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How Much Does It Cost To Install A Pellet Stove?

National Average Change Location | View National
$2,066
Typical Range
$1,048 - $3,143
Low End
$300
High End
$4,500

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On This Page:

  1. Pellet Stove Prices
  2. Installation Costs & Considerations
  3. How Do Pellet Stoves Work?
  4. Pros and Cons
  5. Conclusion

Many people use “pellet stove”, “wood stove”, and “fireplace” interchangeably. In fact, they are three very different heating appliances.

  • A pellet stove burns clean pellet fuel heated to specific temperatures by thermostat controlled air flow.
  • A wood stove is a free-standing appliance that burns wood logs, exhausting creosote and other gases through a stove pipe.
  • A fireplace is, in modern times, usually little more than a decorative piece unless a newer insert has been installed. Even then, however, a fireplace is usually the least energy-efficient of the three. They are, in fact, so inefficient that many agencies don’t even consider them heating appliances anymore.

Pellet Stove Prices

Pellet stoves were once used only in industrial settings. Today, the stoves are available in different styles ranging from a clean wall-mount system (United States Stove Company, 24,000 BTU, $1,500.00) to an antique look (Harman Stoves XXV, 49,300 BTU, $4,000.00). The styles, capacities, and prices of stoves run a large gamut. Here is a sampling of various stoves:

  • Harman XXV… $4,000.00: 49,300 BTU, it can heat from 900 to 2,300 square feet and has late Victorian styling.
  • Vogelzang model VG5770… $1,855.00: 48,000 BTUs, up to 2,200 square feet, it has a mid-century look.
  • United States Stove Company model 4840… $1,500.00: 24,000 BTUs, heats 1,000 square feet, wall-mounted modern look with no visible flame.
  • United States Stove Company Wiseway model GW1949… $2,000.00: 40,000 BTUs, 2,000 square feet, gravity fed system eliminates the need for an electric motor to drop pellets.
  • Englander model 25-PDVCH… $899.00: BTUs unlisted, heats 1,000 square feet, base model.

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Extra Costs

There’s more to the cost of a pellet stove than the stove itself. The pellets themselves, called pellet fuel, and stove inserts are costs included in the overall cost of owning and operating a pellet stove.

  • Pellets/Pellet Fuel: Pellets are highly compressed biofuels made of organic materials such as wood scrap, food waste, and other biomass. Some are made to resemble coal, but most look more like rabbit food than anything else. They are extremely dense and have a low moisture content. This allows them to burn cleanly, often leaving behind nothing but fly-ash.

    Because the production of pellets is dependent on the production of waste materials, the price can fluctuate according to the supply and demand of the primary commodity (the substance from which the waste is produced). Currently the cost is $4.00 to $6.00 per 40-pound bag.How long a 40-pound of wood pellets lasts depends on the size of the space to be heated, the desired temperature, the building insulation, and the outdoor conditions. On a cold day, such as 35 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s not unusual to use one bag per day. Most people buy it by the pallet or by the ton for about $200.00.

  • Pellet Stove Insert: A stove insert is an appliance installed in a regular fireplace. It essentially turns your fireplace into a pellet stove. While fireplaces are very inefficient, you won’t find much savings if the insert is not installed correctly. For this reason, it’s best to have a professional handle the installation.

    Traditional fireplaces lose up to 80% of their energy through the chimney. With a fireplace insert you can lower that loss to an average of 30%, or about the same as a typical wood stove. While this is still not as good as a freestanding pellet stove, which has a dedicated ventilation and recovery system, it does have the advantage of fitting into your existing fireplace without taking up floor space.

    Pellet inserts cost around $2,000.00 for the insert plus another $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 for installation, including a new chimney liner and proper sealing of any gaps. As these inserts slide right into your existing fireplace, be sure to get one properly sized for the opening. Extensive modifications can cause your installation rates to go higher.

