Can You Hook Up a Pellet Stove to a Heat Pump?
LESLIE: Going over to Maryland to talk to Victor about a pellet stove. What can we do for you?
VICTOR: Yeah, I’m calling – I have a question about a pellet stove. I have an existing heat pump and in the winter time the heat pump doesn’t seem like it does a very good job of heating up the house. I was wondering if I bought a pellet stove and had it put in my basement if I could run the ductwork into my existing ductwork for my heat pump unit.
TOM: Not a pellet stove but a wood furnace. There are actually appliances that are designed to run – I don’t know that a pellet furnace is available but wood furnaces are available and they could be hooked up side by side with heat pumps. Now, the reason that the heat pump doesn’t seem to do a good job – and it’s very common to have them in Maryland and south of this, is because they don’t heat air to the same temperature that a fossil-fueled furnace would heat it. A heat pump only heats air to somewhere around 100 to 110 degrees, but a regular, say, gas furnace is going to heat it up to like around 120 to 140 degrees. And what happens is that fairly low-temperature air comes out of the registers. If you put your hand in front of it or your arm in front of it or you sit in a chair near by, it actually feels cold…
TOM: … because it forces – this is what we call the evaporative cooling effect; as moisture evaporates off your skin it feels cold.
Now, the other thing about a heat pump is it’s only designed to maintain the temperature of a difference of about two degrees between what it actually is and what it’s set at. So, if you set your thermostat at 65 degrees and it falls to 64 or 63, the heat pump’s going to run. If it falls to 62 it’s going to stop running and the electric furnace backup which is built into the heat pump will come on and that’s straight resistance heat. And you probably know by now that’s pretty darn expensive.
TOM: So, you know, I think that either putting in a regular pellet stove into the main floor of your house …
LESLIE: There actually are hot-air pellet furnaces and a company that makes them is Harmon Stove Company and their website is HarmonStoves.com and you can look up a bunch of different models that make their. They’re, you know, on the pricy end – like 2,500; sometimes more, depending on the model – but they’re highly efficient.
VICTOR: OK. HarmonStoves.com.
VICTOR: OK. Sounds good. I’ll look into that. You said it’s a woodburning furnace.
TOM: Well, it’s either a woodburning furnace or it’s a pellet-burning furnace but these are furnaces – because that’s the appliance that heats air. It’s designed …
TOM: … to fit into the duct system. I don’t want you to retrofit a standard pellet stove to try to heat a duct system because that’s not going to work right.
TOM: And it could be dangerous.
VICTOR: OK. That was …
TOM: Alright, Victor?
VICTOR: That was the question I had. I appreciate all your information.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.