Pellet vs. Wood Stove

Whether it’s for heating, cooking, or having something that makes the room you’re in that much cozier, a stove can provide many benefits to your home. Once you start seriously looking for a stove, you’ll find that most of the time, you have two options: a wood stove or a pellet stove.

Wood stoves use wood to burn, while pellet stoves use compressed pellets as fuel. Both are good for heating a home, but each has its pros and cons. When choosing the best option for you, consider the differences in maintenance, effort, efficiency of the flames, and amount of heat produced.

If you’re looking at installing a pellet or wood stove in your home, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will explain what makes one stove different from the other and share the pros and cons of choosing either option. Once you’re finished reading, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which stove you should buy for your home and your needs.

Comparing Wood Stoves With Pellet Stoves

When comparing pellet and wood stoves, the fuel source is the most significant difference that many notice. One major benefit of wood is that it tends to burn much hotter than pellets. The trade-off is that you must build a fire by hand within the stove and then light and maintain it yourself. 

Additionally, if you’re cooking with a wood fire, you’ll need to continually check the temperature and add more wood if you want the fire to be hotter. The different types of wood also have different burn times due to the amount of moisture in them. Dryer wood burns much faster than wet wood, and you’ll need to consider that when purchasing wood for your fire.

In comparison, pellets don’t require as much maintenance to operate. They do, however, require electricity and an attached hopper. But once you load the proper amount of pellets in, all you need to do is push a button to have a fire. Depending on how long you want the fire to burn for and how big your hopper is, you’ll need to do a certain number of loads to keep the flames going.

Wood Burning Stoves: Pros

  • Burns longer for each log you put in
  • Creates the ambiance of a campfire
  • Doesn’t require electricity or any moving parts

Wood Burning Stoves: Cons

  • Must be mindful of the wood’s moisture
  • Needs tending to keep the flames up and the heat level
  • Fire needs to be built by hand

Pellet Burning Stoves: Pros

  • Much quieter than wood burning
  • The heat burns consistently over time
  • Only requires a little effort to build a fire

Pellet Burning Stoves: Cons

  • You lose the extra ambiance of a campfire
  • Requires access to electricity to use the blower and hopper
  • Requires high maintenance when things break

Pellet vs. Wood Stove: Which Is Better?

When trying to decide which stove is better, many consider the way the fire, itself, actually looks. For example, if you’re building a fire specifically to be looked at while your family huddled around it for warmth, this means considering the look of the flames. And in this case, a traditional wood fire produces the most beautiful sight.

In addition, you get the crackle of the fire as it burns the wood, the floating embers, and a rather dynamic fire that moves with the amount of draft you let in.

On the other hand, pellet stoves burn bright, but they also burn quietly. Instead of hearing crackles and pops of flames, you’ll often hear the sounds of the electric fans whirring and moving to keep the fire going. A pellet stove-produced fire is something that is not as dynamic, but the flames are much bigger and more lively, rather than being dedicated to the number of logs in the stove.

So, if you want an authentic, dynamic, and almost campfire-like experience, then a wood-burning fire is the best one for you. However, if you want an all bright fire that burns quietly, then consider using a pellet-based fire.

Which Stove Is Better for the Environment?

If you’re always looking for the greener option in life, you might be concerned about whether the stoves you’ll use are good for the environment.  

If you have a local source of renewable wood, wood stoves may be better for the environment. Pellet stoves require electricity, which increases their carbon emissions. While wood stoves generally rely on local logs, pellets may be shipped across long distances before landing in your pellet stove. 

For starters, it might seem like the pellet stove pulls out an early win. Pellets are easier to produce, and you’re using less of them rather than cutting down entire trees to fuel a wood fire. However, not everywhere has a reliable source of pellets ready to go, and having to truck or fly pellets in isn’t the greenest option for the environment.

Additionally, pellet stoves do require electricity to function, which helps add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It’s not as eco-friendly as we would like it, but is it greener than a wooden stove?

First off, using wood for a stove isn’t always bad. You can find renewable wood destroyed in a storm, ruined by bugs, or otherwise damaged and burned. Healthy trees aren’t the only option if you’re looking for wood for your fire, and you can burn responsibly. 

However, they are not as efficient compared to pellet stoves, as you need more logs to produce more heat. Even if you’re using solely renewable wood, that is still many trees compared to what a pellet stove can do.

This question isn’t as easy to answer as saying “one is better than the other,” but instead, you’re dealing with a question of logistics. Can you get a source of renewable wood rather than cutting down trees? Are the pellet manufacturers nearby, so they aren’t being bused to you over hundreds of miles? These questions will influence the answer as to which stove is greener.

Wood and Pellet Stoves – Choosing the Right Size

Another factor you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes time to choose a stove is the size of the furnace. The space available to you’ll often dictate the type of stove you can use.

Thankfully, both wood and pellet stoves come in all sizes, and you need to make sure you get the right one. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a room that isn’t adequately heated.

When purchasing a stove, make sure to know the size of the room itself and the insulation that you have in your walls, the type of insulation, and if the windows are in good condition. Bring all this information with you to estimate what size stove you might need to heat the room effectively.

Cost To Install Pellet or Wood Burning Stoves

While pellet and wood stoves both cost around $2,500-$3,000, wood-burning stoves require a chimney while most pellet stoves need only a single vent.  This means the installation of a wood-burning stove will be considerably more expensive.

You’ll need to hire a professional to install the stove into your home, as well as some new vents or a chimney if your home doesn’t have one. Most pellet stoves require a single vent that the stove can use to vent their harmful heat and dust emissions out of the house. The wood-burning stoves, on the other hand, require a chimney.

A vertical chimney is needed to force the exhaust of the fireplace out and the fresh air inside. If you need to get a chimney installed in your house, then that will cost money and time as the construction is done. However, if you have an existing vent and chimney, you can use these whenever installing a new stove. 

You need to make sure that you have the proper chimney, where the warm air from the fire goes out the chimney to prevent the house from getting too hot, and then the cooler air rushes into the house from the vents.

The extra oxygen comes in and helps the fire continue to burn, and it also keeps all the smoke out because no one likes smoke in their eyes while they sit in front of a fire!

Pellet stoves also have electrical wires and other equipment which can break down, requiring costly maintenance by a skilled technician. Pellet stove repairs run $300 to $500 on average. 

Final Thoughts

Picking a pellet vs. a wood-fueled stove depends on what you want from a fire. If you want the heat and ambiance of a fire, you should focus on a wood-fueled stove, even though you’ll be building a fire by hand. 

However, if you want a fire that will burn bright for longer and won’t require too much prep time, then a pellet-fueled stove can fulfill that need, although it does require access to electricity.

No matter which one you end up picking, you’ll get the convenience and the heat-producing capabilities of fire whenever you want!

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