Fireplaces and wood stoves provide both ambiance and functional home heating. In many homes, gas fireplaces offer an option that avoids the mess and environmental impact of burning cord wood. However, wood pellet stoves offer additional advantages. In some cases you can install a wood pellet stove directly into your gas fireplace to take advantage of these benefits.
You may want to install a wood pellet stove in your existing gas fireplace for a number of reasons. If your fireplace doesn't have a working gas line, installing a pellet stove will make use of the empty space in your living room. Wood pellet stoves are also an economical solution to home heating, using compressed sawdust in place of more expensive fuels. Finally, a pellet stove will reduce your reliance on natural gas for heating, which may be an issue if gas prices are high in your region or if you rely on a home gas tank that is expensive and inconvenient to have refilled.
Gas fireplaces typically feature masonry that is both decorative and durable, able to withstand the heat of a gas flame. This means that the tile, stonework and base for the fireplace can support an appropriately-sized pellet stove. The size of your fireplace will determine the size of the stove you can install. Check stove sizes as well as heat ratings to see if your fireplace is large enough to contain a stove that will produce adequate heat for the room.
One of the key challenges of installing a wood pellet stove in a gas fireplace is proper ventilation. You will need to attach the stove's exhaust system to the fireplace's chimney to allow smoke and carbon by-products to escape. If your fireplace's flue is too narrow or not sufficiently insulated, you'll need to create a new hole through the exterior wall for ventilation. The wood pellet stove will also need to be positioned in the fireplace so that it can draw in oxygen-rich air for combustion.
Before installing a wood pellet stove in your gas fireplace, plan out the entire process. If saving money on home heating is your primary goal, consider the cost of hiring a contractor to modify your wall for stove ventilation. If you can only fit a small wood pellet stove in your fireplace, remember that you'll need to continue to run your furnace to heat the rest of the home.