When it comes to house renovation, there is no worthy investment other than adding a heating solution. Besides keeping your house warm and comfortable during cold seasons, investing in a reliable heat source will eventually pay off when selling the property; the value will likely increase. An ideal home heating solution should be easy to use, attract hassle-free maintenance, and add an aesthetic appeal. Most importantly, most homeowners a heating solution that lowers electricity and utility costs. After all, sometimes you may need to light the heater for nearly 20 hours, especially during winters.
If you prefer instant radiant heat that keeps your family warm for the most prolonged period, pellet and wood stoves sound like the go-to options. Radiant heat is comfortable, and you can sit close to the heating source for prolonged hours. However, while both heating options may provide reliable radiant heat, they differ in operation and efficiency. A home that finds pellet stoves more comfortable may not prefer a wood stove, and vice versa. Which one is the better option? Which one meets your heating needs without breaking the bank.
This article highlights the top features and benefits of each stove to help you make the best decision. We also answer the most frequently asked questions about these heaters and give the best recommendation overall at the end.
Choosing the Best Stove for Your Home Applications
When choosing an auxiliary source of heat, you would want to consider all the features and benefits of both pellet and wood stoves. Since both stoves have their pros and cons, you would also like an option that gives you a long and satisfying experience. Besides the frequency of use, here are the other potential considerations for your research:
1. Stove System and Application
In terms of application and installation styles, both wood and pellet stoves are nearly similar and perform the same objective; keeping your family warm. You can find pellet and wood stoves in both insert and freestanding installation designs. Both systems are ideal for heating family homes, sheds, and other applicable areas. Pellet and wood stoves come in multiple designs and finish to suit the look of your home décor. You’ll unlikely lack an option that matches your design needs and aesthetic preferences.
Also, keep in mind that pellet and wood stove designs are for space heating. Thus, they only supply heat around the installation spot. In that case, don’t expect high performance compared to a duct system that supplies heat to the entire house. If you install a wood or pellet stove in the living room area, that is the only spot in your home that will experience radiant heat.
2. What is the Heating Performance?
The performance of both wood and pellet stoves cannot match solid-fueled heating systems. The latter has a virtue that the former does not; hence, they generate noticeable heat. On the other hand, pinpointing which one has a better heating performance between wood and pellet stoves is relatively tricky. The amount of heat experienced depends on the size and quality of the wood or pellet stoves installed. Also, you cannot just opt for a big sized stove because you want to experience a higher heating performance. Actually, it can be disastrous. Having a big pellet or wood stove means you’ll set it low most of the time. Thus the wood fuel will likely burn inefficiently and prove more costly in the long haul.
Which option guarantees the most efficient heating performance? We consider many factors involved in determining the exact heat output of a particular stove. Thus, giving the actual efficiency is relatively unpredictable or guesswork at its best. The actual heat performance of your wood stove depends on air circulation around the room and the type of wood fuel used. Pellet stoves offer a more controlled burn environment than wood stoves. Thus, a high-quality pellet stove will likely exhibit higher efficiency and superior heating performance.
3. The Cost of Installing Pellet or Wood Burning Stoves
Both pellet and wood burning stoves have nearly similar price ranges. The price tag of each model reflects its heat output and general performance. A typical, high-quality wood or pellet stove for whole family use will likely cost you about $2,500. In addition to the initial buying cost, you’ll also need to budget for installation costs, which range in different regions, homes, and aesthetic preferences. For instance, the estimated cost of installing a freestanding pellet stove and freestanding wood stove is $1,200 and $2,500, respectively. The installation costs for wood stoves are high because a new heating system will often require installing a chimney or a vent.
Moreover, installing a freestanding wood burning system is relatively easy and less costly than insert because they can use existing chimneys, and you may not have to install another one. Also, even though the initial price for pellet stoves is a bit expensive, installing these systems is generally easier and cheaper. That said, pellet stoves win in terms of relatively affordable installation costs, though by a small margin. This is because you’ll likely experience fewer major works and complications during the installation.
4. Heating Fuel Costs
The cost of heating fuel largely depends on the frequency of use and the duration of heating. Furthermore, the size of your heating stove (whether wood or pellet) significantly determines how much you’ll spend on fuel. A family that heats their living space for more extended periods will likely spend more on fuel than families that don’t. Similarly, a big-sized stove translates to more wood or pellets, even if it’s burning for a relatively short period. And as previously noted, big stoves burn inefficiently, hence higher fuel costs.
Which option guarantees the lowest heating fuel costs? According to many homeowners, burning hardwood logs is relatively affordable than wood pellets. The average price of burning hardwood logs is about $15.87, while that of pellets is $19.5. Though a slight variation, it can make a big expenditure difference, especially if you light your stove for prolonged hours. Besides the type of fuel, going for an advanced, modern stove can also help you save fuel costs. The latest designs come with thermostatic temperature controls that signal when it’s time to add more fuel. That means you’ll only burn the required amount of fuel based on your aesthetic settings and preferences instead of filling the burning chamber blindly.
