A love story – me and my stufa

Written by on November 3, 2020 in Blog

 

It was the best euro 2,000 I ever spent and the wisest decision I ever made when I bought our burgundy red, 10 KW Ravelli wood pellet stufa back in 2014, when we moved into our apartment in Gressan. Sitting there reassuringly in the corner of the living room, next to the tele. He has become a beloved member of the family and we now couldn’t live without him. I adore him.

He weighs about 100 kg but getting him up the outside stairs and into the flat was easy on the little stair climbing skate board thingy the delivery guy brought with him. Installation took an hour maximum. Granted, the hole was already there, near the ceiling, into the chimney stack in the outside wall. So connecting up the light weight, narrow pipe was very straight forward. And the electricity socket was already there in the corner. He stands directly on the floor tiles, no need to build a plinth or anything like that. And no need for any special heat proof tiles or covering on the wall behind. All the heat gets chucked out the front. Simply put him where you want him, plug him in, fill the hopper with a bag of pellets and press ON. And when you don’t need the heat anymore, press OFF.

A love story - my pallet stove in the sitting room

Here in Gressan it can get a bit cold in winter time. Our place is at about 600m above sea level. And we are on the dark side of the valley where in the winter we don’t get hit by the sun until about lunchtime. We do have to use the gas fired central heating in the morning when its very cold, to give the bedrooms and the bathroom a warm-up before getting out of bed. Then the first thing we do on getting up is turn on the stufa.

He whirs a bit, then rattles a bit as he serves himself some pellets into the fire lighting box. Nothing happens for a minute or two while the electric ignition device invisibly does its thing and then a flame appears. It takes a few more minutes for the fire to get burning fully by which time there is a decent sized flame going. When he has warmed up enough he starts the fans and allows the heat to be blown gently into the room. At which point we can turn the central heating off again. It has done its job and the stufa has got it from here.

benefits of the pellet

It’s not a searing heat he gives out but it is enough to transform the 30m2 kitchen/living room from chilly to comfortable in about 5 minutes. Fast enough for the getting to school, work and skiing in the morning rush. And he will keep the comfortable temperature there all day without any fuss. All you have to worry about is giving him his bag of pellets. These weigh 15 kg and are easy to store, carry and pour into the easily accessible box on the top of the stove. If he is going all day, he uses about one bag a day, so it’s a doddle.

bag of pellets for stufa

Especially compared with trying to keep a wood burner going. The pellets you can buy in the super market and other outlets round town all have roughly the same heat giving value. And they are dry. Unlike the fun and games you would have trying to constantly find suitable logs. Unless you have your own hard wood forest. And enough covered storage for years and years of the stuff, which we don’t.

beautiful wood burning stove

Almost everyone in the Aosta Valley has a pellet stove. They are a pretty practical lot around here so they must make sense. Most bars and restaurants and private homes have one, sometimes more than one. Even our local convenience store has a pellet stove by the cash desk.

When we were thinking about getting our pellet-stove we were told that they are noisy. Admittedly he does purr away and make occasional funny noises. The fans are sometimes a bit loud but then they go quiet again. And there’s always the gentle rattle of the pellets dropping down the tubes into the burner, a few at a time. But after a while you really don’t notice it. Or if you do it actually becomes very comforting. The flame in the firebox behind the closed glass door is also very comforting. Its always changing, sometimes raging, sometimes just a glow.

We have him serviced by the guys at the shop once a year. It costs about euro 80 a time. Every other day if he’s on a lot, or every few days otherwise, we give him a clean ourselves. Open the door and wipe the glass with a wet paper towel. Empty the ash holder onto the garden. Hoover out the dust and the bits using a simple and cheap to buy special little vacuum cleaner. And that’s it.

refilling the pellet stufa

There is a little water reservoir underneath the lid which you can fill if you want to. To avoid the air in the room getting too dry. We have some special essence drops that we sometimes add. They give off a pleasant perfume of lavender or of pine.

We depend on our faithful stufa and he never lets us down. He provides a focal point for us to gather round in our otherwise rather plain living space. During the day he just un-obtrusively gets on with his job of keeping the place warm. We go out, we come back, we leave him on. He can even be programmed to come on and go off automatically. We smother him with wet ski gear and he dries it for us. OK, he can’t toast crumpets or roast chestnuts but we forgive him that.

A love story - me and my stufa - trying to make raclette ..

Talking about love for an inanimate object is probably a sign of madness. But he is not inanimate you see. You can cuddle him and he feels warm. I often do. He chatters away to himself all day and he needs to be fed. In the evening he watches the film with us, gets up in the morning with us and goes to bed when we go to bed. He welcomes our guests and looks after them as he looks after us. He is absolutely no trouble and is a pleasure to have around. If we ever leave here he is definitely coming with us that’s for sure!

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