How Does a Pellet Stove Work?

A well-maintained, high-quality pellet stove radiates warmth and serenity, transforming a house into a cozy home through detailed craftsmanship and added comfort. Beneath the durable cast iron or steel exterior lies a collection of parts combined with cutting-edge technologies that make owning and operating a pellet stove a streamlined experience. 

Whether you’re considering purchasing a pellet stove or you’re a current owner seeking to expand your knowledge base, this blog post will cover how a stove works and will look at the mechanics of a pellet stove, including each part and its function. Our clear and accurate diagram makes a resourceful reference that can be accessed when questions arise or if you’re troubleshooting an issue. You’ll also learn about wood pellets and their role as an optimal fuel choice. Finally, we’ll answer commonly asked questions that occur throughout the ownership experience.


What are Pellet Stoves?

A pellet stove is an efficient and sustainable heating appliance that burns a renewable biomass fuel— wood pellets. Often used as a supplementary heating source for colder rooms or other areas within the home, pellet stoves are also the primary heating source for some smaller homes, including cabins or mobile homes. Pellet heating units can be purchased as free-standing appliances or inserts, which can even be built into an existing space without a fireplace giving you the ability to create your own finished fireplace look. Available in various sizes and styles, pellet stoves on the market today offer contemporary technologies that elevate the pellet stove experience through increased precision and ease.  


What Does a Pellet Stove Need to Operate? 

A pellet stove relies on two factors: First, they need electricity to operate their internal automatic features and motorized systems such as an automatic ignitor and a feed system. Second, they require pellet fuel, which is burned to produce a sustainable and efficient heat source. This type of biomass energy makes a pellet stove a sustainable, easy-to-operate heating solution for homeowners.


What Are the Parts of a Pellet Stove?

Anatomy of a pellet stove diagram

Industry-specific engineering, patented technologies and intuitive controls make up the interior components of a pellet stove. Updated automation varies depending on a stove’s brand, but certain common parts are used in all models. Below, we include a list of common pellet stove parts, their specific function and a resourceful pellet stove diagram that points out where each one is located within the stove’s anatomy to help you understand how a pellet stove works.


Located at the top of the pellet stove, the hopper is a holding bin for wood pellets. Wood pellets are transported, via an auger, from the hopper into the burn pot, in turn producing heat. The hopper releases the wood pellets at a specific rate, which is dictated by the temperature settings. A hopper can typically hold anywhere between 35 and 130 pounds of pellets, depending on the make and model of the stove. The size of the hopper, the stove’s burn rate and the type of pellet being burned determine how long a pellet stove will run without requiring attention or a pellet refill.


Pellets feed into the auger from the hopper, which pushes the fuel into the burn pot. Then, the auger turns the pellet horizontally toward the burn pot.

Burn Pot

The burn pot is the section of the pellet stove where the fuel is burned to produce heat. Visible through the front glass door, air flows through the burn pot resulting in combustion. Once burned, the pellets disintegrate into ash at the bottom of the burn pot.

Automatic Ignitor

Directly beneath the burn pot, the automatic ignitor lights the wood pellets on fire to create heat.


Sensors, an integral part of smart pellet stoves, assess a room’s existing temperature and regulate the flame by either feeding more pellets into the burn pot, reducing the output or ceasing it. Harman pellet stoves have an exclusive Exhaust Sensing Probe and room sensors, also offered as a wireless option.


Proper venting is a critical part of the pellet stove installation. This venting will expel the byproducts of combustion to the outside of your home. Most pellet stove installs will use a new vent system purchased with the stove, you can run this vent up and out through the roof or horizontally terminate the vent through a outside wall. If you choose this method be sure to get a min of 4ft of vertical before you go horizonal to help the stove draft in case of a power outage. If you are replacing a existing stove that has a chimney system that is in good shape you can adapt the new stove to that to save time and cutting.


How Does a Pellet Stove Work?

  1. The feeding system uses the side plate to gravity-feed wood pellets from the hopper into the auger.
  2. Once in the auger, the pellets are turned horizontally toward the burn pot and released.
  3. Upon entering the burn pot, the automatic ignition–fueled by electricity–ignites the wood pellet fuel into flames.  
  4. As the flames burn in the burn pot, fans blow hot air over the heat exchangers to ventilate the fire and increase the room’s temperature. 
  5. Smart pellet stoves feature sensors that are often wireless depending on the stove’s make and model and assess a room’s temperature, signaling the automatic feed system to either release more wood pellets and increase the heat, reduce the number to maintain an existing and desired temperature or stop the feeding process and lower the pellet stove’s heat output.
  6. As the wood pellets burn and the flames dance behind the glass front door, the exhaust blower pulls the smoke and gasses out of the firebox into the vent pipe and route them outside exhaust gasses into the vent pipe and route them outside.

How to Operate a Pellet Stove

Among its many benefits, a pellet stove offers simplicity and dependability, providing peace of mind when it comes to your home’s heat. To operate, simply:

  1. Fill the hopper with the necessary amount of wood pellets. Since this number varies depending on your stove’s make and model, consult your owner’s manual for your stove’s specific capacity. 
  2. Set the desired temperature using the digital control pad, which triggers the automatic feeding system.

What Makes a Forge & Flame Pellet Stoves Special? 

Forge & Flame is pleased to offer Harman and Quadra-Fire pellet stoves, two of the top leaders in the pellet hearth industry. Crafted to bring a reliable, warming glow to your home, Forge & Flame’s collection combines beautiful design with powerful performance. 

Harman’s traditional craftsmanship, simplified maintenance, cutting-edge technology and unsurpassed power make them one of the top choices among pellet stove customers. A heartfelt history, award-winning technology and continued proof of engineering excellence create a true pellet stove champion.   

Quadra-Fire’s dedication to reliable, efficient heat brings warmth and ambiance to the home in even the most fierce winter climates. Expertly crafted in traditional styling to modern motifs, Quadra-Fire boasts powerful heat in durable steel or timeless cast iron.

Learn More About Pellet Stoves

Purchasing a pellet stove or insert is an exciting new addition to your home, and can create many cherished fireside memories. As you continue your search, be sure to browse our collection of educational blogs. These resources are here to help you on your stove journey. Whether you are thinking of buying your first unit, or you are a pellet unit veteran, Forge & Flame is here to help! 

Ready to install? Find a local Harman or Quadra-Fire dealer near you!

Our Top Pellet Stove Articles: 

The Complete Guide to Buying a Pellet Stove

Are Pellet Stoves Worth the Investment?

Which Pellet Stove or Fireplace Insert is Right For You?

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