Since we have no access to free/cheap firewood we are considering a pellet stove for use in our unfinished basement. Any suggestions for a reputable brand or company to buy from or what features may make it easier for us to use?
Commented on Oct 16, 2012
Look into the line of stoves by Avalon. I've been researching pellet stoves for a few months
now and I've found so far that the AGP (All Grades Pellet) by Avalon is about the best deal on the market.
This stove has separate conrols for the fan and the heat so you have better control of how hot you want it to burn and how much area you want heat.
It also burns all grades of pellets efficiently. The dealers I've talked to recommend a 50/50 blend of hard and soft wood pellets. Hard woods burn longer but not very hot and soft woods burn quick and hot. This stove maximizes the use of both types of wood pellets.
Compare stoves by burn rate per hour not by the hopper size. This information is not available on all stoves (I don't even look at the ones that can't provide this info).
There are also a load of safety and cleaning issues that need to be considered and this stove seems to be more advanced than just about anything else on the market in those areas. When shopping around pay attention to how much ash flies up when the pellets drop into the burn pan. You will see how much ash clean up will be required. The AGP has a horizontal feed instead of a drop down feed = very little ash blowup. It also has a feeding system that prevents any chance of fire reaching back into the hopper.
When shopping around, make the dealers light the stoves, wait for the stove to heat up enough so the fans turn on and off automatically (should take about 15 minutes), and see how much heat is pushed out at the medium setting for the fan. Stand back from it about 5-6 feet to see how much heat you feel while the fan is on medium. You don't want to have to stand right in front of it all the time to stay warm and you don't want to have to have the fan on high all the time just to keep your house warm. You will see differences from one stove to the next if you do this.
There are stoves that are nicer to look at but I've found that you have to trade off efficiency for fancy. Which is ok if you are just looking for an occasional cozy place to sit but it's not ok if you are relying on that one source of heat for your home.
Sorry I was so long winded on this but there is just so much to consider. I've looked at so many stoves and I've seen that there is definitely a difference between them.
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It features mirrors and art (normal stuff right?) but next week I want to feature some unique options (I've seen names, paddles that act as headboards....) and I know you guys have some hidden gems in your own homes. so if you care to share - post a comment here (with a picture if you have it) or head on over to my blog and submit your photo for inclusion in next weeks post, your designs will be fully credited...
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