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Installation Costs and Considerations

When choosing a model, the first thing to consider is the stove’s capacity. How much space can it heat up? They are normally used for a single room as an addition to your furnace or other whole-house heating system. This allows you to lower the operating costs of your main unit by adding the additional warmth only to the room or rooms you are using. For example, the average living room is 16’x20’. This means that 2,560 square feet of air needs to be warmed. (The calculation assumes a standard 8’ ceiling height.)

The output of the stove, expressed as BTUs (British Thermal Units), will tell you how quickly the stove can heat up your space. Calculating how many BTUs you need to efficiently heat your room depends on the actual size of the room, the amount of window space, the insulation rating of your room, the expected outside temperatures and the desired inside temperature. There are many online calculators to help you get a good idea of what BTUs you need. If you get one that is too small, it will not heat your room sufficiently and will go through fuel much faster. If you get one that’s too large, you may find your room being heated to an uncomfortable temperature even on the lowest settings.

  • Installing a freestanding pellet stove costs from $250.00 to $600.00 in labor. This depends on the location of the job site and any specific requirements of the job itself. A short horizontal vent might cost $200.00 to $300.00, but if a ceiling vent is needed or desired, the cost could increase to $600.00 to $800.00. Finally, a heat-resistant, non-combustible hearth pad is required, and these cost anywhere from $40.00 to $300.00.
  • A fireplace insert costs an average of $2,000.00. Because it uses your chimney as a vent, no additional cutting is needed, but a chimney liner will be installed. Gaps will be sealed and the face of your fireplace might need some minor cosmetic changes to ensure that very little heat is lost. No hearth pad is needed since it goes right into your existing fireplace. Installation including the liner and sealing costs another $1,000.00 to $2,000.00.
  • Although pellet stoves burn cleaner than other fire-based heating appliances, a carbon monoxide detector is still required. These cost anywhere from $10.00 to $15.00, but what they save is priceless: your life.
  • A back-up power supply will help keep your pellet stove working even through a power failure. Depending on the size, it can cost from $150.00 to $500.00.
  • Also needed are a metal ash vacuum and a vent brush. A metal ash vacuum is designed to handle the fine ash particles that would otherwise destroy a regular vacuum. They cost from $100.00 to $200.00 and make the daily or weekly task of cleaning the ash pans very easy. The vent brush keeps your vents clean and costs from $15.00 to $35.00.
  • If the labor seems a bit too high and the space is fairly small, you might consider a window-mounted unit. These install in the same way as a window mounted air conditioner, venting directly to the outside through the rear of the unit. They are an easy DIY install and cost around $1,500.00 for a unit that heats about 750 square feet.

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How Do Pellet Stoves Work?

A pellet stove works by burning biofuels, consumable materials made of organic materials such as food waste, wood waste, and other substances known as “biomass”. They are usually in the form of densely-packed, small cylindrical pellets. One ton (about 50 bags) is equal to 1 ½ cords of firewood.

The pellets are stored in a hopper which usually holds from 35 to 130 pounds. From the hopper they are dispensed into the firebox, the section of the stove where the heating takes place. Most stoves have an auto igniter, but very basic units might have to be ignited manually.

In most stoves, the pellets are dispensed into the firebox by means of an auger screw, also called an “Archimedes screw”, that turns according to commands from a thermostat. The thermostat causes the screw to turn and deposit a set volume of pellets into the firebox to maintain a pre-set temperature. Adjusting the thermostat allows more or fewer pellets to be dispensed.

Two fans are incorporated into the pellet stove. One blows air across the fire to maintain a steady temperature and allow the pellets to burn efficiently. A second fan blows the heat into heat exchangers that heat the interior of the stove and then the room. Exhaust gases get vented through a narrow pipe and to the outside.

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Efficiency

When looking at the listed efficiency rating for pellet stoves, it pays to do your research. Manufacturers are not required to list their efficiency ratings as of yet. New regulations are only just now starting to be implemented. Currently, many manufacturers list an efficiency rating higher than what is shown in third-party tests. This is the information you will often find on their web pages.

