Burn, baby, burn
This week’s Hot Home Products column focused on fireplaces that use gas, electricity and ethanol as alternatives to wood. There wasn’t room for pellet stoves, which are, according to the Pellet Institute, more efficient than wood stoves, and more environmentally safe. According to information from Rona, pellet stoves transform a highly-efficient 80 per cent of the combustibles into heat, and emit fewer pollutant particles.
Technically, I guess, they are a cousin to wood stoves, since pellets are made from compressed sawdust, a by-product of lumber. But they offer a modern-day method for the age-old practice of burning up scrap lumber for fuel. More recently, though, pellets made from switchgrass, grain, corn, seeds, or other bio-materials are being introduced.
How does it work? Wood pellets are placed in a hopper (reservoir) located at the back of the stove, and which directs pellets into a screw auger in the combustion chamber. Most stoves are equipped with two motors: one that brings in outside air and redistributes heat and the other that expels combustion gasses to the outside. Ignition is automatic, so no matches or a lighter. Some models even come with a thermostat that regulates air temperature. Typically, the screw auger and the motors are powered by electricity, but a battery can be used on certain models. The pellets come in 20 to 40 pounds bags available in the larger hardware stores.
The fireplace shown here is NOT a pellet stove. It’s a wall-mounted model that uses ethanol, and is available at Home Depot for about $200. It comes with ceramic stones, and flame snuffing tool, and holds two cans of fuel. I wanted to fit it into the column, but ran out of room. But since I thought it was pretty, I’ve included it here.