How much electricity do pellet heaters use? Not much but it’s part of the running costs of a pellet heater. For some people looking to move from a wood heater to a pellet heater, it can be a bit of a shock to learn that pellet heaters need power to run. However, they use very little power, typically 50 to 60 watts an hour (about the same power as 3 or 4 LED light bulbs), which is about 1.5 cents per hour in Tasmania at current electricity rates. Pellet heaters need electricity to run two fans, an igniter, and a control panel, all which keeps the fire going so they can heat the room and house they are in.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what parts in a pellet heater need electricity. Read on below for a more detailed breakdown of what each part does:
- Igniter – Automatically lights the fire.
- Auger – Feeds pellets into the fire.
- Exhaust fan – keeps the fire burning efficiently.
- Room fan – Blows hot air out of the pellet heater.
- Control panel – Set desired temperature and heating mode.
The igniter is a crucial component of a pellet heater and it needs electricity to light the fire. It pulls about 300 to 400 watts and without it you would have to manually light a fire. The igniter heats up air in the burn pot and that air gets so hot that the pellets catch fire. While the igniter draws the most electricity in a pellet heater, it only draws this amount for 5 to 10 minutes until the fire gets established, so it only uses about 40 watts each time you switch on your pellet heater.
Igniters are not running all the time. Once the fire is burning, the igniter switches off, so it’s only used for a short amount of time each time you start up your pellet heater. If you want to save on electricity, you can manually light a pellet heater, but that’s not something I’d recommend. This option is more for those who are running a pellet heater off-grid from batteries and want to conserve as much power as possible.
The auger is a key component in how a pellet heater operates, and it’s important for it to have power in order for a pellet heater function properly. Essentially, the auger’s job is to continuously feed pellets from the hopper into the burn pot, which keeps the fire burning and heating the room it is in. Unlike with a traditional wood heater, where you have to manually add firewood every few hours, the auger takes care of this process automatically and automatically drops pellets into the burn pot to keep the fire going, so you can sit back and enjoy the warmth without any extra effort.
The auger in a pellet heater barely uses any power. It spins slowly, only about every 10 to 20 seconds, which means it uses a minimal amount of electricity. In fact, it uses much less power than the other components of the pellet heater, such as the igniter and fans. So, while the auger plays a crucial role in the overall functioning of your pellet heater, you don’t have to worry about it driving up your power bill. It’s just another reason why pellet heaters are such a convenient and efficient way to heat your home.
Exhaust fans are very efficient and pull about 20 to 30 watts of electricity an hour. That amount of power is about the same as 2 or 3 LED light bulbs, which isn’t much at all. It’s such a small amount that I doubt you’ll notice any increase in your power bill from using a pellet heater. If you’ve only ever used fan-less wood heaters you may be curious why pellet heaters need an exhaust fan when wood heaters don’t.
The exhaust fan is a crucial part of a pellet heater and it’s always working in the background to make sure everything is running smoothly. This fan helps to keep the fire burning in the burn pot, and it blows any emissions out the flue or chimney so you don’t have to worry about any harmful fumes being released into your home. Without this fan, the fire in the burn pot wouldn’t start or stay burning and your pellet heater wouldn’t be able to produce any heat.
Just like the exhaust fan, the room fan also uses very little electricity. It uses about the same amount of power as the exhaust fan, so around 20 to 30 watts of power per hour. This is a relatively small amount of electricity and it’s unlikely you’ll even notice the increase in your power bill. Fans are not the main contributors to the overall power consumption of a pellet heater, so you can be confident that the room fan will not add much to your electricity costs. The room fan in a pellet heater functions much the same way as the fan in a heat pump or split system air conditioner.
As the fire in the burn pot burns and heat is created, the room fan takes that heat and blows it into the room where the heater is located. This helps to effectively heat the room and maintain a comfortable temperature. The room fan is always running, ensuring that the hot air from the heater is continuously being circulated into the room. This makes it an essential component of the pellet heater, as it is necessary to distribute the heat produced by the fire. However, some European models, like Piazzetta pellet heaters, can run in silent mode, so the room fan wouldn’t draw any power.
The control panel is a small yet important part of a pellet heater. It’s responsible for controlling and adjusting the settings of the pellet heater, making it easier for you to customize your heating experience. The control panel on a heater might be a small LCD screen or similar display, and it usually displays information such as the current temperature, the current heating mode of the pellet heater (ignition, heating, shutting down for example), and any other settings you may need to adjust, like room temperature and heating mode.
