Pellet stoves are a very economical and efficient way to heat your home. They are available in a range of sizes and styles, and you can install your pellet stove in a range of areas. They are very similar to a wood stove, and pellet stoves use combustion to produce heat. They’re more efficient, more cost-effective, and they’re generally easier to use than more traditional wood stoves.
Your pellet stove installation cost will fluctuate based on the installation style and size of the stove. The average price range is between $3,000 and $6,000, and most people spend $4,000 on a wall-mounted, cast-iron pellet stove with a fireproof pad. You can also install a freestanding unit with a direct vent design for between $1,500, or it can go up to $7,000 for your pellet stove installation cost for a big insert into your existing fireplaces. We’ll outline all you need to know about pellet stove installation costs below.
Pellet stoves can be a very cost-effective way to heat your home, especially for homes that have an open floor plan.
How Pellet Stoves Work
Pellet stoves use an auger, hopper, ash tray, burn pot, blower, a fan, exhaust blower fans, and heat exchangers. The hopper is the tank for your pellets, and you have to refill them when it’s running out to keep it going. The auger gets used to increase or decrease heat production to keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and more modern models come with sensors that help determine how many pellets the stove needs to reach your desired temperature.
The burn pot is where you heat your pellets to create heat in your room. The pellets move to the burn pot in the combustion chamber using the auger. Oxygen and fuel are needed to kickstart the burn process, and an electrical ignition will create a spark that ignites the pellets. The blower fan will bring in the air that finishes the combustion process.
The convection blower brings air into pass over your burn pot so it can heat up. However, the air needs to be cleaned. The air moves over the heat exchanger or a set of iron bars, to heat the air and move it into the room using a blower.
The air moves into the unit and over the burn pot in the form of emissions and gases from burning the pellets. So, the unclean air has to be transferred outside of your home using a vent. Most pellet stoves come with three vents in the back that lead to an exhaust pipe or chimney. The unclean air then gets pushed outside through these pipes.
As the pellet burns and acts as fuel, part of it will turn into ash. You can move this into the ash tray under your stove’s burn pot. In most cases, you’ll have to clean out this tray once or twice a week when you regularly use the stove.
Pellet Stove Sizes and Associated Costs
Just like a standard heating unit, your pellet stoves get sized by BTU production. However, unlike more traditional heating sources, the amount of BTUs doesn’t always lay out how many square feet it’ll adequately heat. Upper stories, vaulted ceilings, and non-open floor plants might need bigger units than the same-sized home that has lower ceilings, an open floor plan, and good airflow.
Most pellet stoves have a BTU range with high and low heat settings on them. Pellet stoves usually come with two sets of BTU ratings for the input and output. The input is the number that your pellets could feasibly produce if they converted to heat 100%. The output is the actual number it’ll produce because pellet stoves are only roughly 75% efficient. ALways look at the output number for greater accuracy.
|BTUs||Average Stove Cost|
|15,000 BTUs||$1,000 to $1,500|
|20,000 BTUs||1,500 to $3,000|
|30,000 BTUs||$2,000 to $3,500|
|50,000 BTUs||$3,000 to $5,000|
Pellet Stove Cost by Type
Most pellet stoves have a freestanding design, but some can get installed into an existing fireplace too. These styles are called fireplace inserts, and they can convert a wood-burning fireplace into one that burns pellets. Both inserts and freestanding units come in many styles and sizes, and both will heat your home. However, they have different considerations and costs attached to them.
|Type of Pellet Stove||Unit Cost|
|Freestanding||$1,000 to $5,000|
|Insert||$2,000 to $6,000|
|Wall-Mounted||$1,000 to $5,000|
A freestanding pellet stove will cost between $1,000 and $5,000 on average, and most pellet stoves come with freestanding design. They look like an old-fashioned wood stove or a contemporary stove box. You can install them near an outside wall to give you greater flexibility for your pellet stove installation cost. Also, it doesn’t require a fireplace.
