Pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance. (US Department of Energy)
Pellet stoves are becoming increasingly more popular in recent years. In fact, it’s not hard to see why so many homeowners are deciding to install a pellet stove in their living room.
The best pellet stoves are a perfect marriage between the old and the new:
- Old-school crackling wood stoves. They create a homely and comfy home.
- New environmentally-friendly heating. Pellets introduce high energy efficiency, low emissions to the equation. On top of that, pellets are considered carbon-neutral and thus pretty much the most eco-friendly fuel you can feed into a stove.
According to the DOE, “Pellet stoves are more convenient to operate than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces, and some have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies.” Another consequence of high-efficiency pellet burning is the extremely low emissions levels (compared to wood stoves, for example).
It’s incredible to see how fiercely people love their pellet stoves. If you ask a friend who has one, they won’t be able to stop talking about ‘our homely pellet stove’.
For everybody to have the ability to use eco-friendly pellets to heat their home, we have prepared a list of the best pellet stoves you can buy in 2021 here.
Before you check them out, it makes sense to educate yourself a bit about the benchmark specifications and basic metrics to look for when choosing the best pellet stove for your house.
The following specs are in accordance with the DOE recommendations for pellet stoves.
How To Choose The Right Pellet Stove (3 Point Buying Guide)
Not everybody among us knows the ins and outs of pellet stoves. That’s why we have created a quick pellet stove buying guide.
We quickly cover the 3 primary specifications. These are:
- Pellet stove heating capacity (in BTU). This determines how big a pellet stove you need for your home (500-3,000 sq ft).
- Energy efficiency. It only makes sense to get a pellet stove with the highest energy-efficiency.
- Hopper size. Hopper is basically a basket where to put pellets that are going to be feed into the stove. Hopper size – 20 to 60 lbs – determines how often you’ll have to restock (with pellets) the stove.
How Big Should A Pellet Stove Be? (Capacity, Measured In BTU)
BTU or British Thermal Unit is a unit we use for measuring useful heat any HVAC device can create. In short, the bigger stoves produce more BTUs and vice versa.
Pellet stoves have a capacity from 10,000 BTU (smallest pellet stoves) to 90,000 BTU (largest pellet stoves). In practice, most pellet stoves have 40,000-60,000 BTU capacity.
The first thing to figure out when buying a pellet stove is how big it should be. The capacity of the stove is directly proportional to the square footage.
For example, for properly heating a 2,000 sq ft home, you would need a 60,000 BTU pellet stove.
We have calculated how large a pellet stove you need for some of the most common square footages of modern homes:
|Square Footage||Pellet Stove Capacity|
|600 sq ft||18,000 BTU|
|800 sq ft||24,000 BTU|
|1,000 sq ft||30,000 BTU|
|1,200 sq ft||36,000 BTU|
|1,400 sq ft||42,000 BTU|
|1,600 sq ft||48,000 BTU|
|1,800 sq ft||54,000 BTU|
|2,000 sq ft||60,000 BTU|
|2,200 sq ft||66,000 BTU|
|2,400 sq ft||72,000 BTU|
Here is some insight for when you’re picking a pellet stove: Stove manufacturers tend to list the maximum square footage a pellet stove can heat. This is not the same as the most recommended square footage according to the DOE directives.
Example: You’ll find a 48,000 BTU stove. According to the DOE directive, such a device is appropriate for heating 1,600 sq ft. You’ll find in the pellet stove listing or on the specification sheet that such a pellet stove can ‘heat spaces to 2,500 sq ft’. Theoretically, you can heat spaces to 2,500 sq ft under perfect conditions. Practically, however, you should buy a 48,000 BTU stove for 1,600 sq ft.
Secondary heating: Some people use pellet stoves as a secondary heating system. In such a case, your primary heating system (a furnace, for example) should produce the majority of the heating energy, and you can disregard the square footage to BTU calculations.
Pellet Stove Energy Efficiency (Between 70% and 84%)
Compared to wood stoves, every pellet stove is extremely energy efficient. Pellets can produce twice as much energy as normal wood. Most pellet stoves (all of the stoves on the list below) are EPA certified, which guarantees high energy efficiency.
However, there is still an interval of energy efficiency when it comes to pellet stoves. The most commonly quoted one is 70% – 84% energy efficiency. Obviously, the most energy-efficient pellet stoves have energy efficiency closer or equal to 84%.
High energy-efficiency stoves don’t only mean you’ll have to use fewer pellets to get more energy. The other part of the equation are the gas emission rates.
Pellet stoves have notoriously low gas emission rates. This is a direct consequence of the high energy efficiency of pellet burning. A simple way to reduce emission rates further is to invest in stoves with 84% energy yield.
In such a way, only 16% (instead of 30%) would be the mass out of which gas emission can be expelled.
