your model, you may set up a plan for shutting down your pellet stove when the power reserves are becoming dangerously low. That way, when the smoke and particulates from the burn process are no longer being circulated properly, you can close the appliance doors to keep the smoke contained so that it does not simply empty into the surrounding space.
Aside from your battery backup, you can also have a generator on hand for additional electricity during a prolonged outage. This will let you use the pellet stove and charge the battery again to get more hours of use in case the power is out for a long time.
Finally, the ultimate preparation could be just employing a model that won’t require electricity, such as the Edison ECO45 or the Wiseway, so that the outage won’t affect your stove at all!
In closing: Pellet Stoves are Quite the Efficient Alternative to Electrical
Today we’ve talked about the electrical requirements of pellet stove operation. Yes, they require some electricity and will require an average of 1kWh per 8 hours of use. Still, in the event of a power outage, you can be prepared using a backup battery, a generator, or simply a model that powers itself, such as the Edison or the Wiseway.
Due to their low energy consumption and CO2-neutral operation, a pellet stove can take you off the grid when it comes to your heating while providing clean, efficient heat with a minor footprint.
Just be sure to prepare a shutoff plan and the expected hours of use during an outage, and you’ll be well-prepared and warm for any winter surprises!