Freestanding pellet stoves will need a fireproof pad below them or it should be placed on a non combustible surface. You’ll need to install a chimney or vent if you want to have one of these stoves, unless you get a direct vent unit. They come in a larger style range and they can be contemporary or traditional.
Inserts will have a higher pellet stove installation cost than freestanding ones at $2,000 to $6,000. They come in a range of styles and sizes too. Inserts will convert your fireplace into a pellet stove. They can utilize your existing chimney, but you may need to install a new liner, depending on the current one’s condition and age. You might also need to run electricity to your insert, and this can boost your project cost. However, you won’t need a fireproof pad because the hearth is already there.
Generally speaking, your pellet stove installation cost will be between $1,000 and $5,000 for a wall-mounted unit. Some stoves, called direct-vent stoves, can mount to the wall. They won’t require a chimney because they vent right outside. You have to install these units correctly to avoid any air leaks, but they can save space in your home and look like a fireplace insert. They can have a lower installation cost too.
There are a few different types of pellet stoves you can purchase, and the one you do will depend on your preferences and available space.
Pellet Stove Costs and Combustion Method
Pellet stoves get fueled by biobased, compressed pellets that are made out of a mixture of sawdust, wood, food scraps, and more. These pellets get fed into a hopper where the combustion chamber conveys them. You can feed your pellets into the top or bottom of the stove, and the method you choose comes down to cost, safety, and personal preference.
|Combustion Method||Average Stove Cost|
|Bottom-Feed||$2,000 to $4,000|
|Top-Feed||$1,000 to $3,500|
Bottom-feed pellet stoves move your pellets from the bottom right back into the combustion chamber, and they tend to cost between $2,000 and $4,000. This is the most efficient way to move the pellets because there is a lower chance of them jamming. The flames may reach the hopper once in a while, but the ash will drop harmlessly downward. Newer models may come equipped with vacuums and pellet breakers that prevent problems with the flames, and this makes them safer to use. You will have to empty the ash container at least once a week when you use this model. This is a rarer option, and only a few companies produce it, so you’ll have limited choices.
Top-feed pellet stoves cost between $1,000 and $3,500 for the stove alone. With this design, the pellets get placed in the top of your stove and fed down into your combustion chamber using a gravity feed. This will cause fewer accidental fires, but it can lead to ash buildup to lower how efficient the unit is. If you want to use this style, you’ll have to invest in low-ash pellets. Some models come with a pellet backup, and this can cause the pellets to jam.
Pellet Stove Prices by Materials
Pellet stoves come in stainless steel and cast iron. Each material will give you a very different stove in terms of costs and looks, but the performance is very similar. For a lot of people, the choice will come down to the appearance because one may fit their design style better than another.
|Material||Average Stove Cost|
|Cast Iron||$1,500 to $4,000|
|Stainless Steel||$1,000 to $3,000|
Cast iron pellet stoves have a very classic look and feel to them over stainless steel, and they cost between $1,500 and $4,000, depending on the size you pick out. This is what people picture when they think of a wood-burning pellet stove. This design is usually wider, shorter, and heavier than stainless steel, and it offers a very traditional look.
They come in a range of colors so you can easily source one that matches your decor. They also come in bottom and top-loading designs with a huge range of sizes. Cast iron will hold heat a lot better than stainless does, and this means that it can give off a decent amount of residual heat when you switch the burner off.
Depending on the size you want, pellet stoves made out of stainless steel cost between $1,000 and $3,000. They tend to look much more contemporary than cast iron. While a cast iron pellet stove can look like a century-old wood stove, this one features a much more modern look. These units tend to be rounded, sleek, or rectangular columns, and they’re usually thinner and taller.
They come in bottom and top-loading designs and a range of sizes. They will perform on the same level as cast iron, but stainless steel won’t hold heat as well. While the stove is on, it’ll put out consistent heat levels, but when you shut it off, there is no residual heat.