Hopper Size (Between 20 And 60 LBS)
Hopper is a vital part of a pellet stove. It’s where all the pellets that are going to be feed in the pellet stove are located. At this point, it would make sense to read the article about ‘How Does A Pellet Stove Work’ and return here.
In short, you have to restock the hopper with pellets from time to time. How often you have to put pellets into the hopper depends on:
- Size of the hopper.
- Speed of burning.
How quickly pellets burn is set and monitored via a thermostat. The one thing about which you can make a smart decision is buying a pellet stove with a bigger hopper.
The bigger the hopper, the longer the stock of pellets in it will last. In turn, you’ll have more time to enjoy the warmth coming from the stove.
List Of The Best Pellet Stoves
Based on the 3 key metrics explained above, we have prepared a list of the best pellet stoves you can buy in 2021. You’ll find specifications on the right and reviews of each pellet stove below the table:
#1 Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 (Best Pellet Stove In 2021)
|Heating capacity:||50,000 BTU|
|Recommended square footage:||1,700 sq ft|
|Hopper size:||55 lbs|
|Dimensions (WxDxH in inches):||24 x 25 x 32.5 inches|
Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 is the quintessential pellet stove. It combines the convenience and environmental-friendliness of pellet stoves with the aesthetic design.
What matters most to us are the specs. And it’s safe to say that Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 specifications are spectacular. It’s everything a heating expert could wish for in a pellet stove, including:
- Highest possible energy efficiency for a pellet stove (84%) + EPA certification.
- Solid 50,000 BTU heating power.
- Big hopper size (55 lbs).
All these specs work together to make Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 the best pellet stove in 2021. The cornerstone is the 50,000 BTU heating output.
To limit the restocking of the hopper, you need a big hopper (which it has) and high energy efficiency (you can’t get higher than 84% with pellets). The best energy efficiency, heating, and hopper size specs guarantee that you will get the most out of your pellets with the least amount of maintenance.
Another aspect of very high burning efficiency is the very low emission rates. Out of all the pellet stoves, the Comfortbilt HP22 with 84% energy efficiency has the lowest emissions levels.
The aesthetics might be a subjective topic but most homeowners love the Bay design of the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove HP22 in carbon black. Here are the pros and cons of the best pellet stove in 2021:
#2 Breckwell SP24I (Best Pellet Stove Insert)
|Heating capacity:||50,000 BTU|
|Recommended square footage:||1,000-2,200 sq ft|
|Hopper size:||60 lbs|
|Dimensions (WxDxH in inches):||26.5 x 38.5 x 21 inches|
Pellet stove inserts are gold. They can be inserted into a wall recess and save quite a lot of space. The drawback is that there are not that many pellet stove inserts and the prices are higher than regular stand-alone pellet stoves. Breckwell SP24I is one of the very few high-quality pellet stove inserts that can warm your home.
Despite being an insert pellet stove, it can deliver 50,000 BTU of heat output every hour. If you put the auger speed into the highest setting, the Breckwell SP24I can warm up spaces up to 2,200 sq ft. Of course, lower auger speeds will deliver less heating output. For example, you can easily put it in a 1,000 sq ft house, and use a low-burn. It will deliver enough heating output and it will be even more efficient at a low-burn setting.
The beauty of big 60 lbs hopper and low-burn operation is that you won’t have to load the pellet stove insert very frequently. It’s an easy-going and warming stove with low maintenance.
You also save quite a lot of space, given that it’s an insert type of a pellet stove. The drawback is the $3,000+ price. Here’s how that’s a smart investment: a stand-alone stove can eat away about 5 sq ft of space. The price of sq ft can vary quite a bit; an average would be around $200 per sq ft. Saving 5 sq ft results in saving about $1,000. That’s should be considered when considering all pellet stove inserts.
In short, the Breckwell SP24I is the best pellet stove insert currently on the market. It has high heating output, 60 lbs hopper size, and can save you about 5 sq ft of space:
#3 Osburn 2500 Freestanding Pellet Stove (Best Osburn Model)
|Heating capacity:||39,260 BTU|
|Recommended square footage:||500-2,000 sq ft|
|Energy efficiency:||78.4 %|
|Hopper size:||60 lbs|
|Dimensions (WxDxH in inches):||26.25 x 24.25 x 30.5 inches|
Historically, Osburn is one of the most recognizable pellet stove brands. They are a US-based company that makes everything from pellet to wood stoves and furnaces. The best Osburn pellet stove is the Osburn 2500 freestanding pellet stove.
The 2500 model has a big 60 lbs hopper that deliver pellets to the burn pot via a cleverly devised auger. The pellets give away 78.4% of their total energy. The 83% energy-efficiency can be achieved by optimizing the pellet-burning process by proper ventilating, oxygen delivery, and optimal pellet feed system via the auger (its speed is indirectly controlled with the thermostat).
