Most Common Questions About Home Wood Pellet Heating
Over one million homes in the United States use wood pellets as a heating source. Although pellet popularity is continually rising, there are still many frequent questions and misconceptions about heating with wood pellets. Below, we have compiled a list of the most common inquiries we hear from both new and existing pellet users.

Can I Use a Wood Pellet Stove as My Home’s Only Source of Heat?

Depending on the location of the stove and the size/efficiency of your home – yes. Some stoves can easily heat up to 2,500 square feet of space. A common practice is to put pellet stoves in parts of the house to create zone heat, but lightly use a central furnace as a back up. It’s especially common to use oil heating strictly as a backup to pellets, for example, when the price of oil rises significantly.

 How Many Bags of Pellets Should I Buy? Driveway DeliveryThe amount of pellets you can expect to burn through in a heating season depends on the quality of the wood pellets and the efficiency of the stove – among other things. However, one bag of quality pellets will commonly provide a full day of good, steady heat.

The average residential wood pellet customer in the Northeast uses 150-200 bags of wood pellets throughout the entire heating season. There are 50 bags in one ton of pellets, so that’s 3-4 tons.

 Is Heating with Pellets Environmentally Friendly?

The carbon footprint of burning wood pellets can be completely neutral, or close to it. If the forests where the wood pellet raw material has been taken from are sustainably managed, the overall carbon footprint is drastically reduced in comparison with fossil fuel heat. A study by The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam revealed that heating with wood pellets can emit about one tenth the carbon as heating with oil.

Are There Additives in Wood Pellets?

No! Wood pellets are 100% natural. There are absolutely no binders or chemicals added to the wood fiber used to create pellets. Wood naturally contains a substance, lignin, that binds wood pellets in their tightly compacted, mostly uniform shape. Learn more: How Wood Pellets Are Made

Are Hardwood Pellets Better than Softwood Pellets?

Most firewood users prefer to burn hardwood in their wood stove or fireplace, because it provides a longer burn compared to softwood due to wood density differences. However, regardless of the type of wood used to produce wood pellets, the pelletizing process produces pellets with the same density. Softwood pellets are actually most sought after, due to a higher percentage of resin content in softwood, more heat is produced per pound.

Can I Store Wood Pellets Outside?

Wood Pellets Stored OutsideYes – as long as you take the necessary steps to protect them. You must inspect your pellets’ packaging carefully before preparing them for outside storage. To protect your pellets from water and from any birds or squirrels that may try to puncture the plastic, you’ll definitely need to fasten a tarp over your fuel. If your pellets are outside for a while – you’ll need to keep checking on it to make sure there hasn’t been any damage or extensive wear.

Read more about protecting your pellets from the elements here: How to Keep Wood Pellets Safely Stored Outside 

How Much Does a Pellet Stove Cost?

A typical price for buying and professionally installing a pellet stove is around $2,500 to $3,000 and up. Of course, this number will vary depending on where you live and the kind of stove you choose.

Do Pellet Stoves Require Professional Maintenance?

Most owner’s manuals suggest a comprehensive cleaning by a trained technician at least once a year. Some manuals even suggest a checkup after each ton of pellets is burned. Also, the mechanical and electric components that make up your pellet stove can eventually wear out and need repair or replacement – so a cleaning/check-up by a professional could help prevent a surprise part-malfunction.

Take a look at what a professional stove cleaning should include, here.


For any questions we haven’t answered here – please give the experts a call at 1-800-PELLETS!


How to Keep Your Wood Pellets Safe Outside (with an Easy New Trick!)

Wood Pellets Stored InsideIn a perfect world, you would have big open space indoors to store your wood pellets. Of course, that extra space isn’t always available – especially if you have several pallets of fuel to store.

If you don’t have room to store your wood pellets in the garage or basement, the next best thing is a shed or shelter in a raised, dry place.

If you have to store your wood pellets outside, you’ll need to fully
inspect the outer plastic that has been wrapped around your fuel, when it arrives. Check for any rips or holes where moisture can seep in. Make sure to repair any damage with water proof tape or additional layers of plastic. Read more

Your Pellets Should Be Ordered by the Time You See These 5 Things

It’s completely up to you to decide when you want to place your wood pellet and/or wood brick order. However – do you want to have a quicker turnaround between your order date and delivery date? Do you want to be prepared for that first time you need to fire up your stove? If your answer is “yes” to either of those questions – take a look at our list below.

Here are five common signs that you’ll start to see around the time when your fuel order should be (or should’ve already been) placed.

