Informational Guide

Starting & Using A Pellet Burner

Learn how to start a pellet stove for the first time and use these popular heating solutions correctly.

by Josh M

A pellet stove is a great and efficient way to heat your home. They work by burning small pellets of densely packed organic material, such as wood or food waste. Homeowners love them as they are very efficient and relatively affordable to install and run.

If you have a pellet-burning stove in your home, or if you plan to get one, it’s essential to know how to operate it properly. This article will go over how to start, run, and use a pellet burner correctly if you keep reading. We will also cover how to clean a pellet stove.

Pellet Burner Used in a Store

There are two main types of pellet stoves: those with automatic ignition and those that are manual.

The pellets are loaded into a hopper that stores the pellets before they are burned in both types. Depending on your model, the hopper can hold anywhere between 35 and 130 lbs of pellets.

The stove is then set with a thermostat. When the room drops below the set temperature, an auger in the hopper will fall pellets into the firebox. From there, the pellets are ignited to heat your home.

In an automatic or self-igniting stove, there’s nothing else that you need to do. Once the pellets are dropped into the firebox, the stove will ignite them automatically.

In a manual stove, you will need to light the firebox yourself. To do this, first, you need to add an accelerant to the firebox. This can be either a gel or a solid fire starter. You can then light the pellets. Once the stove is started for the season, you shouldn’t need to light it again for the rest of the season. If the fire does go out, however, you simply need to re-light it again.

Fresh Wood Pellet for Pellet Burners

How To Start a Pellet Stove

For The First Time

  1. The very first step is to read the user manual. The user manual will have all of the information on how to use and maintain your pellet stove. It will also have vital safety information.
  2. Fill the hopper with pellets. The amount of pellets depends mainly on the size of your hopper. Once the hopper is filled, close the lid quickly to keep the pellets from getting in contact with any moisture. Any leftover pellets can be stored inside your home in a plastic bag. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep about a month’s worth of pellets at home at all times. As you use your stove, you have a better idea of how much that means for you.
  3. Plug your stove into the nearest electrical outlet.
  4. Light the pellets. As mentioned above, if you have an automatic stove, you can do this with the push of a button. If you have a manual stove, we’ll cover that in the next section.
  5. Set the temperature and fan settings to what you find comfortable.

Without an Igniter (Manually)

If you don’t have an automatic stove, first follow steps 1 through 3 as per usual.

  1. Light the pellets. To do this manually, you will need an accelerant. This can be either a gel or a solid accelerant. Please do not use a liquid accelerant as it is not safe with pellet stoves. After adding the accelerant, you can light the pellets.
  2. Observe the pellets for a moment to ensure they are burning, and then close the door on the stove.
  3. Set the temperature and fan settings to what you find comfortable.

Without Gel

If you have a manual stove but you don’t have a gel accelerant, there are solid types of fire starters that you can use instead. Do not use a liquid accelerant as it can be dangerous.

Tips & Precautions For Homeowners

  • Be sure to use high-quality wood pellets for your stove. Low-quality pellets or pellets made from some other organic material will have more residue that you will need to clean later. The burning will also produce more smoke.
  • Every three months or so, you should check the stove vent and clean it. Unless you are very comfortable doing this, it is generally recommended to hire a professional.
  • Have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Read the user manual before using your stove, as well as troubleshoot any issues.
  • Have some form of power backup on your stove in the case of a power outage. Without power, the stove won’t be able to run.
  • Clean out the ashes at least once a week.
Pellet Stove Cleaning Kit

Starting Up Popular Pellet Stove Models

Quadra Fire Pellet Stove

Most models come with automatic ignition.

For those with manual ignition, after filling the hopper, set your stove to the lowest heat setting. When some pellets fall into the burn pot, add gel to the pellets and light with a match. Wait a few minutes before adjusting the heat to normal.

Whitfield Pellet Stove

For a manual start, add a fire starter to the burn grate and put a handful of pellets on top. Light the pellets with a match and then close the door. Wait about 10 seconds before pressing the start switch to feel the heat from the heat exchanger tubes.

Harman Pellet Stove

Most Harman Pellet stoves come with automatic ignition.

To start the stove manually, turn it down to the lowest heat setting and wait for some pellets to fall into the burn pot. Add some gel to the pellets and light them with a match. Wait for the pellets to burn for a few moments before turning the heat back up to standard.

Heatilator Pellet Stove

Heatilator Pellet Stoves come with automatic ignition.

King Pellet Stove

King Pellet Stoves come with automatic ignition.

Ravelli Pellet Stove

Ravelli Pellet Stoves come with automatic ignition.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Why is my pellet stove not igniting?

A possible cause is an air-to-pellet ratio. Ensure that the burn area is getting enough air to ignite.

How long does it take to start a pellet stove?

For automatic stoves, nearly instantly. However, manual stoves may take just a few minutes for the pellets to fully ignite once lit.

Can a pellet stove run all day?

Yes, although you may need to add pellets to keep it properly fueled.

How can I make my pellet stove burn hotter?

Turn up the thermostat or temperature settings on your stove. Also, either increase the amount of air to the burn area or increase the feed rate.


A pellet stove is an efficient way to heat your home and can be very safe if you follow the user manual and safety instructions.

Visit Air Conditioner Lab for more information on how to efficiently and effectively heat your home.

Last Updated on November 27, 2021

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.