Pellet Stove Vs. Wood Stove: Which One Is Better?

If you are trying to decide a winner in the battle pellet stove vs. wood stove, you first need to know all the relevant factors - we will help you with that!

An increasing number of people supplements their home heating source with wood-burning stoves, including myself. Besides being cost effective, such stoves provide a unique sense of warmth as well.

Depending on which wood fuel you wish to use to heat your home, there are two options to choose from: traditional wood stoves and more modern pellet stoves. Which one should you choose?

Wood-burning stoves and pellet stoves are two completely different units, so no one can really tell you which one suits your needs better. One thing is certain; they will both provide you with good old fire and produce radiant heat that will make you want to sit close and cuddle up. However, that is where all their similarity ends.

So, if your choice has come down to pellet stove vs. wood stove, you should really read the following text as it will provide a close look at each of these two types of stoves. By the time you finish reading, you will be able to make an informed decision and choose the best heat source for your personal needs.

Further Reading: Portable Electric Stove

Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove: Step by Step Comparison

1. Cost of the Unit & Installation

Unless you are filthy rich, the price will be one of the main considerations when choosing the stove for your home. That is not a decision you will be making every day, so you should not be too thrifty, but you should not break your wallet either.

When it comes to the price tag, there is not much difference between wood and pellet stoves.

Pellet Stove

  • The price of a pellet stove ranges somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000, but that is without the installation fees. Once you add the cost of the professional installation, it can total up to $4,000. Of course, it all depends on the model you choose.
  • The good news is that pellet stoves are much more flexible when it comes to installation. How so? Well, they require only a small hole in your wall to ventilate through making them suitable for installing almost anywhere in your home. If you do not have a chimney, you will not have to invest in one either.

Wood Stove

  • In average, installing a modern wood stove will set you back by at least $3,000, but if you want all the bells and whistles, it can be as high as $5,000 as well. Once again, it all depends on what kind of model you are looking to install.
  • Good news? You might save some money if you already have a chimney or your house already comes with a fireplace. Unfortunately, if your house has none of the two, you should be prepared for quite a costly investment.

2. Fuel Efficiency

As you know, pellet stove and wood stove do not use the same fuel source. While the traditional wood stove requires the use of firewood, pellet stove utilizes wood pellets as fuel.

Before you decide which one is better for you, you need to know how much it will cost per season as well as how much heat it will provide you with.

Pellet Stove

  • An average pellet stove will require approximately 7.5 tons of pellet per season. Knowing that one ton of pellets costs a little below $200, you can easily calculate the overall cost per season.
  • Pellets are manufactured from sawdust and small wood chips, and they are sold in most specialized stores in our country. However, if you live in a remote area, you might need to invest extra time and money into obtaining this type of fuel.
  • Unlike wood, pellets are never available in your own backyard; you have to find a way to purchase them and ship them to your home. Add that to a slightly higher cost per year (compared to firewood), and you can give a small advantage to logs.
  • Yet, there is one more thing to consider, pellets burn longer than wood, and that can make them more cost efficient in the long run. Namely, pellet stoves have an average output of 13.6 million per ton of pellets of which you use 11.3 million BTUs of actual heat. If you calculate, the overall efficiency of pellet fuel comes in at approximately 83%.

Wood Stove

  • If you opt for the wood stove, you will require about 6.5 tons of wood per season. A ton of wood costs almost as much as the ton of pellet so there will not be much difference in the final countdown.
  • However, if you have an opportunity to harvest wood on your property, and you do not need to buy it, it will certainly be a better fuel option for you. In general, wood is more accessible as it is also sold by a cord (stacked wood equaling 4 feet high x 8 feet long x 4 feet deep) in most stores.
  • You should also take into account the cost of cutting wood into appropriate logs as well as the work and time you will need to invest into bringing it into your house and stacking it up.
  • According to the Department of Agriculture , each cord produces 15.3 million BTUs, but you will benefit from 10.7 million BTUs. This makes wood far less efficient when it comes to the actual heat you can use as the efficiency level of the wood stove comes in at only 70%.

