Home » Do Pellet Stoves Need A Chimney: All You Need To Know

Do Pellet Stoves Need A Chimney: All You Need To Know

There are many ways to heat a home but few are as convenient and hassle free as a pellet stove. Not only are pellet stoves efficient, perfect for small homes and cheap to run, they also are super easy to install.

One of the biggest hurdles when installing a new fireplace of any kind is determining how to vent the combustion exhaust. With a tradition wood stove or fire place, you need some sort of chimney that releases wood smoke well above your roof line. But do you need a chimney for a pellet stove?

Luckily, pellet stoves do not need a chimney to safely operate in most homes. As long as your pellet stove is installed next to an exterior wall, all you need is a small vent routed through the wall to the outdoors which means even homes without an existing chimney can still enjoy the function of a pellet stove. You can, however, install a pellet stove in such a way as to utilize an existing chimney if desired.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though when it comes to pellet stove installation. If you are still trying to figure out if you’ll be able to install a pellet stove in your home, keep reading for everything you need to know.

What is a pellet stove

A pellet stove burns compressed wood pellets as a way to heat your home without the hassle of a wood burning fire. It is a much safer and more environmentally friendly way of heating your home according to the United States Department of Energy.

Traditional wood-burning appliances emit large quantities of air pollution such as carbon monoxide, organic gases and particulate matter. A pellet stove greatly minimizes these dangerous pollutants while being affordable at the same time.

Does a pellet stove need air intake

Not all pellet stoves need a fresh air intake but there is always an external vent to discard exhaust fumes. However, an external fresh air intake is sometimes required depending on your location. Be sure to check with local housing laws to determine the rules where you live.

As a rule of thumb, fresh air intake is only required if the pellet stove is in a mobile home but it may also be needed if you have a very air-tight home or if the stove is located in a basement.

Are there ventless pellet stoves

No, there are no true ventless pellet stoves. Some stoves may be marketed as “ventless” but they usually just have the vent placed at the rear of the stove and are meant to be routed out a much smaller external vent than normal. They also do not have the traditional large vents at the top or rear of the stove that help distribute heat. Because of this, “ventless” style pellet stoves are best for small spaces.

How do you vent a pellet stove without a chimney

All pellet stoves need a way to vent unclean or harmful air. This can be done through a chimney but it’s not required. So how does a pellet stove vent without a chimney? There are freestanding pellet stoves available but they still need a vent installed on an external wall.

When choosing the vent location, it must be done through your home’s exterior wall. A pellet stove should be installed with adequate space away from the wall. This gives your stove some breathing room and prevents accidents. All fire safety codes should be followed. If you are unsure, seek professional advice.

Can you install a pellet stove with a chimney

You can install a pellet stove either with a new or existing chimney. However, adding a wall vent is way cheaper than installing a new chimney. Installing a pellet stove with an existing chimney requires a chimney liner.

This is a metal pipe that is attached to the stove at one end and extends through the chimney with the other. It’s hard to tell if you install a chimney adapter wrong. To avoid accidental damage to your home, contact a professional for the chimney liner to be installed.

How does a pellet stove work

A pellet stove is more environmentally friendly than a traditional wood-burning stove and this is what makes them so popular. A pellet stove achieves this by being dependent on electricity and some well-thought-out mechanics. But before we review how this is done, let us go over some terminology.

PelletsPellets are small cylinders that are burned in stoves or fires. They are made of materials, including but not limited to, wood chips, brush, sawdust, and other lumber milling byproducts. These materials are compressed and dried by a hammer mill, making them easy and environmentally friendly to burn.
Burn PotA burn pot is a combustion chamber where the pellets are burned at a controlled rate. It is the biggest portion of a pellet stove.
HopperThis is the tray that holds pellets. There are two types of hoppers depending on your model – a top hopper or a bottom hopper. A top hopper sits above the burn pot, and while it is more fire resistant, it can allow gases to accumulate. A bottom hopper is below the burn pot and has slightly more risk of catching fire, but fewer gases can accumulate.
AshtrayWhile almost all of the pellets will be used for energy, there is some leftover ashes. This tray is below the burn pot and collects these ashes. Depending on the model, some pellet stoves can burn at all times with no problems while others need to be cleaned once or twice a week.
ThermostatA thermostat sets the temperature of the pellet stove.
AugerA motorized mechanism that moves pellets from the hopper to the burn pot. The thermostat controls the auger’s speed, so an increased thermostat means that the auger will spin faster for a time to deliver more pellets and reach the desired temperature.
Convection FanThe fan pulls cooler air from the room to pass over the burn pot to avoid fires.
Heat ExchangersHeat exchangers are cast-iron or steel tubes that transfer and clean the warmed air into your home.
Exhaust Blower FanThis fan, which is not the convection blower fan, pushes gases created by the pellets out of the burn pot and out via a chimney or a small vent hole in the wall.
Pellet Stove Terminology

To put these words into perspective, place the pellets into your stove’s hopper. The auger will feed the pellets into the burn pot which will start to burn through an electrical ignition. Once the pellets are burning, the convection blower sucks indoor air to the burn pot and creates heated air.

To create cleaner air, the hot air will move through the heat exchangers which will then transfer to your home. To get rid of the dirty or harmful exhaust, it needs to leave the stove completely. Most stoves have installed piping at the back of the stove or through a chimney to get rid of toxic air.

How do I choose a pellet stove

When choosing a pellet stove, you must observe where it will be placed and the space you want to heat. If your stove is too big, it can be a fire risk, overheat your home, or in some cases, increase air pollution from excess fuel waste.

For reference, a pellet stove that is rated at 60,000 Btu (British Thermal Units) heats a 2,000 square foot space. A stove rated at 42,000 Btu heats around 1,300 square feet.


Now that you understand how a pellet stove operates, hopefully it won’t seem so daunting to install one in your home. The fact that all you need is small vent on an exterior wall makes it possible for almost any homeowner to enjoy the feel of wood fired heat.

Whether you already have a chimney or don’t have a chimney at all, pellets stoves are a strong contender compared to traditional wood stoves or even a gas fireplace.