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Basements are an ideal locations for pellet stoves unless the basement is uninsulated; here they will be inefficient. Besides warming a cold basement, this setup can also circulate warm air through the house and minimize noise disturbance from the stove. Pellet stoves must be properly vented in a basement.
Pellet stoves are a popular alternative to traditional wood-burning stoves because they require less daily upkeep and are more environmentally friendly. Burning compressed wood pellets also allows pellet stoves to burn longer.
Before you decide to install a pellet stove in your basement, it’s important to know what to expect, how to set everything up safely, and which pellet stoves are most popular.
Basements Can Be Ideal Spots for Pellet Stoves
As one of the coldest areas of a house, the basement is a good location for pellet stoves, which can quickly and practically heat the space. In contrast to radiant heat produced by wood or coal stoves, pellet stoves use convection blower fans, which more efficiently circulate warm air.
In addition, the heat from a basement pellet stove can radiate throughout the entire house via convection. As heat naturally rises, it’s more advantageous to put a pellet stove on a lower floor.
Though pellet stoves burn cleanly compared to other fuels, they still create some waste in the form of ash and require fuel storage. The blower fans and automatic fuel intake mechanism can make pellet stoves noisy as well, adding to the benefits of installing your pellet stove in the basement rather than the main room of your home.
Install the Stove Safely
A pellet stove should normally be installed by a professional/licensed installer. If you wish to install it yourself, most states require you to get a permit.
How you need to install the pellet stove will depend on the model you purchased. For the general procedure, refer to this video:
Installing the pellet stove safely is important to address potential fire hazards. Improper installation could also lead to high carbon monoxide levels.
After it is installed, an inspector or the Fire Department should double-check the installation to make sure it’s to code. They may also confirm that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are present and functioning.
Replace any old detectors (older than 7 years) to properly avoid fire hazards.
Ensure Adequate Ventilation
Pellet stoves require adequate ventilation because they produce smoke and carbon monoxide through the burning of wood pellets. If carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) enters the home, it’s dangerous to human health.
Wood stoves require a chimney, but pellet stoves can be vented through the roof or through a side wall.
To vent a pellet stove, first check the specifications for your specific model. Most require 4” vent pipes. The use of L-vent pipes is ideal as they have a stainless steel inner wall meant for venting heating appliances. This ensures safety from high-temperature gases.
For materials, stainless steel is best. Avoid the use of PVC, gas vent pipe, or dryer vent pipe.
- If venting through the roof, the ducting will need to run vertically through the ceiling. If there is an existing chimney, you can run the 4” stainless steel pipe up the chimney.
- If venting through a side wall, allow some vertical rise (3 or 4 ft is enough) first before running the horizontal pipe. This creates a natural draft (as heat rises) to move smoke from the stove through the vent to the exterior.
Make sure all connections between pipe sections are properly sealed (silicone or gaskets) because the pellet stove exhaust is pressurized (due to forced ventilation).
Read more on Basement Ventilation Code.
Benefits of Pellet Stoves Over Other Fuels
Pellet stoves have many advantages over other heat sources (such as gas stoves, wood stoves, and eclectic heating).
Firstly, wood pellets are highly efficient. The compressed (often recycled) wood burns for a long time and produces less ash and air pollutants than other fuels. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified pellets are estimated to have 70-83% energy efficiency.
Pellet stoves are also very cost-effective. According to the United States Department of Energy, pellet stoves are commonly cheaper than electric heating, heating oil, and propane.
Pellet stoves themselves can sometimes be expensive, but their installation and upkeep give them a cost advantage. As an example, compared with a wood-burning heater, a pellet stove is cheaper to install and vent because it doesn’t require a chimney.
Another benefit of pellet stoves is their ease of use. Much of the process is automated, so you only need to supply the pellets and the stove will do the rest. You can manually set the start or end of a fire, and some models allow scheduling of automatic fire turn-on and off.
Will Pellet Stove in Basement Heat House?
Pellet stoves are often used as supplementary heating to the main heating system. Depending on the size and layout of your house, a pellet stove can be a viable option for heating your home.
A pellet stove can best heat a smaller home with a more open floor plan. In larger homes, a pellet stove won’t be able to circulate heat outside of the basement very effectively.
Think of a pellet stove as a space heater. It’s good at heating the room it’s placed in but isn’t specifically made to spread that heat the way a furnace would.
If you’re heating your home with a pellet stove, there will be about a 10°F decrease in heat on each floor you go up.
Natural convection will help move warm air up through the house, but normally you’ll need to help a pellet stove distribute heat by installing a fan, vents, and/or ductwork.
Circulating Heat From Basement Pellet Stove
To circulate the heat from a basement pellet stove, you’ll want to place your pellet stove within 10 ft of the stairway to the main floor.
The simplest method is to use fans to blow the warm air away from the pellet stove. Box fans work well, but ceiling fans can also help move the air around to create a convection current. The fans should be set to low speed to avoid creating a cold breeze.
Of course, also make sure all doors between the basement and the rest of your house stay open.
If the fire (and building) codes in your area allow it, you can install floor vents to create airflow from the basement to the main floor.
In most cases, if you’re using a pellet stove for home heating rather than only heating the basement, you’ll need to set the stove temperature higher so that the main floor will be a comfortable temperature.
Not a Good Idea in an Unfinished Basement
Unfinished basements are not ideal spaces for pellet stoves. The concrete will absorb and store the heat, preventing heat distribution in the basement (not to mention the full house). The uninsulated basement walls will also allow much of the heat to escape outside, making the operation of the pellet stove costly and inefficient.
It’s estimated that 20% of a home’s heat is lost through basement walls.
If you would like to use a pellet stove in an unfinished basement, a small basement is best, and any insulation you can add will go a long way in conserving energy. Options include foam board, reflective foil, fiber insulation, and blanket rolls.
The best option for a warmer unfinished basement is to insulate, otherwise, you’ll be wasting money no matter what way you choose to heat it. If you’re more concerned with the rest of the house, insulating just the basement ceiling will help keep your floors warmer on the upper floors.
Most Popular Basement Pellet Stoves
- Burn hopper capacity.
- Noise level.
- Programmable thermostat.
- Square footage heating capacity.
- Electric vs. non-electric.
- Viewing panel.
The Comfortbilt HP22 Pellet Stove (amazon link) is a top-rated pellet stove that can heat up to 2,800 sq. feet and can carry 55 lbs of pellets.
If you’re searching for a longer-lasting burn, the Pelpro PP130-B Pellet Stove (amazon link) has a 130-lbs hopper capacity, which can allow up to 4 days between refueling.
For a non-electric option, the US Stove Company GW1949 Pellet Stove (amazon link) can hold 60 lbs of pellets and uses a gravity feed system to eliminate the need for an electrical mechanical feed system.
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