How to Manually Light a Pellet Heater

It’s rare but there’s a chance at some point you may need to manually light a pellet heater. This may happen if you are unlucky enough that the igniter in your pellet heater dies one day and it won’t automatically light a fire, so you have to start a fire by hand. A faulty igniter is also the main cause of an E2 error code in Pellet Fires Tasmania pellet heaters. Igniters are very easy to replace and I recommend you always keep one spare in the cupboard just in case. However, the good news is you CAN manually light a pellet heater even if the igniter isn’t working.

manually light pellet heater
You can easily manually light a pellet heater if the ignitor needs replacing.

There’s a few ways to manually light a fire in a pellet heater but the one below is what I think is the quickest and easiest way. Feel free to let me know if you’ve got a better method. Don’t want to read a wall of text? There’s a video at the bottom that shows how to light a fire in your pellet heater by manually.

  • To manually light a pellet heater, start by soaking a handful of pellets in metho (or a high alcohol content alternative) to make them easy to light. Place these pellets in the burn pot of the heater.
  • Using a match or lighter, light the soaked pellets in the burn pot, making sure they catch fire and keep burning. Once lit close the pellet heater door and switch on your pellet heater as you normally would to start it.
  • If metho or an alcohol-based solution isn’t available, a blow torch can be used to ignite the pellets. You can also use a fire starter. Regardless of how you get the pellets burning, don’t overfill the burn pot with pellets.

Step 1 – Soak Pellets in Metho

The first step to starting your pellet heater involves preparing the pellets for ignition. Start by grabbing a handful of pellets and placing them in an empty cup. Make sure it’s one you wont drink from again 🙂 Next, add two tablespoons of metho to the pellets and allow them to soak for a few minutes. This step is crucial, as pellets are densely compacted and won’t easily catch fire like kindling in a wood heater. By soaking the pellets in metho, you make them much easier to ignite and keep burning.

If you don’t have any metho at home then don’t worry. Anything that has a high alcohol content can be used. Maybe you’ve got some hand sanitizer or something similar laying around. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol and is flammable, making it an effective alternative to metho. However, please be careful here. Adding too much metho or anything that contains alcohol can be dangerous. Only add as much metho or hand sanitizer as required and don’t over do it. You can also add a fire starter, which will also do the trick.

Step 2 – Prepare the Burn Pot

After letting the pellets soak in and absorb the metho for a few minutes, the next step is to prepare the burn pot. Take the cup of metho soaked pellets and tip it in the burn pot. You can do this either with the burn pot in your heater or take the burn pot out, place the pellets in and then put the burn pot back in the pellet heaters. Next, take a match or lighter and use it to light the metho soaked pellets in the burn pot. Be sure to wait until the pellets have caught fire and are burning and leave the door open until you can see fire and know it won’t go out.

Once the pellets are burning, close the door on your pellet heater. Please note you must follow the steps above of only using a handful of pellets and a little metho. Do not overfill the burn pot with pellets. Do not fill it to half way or near the top. The burn pot should only be a quarter full at most. When pellet heaters start they are designed to fill the burn pot with just the required amount of pellets to start the fire. So make sure you don’t have too many pellets soaked and in the burn pot, as the pellet heater will feed pellets into the burn pot and this could lead to a larger fire than intended.

Step 3 – Press Start and Cross Your Fingers

The next step is to switch on your pellet heater and let it go through its normal ignition mode. With the door shut and the metho soaked pellets burning away, quickly turn on your pellet heater. What will happen next is after your heater does its usual startup checks, the exhaust will come on and the metho soaked pellets will begin to burn faster. The auger will start to feed pellets into the burn pot and you’ll see the fire growing in size. This is why it is important to not overfill the burn pot with metho soaked pellets.

Once the fire is big enough and the temperature inside the burn box has reached a certain level, the pellet heater will detect that a fire has become established and it will switch from ignition mode to normal heating mode. At this point, the igniter would normally switch off and the pellet heater will continue to feed pellets into the burn pot to maintain the fire. Your heater will also begin to heat the room and the room fan will switch on and start blowing hot air out into the room.

No Metho No Problem

Don’t like the idea of using metho or other flammable substances in your pellet heater or just don’t have anything at all that you could use instead of method? If that sounds like you then the alternative is to use a blow torch. This isn’t as easy as using alcohol but if you hold a blow torch to the pellets long enough it will force them to catch and stay on fire. All you need to do is place a handful of pellets in the burn pot, use the blow torch then once they are burning shut the door and switch your pellet heater on. You can also use a fire starter if you don’t have any metho.

Summary Manually Lighting a Pellet Heater

Pellet heaters are very reliable and I honestly doubt you’ll ever need to manually light one, but it is handy to know just in case. However, as I mentioned above, always keep a backup igniter on hand. They are very cheap and very easy to replace, so you won’t have to worry if you are unlucky enough that the igniter in your pellet heater does die. There’s a video below where I show how to light a pellet heater using a blow torch. If you find the video above useful please like and subscribe to the channel. Also, some pellet heater manufacturers offer some handy advice on how to light a pellet heater. Happy heating!