Where to Install Your Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves are uniquely versatile in where you can install them, but they do have a few restrictions. Ideally, you want to put them along a wall to make venting easy, and they should sit roughly six inches from the wall on a fireproof pad. You can vent some models into a back room. If you decide to go with a traditionally vented design, this will restrict you because you have to figure out the best place to install a chimney. You have to set them a minimum of 36 inches from drapes or furniture, and keep them away from heavy foot traffic areas.
You also want to consider the area you want to heat. If you have an open floor plan, this stove can heat on a larger scale. But, if you have sectioned, smaller rooms, you’ll need to install fans and vents to reach these areas. If you have several potential areas to install your pellet stove, keep in mind how far you’ll have to carry the pellets. You’ll also need a 120-volt outlet near the installation spot.
Pellet Stove Installation Cost by Type
Generally speaking, your pellet stove installation cost will range from $200 to $2,000, and this depends on where you want to install it and the model you picked out. Freestanding models can go anywhere in a room and create heat. A wall-mounted version to sit on your wall will leave the floor clear while warming up the room. They usually have a much more modern look and feel to them, and the freestanding units are more rustic. Inserts get designed to slip into a fireplace opening to make it more versatile.
|Type||Labor Costs||Total Price|
|Freestanding||$200 to $800||$1,200 to $5,800|
|Insert||$1,000 to $2,000||$,1500 to $6,200|
|Wall-Mounted||$500 to $1,200||$1,500 to $6,200|
Freestanding Pellet Stove Installation Prices
The average pellet stove installation cost for a freestanding unit ranges from $200 to $800. If you include the installation process, labor costs, and the materials, this jumps to $1,200 to $5,800. The installation of your freestanding pellet stove is very inexpensive and straightforward other than the need to have a vent installed. Horizontal vents go through your wall and vent outside, and ceiling vents go through the roof and carry higher installation costs. Freestanding units tend to be put in larger open areas on a hearth pad.
Insert Installation Cost
Inserts for your pellet stoves are easy to install, and the liners will cost roughly $300 with labor coming in at $1,000 to $2,000 for the insert and liner. When you get an insert, you should expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 for your pellet stove installation cost. The insert gets set into place and flanges fill in any remaining space around the unit. You may need to install a new stainless steel liner in your chimney that will work around your pellet stove. This liner is flexible, so it’s easy to install.
Wall-Mounted Pellet Stove
Your pellet stove installation cost for a wall-mounted unit ranges from $500 to $1,200. The materials and your labor costs come out to $1,500 to $6,200 on average. You’ll typically place this type of heater on a mounting bracket that hangs from the wall to take up less floor space than a freestanding stove. Since the installation process takes longer and is more involved, the price goes up. These stoves also tend to be smaller than freestanding units and they work best to heat small spaces.
Pellet Stove Installation Costs – Labor
Pellet stoves tend to be simple to install, and some can get installed inside a wall and have a vent go directly outside. Other pellet stoves don’t require a vent and will vent back into the home instead. However, most will require a chimney for venting with a fireproof pad. To install them, direct vent models get mounted into the wall and sealed. For the others, you’ll need a fireproof pad, set the stove on top, and install the chimney by cutting a small hole in your wall. If your unit needs an air intake at the back, this is another cut. It takes between two and three hours, but it can take less if you have a stove already installed in this vent.
The average pellet stove installation cost is $35.00 to $55.00 an hour. However, the final price tag will depend on the heating capacity of your stove, the size, accessories, required finishes, and how much they have to prepare your space. The labor rate for your area will also factor in. Units that are direct vent or that require a smaller chimney are the easiest to install. If you have to install an electrical power supply, this will increase the project cost. In either case, it’s recommended to go with a professional.
What Size of Pellet Stove You Need
There are two main factors that will determine the size pellets you need for your new stove. The first thing is where you are located. The United States has five climate zones, depending on how cold or hot the temperatures are. The first climate zone has the warmest temperatures and the fifth one has the coldest. If you live in a hot, warm, or moderate climate, you’ll need a smaller size because the temperature doesn’t drop off sharply.
