We are on our third winter season with our KOZI pellet stove. In my search for heat self-sufficiency, I looked into various options such as wood and pellet stoves. Before purchasing a pellet stove, I relied on a propane furnace and electric baseboards. While wood seemed like a great way to go, being home by myself with little ones during the winter means handling firewood and tending to a fire would require a lot of work on my part.
Pellet stoves burn pellets made of compressed wood byproducts. I am sourcing pellets locally from Hammer Pellet Fuel Co. located in Kenova, West Virginia. The pellets are made from clean sawdust, a byproduct from their lumber operations. Typically, purchasing pellets is slightly more expensive compared to purchasing firewood, but having a source so close makes the price fairly comparable. The pellets are compact and easier than firewood to store and I keep two tons stacked in our basement adjacent to the stove.
Pellet stoves provide the convenience and easy of use comparable to a gas or electric system, but are a little more hands-on. While pellet stoves do require daily tending, in my situation it is much more manageable as I can simply fill the hopper in the morning and leave it virtually unattended. Getting a pellet stove to burn and feed properly does take a little touch, but I have found that once I get it fired up at the beginning of winter it operates smoothly for the season. One tip that I would pass on to those looking to purchase a pellet stove is to burn quality pellets; this has helped our stove burn more effectively and efficiently. At around 40,000 Btu/hr, the addition of this pellet stove to our walk-in basement keeps it warm and helps heat our first story. This has greatly reduced our reliance on propane.
Pellet stoves do require regular cleaning. My cleaning routine includes emptying the burn pot and ash drawer out about once a week, and I do this by letting the fire burn out, the stove cool and then simply vacuuming it out. Other parts of the stove such as the hopper, auger, heat exchanger and glass need to be maintained less often, and I tend to tackle those projects at the beginning of the season and then again a couple of months in.
One downside to pellet stoves is that they require electricity to run properly. I currently have a generator and also hope to soon purchase the battery backup system specific to the stove.
Total cost to install our stove was around $2,500, which included installation and a skid (a ton) of pellets. Set on low, which produces an adequate amount of heat, the stove is burning just under a bag of pellets a day. During the summer, we purchased two tons of pellets for around $200 per ton and these should last us beyond the winter. While our pellet stove doesn’t provide us with the complete self-sufficiently that cutting and burning firewood could, I am very happy with our choice.
Anyone else have experience with pellet stoves? What do you think?
The pellet stove referred to in this post is a KOZI Shop Heater Pellet Burner Model KSH-120. For more information: www.KoziStoves.com.