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Stove inserts are special heat stoves that fit into a fireplace or mantle to provide heat and atmosphere at a fraction of the running cost of a traditional fireplace. You can purchase one of three types of stove inserts: wood burning, pellet burning, and gas burning. Let’s talk a bit about pellet inserts.
First, the pellets themselves. They are what they sound like; they’re small, compressed wood or biomass pill-shaped packs of fuel that the stove will burn on its own. One advantage of using pellets as opposed to wood or gas is that it requires almost no user interaction. Pellets are added to the fuel source from a reservoir (or hopper) automatically and are burned one after another. The rate at which they burn can be controlled by the user, if so desired. Pellets need only be loaded into the hopper when pellets run out and generally are easily loaded in from the top.
Additionally, like gas stoves, pellet inserts can be adjusted via the thermostat and can be cycled on and off. Pellet inserts are generally self-starting and can ignite without help from the user. Newer pellet inserts can be controlled via remote and even run safety tests to ensure that your home isn’t in danger of any mishaps that might arise from burning.
Speaking of safety, older fireplaces have a reputation for leaving behind a residue, or creosote, that is sticky and flammable. If the creosote ignites, it could cause severe fire damage to the area around the fireplace and possibly put your entire home at risk. Pellet stoves burn cleanly and do not leave behind creosote. Pellet stoves do leave behind an ash buildup, however. How much ash is left behind is dependent on the quality of the pellets you buy. High quality pellets may leave up to 1% ash behind, while lower quality pellets may leave as much as 4%. Ash requires cleaning from the user and inconsistency in the quality of the pellets used can have long-term ramifications on the machine’s operation, so it’s best to stick to a particular grade of pellet contingent on how much work you’re willing to put into cleaning your pellet stove.
Lastly, pellet inserts do not require a chimney, but in the case of a pellet stove insert for your fireplace, you may use your existing chimney with just a few tweaks to the lining.