View Full Version : Pellet Stove Advice

Greg Cuetara
07-12-2008, 8:36 PM
Well with the cost of oil right now I am looking into getting a pellet stove. Are there better manufacturers than others out there or ones which I should stay away from? Should I be looking at the steel type or a cast iron model?

People are asking about $900 for the install. I was quoted about $500 for materials and about $400 for the labor. Does that make sense or do you think that is reasonable? Could I do the install myself? Are there specific codes I need to follow and / or do I need to get a permit? Is there a manual for installation that comes with these stoves? Do you just plug them in or do they have to be hard wired?

I have hardwood flooring so I know I will have to put down some type of tile on the floor to set the unit on. Do I need to cover the walls with tile or do I just need to be concerned about the floor. Can I run the tile right on top of the hardwood flooring or should I cut the flooring out to put in tile?

Those of you with kids have you done anything special to keep kids away from the stoves? I was thinking of installing a metal gate around the stove with a little door that I can still get in to put the pellets in the stove. Do you know of anything like this which would keep crawling / walking / running kids out of arms reach of the stove? Good supervision is a must but it is those uh oh times which that extra line of protection is good for.

Sorry for all the questions but any help would be appreciated.


David G Baker
07-12-2008, 10:32 PM
I don't know anything about pellet stove brand names but if you seriously plan on going the pellet stove route you may want to think seriously about stocking up on pellets before the price and availability changes radically. The folks that used corn when it was affordable may be switching to wood pellets.

Greg Cuetara
07-12-2008, 11:04 PM
Thanks David. I was thinking I should buy pellets up right now for the winter. If I can find them that is.....

Tim Morton
07-13-2008, 7:47 AM
I have the Harmon XXV pellet stove and I installed it myself. That being said, here in vermotn if you don't already have a pellet stove and a supplier of pellets you might be out of luck for this winter. Not sure if this is the case where you live or not.

I think the Harmon stoves are GREAT...and from what I have read the cheap borg stoves are just that cheap. I owuld suggest talking to the local dealers and see whats available and go from there.

Installation parts that equal $500??? I would love to see a breakdown on that one:D But $400 for labor is about right, although you can easily do it yourself if you are going to put it on an exterior wall. I bought some blue stone scraps and a small sheet of cement board and made a nice hearth in about 2 hours for under $50 bucks. If you buy one similar it will run you about $150.

You do not need to worry about the walls, as long as you have the clearance room recommended by the manufacturer. My clearances are about 10" on a corner install.

Keeping kids away is important, but not like a wood stove...I do not think I could sustain a burn touching anything on my stove except the vent pipe which is not reachable by anyone. Its warm..but not HOT.

Did I miss anything?

Greg Cuetara
07-13-2008, 9:24 AM
Thanks for responding. I saw you had a thread last year looking a pellet stoves so I appreciate your advice. There are a bunch of places around here who are taking orders right now into december so there are a few stoves out there...or will be but i don't need one right now anyways...

David G Baker
07-13-2008, 10:12 AM
Taking orders does not mean you will get one in time for the cold weather. When corn stoves were selling well at their peak many orders were not filled due the high demand and lack of supply. We have a local corn stove vendor that has around 30 sitting in the rear of his store that have been there for months due to the high corn price and lack of demand. Another thing to think about is contact your insurance company to make sure that your home is covered if a pellet stove is installed.
A thing to think about is the multi-fuel type stove that will burn pellets, corn, wheat, etc.

Jay Jolliffe
07-13-2008, 12:51 PM
We were thinking about a pellet stove until we were told they have 3 to 4 electric motors that have to run. If the electric goes out or one of the fans/ auger craps out....no heat. Also pellets aren't that plentiful because of every one getting the stoves if you can find one. We went with a soap stone wood stove instead.....A little more work but you don't need electricity for it to work....