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Color and Size Variances Among Wood Pellets

Wood Pellet Colors

Pellet stove heating is so efficient because wood pellet fuel is uniform. However, there are natural and perfectly acceptable variances in both color (and sometimes length) within wood pellets.

Much like snowflakes – no two wood pellets can be exactly the same. Wood pellets can have a variety of colors, depending on the primary species of wood used. Common hardwoods used to make pellets include Maple, Oak, Birch, Cherry, and Beech. Typical softwood raw materials used to manufacture wood pellets are Hemlock, White Pine, Spruce, and Fir. The wood species for the raw materials used to produce either hardwood or softwood pellets is the principle reason for the variety of colors. Pellet colors can range from a pale blonde, to a warm reddish brown, to a dark walnut.

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3 Uses for Wood Pellets (Aside from Heating)

Wood Pellets as Kitty Litter

Wood pellets in the cat’s litter box absorb all the moisture and turns into sawdust. This is easily sifted away as shown in the video below (by Kari Kells). This method saves the dry pellets, which are still usable, to cut down on waste. What an economical (and environmentally friendly) idea!

Traditional clay-based litter tracks easily out of the box and into the house – and is also bad for the environment. Wood pellets are 100% natural with no binders or fillers, and the kiln-dried wood fiber soaks up odor and leaves almost no scent behind.

Wood Pellets as Horse Stall Bedding

Although the word “bedding” is used – horses don’t typically need something fluffy like a bed to lay on. Horse bedding is actually used in stalls to absorb urine and moisture, and is a necessary part of properly maintaining clean stalls.

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State Tax Incentives for Residential Wood Pellet Heat

NH Wood Pellets
Residential Wood-Pellet Rebate Program in New Hampshire

Rebates offered for 30% of the system and installation cost, or $6,000, whichever is less, for New Hampshire residents who invest in high-efficiency (80% or greater), bulk-fuel fed, wood-pellet central heating boilers and furnaces that became operational on or after May 1, 2012.

This program has helpful recommendations, which include the use of 
high quality wood pellets; “The life expectancy of the system will be significantly reduced and the operation and maintenance will be considerably greater if lower quality fuel is used.”

The Incentive Pre-Approval Application for NH can be found here, along with the full program details.

Lower Electric Rates

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Pellet Stove Season-End Cleaning and Shutdown Best Practices

How to Care and Clean Your Pellet Stove It’s finally here – time to shut down your pellet stove for the summer. It was a very long,
tough winter this year in the Northeast, and your stove probably worked hard. Considering pellet stove costs range at an average of around 2-3 thousand dollars, with some at double that price, this heating appliance is a real investment that will benefit from a few extra steps taken for season shut-down. Instead of just pulling the plug and walking away, responsible pellet burners should have a quick shut-down checklist to follow.
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4 Benefits of Wood Pellet Heat to Consider

In addition to the long term cost advantage over heating oil and propane, wood pellets have some additional benefits that you may be unaware of. 

CO2 Cycle with Fossil Fuel Burning1. The carbon footprint of wood pellets can be neutral, or close to it. A study by The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam revealed that heating with wood pellets can emit about one tenth the carbon as heating with oil. If the forests where the wood pellet raw material has been taken from are sustainably managed, the overall carbon footprint is drastically reduced in comparison with fossil fuel heat.

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Best Practices for Storing Wood Pellets Inside or Outside

Storing Wood Pellets Outside

Pellets Stored OutsideIt’s not always possible to store your wood pellets inside. If you don’t have room to store your pellets in the garage or basement, the next best thing is a shed or shelter in a raised, dry place. If you can only store pellets outside – you can do that too. You just have a few extra steps to take, starting with inspecting your fuel when it arrives. Your fuel is carefully wrapped and protected with a plastic shroud before it’s sent out for delivery. Upon inspection, repair any rips or holes in the plastic shrouding with water-proof tape or additional layers of plastic.

Next, add a a securely fastened tarp over your fuel, to protect it from water and from any birds or small animals that may try to puncture the plastic to make a home. There are 50 bags on each one ton pallet, which stands about four feet tall.  If you bought 1.5-ton pallets, there are 75 bags stacked about six feet tall. The wooden pallets the fuel is stacked and wrapped on top of are 40 by 48 inches. Make sure your tarp is large enough to cover your pallets entirely.

>> Make your own tarp out of empty wood pellet bags! Follow the directions on our 
DIY pellet bag water blob article, and just make it into a square or rectangle instead of a pouch.

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