Many retail outlets sell pellets for pellet stoves, including Tractor Supply Co., WalMart and Lowe's. The pellet stove owner pours the fuel into a hopper, and an auger automatically feeds the fuel to control the temperature in the room.
Pellet stoves use compacted wood pellets. Some manufacturers offer fuel from other compacted materials. Other potential fuel sources for these stoves include corn, sunflower seeds and nutshells. Because of the fuel feeding design, pellet stoves only require refueling once per day.
Most pellet stoves are in the 70 to 83 percent efficiency range and produce 8,000 to 90,000 BTU per hour. They require a vent for exhaust gases; however, many are able to vent directly through the wall. While the initial investment is usually more, the easier venting reduces the installation cost. The units require electricity to work, so they are not a good choice for an alternative heat source for a power outage unless a generator is available to provide the necessary power.
When the stove is in operation, the auger drops a few pellets at a time. The seed is set so that the fire burns continually. Many of the stoves include a thermostat that increases the speed as necessary to maintain the set temperature. As of 2015, manufacturers also offer computer controlled pellet stoves that provide more precise temperature control.