With the control panel, you can easily turn your pellet heater on and off, control the heat output, and even set a weekly heating schedule. Heating schedules set via a timer are a great way to reduce the amount of wood pellets you burn but at the same time wake up to a cozy and warm house. Because control panels are essentially simple display screens, even though they are always on when the pellet heater is running, they use a very small amount of electricity because all they do is display information and don’t actually have any moving or mechanical parts.
Older pellet heaters didn’t have display screens and instead had simple dials for adjusting the settings, but these models are no longer sold in Australia. Regardless, you can still find them for sale as used pellet heaters on Facebook and Gumtree. Modern pellet heaters have advanced control panels that make it easier to control the heating experience in your home, which is why modern pellet heaters have display screens as they are more precise than analogue dials on older pellet heaters.
How Many Amps Does a Pellet Heater Use?
Knowing how many amps a pellet heater uses might be important if you are off-grid. For the first hour a pellet heater runs it will use about 100 watts. Every hour after that is about 60 watts per hour. It’s easy to work out amps if you know the watts. Just take the wattage and divide by the voltage. In Australia, where we use 240 volts for anything connected to the grid, the first our it would pull about .4 of an amp. Every hour after that it’s about .3 of an amp.
If you are off-grid and running a 12 volt battery setup, then it’s about 8 amps in the first hour and about 5 amps every hour after that. A 24 volt battery setup would pull about 4 amps in the first house and 2 amps ever hour after that. If you had a 100ah lithium battery in a 12 volt setup, then you’d get about 18 to 20 hours of power out of the battery to run your pellet heater. If you don’t run your pellet heater off-grid, then you don’t need to worry about this.
It’s absolutely possible to run a pellet heater entire off-grid. Pellet Fires Tasmania have installed several pellet heaters in off-grid walking track cabins in Tasmania that are entirely powered by batteries. Provided you have enough batteries and recharge them, such as by using solar panels, then pellet heaters are a great solution to heating a tiny house or other off-grid situations. They draw very little power and pellets take up much less space, come in easy to handle bags and can be stored just about anywhere. All important if you live in a tiny house and have limited space.
Yearly Electricity Running Costs
If you’re looking to save some money on your heating costs and want to know about the yearly electricity running costs of a pellet heater, you need to keep in mind how often you’ll be using your heater. Based on the information provided above, the various moving parts in a pellet heater cost about 1.5 cents per hour to run (that’s based on Tasmania electricity rates as of 2023), which isn’t much at all and it’s easy to calculate what you’ll spend per day based on the number of hours you run the heater.
Assuming that you’ll be using your pellet heater for 8 hours a day, and heating your home for 3 months of the year, your power bill would increase by roughly $12 or so for the whole year. That works out to about 12 cents per day, or $3.60 per month, which is much less than a cup of coffee even before inflation drove prices on everything up. I don’t think $3.60 a month is unreasonable, and as I’ve said above you’ll probably not even notice this slight increase in your power bill. That’s why I say worry more about the cost of wood pellets than how much electricity a pellet heater uses. Wood pellet price is more important.
However, what if you run it more than 8 hours a day and live somewhere cold that requires more than 3 months of heating a year? If you’re someone who likes to keep their home warm and cozy all year round, and you plan on running your pellet heater for 12 hours a day, for 6 months of the year, your yearly electricity running costs would be about $22. This works out to be about 18 cents per day, or $6 per month. So we’re now talking about a cup of coffee to run your pellet heater for 6 months. Sounds like a reasonable price to pay to have a warm and comfortable home all year round.
Please keep in mind all of these calculations were based on an electricity rate of about 26 cents per kWh. However, the most expensive rates I seen in other states are only about 36 cents per kWh, which would only see a slight increase in the numbers listed above. Also, if you are running your pellet heater off-grid, then obviously you won’t be paying it. Instead, you’d be more interested in watts used per hour, which is roughly 100 watts in the first hour the pellet heater starts and the fire is lit and then 60 watts for every hour after that. Which isn’t much power at all, a few LED light bulbs.
Hopefully now you can see why I said the answer to how much electricity do pellet heaters use is not much. It’s about the same as a few LED light bulbs, around 60 watts an hour once your heater is going. You definitely won’t notice it on your power bill and it’s nothing you should worry about. I’d be more concerned out wood pellet prices and where you can buy a pellet heater from as outside of Tasmania there’s limited retailers of heaters and pellets. If you are looking for ways to run your pellet heater during a blackout check out the pellet heater battery backup post.