5. Ease of Use
If you’re not familiar with how pellet and wood stoves work, it will take you a while before getting a hold of the process. Nevertheless, you still want the best option that guarantees easy usage, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user. Pellet stoves may sound like the easiest to use because most suppliers advertise them as automatic. Even so, these systems have a learning curve that will likely give you a short period of trial and error before getting it right. For instance, you have to get used to choosing the best pellets and starting the fire. You’ll also need to learn how to adjust different settings on the control panel.
On the other hand, lighting a wood stove can be relatively challenging as opposed to electric fireplaces. These heating systems have the firebox contained, making it difficult to establish an instant fire. You’ll also need to control the temperature using fuel load or the air shutter adjustment. Generally, running both a wood and a pellet stove requires a lot of learning, patience, and effort. Even so, you’ll enjoy the luxuries of added radiant heat and ambiance just after starting a few fires. To have a good experience, we recommend leveraging the manufacturer’s user guide on choosing the best wood and kindle for your stove.
6. Maintenance Costs and Needs
Whether you opt for pellet or wood burning stoves, maintenance is vital to enhance efficiency and prolong the system’s lifespan. Additionally, thorough care guarantees the safety of your property and valuables. Remember, both pellet and wood stove poses a high fire risk if handled carelessly. Either system requires periodic maintenance, which can be daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or as recommended and directed by the manufacturer. For pellet stoves, daily maintenance may include checking the pellet hopper, and the burn stops before emptying and cleaning the ash pan every week. Annual maintenance may include professional cleaning and safety check by a certified technician.
On the other hand, wood stoves have more maintenance needs than pellet designs. You’ll need to empty ash build-up daily and check the door seal every week. Just like pellet designs, you’ll hire a certified technician to conduct a professional check every year. If you buy a stove with a warranty, the manufacturer may offer free labor and service for the first one or two years. However, you’ll need to clean the chimney to your wood stove at least twice during heating seasons.
Pros and Cons to Pellet and Wood Stoves
Before deciding on whether to go for wood stove vs pellet stove, you’ll need to consider a couple of pros and cons to each design. This is a deal-breaker in guaranteeing a relatively good experience or 100% customer satisfaction. Have these other considerations in mind when comparing wood and pellet stoves:
Pellet Stoves Require Electrical Conductivity
Pellet stoves require electrical power to run. Hence, these designs don’t make a go-to option if you reside in an area with an unreliable electricity supply. Also, it will help if you have access to the primary grid because other power sources such as solar may be unreliable during bad weather. If you have to use a pellet stove, you would also want an uninterruptible power supply backup. Even so, your experience depends on the size of the UPS. Remember, running a battery-powered pellet stove is relatively costly.
Pellet Stoves Are Safe
All pellet stoves come with advanced safety features, making them a go-to option for many homeowners. For instance, a high-quality system comes with an advanced exhaust sensing probe that shuts down the system after detecting abnormally high temperatures. The pressure switch shuts down when it detects a faulty venting system. Most importantly, pellet stoves have an automatic shut down in the event of extreme burn and temperatures.
Wood Stoves Have Worse Environmental Impact
Most modern pellet stoves have ultra-efficient designs that produce nearly zero emissions. Moreover, these systems use a controlled burning source. However, the situation is different in wood stoves. Their efficiency depends on several factors such as the type of wood and the moisture content in the fuel. Hence, their impact on the environment is adverse compared to pellet stoves since they produce more ash. Even so, you can use the waste ash on your composite.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is Better, a Wood Stove or Pellet Stove?
A pellet stove is better if you’re an environment-conscious homeowner or have reliable electricity connectivity. Pellet stoves are also a go-to option if you want a heating system with advances, automatic features. On the other hand, going for a wood stove makes sense if you have ready access to firewood or alternative use for ash waste, say a composite.
Which is Cheaper, a Wood Stove or Pellet Stove?
Pellet stoves are cheaper than a wood stoves in many ways. For instance, you won’t spend a fortune on installing a freestanding pellet stove. Similarly, a pellet stove has fewer maintenance needs than a wood stove.
How Long Will a 40 lb. Bag of Wood Pellets Burn?
A 40 lb. bag of wood pellets takes around 24 hours to burn, depending on your temperature settings and the stove’s size.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Pellet Stove?
The pros of a pellet stove outweigh its cons. Besides burning with fewer to zero emissions, installing a pellet stove is relatively easy and cheaper than wood designs. Also, you only need to empty the ash try weekly instead of daily in wood stoves. However, pellet stoves require electrical power, and you may likely experience hiked energy and utility bills.
The Bottom Line: Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove
From the preceding features and information, a pellet stove makes a better option than wood stoves. Besides the relatively affordable costs, a pellet stove gives you all the benefits of a wood stove, with fewer emissions to reduce environmental impact. Moreover, burning wood pellets is relatively easy than hardwood logs. Pellet stoves have occasional maintenance needs, and you’ll likely have an enjoyable experience after installing one in your home. Even so, the best choice depends on your situation and complex needs.
Homeowners residing in areas where firewood is readily available will find a better option in a wood stove. Thus, weigh all the pros against the cons of owning a particular stove before making your decision. Most importantly, don’t forget to buy your stove from authorized vendors to enjoy a warranty and complimentary after-sale services.