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Types of pellet stoves (Free-standing vs. Stove Insert)

Types of pellet stoves (Free-standing vs. Stove Insert)

Pellet stoves are manufactured using come as free-standing units or as a pellet stove insert that can be easily inserted into an existing fireplace. However, either type of stove installation is so easy, it is important not to limit yourself to a pellet stove insert model if you would be better off installing the stove in your foyer or other family room.

When choosing what type of pellet stove is going to be right for you, your family and your home, you need to keep a few things in mind:

  • How large is the space the pellets stove is going to be heating?
  • Is this pellet stove purchase for looks or functionality?
  • Who is going to clean the stove?
  • What are the town’s code for pellets stoves?
  • How often do I want to fill my stove with pellets during cold winter days?

Free-standing pellet stoves

Free-standing pellet stoves tend to look fairly similar to a standard wood stove, but some pellet stoves emphasize a utilitarian purpose over looks. Free standing stoves can be placed into a room of your home and used as supplemental heat or a main heat source. Long extended single-level homes make it very hard to heat and circulate the air well from a single source of heat. In this case, having multiple pellet stoves strategically placed throughout the house may make sense. Using an existing fireplace, just because you have one does not make sense as a primary heating source if it’s in a bad heating location.

Free standing pellet stoves often have a larger hopper opening for ease of pellet filling. A number of these units also have hopper extension kits which lead to a significantly longer burn time. For example, the Harman P61A with a hopper extension fits nearly 3 bags, while most stove inserts hold a little over a single bag. This means significantly fewer fills during the course of a heating season.

There is a significantly larger selection of free standing pellet stoves compared with inserts. With many pellet stove manufacturers and stove models, your sure to find the pellet stove that is right for you. Many free standing pellet stoves have a choice of decorative fire logs which can be placed inside the stove to give the stove a “classic” wood stove look, decorative glass and doors, pellet stoves can have legs or a flat platform, and you can sometimes choose the color of the pellet stove. Many manufactures are now offering various “glazes” which can be matched to the interior and taste of the homeowner. So with that said, if variety functionality, and ease of cleaning and maintenance is the main concern, then a free standing pellet stove may be the best choice.

Pellet stove inserts

Pellet Stove Insert models, also known as a Fireplace Inserts, tend to be some of the most attractive stoves available. They operate in virtually the same way as free standing stoves, and are easily integrated into a room by sliding into an existing fireplace. The additional attention paid to an attractive design can really make a statement when someone enters the room. Pellet stove inserts are very space efficient and do a great job heating the surrounding area. Putting a stove in somewhat centrally located drafty old chimney which is never used anymore, might make a pellet stove insert the peffect solution to your heating needs. A pellet stove insert can easily convert that unused or unwanted hearth space into an efficiently functioning heating space. However, as fireplace Inserts have a lower profile, they need to be pulled out periodically to maintain, repair, and for serious cleanings, as well as holding less fuel.

While Pellet stove inserts have some benefits, there may also some downsides in comparison to free-standing pellet stoves.

Disadvantages of Pellet stove inserts:

  • Smaller/limited hopper size. Due to the stoves lower profile sticking in to the room, there is less room for a large hopper or even a hopper extension. If this is to be a primary heating source, it may require more regular filling.
  • More Difficult to clean. As most of the pellet stove insert is physically inside the fireplace, it needs to be slid out to perform a thorough cleaning and other maintenance tasks.


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