In general, a good pellet stove will have an energy efficiency rating of 65% to 75%. In order to receive an EPA certificate with an accurate efficiency rating, a stove must have an emissions rate of no more than 2.0 grams per hour of harmful particle pollution known as particulate matter (PM). To display compliance with EPA guidelines, some stoves will display a “hangtag” from the EPA’s Burn Wise program. This tag certifies that the EPA has tested and approved the energy efficiency of the stove.

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Pellet Stove Pros and Cons

As with anything, there are pros and cons. Pellet stoves are no exception. Here is a summary of the good points and the not-so-good points:

Pros

  • Unlike a fireplace or wood stove, the fire in a pellet stove can be ignited at the push of a button. No kindling is needed, and you don’t have to stick your hand into the firebox and hope something catches fire.
  • Pellet stoves are environmentally friendly in two ways: they burn cleaner, and they use fuel made from waste materials that would otherwise be useless.
  • The pellets do not create creosote build-up. They only make ash in lower volumes than wood does. This makes cleanup easier than wood-burning appliances.
  • Pellets are usually sold in 40-pound bags. This makes them easier to handle, stack, and transport. They also take up less storage space than firewood.
  • The temperature is regulated by a thermostat, allowing you direct control over your comfort levels.

Cons

  • Pellets can cost more than firewood depending on supply and demand and the market for the primary material that the pellet comes from.
  • Because fans are used to regulate the fire and resulting temperature, pellet stoves make a low, mechanical noise.
  • If a viewable firebox is used, the fire is small and intense, making it not as pleasing to look at as a natural fire from firewood. It’s more like watching a blast furnace than a campfire.
  • Moving parts like the auger or fans means more chances for failure. While all parts will break down over time, failure to maintain your pellet stove will cause it to fail sooner.
  • Pellet stoves require electricity to keep the auger and fans powered up. Without a backup system, a power outage means no heat. Only gravity-fed stoves are immune to this, but they are not thermostat controlled and are often less efficient than powered versions.
  • Stoves need regular maintenance to keep them functioning well. Depending on how often they’re used, they could need daily or weekly cleaning, and yearly servicing by a professional is a necessity.

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Maintenance

Maintaining a pellet stove is an ongoing task. If they are used heavily, they will need daily cleaning of the ash pans. Moderate use can extend this to a weekly cleaning. Because they have a few moving parts, maintenance is not something to neglect if you expect to keep your stove working properly and safely.

  • Daily
    • Dump the ashes out of the ash pan after use.
  • Weekly
    • Vacuum the fans and ash pan
    • Brush the vents
  • During the Cold Season
    • At least three times during the colder months, you should have the igniter checked. If it fails, replacement can cost $200.00.
    • After winter, thoroughly clean the stove. Be sure to get any ash and leftover pellets out.

Trouble Spots

A properly installed and maintained pellet stove should last a long time with a minimum of 10-year expectancy. Some have track records over 20 years long, but most owners and manufacturers believe that their stoves will last for as long as they can get parts. Failure usually stems from one of four areas. Two of them are from the owner, two are from the manufacturer or installer:

  • Owner
    • Poor maintenance is the number one cause of failure for pellet stoves. Always follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
    • Poor fuel means that too much ash is being generated. This will clog up fans and blowers and lead to early failure. If you have to use lower grade fuel, cleaning more frequently is a must!
  • Manufacturer/Installer
    • Poor installation can be caused by an owner if they try to DIY the job. However, even professional installers can make mistakes. Be sure that such situations are covered in writing before agreeing to anything.
    • Manufacturer defects are a risk for anything you might purchase. While warranties can be expected to cover such defects, read the warranty thoroughly before buying just to be safe.

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In Conclusion

Pellet stoves are increasing in popularity even as regulations are put in place to ensure energy efficiency. Cleaner than a fireplace or wood stove, safer than a gas heater, warmer than an electric space heater, a pellet stove might be just what you need to supplement your whole-house system.

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