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Should You Buy A Used Pellet Stove?

Dec 15, 2007
Right off the bat, it's easier to buy a used pellet stove than a new one simply because you have fewer choices. But lack of choice doesn't have to mean lack of quality. I'm sure the owner of the used pellet stove you're looking at believed it was the best possible choice at that time.

Whether you're looking for a used, or even a new pellet stove, the information that follows will make you a smarter consumer.

Visit Your Local Building Department

Installing a wood or pellet stove usually requires a building permit. While you're picking up your permit application, tell the person helping you the type of heating appliance you plan to install and ask what kind of additional documentation, if any, is required. This is especially important if you own a mobile or modular home.

When I talked to the City of Quincy building department, they said a product brochure with clearance and venting information would be helpful. You can get all this information by visiting the stove manufacturer's website, downloading the owner's manual and printing it out.

Choose Your Fuel and Stove Size

If you live in the Corn Belt, the choice of fuel is obvious. If you live in the Northeast, the fuel of choice is wood pellets. Since fuel corn is "imported" to the Northeast, the price of wood pellets is competitive with corn. Wood pellet fuel is also becoming a common commodity in home improvement stores as more home owners in this region purchase wood pellet stoves.

You don't need a big stove to save big. Most of the used corn and wood pellet stoves I've seen produce 35,000-45,000 btus - enough to heat a typical 1,200 square foot ranch or the main living areas of a two story home.

If you can get a good deal on a larger, 50-60,000 btu stove, one of these will work great too since these high output models come equipped with 5 heat settings ranging from a low of 8,000 btus for chilly days, to max power for the coldest weather.

Look for These Features and Extras:

Electronic ignition

Just because you're buying a used pellet stove doesn't mean you should return to the dark ages of pellet stove heating with gel starters. Frankly, I wouldn't buy a stove without electronic ignition.

Large hopper capacity

A standard size hopper holds 40 pounds of pellet fuel. This is enough fuel to heat your home for 20-30 hours. A larger capacity hopper, although not necessary, adds convenience by requiring less frequent fillings.

Heat output controls

During the months that transition in and out of the heating season, you won't need the full heating capacity of your pellet stove. A heat output control will ensure maximum comfort from minimal fuel. Heat output controls can take the form of a thermostat, hi/lo blower, or variable speed auger that controls the rate pellets are fed into the burn pot.

Air washing system

Believe it or not, the #1 complaint people have with pellet stoves is dirty viewing glass. An air washing system, now standard on many new pellet stoves, removes the fly ash from the viewing window and eliminates frequent cleaning.

Extras

Many sellers of used pellet stoves include the venting pipe, hearth pad, log set, and any left over pellet fuel in the purchase price. These extras can add up to hundreds of dollars in additional savings.

Where to Find a Used Pellet Stove

Start with craigslist. Since most used pellet stove sellers offer pick up only, craigslist enables you to refine your search by City or State. This is a big time saver. A recent check in the Boston area turned up 12 used stoves within a 50 mile radius of my home.

ebay has plenty of listings too, you just won't find as many local sellers as you will on craigslist. When I narrowed the ebay search results to a 50 mile radius of my zip code using the Search Option function, it returned only 1 seller.

However, ebay will conveniently notify you by email whenever a new listing pops up and it's possible to delay payment for 3 months by using their credit card.

Search tip: A search on either craigslist or ebay will turn up MORE used pellet stoves if you use the term "pellet stove" rather than the narrower "used pellet stove." Also try "pellet", "wood pellet", or the brand name.

How Much Can I Expect to Save?

Generally speaking, the higher the original retail price, the more you will save percentage wise. Stoves that sold for $3,000 new can often be purchased used at savings of 50-70%. Stoves priced new under $2,000 seem to depreciate less.

Delivery

If you choose to pay for delivery, call a shipper like Yellow Truck or a courier service to make arrangements. If you buy from an ebay seller willing to ship the stove, a freight shipping calculator is provided on the sales page.

No matter who ships your stove, make the sure the truck they send has a lift gate so you can get your 300 pound stove off the truck.

Installation

Most cities and towns require a licensed pro to complete the installation. If you're an experienced home owner, finding one shouldn't be a problem. If you're new to home ownership, I recommend a service like Need a Contractor for a list of pre-screened contractors is your area.

Contact the Seller

Don't hesitate to contact the seller with any questions you might have. He or she can be especially helpful in determining whether the used pellet stove for sale is still under warranty.
About the Author
Need more help finding the right pellet stove for your home? Visit Wood Pellet and Corn Stoves at Alternative Heating Info.com.
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