A pellet stove burns wood pellets instead of logs. These pellets consist of pressed sawdust and wood shavings, and burn more completely and produce fewer emissions than raw wood does. Their uniform size and shape allows a feeder system to keep the fire going automatically without constant tending.
One major advantage of a pellet stove over a wood burning stove is that the reduced emissions may eliminate the need for a venting system. Traditional wood burning stoves produce smoke, carbon monoxide and other toxic combustion products that must be vented outside to avoid suffocation. Pellets burn much cleaner, producing so few byproducts that the normal ventilation inside a home is sufficient to disperse them. Even in larger units that require an outside vent, the cleaner-burning pellets produce less creosote and soot, eliminating the necessity of regular chimney sweeping.
The chief disadvantage of a pellet stove is that they use an electric feed system to carry the pellets to the burner. Under normal circumstances, this allows the stove to continue running until the fuel is exhausted, but it also means that if the power goes out, the stove stops working. There are also more complex moving parts inside a pellet stove than in a traditional wood burning stove, which means they are more likely to break down and require repair.