Self-standing heating devices such as space heaters and pellet stoves, were attributed to be the causes of one third of reported U.S. home heating fires in 2007-2011. As with any method of home heating, there is risk involved with pellet stove use and that is borne out by the weekly news stories about house fires.
So, are pellet stoves really safe?
The answer is conditional.
The interpretation of the meaning of “safe” relates to which aspect of pellet stove operation lead to the start of these fires. A common thinking is that fires start because of incompletely combusted pellets or a build-up of creosote.
From a statistical standpoint, pellet stoves are very safe. Today’s pellet stoves and other alternative heating appliances are equipped with numerous safety features that are designed to protect consumers. Temperature sensors, vacuum switches, and other built-in features help ensure that any significant deviation from the intended functions of the stove will be arrested.
Ultimately, as with any appliance, pellet stove safety is related to how the user treats his appliance during operation as well as the soundness of its installation. All pellet stove owners should take the time to learn about safe operation practices and familiarize themselves with how a pellet stove works.
The Matter of Maintenance
One factor often stressed when addressing the question of “how safe are pellet stoves?” is maintenance. A well maintained and frequently cleaned pellet stove will rarely cause its owner problems. Proper maintenance would minimize the buildup of ash or creosote in the chimney which may cause a chimney fire.
If the pellet stove owner is diligent about scheduling regular cleaning, checking for ash and creosote buildup, emptying ash pans, and cleaning filters, the risk of fire is greatly reduced. Proper maintenance instructions of any pellet stove may be found in its pellet stove owner’s manual.
The Power Issue
One point often overlooked when addressing the safety of pellet stoves is the need for the constant availability of electrical power necessary to operate the pellet stove. In the event that a pellet stove becomes deprived of its electricity, its motors cease their respective functions instantly. The stove also loses its ability to turn on or auto ignite. Arguably, the most concerning scenario is losing power while the pellet stove is in full operation. This can cause a dangerous puff-back that can endanger you, your home, and your belongings (learn more in our free downloadable eBook). The result is a sticky, odorous soot that ends up deposited on all exposed surfaces of a dwelling. Enter, fire restoration specialists.
To prevent this from occurring, one of the most reliable ways is to install a pellet stove battery backup. When AC power is present, that power charges the battery and operates your stove as usual. But as soon as the AC power goes out, the battery backup system takes over and your stove continues operating without missing a beat. Click here to learn more about how pellet stove battery backups work. Installing an emergency battery backup for your pellet stove adds a level of safety and reliability that become invaluable.
Exposures Caused by the Absence of Heat
Finally, while pellet stoves themselves may be safe when the proper precautions are taken, the situation can become dangerous when the power is out for hours or days at a time. Water may freeze, pipes may burst, not to mention the human exposure to cold. As discussed above, pellet stoves need electrical power in order to operate. If your pellet stove is the only means of heating your home and an alternative power source is unavailable, you may be exposing yourself to a dangerous situation in the cold winter months, especially during storms when risk of power outages increase.
A pellet stove battery backup is an effective way to prevent this scenario. On average, you can expect a pellet stove battery backup to operate your stove for up to 8 hours with a 120 Amp Hour battery, and up to 24 hours with a 360 A-hr expanded battery bank. For a more accurate calculation of your specific stove, click here to view our online calculator tool.
Pellet stoves are like cars—they are as safe as you make them. How safe would your car be if you never maintained it? Additionally, just as you can add additional important safety features to your car such as alarm systems, you can increase the reliability of your pellet stove by adding a battery backup.