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Features to Look for in a Pellet Stove


In my series on pellet stoves, I’ve introduced you to The Heritage, a beautiful, hand-crafted stone and cast iron pellet stove from Hearthstone.

In Part 2, I weighed the pros and cons of burning with cordwood vs. pellets.

Today, let’s discuss pellet stove terminology and review several key features you should look for in a pellet stove.

Controllable Heat

Because there’s never more than one handful of pellets burning at any given time, pellet stoves have “controllable heat.” Unlike wood stoves, which can flare up and cool down depending on how much wood you load and the size of the firewood, pellet stoves deliver a steady, controlled heat.


Pellets are too condensed to burn without air blowing through them.  The Heritage model, for instance, comes equipped with two blowers and an auger:

  • The combustion blower burns the pellets.
  • The distribution blower circulates the air.
  • The auger feeds pellets into the fire.

Heat Exchanger Tubes

Heat Exchanger Tubes
A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one medium to another. In the Heritage pellet stove, the outsides of the heat exchanger tubes are heated by the flames, and the insides of the tubes circulate the warm air, and the convection fan then blows clean air into the home.

Because the fire box in a pellet stove is narrow, most pellet stoves have short heat exchanger tubes, which are usually located at the top of the fire box. The heat exchanger tubes on the Heritage, however, run the length of the back of the firebox. At nearly 18 inches in length, they make the Heritage an extremely efficient stove based on the amount of heat produced in relation to the amount of pellets burned.

Electrical Components

Pellet stoves rely on electricity to ignite, run their fans, and run the thermostat. In the event of a power outage, you can buy battery-operated backup packs or hook your stove up to a generator. Look for a stove that gives you 100% access to all the electrical components.

Also look for a stove that uses as little electricity as possible. The Heritage uses electricity to run its two blowers, the auger, and the onboard computer. But the good news: it consumes the amount of electricity that a 100-watt light bulb needs under normal conditions.

Top Feed

Most pellet stoves are “top fed,” meaning that the pellets are dropped into the burn pot down a chute from above. The Heritage is no exception. The auger (a motorized device that looks like a long screw) delivers pellets from the hopper to the burn pot.


One concern some people have about top-fed stoves is cleanliness. The Heritage stove self -cleans once an hour. It stops feeding pellets, the combustion blower blows on high and it blows ash out of the burn pot. This keeps the burn pot clean and maintains its high efficiency.

Up Close and Personal

To see The Heritage and our other pellet stove models in action, visit any of Rich’s five Puget Sound showrooms in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Southcenter, Tacoma, or Silverdale

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