Pellet stoves are efficient, environmentally friendly, cheap to run, and safe. However, this cost-effective heating source is often overlooked by consumers when shopping for a new heater. Why is that? We put it down to the simple fact that most people do not know what a pellet stove is, how it works, or how to find the best ones.
This article covers the best pellet stoves available in the market and a detailed buying guide so you can get the right pellet stove heater for your home.
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons. All opinions are our own. We pride ourselves on keeping our articles fair and balanced. For more info see our disclosure statement.
Pellet Stove Quick Comparison Table
If you are in a hurry, you can review our pellet stove quick comparison table below. It includes all the crucial specifications like BTU and heating capacity.
We do, however, recommend to go over our in-depth individual review. Keep in mind that you should check out the stoves in person before committing to purchasing; these views are our own and may differ from yours.
Max BTU In/Out Per Hour: 50,000 / 43,000
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Max BTU In/Out Per Hour: 48,000 / 37,000
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Max BTU In/Out Per Hour: 31,960 / 22,226
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Max BTU In/Out Per Hour: 20,076 / 15,100
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Max BTU In/Out Per Hour: 50,300 / 44,000
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Pellet Stove Buying Guide & What We Look For
So you have made the decision to invest in pellet heating, now you just need to decide which is the best pellet stove for you.
Not all pellet stoves are created equal – each stove brand and type is designed for it different situations, so it is important that you carefully consider your options and make a decision that is right for your home.
The following sections are areas we recommend you pay special attention to when choosing a pellet stove to suit your requirements.
Related article: Are pellet stoves worth it?
When shopping for a pellet stove, one of the most important factors is the BTU rating. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat the pellet stove can provide to your home.
But what does that even mean?
What is a BTU Rating
BTU stands for British Thermal Units and it is used to measure heat output.
One BTU = the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Now I know this sounds complicated, but you don’t really need to get into the nitty gritty of how the BTU measurement works.
What you do need to know is this:
The specifications or salesperson may quote one, or both of the possible BTU measurements:
- BTU input
- BTU output
Firstly, you need to understand that most premium wood fuel pellets contain about 8,500 BTU per pound.The BTU input is the maximum amount of fuel that can be fed into the pellet stove per hour.
The BTU output is how much heat the stove can actually deliver to the home, the rest is lost to inefficiencies in burning, heat transfer, up the chimney/venting etc.
Learn more about BTU and what it is here.
Thermal Efficiency Rating
So now that we understand what a BTU rating is, we can then understand the next number that is often quoted to us – the pellet stoves heating efficiency.
Efficiency% = (input BTU/output BTU) * 100
This gives us our efficiency as a percentage. This number tells us how much of the heat that is generated in the pellet stove is actually usable in the home.
The higher the efficiency, the more cost effective your heater will be to run.
Capacity (Square Feet)
The capacity, or the area the pellet stove can warm, is another critical factor. After all, you want to ensure the unit you get has enough capacity to heat your home.
For example, if you live in a 1,800-square-foot home, you will likely want to get a pellet stove with a heating capacity greater than that. In this case, I would recommend a pellet stove with a capacity of at least 2,000 square feet to ensure it’s enough.
While pellets are reasonably easy to find, it is important that you know which pellet types are compatible with your heater and which will burn efficiently. However, heating pellets will work with any type of wood pellet stove.
But cheaper ones usually have worse efficiency. Compared to better brands, they won’t burn as long, won’t produce as much heat, make more pollutants, etc.
As with any device that involves heat and electricity, it is important to keep your pellet stove properly maintained. This not only ensures that your pellet heater runs as efficiently as possible, following the maintenance guidelines for your stove means your heater will be as safe as any heater can be.
Maintenance tasks required vary for each model of stove, but we have written up a summary of general maintenance tasks that are required with most pellet stoves below.
Daily maintenance tasks:
- Pellet hopper: Check it is clear of any accumulated saw dust and top up it up to ensure you don’t run out of fuel just when you need it the most.
- Burn Pot: Check the burn pot in your stove daily to ensure the air inlets look clear and open.
Weekly maintenance tasks:
- Ash pan: empty all the ash that the ash pan has caught. This usually has to to done 1-2 times a week although some newer designs can go as long as a month without requiring emptying.