Important Note: Pellet Stoves require electricity to operate

  • Unlike a wood stove, pellet stove requires power. Wood stoves function the same as 100 years ago - you add wood, light it up, and you are good to go, but pellet stoves require electricity to power motorized hopper which feeds the pellets into them.
  • If power outages are a common thing in your area, you will have to invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) backup battery or generator as well, or you might end up with a cold stove when you need heat the most. Of course, there is an added cost to your electricity bill as well (about $10 per month).

3. The Degree of "Greenness"

Both pellet stoves and wood stoves have come a lot closer to achieving cleaner, greener operation. Who is closer to this noble goal? Let's see...

Pellet Stove

  • The best thing about pellet stoves is that they emit almost no smoke, to be precise their smoke production is less than 1 gram per hour while the CO2 production of pellet stoves amounts to mere 0.035 pounds per kilowatt-hour (data taken from the Biomass Energy Centre in the UK).
  • If you want to preserve our environment, you will be glad to know that pellet used by these stoves is, in essence, a recycled product manufactured from wood waste

Wood Stove

  • In the old days, wood stoves produced whooping 40 grams (or even more) of smoke per hour; nowadays the numbers are far brighter as smoke production of wood stoves has been reduced to somewhere between 2 to 7.5 grams per hour. The CO2 production of modern EPA-certified wood-burning stoves is about 0.0612 pounds per kilowatt-hour (according to the Biomass Energy Centre in the UK).
  • It is great to know that both pellet and wood are “carbon-neutral” fuels meaning that they do not represent a hazard to our beloved planet.

4. Safety

It is always dangerous to play with fire, and therefore you should make sure that the stove you choose is in accordance with all the current safety requirements. How did pellet stoves and wood stoves rank in terms of safety?

Pellet Stove

  • Pellet stoves are safer than wood stoves thanks to the facts that there are no open flames. Contained fire eliminates the risk of flying sparks or embers keeping you, your loved ones and your home safe from harm.
  • You should, however, remember that pellet stoves do become hot on the outside and make sure family members, guests, and pets are at a safe distance at all times.

Wood Stove

  • Wood stoves have been known to cause house fires or burn people. The open flames can give off flame sparks and cause immediate harm, but there is also a long-term risk from fires caused by the accumulated creosote deposits.
  • Furthermore, firewood can endanger your health by bringing g mold or pests into your home.

5. Maintenance

No matter which type of stove you choose you will have to dedicate some time and effort to properly maintain it, especially if you want it to last long and remain safe to use.

Pellet Stove

  • Pellet stoves, do not require any costly or complicated maintenance. You will have to follow manufacturer recommendations and check on motors and fans from time to time, but that is all.
  • Unfortunately, once the pellet stove brokes it might not be an easy task to find a suitable repairman in your neighborhood, and the cost of servicing motors or electronic circuit board can be quite high as well.

Wood Stove

  • Besides having to clean soot and residue regularly, you will have to pay for an annual inspection of the system by a certified chimney sweep. The catalytic combustor has to be inspected three times per heating season as well.

6. The Looks

People say looks don't matter, but we all know it is not so in real life. We all like to be surrounded by beautiful things, don't we?

  • Good news is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and thus we find beauty in different things. You will, therefore, decide which is more aesthetically appealing for you: pellet or wood stove?
  • Both types of stoves come in an array of different models of all shapes and colors, so the decision comes down to whether you are a traditionalist or not. How so?
  • Well, if you cannot resist the romantic allure of the burning log, the wood stove is your only logical choice. Pellet stoves simply cannot measure to that, although they might be great looking on their own. 🙂

Related: ​​​​Where there's smoke there's fire: Best Propane Smoker & Best Smoker Grill Combo


Final Countdown: Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove

In the battle of pellet stove vs. wood stove there are no obvious winners. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Of course, it would be foolish from me not to notice that pellet stoves are obviously better as far as fuel efficiency, safety, and maintenance are concerned, but you might be a person who prioritizes aesthetics or tend to stick to tradition.

Who am I to judge you? Hack, I might be the same too. 🙂

Therefore, I will not tell you what my choice is; you are better off believing in your good judgment!

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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