The other thing you have to keep in mind is how big the space you want to heat is. If you have a 250-square foot, small space to heat, you won’t need nearly as big of a pellet stove as someone who has a huge room.
|Zone||BTUs Per Square Foot|
|Zone One||30 to 35|
|Zone Two||35 to 40|
|Zone Three||40 to 45|
|Zone Four||45 to 50|
|Zone Five||50 to 60|
Pellet Stove Heat
Your pellet stove’s main job is to produce heat. These units get rated by how much heat they can produce using BTUs. You want to size your stove correctly to the room area’s size. Bigger spaces or rooms will require more BTUS and a larger pellet stove. The heat it produces is comfortable and dry. This unit can allow the heat to naturally radiate out or you can use fans to blow and direct the heat into a specific room. You want to keep the hopper filled with pellets to ensure consistent and even heating.
Costs Associated With Running a Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves burn compressed, small pellets to produce heat. They come made out of different materials, including compressed sawdust that is easy to feed and scoop. Depending on how efficient you unit is, you could have your hopper hold enough pellets to heat for two days at a time. They use a very small amount of electricity to run, just enough to keep the fan circulating and the unit running. Unlike wood stoves, you can easily adjust the heat settings from low to high. The lower you keep it, the longer the pellets will burn between fills.
Pellets usually cost between $3.00 to $7.00 a bag for a 40-pound bag, and most companies sell 50 bags of pellets for around $250. The exact amount you’ll need for your stove depends on the hopper size, stove size, the unit’s running temperature, and how often you have it running. A lot of hoppers can hold 40 to 60 pounds of pellets at one time, and this is usually enough to burn constantly for 48 hours or more.
Pellet Stove Cost per Month
On a monthly basis, the average cost to run your pellet stove will be between $40.00 and $50.00. The fuel cost is the most expensive factor to consider. In most instances, your fuel costs will be roughly $25.00 a month. This will fluctuate based on how much you use your unit. The other big monthly cost is the electricity you’ll use to power the stove. This is roughly $10.00 a month on average, and there is a maintenance cost to consider too.
The electrical uses for your pellet stove will vary, depending on whether it’s set on low or high, the size of the stove, and how many hours you have it on a day. On average, these stoves require between 350 and 450 watts to start. They generally use between 80 and 350 watts an hour, depending on your settings. To figure out your total costs, find how many watts per hour your unit uses and the cost of electricity per watt in your area.
Most pellet stoves are low-maintenance. Along with keeping them filled, you need to empty the ash bin periodically for bottom-loading setups or clean out the auger on top-loading stoves. Look for any melted ash deposits and remove them. You should also clean your heat exchanger based on your manual and periodically wipe down the glass. You should also check and make sure the flame is white or bright yellow.
Ideally, you’ll plan on servicing your pellet stove once a year or every other year to ensure that all of the moving parts and the circuit board are in good shape. The company that originally installed the stove is usually responsible for this maintenance. You should allow your auger tube to empty once in a while to avoid buildup and unload any unused pellets at the end of the season since they absorb moisture that can lead to rust.
Type of Pellet Your Need for Your Pellet Stove
Most people pick out pellets made out of sawdust or wood chips. Pellets come in premium or standard quality, and the main difference between the two is that the standard pellets use waste products created by the forestry industry. Standard pellets can also have higher ash production. Premium pellets have less moisture in them and create less ash. Standard pellets cost between $3.00 and $5.00 for a 40-pound bag, and premium pellets cost between $5.00 and $7.00 for a 40-pound bag.
There are wood pellet alternatives available, but they’re not popular. Some of the alternatives you can look into include dried corn, wheat pellets, cherry pits, sugar beet pulp, and dried soybeans. In some regions, you may find that alternative fuel sources are less expensive than traditional wood pellets. However, not all pellet stoves can handle alternative fuel sources, so double-check before you use them.
You should now know the average pellet stove installation cost and which factors will cause this price to fluctuate. You can take this information and decide whether or not a pellet stove is a feasible upgrade for your budget.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.