Wood pellet burners

Wood pellet burners look similar to conventional wood burners, but it’s easier to control how much heat is produced and when. They’re a very environmentally friendly and clean heating option.

Benefits of pellet burners

  • Pellet burners provide convenient, easily controllable heating - most units have a remote control, thermostat and timer.
  • Most models have a built-in fan - to distribute heat around the room.
  • Pellet burners are low polluting - pellets are made from 100% wood residue (sawdust and wood shavings) that has a controlled density and moisture level, so they burn with more consistency than logs and emit less pollution
  • Burning wood from sustainable forests is carbon neutral - while trees are growing, they capture carbon dioxide from the air. This carbon dioxide is released either when the wood is burnt, or when the tree dies and rots. While some emissions are produced in transporting and processing the wood, this is only a very small amount per unit of heat
  • Wood is renewable and sustainable - and New Zealand has extensive areas of forestry.
  • Some wood pellet burners can be fitted with a wet back to heat water - check with your supplier about this option.
  • Low emission pellet burners are allowed in some areas that don’t allow new wood burners - for more information check with your local council.

New Zealand local council directory - LGNZ website

Checklist for pellet burners

  • A pellet burner may not be suitable if your area has regular blackouts - many pellet burners need electricity to work.
  • Insulate first - starting with ceiling and underfloor insulation. You'll be able to buy a smaller pellet burner and your home will be cheaper to heat properly.
  • Get a building consent - from your local city or district council to install a solid fuel burner. Check with them to find out if they have any extra requirements for solid fuel burners.
  • Choose an authorised pellet burner - check out the Ministry for the Environment's list of authorised wood pellet burners.
  • Work out what size you need - wood burners need to be carefully matched to the room or rooms you want to heat. Ask your heating supplier to advise you on the right size heater for your needs.
  • Buy a heat transfer kit - most wood pellet burners generate more heat than you need for one room. Unless your house is open-plan or has internal door openings that go right up to the ceiling, excess heat won’t easily get to other rooms. Heat transfer kits distribute the heat by pumping the warm air into other rooms in your house. You can buy these kits from DIY stores, but we recommend you contact a professional tradesperson for advice as there are a lot of factors that can affect how well they work
  • Use a certified installer - quality installation is fundamental to your pellet burner's performance and safety. We recommend that you have your wood burner installed by a Solid Fuel Appliance Installation Technician certified by the New Zealand Home Heating Association.

Local council website directory - LGNZ website

Authorised wood burners - Ministry for the Environment website

New Zealand Home Heating Association website

Using pellet burners wisely

  • Follow operation and safety instructions - from your pellet burner manufacturer.
  • Use safety guards to protect children and pets.
  • Keep flammable objects well away - while your pellet burner is in use.
  • Keep wood pellets dry - store in a sheltered area, away from moisture.
  • Only heat areas you're using - and only while you're using them.
  • Shut doors and windows - to keep the heat in.
  • Set the thermostat to a healthy temperature - aim for a minimum of 18ºC while you’re using a space (or 20ºC if you have children, elderly or sick people in the home) and 16ºC in bedrooms overnight.
  • Don't set the thermostat higher than you need it - setting the thermostat to the maximum won't heat up your room any faster.
  • Use the timer - set your pellet burner to come on half an hour before you need it. Leaving your heater running when you're not at home is a waste of energy.
  • Service and maintain your pellet burner - as directed in the manufacturer's instructions. This is important for maintaining safety, performance and longevity.