Doug Sewell
07-13-2008, 1:18 PM
I 've been using a pellet stove for about six years , I love it. I go through just over two pallets of the oak pellets a year but that is in Atlanta, GA. In your climate who knows. I only need 2'' of clearence on the back side, less than 6'' on the sides. Easy install, 4'' flue straight thu the wall out 6'' past the outside wall plug it in and good to go. Don't be fooled, they are NOT like the woodstoves. They use a fan to make the pellets burn correctly, lose power and you lose the fan. Mine will sit there a smoke until all the pellets are gone and they are not air tight. Smokes up the house real bad. They also don't radiate the heat like a woodstove. My upstairs stays about 20 degrees cooler than the downstairs so I have my furnace set up to come on in the mornings to heat things up a bit before the morning shower. There are a lot of extras you can get but that will cost you. Make sure you get electric start, push a button and it starts itself or you have to start it manually. Thats harder than it sounds.
Good luck

Michael Wetzel
07-13-2008, 6:18 PM
I have a Harmon in the house and a cheapo one in the garage/shop. I already stocked up on pellets in May to get the early discounts. Installing them isn't a big deal in most cases. I can see it being a pain it you want to vent it through the roof. I installed the one in the shop myself, they installed the one in the house. $500 for parts sound expensive unless they were going to go through the roof.

As far as the floor, some units are on legs or a built up pedestal like base. You can buy a cover to set on the floor to set the stove on too. Distance to the walls vary by manufacturer, if you follow the specs you don't need anything on the walls. A pellet stove doesn't run as hot as a wood stove.

The problems with loosing power is the worst part of owning a pellet stove. But you would loose heat with an oil burner and no power too. I am seriously looking into getting a generator since we had more power outtages this year than in the last 5 or 6 combined.

Kyle Kraft
07-14-2008, 12:34 PM
My brother-in-law has a Harmon, and he loves it. I examined it recently and was extremely impressed with the very high quality castings...fine grained, no sand holes, porosity, etc. I think he gave around 3500 installed.

Rob Russell
07-14-2008, 5:08 PM
Why not consider a traditional wood stove? We have an older Vermont Castings Vigilant and use it as a major supplement. The newer stoves like the Defiant Encore burn very cleanly. Some stoves may have fan-forced blowers to help circulate heat away from the stove, but those certainly aren't needed. In a power outage - our stove keeps burning just fine.

If you don't want to fuss with wood, you can get something called a bio-brick which is basically compressed sawdust. They burn for longer than wood, leave very little ash and produce almost no creosote to coat your chimkney.

Clifford Mescher
07-14-2008, 5:27 PM
I have been burning pellets for a few years without incident. Very clean, very little ash and alot of heat. Clifford

Greg Cuetara
07-19-2008, 12:49 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys. I checked around and the Harmon stoves are shipping in June of 2009 right now so they are out for this year.

Rob I already have a wood stove hooked up to my forced hot air heating system so I am covered if the power goes out. Just looking for something cheaper than oil. I did find an osburn stove. I guess they are made in canada but not sure of the quality etc. Almost all the brands or companies are booking installs in november / december right now so if I want one for this year it will be the osburn but I need to find pellets first. I think they are as hard to find as the stoves right now.


Keith Marben
07-19-2008, 1:35 PM
I would like to hear more about these biobricks.

also, I need to get a bunch of firewood for the winter chopped up. When is the latest I should get started? to allow for at least some seasoning.

I have a regular wood stove. quadrafire or some such thing

David G Baker
07-19-2008, 1:48 PM
The latest you should get started was last year. Looks like if you want wood for this Winter you are going to have to purchase seasoned wood from someone unless you already have a lot on hand.

David G Baker
07-19-2008, 1:55 PM
Another option is a coal stove. Some of the modern coal stoves are multi fuel units so you can maybe do a little searching in that direction. Most folks have forgotten about coal because it isn't as visible as it once was. As a child many of the homes in the area of Michigan where I lived had coal bins and coal fired boilers. I don't know how the modern cost of coal compares to other energy sources but it is worth checking.

Greg Cuetara
07-20-2008, 8:00 PM
I had a friend look at the biobricks and he bought a few ton 2 winters ago. The first thing he said was that the comparison the companies use between 1 cord of wood and how many bio bricks is hogwash. He said that he used a lot more biobricks than they said to get the same heat as a cord of wood. He also said that they created a lot more ash and it was more work to keep his stove clean. Maybe it was just those biobricks but that is what he said.

Coal is an interesting prospect although I am trying to find something for my living room and have it be clean and easy..so wood pellets fit the bill right now. Not sure I would even consider a regular wood stove for the living room. Guess that I should really put everything onto the table and then make a decision.


Rod Sheridan
07-23-2008, 2:34 PM
Hi Greg, I have no wisdom regarding pellet stoves to give you.

I suggest that you check with the agency having jurisdiction in your area (building and fire code), as well as with your fire insurance company.

Where I live, the insurance company will adjust your premium, and require an inspection for the replacement, installation or modification of a pellet or wood stove.

Regards, Rod.