If you buy a pellet stove, prepare yourself for some manual labor. A homeowner who runs her stove 24 hours a day will need to fill the appliance with pellets once a day and clean out its ash once a week. You'll also need a large enough space to store roughly 150 40-pound bags of pellets.
Some of our readers were interested in finding suppliers of wood pellets. This year the demand for pellets is very high, leading to shortages in many stores. We've found a couple of pages with listings of suppliers in the U.S.: Pellet Fuel Institute and Alternative Energy Retailer Online (PDF File). When shortages are not in effect, wood pellets can also be found at hardware and retail stores around the country including Home Depot, Walmart and Ace Hardware. Pellets come in 3 grades, depending on ash content (less ash the better), the higher grade pellets are hardwood while the lower grade is pine, most of the major hardware chains sell the middle grades. The brands and availability change with each season.Pellet stoves generally range in price from $1700 to $3300, depending the quality and features of the stove. Installation costs are relatively low, usually ranging from $350 to $550, because the stoves require a simple 3"-4" venting system (not a chimney). Many stoves can be vented horizontally, directly through an outside wall — no special materials on the surrounding walls are required. Here's a quick sampling of different brands of pellet stoves.