Warming Milwaukee with Pellet Stoves

Of many ways to keep homes warm, pellet stoves are easier to operate and more convenient compared to other wood-burning appliances.  As easy to use as gas, oil or electric heaters, these stoves burn small pellets made of compressed wood that look a lot like rabbit food.

Highly efficient and very low polluting, pellet stoves provide between 10,000 and 60,000 Btu per hour, and work on a simple and effective process.

How Pellet Stoves Work

Most pellet stoves work in the same way. Essentially, between 35 and 130 pounds of pellets sits in a hopper on the stove, and sophisticated computers and circuit boards systems determine how much fuel is needed.  The auger, a corkscrew-shaped device, will then transfer the proper amount of pellets into the fire chamber to burn.

A forced-air system distributes the heat that quickly emanates from the pellet stove, using either a fan to force air up the vent into the combustion chamber, or to draw air from that chamber through the exhaust system. This rapidly spreads the heat for thorough and far-reaching warmth.

Pellet stoves burn with excellent efficiency, so they do not typically require a standard chimney. Instead, they exhaust fumes through a small hole in the wall.  This “pellet vent” has a stainless steel interior and an aluminum or galvanized exterior.

Pellet-burning appliances actually require less care and concern than other wood-burning stoves.  Depending on your usage, a stove only needs to be refueled once a day to twice a week.  And it’s easy to pour the pellets into the hopper and let the stove do the rest.

When purchasing fuel, wood pellets can be found in 40 pound bags for around $4-5 each, amounting to $200-250 per ton of fuel.  An average stove will consume 1-2 tons for occasional use, while a heavy user will require over 6 tons.

Variations in Pellet-Burning Appliances

Most models of the pellet stove have similar features, like the two burn settings and the simplified “chimney”.  But there are some variations across models:

  • Many use thermostats for greater control over the heat.
  • The auger feed system can operate in two different ways: using a bottom-fed or top-fed loading system.
  • Some models can burn corn as well as pellets, or use pellets made from lower grade material.

Advantages of the Pellet Stove

  • Convenient, neat and safe
  • Minimal refueling required
  • Compressed, bagged fuel for clean and easy handling
  • Virtually no smoke and far less odor than other wood-burning appliances
  • Exterior does not radiate heat, staying relatively cool on the outside and preventing burns on contact.
  • Overall installation costs are less due to the absence of a chimney.

Disadvantages of the Pellet Stove

  • Certain regulations restrict where the stoves can be placed for adequate air exchange and combustion and are not allowed at all in some types of home.
  • Several internal fans require about 100 KWH of electricity each month, adding to your energy bill and preventing use during power outages.
  • The many moving parts require regular service and cleaning for the stoves to function properly, so check for warranty and yearly servicing costs.
  • Some areas lack reliable fuel suppliers, particularly in areas outside of the Northwest and Rocky Mountain region.
  • At $1,200 to $3,100, the stove itself can cost more than other wood-burning appliances, but consider the cost of the entire system in your assessment.

If you’re thinking about using a wood-burning applicance to keep your Milwaukee home snug and warm, you may want to consider the pellet stove. While not the right choice for everyone, pellet stoves offer an easy-to-use, low-polluting home heating option.

Outdoor Fireplaces Installation Milwaukee

If you are looking for ways to improve your backyard or property, then consider getting an outdoor fireplace. Here are just a few benefits of having an outdoor fireplace installed:

  • It can greatly improve the curb appeal of your Milwaukee area home, which can can make it easier to sell should you ever decide to put it on the market.
  • It can improve your enjoyment of your home, giving you the opportunity to make more use of your backyard than ever before, especially during the colder months of the year.

Here are a few basic guidelines for choosing and installing an outdoor fireplace:

  • Space – The first thing you need to do is figure out where in your yard you want to put an outdoor fireplace. Not only should it be in an area that’s easily accessible and that creates a big visual impact, but it should be in an area that is safe too. You don’t want the outdoor fireplace to be a fire hazard to your home or to your neighbor’s home. When you’ve chosen a location, check out any local building codes to be sure that you will be in compliance.
  • Size – The two biggest factors concerning what size outdoor fireplace is right for you is your budget and how much space you have available. For smaller areas and budgets, a fire pit is the perfect choice. If your budget and space is a little more flexible, keep in mind that a larger outdoor fireplace will create a bigger focal point but it will also be more expensive to install and remove (should you ever want to have your outdoor fireplace removed).
  • Shape – While most outdoor fireplaces are rectangular, other shapes — like square, oval and round outdoor fireplaces — are available too. Whatever fireplace installer you choose will need to take precise measurements of the shape of the shape and size of your new outdoor fireplace in order to figure what materials will be needed to construct it.
  • Fuel – There are two main options: fuel and wood burning. While wood burning fireplaces tend to cost less to operate, they are also much less efficient than gas fired fireplaces. Wood burning fireplaces also require chimneys, otherwise their fires do not burn properly. If you choose a gas fireplace, remember that you’ll need to ventilate it properly.
  • Material – The material you choose for your outdoor fireplace depends largely on the style that you want, which means that it basically comes down to personal taste. Most outdoor fireplaces tend to be constructed out of masonry brick or stone, and use aluminum ally or cast iron for the interior. For a more affordable option, consider choosing an outdoor fireplace kit that provides a prefabricated masonry fireplace that is relatively easy to assemble.

Having an outdoor fireplace installed in your yard is a wonderful way to improve the look and enjoyment of your home year round. If you’ve decided to boost your home’s curb appeal by building a new outdoor fireplace, be sure to find a fireplace contractor that you can trust to help you explore your options — because there are many to choose from!