So my pellet stove has been chowing down on some Stove Chow and I am ready to report some results.
First lets talk a little about where stove chow falls in the pellet fuel pecking order- they are near the bottom. They are the brand that Home Depot sells, and I suspect they are produced by Energex for home depot (a private label if you will). I can not say that definitively, but the producer of stove chow "premier pellet" company has locations in the same places as Energex.
So as I mentioned Stove Chow is a pretty low on the pellet fuel food chain (pun intended). The pellets I tested lived up to that expectation. The pellets produce a dark heavy ash, and a lot of it. My Harman PC45 is rather resistant to clinkers, but these pellets seem to build up carbon more than average. Even in my Harman PC45 each bag develops about a 6" sub size ash cake. Better pellets would develop a much smaller lose ash pile, and not caked up like Stove Chow.
As you can tell by the picture the pellets are very dark in color, which as a general rule does not reflect high quality. I was pleasantly surprised by the very low amount of fines in the bags. Things does bring me to an important point about stove chow or any other pellet sold in a Home Depot and the like. When the PFI measures fines the are measured at the gate of the mill, this does not take into account how a pellet stays together after being handled. In the case of the Home Depot's and Lowe's of the world the pellets often get moved around several times after they arrive at the store. The later in the season the more true this is. I have seen them being hand loaded onto a pallet, and restocked some where else in the store. Of course then you load them into a cart, and then into you vehicle, and then from your vehicle into your storage area. Needless to say this has a real effect on fines. I intentionally grabbed my stove chow pellets from the middle of a factory mill loaded pallet, and I had very little in the way of fines. I have gotten pellets from these types of places that were half saw dust for the reasons mentioned above.
An other thing about Stove Chow is the actual pellet length goes from one inch to as little as 1/8 of an inch. Depending on the feed system your stove employs this may or may not be an issue.
Stove Chow is a cheap pellet, and it performs as such. If you have a stove that is picky about the pellets it eats, don't feed it stove chow. If you have a Harmon stove that will burn just about anything, then stove chow will work fine with more frequent cleanings than a better quality pellet.
Ironically the cheap Englander stoves that Lowes and the Depot sells are pretty picky about the pellets they burn, and the brand of pellets they sell are the very type of pellet that often don't burn well in their cheap stoves.
There are some fans of these pellets out there, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Stove Chow is a store brand (Home Depot) which means from region to region these can be totally different pellets from different manufactures. Energex (which I believe mine were) basic grade of pellet is a generally a poor pellet.
However, as a general rule never buy a ton of pellets without burning a few bags first, just don't do it. This site is meant to be a starting point from which to begin your search, it is not meant scare you to one pellet, or push you away from an other. I have burned every pellet I review and am giving my honest feedback.