You’re at home, enjoying a pleasant evening with your family, watching the snow fall outside. You think to yourself how glad you are that you’re not driving in this weather as you watch the cars crawling by on the street in front of your house.
Suddenly, the lights go dark, the television shuts off, and the refrigerator stops humming. The power has gone out.Losing power is a nerve-wracking situation. You have no idea when the electricity might return—whether you’ll be in the dark for minutes, hours, or even days.
For pellet stove owners, this situation can be especially dangerous. If you have a burn pot full of pellets at the time the power fails, you may find yourself grappling with more problems than just being cold. Though the rest of your appliances will stop functioning, the fire in your pellet stove will not suddenly stop burning. With the stove’s fans failing to regulate the fire, the smoke will be released into the room. This can leave a permeating odor along with mild fire damage.
The two most popular solutions for avoiding this problem are generators and automatic battery backups for pellet stoves. To make the right decision for your home, ask yourself the following questions:
1. WHICH APPLIANCES DO YOU WANT TO POWER?
One of the biggest questions you need to answer is how much electricity you want to have available during a power outage. Automatic battery backups are singularly focused on operating your pellet stove (or other alternative fuel stove) in the absence of AC power. On the other hand, there are some generators available today on the market that will power many different parts of your house—lights, outlets, refrigerator, a stove burner, etc. Because of the dangers associated with the loss of power to a pellet stove while in operation, providing uninterrupted electricity to the stove should be a top priority. You may find that although you don’t need or desire the facility to power your entire home, power to your pellet stove is important and should be maintained.
2. WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
A household generator is a major purchase, with a price range that varies greatly. The least expensive may cost upwards of $2000. Generators capable of simultaneously operating a greater part of your household may cost in the range of $7,000 to $8,000. This does not include the cost of installation. Again, if your main focus is staying warm and protecting your home in case a power outage causes your pellet stove to stop operating, a battery backup for pellet stoves may be the right choice for you.
3. HOW MUCH MAINTENANCE ARE YOU WILLING TO PERFORM?
Some homeowners are comfortable performing general maintenance on their generator on a regular basis. Others are warier of personally undertaking work on appliances they don’t fully understand. In order for a generator to be dependable, it must be periodically cycled on throughout the year and properly maintained with TLC; for a gas-powered electrical generator, maintenance includes changing oil, spark plugs, and air filter. Pellet stove battery backups are maintenance-free and are recharged automatically, so they may be the better option for folks who are uncomfortable—or forgetful—when it comes to maintenance.
4. WHAT ARE YOUR REQUIREMENTS FOR OPERATION AND PERFORMANCE?
Every home and family has different needs when it comes to backup power for their pellet stove. Before you make any decisions, be sure to fully understand the expected operating time for the generators and battery backups you are considering. Additionally, take into consideration some of the inherent operating factors. For example: You do not need to be present to turn on a pellet stove battery backup, while some generators need to be switched on manually. With a generator, you need to keep a supply of fuel on hand which must be safely stored. Another consideration is noise. Many generators are, by nature, noisy during operation, while a battery backup is silent. Because generators are noisy and emit fumes, they are operated outdoors. While in operation they require proper wiring, fusing and connections between them and the home electrical system.
Finding the right power backup solution for your pellet stove may be crucial to trouble free pellet stove operation. Be sure to consider the pros and cons of both generators and battery backups before making a decision. Ultimately, it is the homeowner who has the last word on what will keep his or her home the safest.