Periodic maintenance tasks:
- Burn pot: Clean the burn pot in your stove as you notice soot build up.
- Ash trap: Ash traps help to stop flying ash exiting the stove via the vent, these require cleaning to ensure your pellet stove can burn efficiently.
- Glass: Clean the glass to prevent a build up of soot, the longer you leave it between cleans the harder it will be to remove the soot.
- Heat exchanger: This needs to be cleaned, some models include a device to let you clean this yourself, other models may require a professional.
- As with any heating appliance, we recommend getting your pellet stove checked by a professional every 12 months to ensure it is operating safely and within efficiency parameters
Style And Placement Of Wood Pellet Stove
There are two basic types of pellet stoves:
- Free standing pellet stove
- Pellet stove insert
If you have an existing fireplace, then you can most likely use a pellet insert that fits into the existing fireplace and chimney. The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) strongly recommends that before you fit a pellet insert, you should have a professional installer carry out an inspection on your fireplace and chimney to check for suitability and safety requirements.
Choosing where to locate your pellet stove is very important. Before deciding on which stove you are going to buy, get a hold of the manual and make sure that you can meet the space requirements.
The manual will usually list the minimum space allowed between the stove and certain combustible materials.
Many pellet stoves include a blower to circulate heat throughout your home. But, since it isn’t connected to ductwork, you may have to use fans and leave doors open to help the heat reach every corner of your house.
Just like wood burning models, pellet stoves need to be vented to allow the expulsion of gases and smoke due to the burning of the pellet fuel.
Because a pellet stove uses a fan to get rid of the smoke and gas, they can often be vented vertically through the ceiling OR horizontally through a wall.
It does depend on the model of the stove though, so make sure you look into what type of venting you need and make sure the stove you choose is compatible with your requirements.
Hopper Size/Burn Time
One of the best things about pellet stoves is the fact that you can load up the hopper and it will automatically feed in fuel for hours and hours.
But how long exactly your heater can go for without a refill depends on the hopper size, the heat setting, and how fast the auger feeds the pellets.
Generally, the larger the hopper size the longer your stove will be able to go without needing to be refilled. Some models even have an optional hopper extension which allows for huge amounts of wood pellets to be loaded in.
Glass Viewing Panel
Everyone loves seeing a fire burning – which is why most models of pellet stove have a glass viewing panel.
Make sure that your viewing panel suits the aesthetics you are looking for.
You also need to consider the glass will need to be cleaned, so taking note of any features such as air wash technology is important too.
Pellet stoves do require a constant electricity source to operate, so be sure to consider where your nearest power outlet is in relation to where the stove is likely to be fitted.
There are options to backup the power of your pellet stove. See our pellet stove battery backup guide for more info.
Ask A Professional
One of the biggest traps consumers fall into when buying a pellet heater, is not getting a a professional to take a look at the area to be heated before making a decision. You can research info on the best pellet stove, but in the end you should consult a professional to make sure you have made the right choice.
A consumer may under or over shoot the heating needs and buy a stove that is too small or too large for their needs. Home size, layout (open vs many rooms), and home insulation all play an important part of choosing the right pellet stove.
The Best Pellet Stove Reviews
1. Comfortbilt HP22 Pellet Stove
- Thermal Efficiency: At least 86%
- Heating Capacity: Up to 3,000 square feet
- BTU/Hour Input: 50,000 max
- BTU/Hour Output: 43,000 max
- Max Auto Burn Time: 24 hours
- Compatible Pellets: Wood pellets only
Featuring one of the largest viewing windows we have seen in pellet stoves, the Comfortbilt HP22 really brings some great atmosphere to any room. It looks like a good old-fashioned wood heater, but has all the benefits and efficiency that you expect from a pellet stove.
I do admit that when I first found out this heater was made in China, I was dubious about the quality, but one look at an actual unit, and I changed my mind. You would be hard-pressed to separate the quality of the Comfortbilt stove from any other stove made in the USA, and it works just as well.
This pellet stove is ideal for larger homes as it offers a 3,000-square-foot heating capacity, and it does this at a lovely efficiency rating of 86%!
One other thing that we noticed (or rather… didn’t notice) was the fan sound… it is very quiet and is perfect for anyone who finds loud fans to be annoying.
