Aside from the way they look, are all pellet heaters roughly the same?

Nina picture

No! For pellet heaters to deliver their incredible efficiency, low emissions and ease of use, they need to be designed and manufactured to a very high standard. If they’re not built to this standard then it is unfortunately likely that after a short operating period you will see either a decrease in efficiency, an increase in smoke emissions or only intermittent service.

Warranty

The first and most obvious signifier of the manufactures’ confidence in the quality of their product is the warranty they offer. The warranty should cover not just the fire box or burn chamber (the box where the pellets are burnt) but all the internal and external components – for example, fans, sensors, motors as well the burn chamber, control panel and glass. If there is not a good warranty across all these areas then it suggests shortcuts have been taken in the manufacturing process or inferior components have been specified to save money. For example, the picture below shows a Palazzetti exhaust fan against an exhaust fan from a competing manufacturer. Components such as these are not visible when examining heaters but are the difference between heaters that are built to a price and heaters that are built to last.

Palazzetti also has a system of rigorous quality control along their assembly line with every heater being individually checked to ensure they operate correctly. This, and the quality of the heaters’ internal components, is reflected in the 2-year warranty that covers the entire heater, not just the cast iron burn chamber.

But while manufacturing and component quality are important, equally as important is the engineering design. The design will affect the level of operating noise of the heater, the degree of simplicity of cleaning the heater (which is critical for sustained high efficiency), the quality of its control panel and its ability to burn different pellet types.

Operating noise

In the case of the Palazzetti heaters we offer in Australia, the heat exchanger (the part of the heater that uses the heat from the fire to warm a flow of air that is circulated into the room) is designed in such a way that the need to use an audible fan to drive air circulation is minimised to all but the two highest heat settings. And even when the fan is off, the heat exchanger is designed so that the air circulates silently and doesn’t whistle through heat tubes.

Cleaning

The Palazetti heaters are also designed in such a way that cleaning them is a simple task that can be easily undertaken by the home-owner without the need to call in a service person. This is critical because one of the most common causes of problems with pellet heaters is build-up of soot and ash that affects their efficiency and heat output. If cleaning is difficult or if you have to call someone out then of course it is going to be put off for another day but this is not the case with Palazzetti heaters.

Efficiency and emissions

Good design will also be reflected in good air-flow around the pellets when they are burning in the burn pot. This will help ensure that the heater has a high efficiency, that it has low emissions (good air flow means good combustion which means low emissions) and that it won’t be sensitive to changing from one pellet type to another (for example from pine to hardwood pellets or vice versa).

Control panel and fault finding

Finally, the control panel, where you turn on/off the heater, manage heat settings etc is also important. Firstly, because it needs to be designed in such a way that it is straightforward to use but also because it acts as a diagnostic tool if there are any problems with the heater. In the case of Palazzetti heaters, the control panel has significant diagnostic functionality to ensure that, in the event of a problem, a service technician can diagnose and fix the problem quickly and easily and potentially without even having to visit your home.

We can see from the list above that all pellet heaters are not going to be the same. It is easy to take shortcuts in either design or manufacturing that won’t be immediately apparent to the consumer but will nonetheless inevitably be reflected in the performance of the heater over time. Palazzetti is not the only manufacturer of quality pellet heaters but we believe that it is one of the best.

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