How To Manually Light A Pellet Stove

Lighting a pellet stove isn't as complicated as it might seem. Some models can feed themselves pellets and burn them right after you turn them on. However, if you have a manual unit, it will require a little more attention. Once you have the pellets burning well, you shouldn't have to mess with them later. If you'd like to learn how to light a pellet stove manually, we've done the research to show you how.

How you turn on the stove depends on the type you have. Pellet stoves with automatic ignition require less work to light. If it requires you to do it manually, you'll need wood pellets, a gel accelerant, fire-resistant gloves, and a long-reach butane lighter. Then follow these steps:

  1. With the stove off and cool, fill the hopper with wood pellets.
  2. Set the heating to the lowest option. Pellets should partially fill the burn pot.
  3. The combustion motor should start. At this point, follow the instructions of your gel accelerant. Put in the recommended amount on the pellets.
  4. Wear a pair of fire-resistant gloves. Then, using a match or long-reach butane lighter, light the pellet and gel mixture. Close the door of the burn pot.
  5. After a few minutes, you can adjust the heat setting to your liking.

Of course, things don't always go according to plan. If you happen to follow the steps but the stove won't ignite, you'll be stumped without knowing what to do. Additionally, you might be curious about what model you own. Do you own one that requires the steps above or one that has an automatic ignition? If you'd like to learn this and more, keep reading ahead.

A white pellet stove placed next to the tall wooden divider in the living room, How To Manually Light A Pellet Stove

Which Type of Pellet Stove Do You Own?

The type of pellet stove you own depends on the brand. The main difference will be in the ignition. A stove with an automatic ignition will require less assistance from you. To get it working, you'll usually have to push a button.

If the steps above don't sound familiar to you, you most likely own an automatic ignition pellet stove, meaning you'll have to help start the fire. But, once it's lit, it can usually last a whole season.

Burning wood pellets in the pellet stove

To establish the difference, here's how lighting an automatic ignition pellet stove would go:

  1. While the power is off and the stove is cool, fill the hopper with pellets. 
  2. Switch on the bottom of the auger system to let the hopper feed the stove pellets. Turn off the auger once enough pellets have filled the burn pot. Some models will give you an option to do it automatically. In this case, it will fill the burn pot itself. 
  3. At this point, you can turn on the igniter. It will require no gel accelerant to start the fire. The blower should be on to let more air inside.
  4. Once the pellets are burning decently, you can add more unburned wood pellets into the burn pot. 
  5. Lastly, if you want the furnace to run at all times, leave the convection blower ON. This way, all you'll need to do is adjust the fan speed to maintain the desired temperature in your home.

Do Pellet Stoves Light Themselves?

As mentioned above, some pellet stove models do all the work for you. The most you'll have to do is fill the hopper with wood pellets every once in a while.

In some cases, it will require a bit of effort on your part. But, it won't be too much more than what we have described above. Here's a YouTube video showing how an automatic ignition pellet stove works:

In the comment section, you can see the manufacturer state that it will automatically light itself before giving you control over temperature.

As some suggest, automatic ignitions cost more to run. The reason is that it has the potential to use more pellets than necessary. However, some forum users wouldn't consider this something to be concerned about. The pellet usage will fluctuate with the outside temperatures—which should be expected.

Manual Lighting/Ignition

Now we will go over the process for manually lighting a pellet stove. This will apply in the following scenarios:

  • Own a manual pellet stove
  • The igniter isn't working
  • Have a manual mode on their stove and want more control on fuel usage

To manually start the fire, follow these steps:

  1. With the stove off and cool, fill the hopper with wood pellets.
  2. Set the heating to the lowest option. Pellets should partially fill the burn pot. If the stove is off, you can fill the burn pot with a handful of wood pellets yourself.
  3. Coat them with the recommended amount of gel accelerant. You can use a spoon to mix the pellets and gel.
  4. At this point, you can wear a pair of fire-resistant gloves and use a match to ignite the pellets. However, if you don't have any gloves around, you can also use a long-reach butane lighter. 
  5. Hover the butane lighter over the burn pot. Leave it to burn for a couple of minutes. When you feel it's ready, close the stove door. 
  6. Turn the stove on. If you see a large flame become more concentrated near the bottom of the burn pot, it should be working as intended. 
  7. The stove should automatically feed the burn pot more pellets during the ignition phase. 
  8. After some time, the flame should become stronger and more established.

Of course, a text guide can only go so far. If you're more of a visual learner, here's a YouTube video demonstrating the steps above:

Why Is My Pellet Stove Not Igniting?

As mentioned above, one of the reasons for manually lighting a pellet stove could be a bad igniter. But how do we know for sure it's the igniter causing the problem? 

The first thing to check is if the igniter is getting enough power. You can do this using a voltmeter or a multimeter. It should give you a reading of 110-120V. However, if there's voltage present but the igniter does not glow red hot, it isn't in working condition. 

Combustion Blower and Control Board

If your igniter meets both conditions, other factors are making it incapable of starting the fire. You'll have to consider the pellets and the airflow. Proper airflow is necessary to get the fire started. 

As some suggest, you will need to check areas like the air inlet pipe, vents, and the combustion blower. If there are any obstructions in the inlet pipe or the vents, you need to clear them. Combustion blowers help push oxygen into the chamber to help with combustion. 

Connect the blower individually to see if it is working correctly. If it is but it does not turn on when the stove is on, there might be a problem with your control board. You'll need to repair or replace the board in this case. 


The other culprit is the pellets. This situation depends on how you've stored them and for how long. If they were in storage for long periods, they could have absorbed some moisture in the summer season. It might not be noticeable to the eye. 

To confirm whether or not the pellets are the issue, manually light them. If they can't hold a flame, then you will need another batch of pellets. 

Read more: What Do Pellet Stoves Burn?

What Do You Do When Your Pellet Stove Won’t Light?

modern pellet stove in a modern living room

If it still can't produce a fire, there's still more to check. For an accurate solution, you should always consult the instruction manual for your pellet stove. Pellet stoves generally run the same, but some will require different steps.

Once you're sure the components mentioned above are in working order, the last thing you should know about is the air to pellet ratio. You'll need to adjust the air dampener according to the amount of fuel in the burn pot. In the beginning, the dampener should be nearly closed.

As it burns hotter, it should be opened 1/8th inch at a time to keep the flame steady. This solution will require a bit of experimentation on your part. You can move the damper in 1/8th inch increments until you get the desired results.

How Do You Reset a Pellet Stove?

Resetting the stove depends on the model you have. Some will have dedicated reset buttons that you can press. Look at the owner's manual to learn where to locate it.

In the situation where your stove doesn't have a reset button, you can reset it by turning it off briefly. After a few seconds or so, you can turn it back on. Other brands of pellet stoves will require a specific reset procedure.

So, there is a heavy emphasis to consult the owner's manual to learn how to do so for your specific pellet stove.

Final Takeaway

A white pellet stove placed next to the tall wooden divider in the living room

Manually lighting a pellet stove can seem like a tricky task. In your first few tries, you might not find success. But, with a bit of research, you can make adjustments to make sure it heats your home for the entire winter season! We hope you found the information above helpful. 

Before you go, do you have other pellet stove concerns? Are you worried a pellet stove can become too hot to the touch? You must take the necessary safety precautions before you attempt lighting it. If you'd like to learn more, check out this post: Do Pellet Stoves Get Hot To The Touch?

If you're looking to continue troubleshooting, we have more information! To learn more, check out this post: Pellet Stove Keeps Going Out - What Could Be Wrong?

Until next time!

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