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    Wood Stoves vs. Pellet Stoves: Comparison

    Authored by Jemma Petts

    Trying to save money this winter while also keeping your home warm? You may want to purchase a pellet stove or a wood burning stove. Both stoves have their perks, and we are breaking down their differences to make it easier to choose. 

    What is the difference between pellet stoves and wood stoves?

    Pellet stoves burn recycled wood waste pellets, much like a pellet smoker or grill. You’ll need to purchase wood pellets made for a wood pellet stove and replenish as needed. Wood pellets are made of a renewable resource.

    Wood stoves use seasoned firewood to make heat. You can find seasoned firewood for purchase in several places, or you can season your own split wood. Firewood is also a renewable resource, making both options an environmentally conscious option.

    What makes a wood stove better?

    Wood burning stoves are perfect for that crackle and glow of a typical fire. The heating power of a wood stove is greater, with a BTU rating above 100,000, though this is all dependent on the number of logs and moisture content. Wood stoves are more straightforward in their parts, having less mechanical and electrical pieces to break due to normal wear and tear. If you live somewhere that suffers power outages or is susceptible to weather-related power outage, a wood burning stove is a better option since it does not require electricity to operate.

    Why choose a pellet stove?

    Pellet stoves are a quieter option and emit more consistent heat. Though the BTU rating is lower (usually 50,000) than wood stoves, it can maintain its heat output with less interference. Some pellet stoves even include a programmable thermostat. These stoves produce less ash, and though both stoves are more friendly to the environment, pellet stoves emit less emissions. Pellet stoves can also be easier to set up as they do not require a chimney system. Most pellet stove models can use a direct vent.

    Both types of stoves come as inserts or free-standing

    You can purchase wood burning stoves and pellet stoves as inserts or free-standing, making your choice more about fuel source. Both have versions like fireplaces, fireplace inserts and heat stoves. You can find them with or without doors or viewing windows. The light emitted from a pellet stove will resemble a wood-burning stove, just a bit softer.

    Maintenance, cost and effort differences of wood and pellet stoves

    Both stoves require regular cleaning and removal of ash buildup, though a wood stove will have more ash volume. Wood stoves should be cleaned and swept to make sure everything is in working order. Though wood stoves may need more regular maintenance, they do tend to last longer with less electrical and mechanical breakdown over time – an estimated difference of 10 years. 

    Cost difference of wood burning vs pellet stoves

    The cost of both stoves is comparable, with the largest long-term expense coming down to your fuel source. You’ll want to keep in mind where you live and what is most convenient – will you be able to keep up with pellet purchases or is it easier to find seasoned firewood? Wood burning stoves can burn both firewood and wood scraps, pellet stoves can only burn pellets. Compare the prices of your local firewood bundles with pellet bags to help make the right decision for your home.

    Effort differences

    Wood stoves will need more effort to run. Wood needs to be cut and stacked or ordered in bulk and kept dry outside. The fire will need to be maintained and additional logs added as burnt. Pellets are usually sold in 40lb bags and need to be kept in a dry place. To operate, you just need to fill the hopper. This hopper will feed pellets as needed. Buying a pellet stove with a large hopper will reduce the amount of effort even more. 

    Both wood burning stoves and pellet stoves are good investments. You will find pros and cons of both, with the decision coming down to personal preference, as well as location. Keep in mind what fuel source is easiest to find in your area and if you need something that can still operate in power outages. Once you know those answers, you can break it down for effort and maintenance and heat output. 

    More heating information

    Properly seasoned firewood has a moisture content of less than 20%. Find out how to prepare your firewood for the most efficient heat output.