The only thing that I didn’t like was the relatively small (for the heating capacity) 55lb hopper. Still, you can extend it relatively easily by purchasing a low-cost hopper extension.
We consider this model to be the best pellet stove on this list and that’s why it is the editor’s choice.
The HP22 is also available on Amazon here.
The Ashley Hearth Products AP130 is the largest capacity pellet stove on the market, but most homes don’t need that anyway. If you need to heat a modest-size home, cabin, shed, or other small outbuildings, this pellet stove’s 2,200 square feet of coverage should be more than enough.
Since it has a smaller heating capacity, this freestanding unit also has a smaller footprint. It is only 26” wide, 34” tall, and 26” deep, which allows you to keep floor space free in tight areas.
It has nine heat settings, letting you adjust the intuitive digital control board to your optimum comfort level. And with its strong, 120 CFM blower, it quickly and evenly distributes heats in your space. You can also adjust its temperature with the included wall-mount thermostat.
There is no need to buy the biggest, most powerful heater out there if you are only looking to heat a smaller area such as a cabin or shed. And if this is the situation you find yourself in, then the Castle 12327 Serenity Pellet Stove could be just what you are after.
It has a heating capacity of up to 1,500 square feet, but still retains a smaller footprint, so it won’t take up too much space in smaller areas. The Castle 12327 features a smart controller that is very easy to program and operate, while still offering advanced 24-hour scheduling for each day of the week.
Some pellet stoves take a good 15-20 minutes to get the heat pumping, the Castle 12327 takes only about 10 minutes to start pumping out its full heat which is great for those extra cold days when you forgot to program it to switch on automatically!
The last thing I want to mention here is probably one of the most important things – the after-sales services from Castle Stoves is really top-notch (and I am very fussy when it comes to customer support). The team are super knowledgeable and can help out with anything from simple questions to more advanced troubleshooting.
4. King Wood Pellets Stove
- Thermal Efficiency: 68.53%
- Heating Capacity: 2,200 sq ft
- BTU/Hour Input: 20,076
- BTU/Hour Output: 15,100
- Max Auto Burn Time: 24 hours
- Compatible Pellets: wood pellets only
If buying USA-made products is important to you, look no further than the King Wood Pellets Stove. Proudly made United States Stove Company, this unit boasts efficiency and durability.
It provides an outstanding heating capacity of 2,200 square feet, which is more than enough for the average home, shed, garage, or even workplace. It has intuitive controls, and it comes with a remote control.
One downside is its small 25-pound hopper, which you will have to refill more often than other units. But if you get an expansive extender, this won’t be an issue. However, even will the small hopper, it still provides a maximum burn time of 24 hours. Plus, you get a 3-year warranty.
5. Accentra52i-TC Pellet Insert
- Thermal Efficiency: 81%
- Heating Capacity: 2,600 sq ft
- BTU/Hour Input: 50,300
- BTU/Hour Output: 44,000
- Max Auto Burn Time: 24 hours
- Compatible Pellets: wood pellets only
If you want one of the most efficient pellet stoves on the market, you can’t do much better than the Harman Stoves Accentra52i-TC. It has a thermal efficiency of a whopping 81% and can warm up to 2,600 square feet.
Unlike the four previously mentioned pellet stoves, this unit is a pellet insert, which means it fits inside your existing wood-burning fireplace. You can get it in two sizes, two finishes (Majolica Brown or Matte Black), and an optional log set.
It has a direct vent, which makes installation much easier and simple control with its EASY Touch Controls. You can tell that Harman Stoves designed the Accentra52i-TC with quality components while optimizing its performance. As such, it needs 50% less maintenance than comparable products.
Detailed Pellet Heaters Top Models Comparison
This table is designed to make it easy to compare each model stat by stat.
|Model||Max BTU Input||Max BTU Output||Thermal Efficiency||Heating Capacity||Max Auto Burn Time|
|Comfortbilt HP22 Pellet Stove||50,000||43,000||86%||3,000 sq. ft.||24 hours|
|Ashley Hearth Products AP130||48,000||37,000||64%||2,200 sq. ft.||80 hours|
|Castle 12327 Serenity||31,960||22,226||69.80%||1,500 sq. ft.||24 hours|
|King Wood Pellets Stove||20,076||15,100||68.53%||2,200 sq. ft.||24 hours|
|Accentra52i-TC Pellet Insert||50,300||44,000||81%||2,600 sq. ft.||24 hours|
Wood Pellet Stove FAQ
What is the life expectancy of a pellet stove?
