Solar-Powered Pellet Stoves: Getting Off the Grid at Max Efficiency
For a long time, wood stoves have been a preferred method of heating when you’re living off the grid. Wood heat is a great option because it’s a renewable fuel, even for homeowners that have access to more traditional forms of heat through public utilities.
There’s definitely something to be said for the rustic feel of traditional wood stoves that use cord wood. For some the need to restock the stove every few hours and work spent chopping and maintain a healthy supply of firewood is just part of the deal, something you accept as the price of living off the grid. But for those looking to upgrade to a more efficient – and low-maintenance – method of off-the-grid wood heat would be wise to look in the direction of pellet stoves. With the help of solar energy, you can remain off the grid and increase the efficiency of your heating system.
Traditional wood stoves vs. pellet stoves
Traditional wood stoves and pellet stoves offer convenience in different ways. More rustic wood stoves don’t require electricity, which makes them an easy option if the building you are heating isn’t wired. Pellet stoves – as well as newer types of cord wood stoves – offer automatic starters and more efficient heating systems that also use fans to distribute warmth, but those types of improvements require a small amount of electricity to operate.
With these improvements, pellet stoves and the next generation of wood stoves also have a lot to offer in terms of convenience. You’ll use less fuel and will not have to replenish your stove nearly as often. Pellet heat is especially low maintenance because your job is essentially done after you load the hopper and hit the start button. You can go two days or more without having to reload, depending on your system. And by using less wood than you would with older wood stoves, you’ll save yourself both time and money spent on wood resulting in lower heating costs.
Taking a pellet stove off the grid
Using solar power is one way you can add a pellet stove, while keeping your heating system completely off the grid. Whether you use a solar panel system with the explicit purpose of connecting it to your pellet stove, are considering outfitting your entire home or cabin with a solar electric system or are already using solar energy, pairing solar with wood heat is a great way to increase your energy independence.
Pellet stoves don’t require much electricity. The minimum requirement for most of our Magnum Heat Products is a consistent 14-volt charge. Therefore a modest solar panel can likely do the job, and you can pair it with a battery storage system to back it up. You can also consult with solar companies about installing the proper filters to prevent voltage surges, which is a necessity to protect your pellet stove. It’s also important to note that pellet stoves will still burn without electricity, you just won’t be able to use the features that rely on electricity. For more information on the types of solar power systems available, energysavers.gov offers a great round-down.
If you’re looking to upgrade your current heating system, it’s worth looking at both fireplace and pellet stove inserts, which might allow you to use parts of your current system, saving you money. Review the options offered by American Energy Systems to see if an insert might be a good choice for you. And if you have questions about connecting your system to solar power, visit our resources page.