A pellet stove is an excellent option to keep your house warm without many of the difficulties that come with a traditional wood-burning stove. Of course, sometimes, the logistics of adding a heat source can be a nightmare. What if the only space you have is in the basement? Can you even put a pellet stove in the basement? We've done the research and have some excellent information available for you.
The basement is a great place to put a pellet stove. Since heat rises, it's often difficult to keep the lower levels of your home warm. By having a pellet stove in the basement, with proper ventilation, you can ensure all parts of your house are comfortably heated throughout the cold months.
Since we now know pellet stoves work well in a basement, let's discuss the subject in more detail. We'll talk about how a pellet stove works, the safest setup for the pellet stove, as well as answer some additional questions you might have. Keep scrolling!
What is a Pellet Stove and How Does it Work?
A pellet stove is a stove that burns compressed pellets made from wood or other organic materials (often called 'biomass') to produce heat.
One of the great things about using pellets as a heat source is that they can be made from sawdust, brush, bark, or just about any other type of lumber byproducts traditionally thought of as waste. Since these pellets are so tightly compressed, they burn for long periods.
To learn more about what pellet stoves burn, check our post: What Do Pellet Stoves Burn?
Pellet stoves are self-igniting, feed the fire automatically from a storage container, and also ensure proper airflow to keep the pellets burning hot.
Unlike wood stoves, they don't require much (if any) manual intervention in the burning process while also maintaining low emissions in comparison to their counterparts.
What Safety Measures Should be Considered at Installation?
Regardless of where you wind up installing a pellet stove, it needs to be placed on a fire-safe mat. In addition, all sides of the stove must have plenty of clearance, so nothing catches aflame due to excess heat.
Before beginning installation, ensure the stove will have a place to vent; even though they burn cleaner and don't need a chimney, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is still present.
Each pellet stove comes with its own installation advice, which you shouldn't ignore. These instructions will specifically outline how much clearance the pellet stove needs from windows and doors to prevent carbon monoxide from flowing back inside through open spaces.
It's also important to know your local building codes to prevent an unintentional violation.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Pellet Stove in a Basement?
The cost of installing a pellet stove will vary based on the existing setup and the type of pellet stove you want to install. The cost will also fluctuate depending on the area in which you live.
Pellet stoves cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a small one up to thousands to heat larger homes. If the goal of the pellet stove is to heat most of the house, a larger one will be necessary.
The cost of labor for an installation could potentially be the most expensive part of the project, ranging anywhere from a few hundred to upwards of $4,000. If you don't have an existing chimney or vent, you will need to make one.
Luckily, pellet stoves don't require a chimney, and you can vent them horizontally straight out of a wall.
If you already have a basement chimney, you can install the pellet stove directly into the existing setup.
Installation can be a DIY project if you're familiar with ventilation installation and/or have a pre-existing vented location. This can potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. However, we don't recommend tackling a project like this if you're new to this type of undertaking.
Can you Vent a Pellet Stove out a Basement Window?
Technically, you could vent a pellet stove could out a basement window; however, we don't recommend this. Pellet stoves come with specific advice on how much clearance to leave from windows and doors, as well as from wood susceptible to heat (such as your window frame or panel).
Most pellet stoves venting requirements advise 1 to 4 feet of clearance from windows and doors. Without proper space, the carbon monoxide you're trying to let out of your home could come back in. Not only could the dangerous gas blowback, but the cold air surrounding the vent going out the window can cause the gas to cool and sink back into the stove.
Good venting in the basement requires fresh-air intake and exhaust through a flue to take the bad air out. If the air is being vented horizontally (as it would have to be out a window), it needs to be fashioned in an L shape to direct airflow upward, as well as support a vent cap on top.
This is imperative in the event of a power outage, and the exhaust fan stops working. A window is unlikely to be sturdy enough to support this design.
Where is the Best Place to Put a Pellet Stove?
The best place to put a pellet stove is close to a stairway if your home has multiple levels. This supports natural convection instead of leaving all the heat trapped in one space.
This is one of the reasons a basement makes such a good spot for a pellet stove - the heat rises to the top of the room and will look for the nearest exit to rise.
In addition to planning on allowing the warm air to spread throughout your house, the pellet stove will need to be close enough to an exterior wall for proper venting.
Placing a pellet stove near the center of a room might seem like a good idea, but keep in mind the carbon monoxide the stove produces has to have a place to escape.
Does Insurance Go Up with a Pellet Stove?
You might notice a slight increase in homeowner's insurance when using a pellet stove as a supplemental source of heat, although the increase wouldn't be significant. Pellet stoves tend to be much safer than the traditional woodburning counterparts and don't contribute to near the number of house fires.
That being said, some insurance providers do not differentiate between supplemental heat sources and will charge the same amount of premium for wood burning versus pellet stoves. If this is a big concern, contact your homeowner's insurance before installation to inquire about the cost.
Is a Pellet Stove Worth the Cost?
A pellet stove might definitely be worth the initial cost if you're looking for a supplemental heat source. The pellets you burn cost less than relying on electricity and other alternative heat sources. Though the installation cost might be more upfront, over time, you will see savings.
Not only could you save money in the long run, but the pellets are also made from biomass which, if not used for compressed pellets, would just be considered garbage.
Using this byproduct as opposed to wood for heat can have a significant environmental impact. If reducing your carbon footprint is important to you, this is a hefty consideration.
Pellet stoves are also mostly automatic. They allow you to set a thermostat, feed the fire, and keep the flame going. Wood stoves require you to build a fire and continually add fuel, which allows more noxious fumes to enter your home.
What Other Costs Should You Consider?
When installing a heat source that involves burning organic material, consider purchasing a carbon monoxide detector. This small safety measure could keep your family out of harm's way.
Consider a battery backup for your pellet stove. If the power goes out, the ignitor and vent won't work. A battery backup could keep you warm during extended outages.
To read more about how much electricity pellet stoves use, check out our article How Much Electricity Does A Pellet Stove Use?
Always have plenty of pellets on hand. A 40-pound bag of pellets costs anywhere from $5-$10 and will last at least 24 hours if burning constantly.
Putting a pellet stove in the basement could solve many winter woes. Keep it close to the stairs and an outside wall if you're able, and allow the heat to travel throughout your home.
Not only will you be warm through those harrowing winter nights, but you'll also know you're doing a little something for our planet as well.