The life expectancy of a pellet stove is around 10-12 years. However, it can last much longer if you perform routine maintenance and take good care of it. On the flip side, if you skip maintenance, your pellet stove will likely not make it ten years.
How long will a 40 lb bag of wood pellets burn?
Generally, it takes about 24 hours for a 40-pound bag of wood pellets to burn. However, depending on your pellet stove’s settings, it may burn faster or slower.
Are pellet stoves efficient?
Yes! Because they used a manufactured, controlled fuel source, they are designed to burn it as efficiently as possible. Pellet stoves are one of the most efficient forms of space heating available
What are pellet stove clinkers?
When wood pellets are manufactured they have an element of impurities (dirt) in them that is not burned during the combustion process. A “clinker” is a combined mass of these impurities and they look like a clump of ash.
Use low ash pellets to reduce the possibility of clinkers forming. Also ensure your pellet stove is clean.
Do pellet stoves need power to run?
Yes, without power they will not function correctly and may even allow smoke to escape into the area being heated. You can learn about how a pellet stove works here.
It is possible to use different methods to provide backup power for your pellet stove. We have a complete article written about it here.
For more info to assist with choosing the best pellet stove? I suggest checking out the following resources:
- Pellet Fuels Institute – A non-profit organization that serves the pellet industry. Has a wealth of info available on its website.
- US Department of Energy – has a great page full of info on pellet stoves.
- Want to compare pellet stoves vs wood stoves
- Battery backup for pellet stoves
9 thoughts on “The 5 Best Pellet Stove Reviews of 2023”
I have the top of the line Harman insert and it has yet to make a single heating season reliably..and it’s not cheap to fix either
We would not recommend a Harman stove to anyone. We have put a lot of money into the stove which is only two years old. In the first place, the dealership had two people do the installation and they didn’t know what they were doing. We have had to spend over a thousand bucks to have the stove reinstalled and it just got reinstalled and we will have to have the guy back to fix it because something in it has broken down. This is in Maine where the winters are cold and we are looking forward to a weekend without any heat and we had to wait quite a while to get parts the first time so we have no idea when we will be able to get this stove up and running again. Talk about buyer’s remorse.
Hi Marcia, that certainly seems like you had a bad experience with Harman. Did you contact Harman directly to let them know your concerns?
We regret getting the Harman P43 and not upgrading to the next highest model. Our neighbor bought a pellet stove at the same time we did. Same installer only he got the model above the P43. We’ve both had them for five years now.
We bought the P43 years ago for a house that’s just barely over 1,000 sq. ft. We were told that stove was perfect for the house size and open layout. Loved it the first year. Loved the second year, though the combustion fan and auger both went, but the warranty covered the auger so we didn’t have to pay for that. In the third year, the distribution blower fan went. At this point, we were about $400 in repairs and $400 in professional cleanings. We’re into the fifth year now and are at a point where we don’t know if it’s worth fixing it again, The burn pot at the top near the air holes cracked. The combustion fan is also shot again. The ignitor is also starting to have issues, and we were told if we’re doing the burn pot, it makes sense to do them both. All in all, we were quoted about $700 for the repairs. We have a 15-year-old wood stove that’s in better shape and is in perfect working condition, inspected, and the chimney is cleaned. We’re considering going back to wood instead, even if it is more work.
Hi Ann, That certainly doesn’t sound like a great experience with the Harman P43! The P43 has a great reputation, and they are usually quite reliable.
Have you tried contacting Harman direct and let them know the problems you are having? You never know, there might be something they can do!
what about inserts.
Hi Bruce – we are working on this in depth details on pellet stove inserts – check back soon!
looking for a pellet stove / boiler, that will work with my in floor heat . the building is 1600sqft . this is my little shop and I can not afford a 10.000 dollar heat system. I need something really simple to operate. I don’t have time to babysit .
Hi Marvin, I actually havent done anything with pellet boilers before. But you have got me interested and I will look into it. You will probably see an article that can help you pop up in the next few weeks.