Pellet stoves are CO2 neutral, automatic, easier to use than wood-burning stoves, and low in emissions of particulates. As such, their success has been well-deserved. But the health crisis has made them (perhaps temporarily) less competitive.
Before you consider buying one, you should also know that heating with pellets comes with a few constraints...
Pellet stoves are ideal for providing supplementary heating between seasons. As such, they represent good value (even though pellets have become more expensive than other sources of energy), because using a stove avoids having to restart the central heating at the beginning of winter and allows it to be stopped earlier at the end of the heating season.
It also provides relief for the central heating system during the cold season.
If the stove runs for a few hours a day between October and April, it will cost you € 150 to € 200 per year in pellets and electricity, and up to € 300 for more intensive use. But heating using pellets alone has no longer been competitive since the fall in energy prices linked to the health crisis.
Pellet prices have been remarkably stable over the past decade, while all other energy sources fluctuate sharply with the market.
For years, a 15 kg bag of pellets bought individually at the supermarket and picked up by the buyer has cost around € 4.5 (incl. VAT), i.e. between € 0.30 and € 0.36 per kilo. Purchased by the ton or pallet of 64 to 102 bags, pellets are available at prices between € 0.26 and € 0.30 per kilo. Some companies deliver free of charge.
Forget paper, kindling and matches: pellet stoves have electric igniters.
All models have at least a thermostat, so they switch off and on again automatically. Some models also have advanced functions: programming, remote control, smartphone/internet control, and more.
The efficiency of a quality pellet stove can exceed 90%. So only 10% of the energy contained in the pellets is lost in the chimney. That’s
You won’t need a chimney with a good draw for your pellet stove: smoke is expelled to the outside by forced ventilation via an 80 to 120 mm tube, placed vertically or horizontally. The tube can even have a bend in it. The stove can therefore be installed almost anywhere, against or near an outside wall and plug socket or under a ceiling.
Pellet stoves consume either room air or outside air (on models with a double exhaust and suction tube or a separate exterior air supply).
Pellet stoves emit few particulates, as shown in this comparison of average PM10 particle emissions in grams per gigajoule (g/GJ):
|Wood stove installed before 2000||760 g/GJ|
|Old coal stove||450 g/GJ|
|Wood stove installed between 2000 and 2014||380 g/GJ|
|Modern coal stove||240 g/GJ|
|Wood stove installed after 2014||95 g/GJ|
|Mass heater||95 g/GJ|
|Pellet stove||60 g/GJ|
|Oil heating||1,9 g/GJ|
|Natural gas heating||1,2 g/GJ|
This is only an average. According to Test-Achats, some (good) appliances do 200 times better than the current Belgian standard, and no particle emissions can be detected! Others, obviously, do less well...
Pellets are made with sawdust from the wood processing industry (furniture, pallets, lumber, etc.).
Pellet stoves are carbon neutral because the carbon released during combustion is equivalent to that absorbed by the tree during its growth.
For aesthetic appeal, the 'blown' flames of a pellet stove do not compare with those of a wood-burning stove, except on models with natural convection.
You will need to stock up on lots of pellets in 15 kg bags. There are also 10 kg bags.These bags are not always easy to move around, especially if you don't live on the ground floor. A pellet stove can hold between 1.5 and 4 bags.
The built-in reserve offers autonomy of about 12 hours at full power and 36 hours at one third of the power. Some space is needed to store a few bags in advance. Pellets must be stored in a dry room.
The stove cannot operate without electricity to run the automatic ignition system, the pellet feed, ventilation and electronic controls.
A good 'very quiet' appliance does not exceed 32 decibels (less than a fridge). A low-end unit emits 49 dB, which is too much for a living room.
The noise of a stove in use comes from:
Powerful models are noisier, but top-of-the-range units are equipped with systems that reduce the noise of the feeder and the blower. They can therefore rank well in the table below.
Subjective scale of noise (dB) emitted by a pellet stove:
|32 à 36 dB||Very quiet (low-power ventilated stoves and natural convection stoves)|
|40 à 42 dB||Acceptable|
|44 à 46 dB||Bearable for an hour|
|46 à 49 dB||Bearable for an less than an hour|
|> 49 dB||Bearable very temporarily|
NB : the noise doubles each time the number of decibels increases by three points.
Costs range from € 700 for a small, steel entry-level model to over € 8,000 for powerful models in cast iron, ceramic and with advanced features.
In addition to the cost of purchasing your stove, the cost of the installation, which should preferably be carried out by a professional, must be taken into account. You should expect to pay between €250 and €500 for a stove and much more for a boiler stove or one that circulates hot air around the house. Buying through a professional allows you to benefit from VAT at 6% if the property meets the requisite conditions.
There are many models of pellet stove on the market.
The basic models just heat the room where they are placed. Others offer the possibility of circulating hot air into a neighbouring room. Some models are actually mini boilers which can supply hot water to a few radiators.
Different looks are available. The extra-flat models go down to a minimum of 25 cm.
Some models are equipped with a stone or ceramic heat accumulator for longer passive heating
Some models are convertible and can also take wooden logs.
Recent models include natural convection stoves. These do not have a blower. Their flames have a more natural appearance. They are very quiet and consume less electricity. Nevertheless, they should ideally be installed in a central position and not against a wall. This is to radiate in all directions and to better circulate the air throughout the whole room in a natural way as opposed to blasting it in a particular direction.
It is assumed that 1 kW of heating power is required for 20 m³ of space, i.e. approximately 8 m² of floor space for a normal ceiling height.
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