For the Osburn 2500 model to be as energy-efficient as possible, you have several different heating settings. You can adjust the settings to get comfy and homely.
What is more, you can a 120 CFM blower that can actively deliver the heated air from the pellet stove into the room and distribute it evenly. That means your whole house will be warmer, not just the living room where the Osburn 2500 is installed.
The Osburn 2500 comes with a pedestal. Just lifting it off the ground makes the stove one of the best pellet stoves currently on the market. Add the easy handling of the stove, and you can see why the Osburn 2500, being in the business for decades, has such excellent renown.
#4 US Stove Company US GW1949 Wiseway (Best Free Standing Small Pellet Stove)
|Heating capacity:||40,000 BTU|
|Recommended square footage:||500-1500 sq ft|
|Hopper size:||60 lbs|
|Dimensions (WxDxH in inches):||15 x 24 x 52 inches|
Most pellet stoves you can buy have 45,000+ BTU capacity and can weigh up to 300 lbs. Those pellet stoves are best for 1,500+ sq ft homes. What about a smaller, light pellet stove?
If you have a smaller home or a cottage in Minnesota, having a small pellet stove is a perfect heating option for the winter. The best small pellet stove is the US Stove GW1949 Wiseway. It has about 40,000 BTU heating capacity, appropriate for homes up to 1,500 sq ft.
What is more, because this is one of the smallest pellet stoves, it weighs less than 141 lbs. This makes stove installation much easier. In fact, the US Stove GW1949 Wiseway is a free-standing pellet stove. That means you don’t need a chimney for gas exhausted to be expelled from your home. Instead of installing a pellet stove insert into an existing chimney-cleared home, you can drill a small hole in the wall for US Stove GW1949 Wiseway installation.
Despite being a smaller pellet stove, the US Stove GW1949 Wiseway has a big 60 lbs hopper. If you look at BTU per BTU, a 60 lbs hopper for a 40,000 BTU pellet stove is, relatively speaking, bigger than 55 lbs hopper for a 50,000 BTU pellet heating device. In short, the pellets will last longer, and you will have to refill the hopper less frequently.
On top of the small pellet stove size, you can see that the US Stove GW1949 Wiseway is quite tall (52 inches). However, it’s base is only 15 x 24 inches, taking the least amount of square footage possible.
The best thing about this small device is its price. US Stove GW1949 Wiseway is the cheapest pellet stove on this 2021 list. It costs way less than $2,000 (the price of some of the other stoves).
#5 US Stove 5500M King (Old-School Pellet Stove)
|Heating capacity:||48,000 BTU|
|Recommended square footage:||1,600 sq ft|
|Hopper size:||25 lbs|
|Dimensions (WxDxH in inches):||25 x 34 x 26 inches|
US Stove was one of the first companies to develop pellet stoves. Their classic model – the one which now has that ‘old-school pellet stove’ – status is the 5500M King. In essence, the US Stove 5500M King has all the basic specs you would expect of a pellet stove with the old-school design to boot. However, truth be told, specs-wise, the 5500M King model is already lagging behind the most modern models.
Here’s how old-school this stove is: It’s not called a ‘pellet stove’, it’s called ‘pellet burner with igniter’. This is how the early pellet stoves were called.
It can pump out a solid 48,000 BTU of heating power every hour. You have 5 different settings to optimize the pellet-burning with (for comparison, the best pellet stoves by US Stove have 6).
How energy efficient is the pellet-burning process? We actually don’t know. US Stove doesn’t include that number in the specification sheets because when the US Stove 5500M King was developed, the EPA didn’t require them to measure energy efficiency.
The major problem this stove has is the 25 lbs hopper. Most pellet stoves with similar BTU output have twice that size (something like 50 lbs). Obviously, 25 lbs hopper was quite good in the 2000s. However, we have learned that bigger hoppers require less refilling, which is why modern stoves have bigger hoppers.
The true appeal of the US Stove 5500M King is the old-school homely design. It looks like an old-school stove and has the benefit of being an eco-friendly pellet stove. The old design with the new renewable energy source is why so many people go for the 5500M King model, regardless of less-than-perfect specs.
Do You Have Any Questions About Pellet Stoves?
Pellet stoves can seem complex. We completely understand that many people will have questions about the most appropriate size and how pellet stoves work in general.
If you would prefer to use wood instead of pellets, you can check the best wood-burning stoves here. Another option that doesn’t involve pellets or wood are the electrical wall fireplaces. Those are, however, less cost-effective due to the high prices of electricity compares to wood or pellets.
You are welcome to ask all the questions in the comments below, and we’ll try to address them as best as possible. Thank you.