The Expert Guide to Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Burning Stoves

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on June 9, 2021

Heating your home using a wood-burning stove combines a warm fuel source with a stunning visual appearance. These appliances make an excellent addition to a living room or kitchen and are suitable for use all year round. Because these stoves don’t take up much space, they fit neatly into compact spaces in your home.

Pellet stoves and wood stoves operate similarly, but there are crucial differences that can determine which model is the most suitable choice for your needs. These appliances represent a significant investment, so it’s vital to consider each criterion before purchasing.

Read on to learn whether a pellet stove or wood stove is the best choice for your home.

The Expert Guide to Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove
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Table of Contents

Stove Appearance and Noise

When pellet stoves first entered the home heating market, they had a basic box-like appearance. Fortunately, modern models come in a range of attractive designs, making them virtually indistinguishable from stylish wood stoves. 

Since pellet stoves use an auger to feed pellet stoves into a pot, and a convection blower pushes heat out into the room, pellet stoves are noisier than wood stoves. However, you can find ones with lower noise ratings to create a comforting hum in the background of your home.

While you can view the logs burning in a wood stove, you can see the fire in a pellet stove as well. Both provide a unique aesthetic that create a warm and cozy ambiance in your living room or den.

Stove Size

One of the most crucial considerations when choosing a heating stove is to select a model that is of an appropriate size. If you purchase a too small model, you’ll end up with cold spots in your room. However, installing a too-large stove means you have to carefully limit your fuel usage to avoid overheating your home. 

An approximate guideline is that a wood or pellet stove with a British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating of 42,000 can heat a home measuring up to 1,300 ft². If you own a house measuring 2,000 ft², a stove producing 60,000 BTUs is optimal. 

Both wood-fired and pellet stoves come in numerous sizes, so you should be able to find one that is suitable for heating your home with a pleasant warmth.

Stove Convenience

When deciding between a pellet stove vs. wood stove, convenience is a significant consideration

Stove temperature

You need to add more logs or firewood to a wood stove to maintain a high heat level. You also have to use a poker to stoke the fire to allow oxygen to keep the flames alive. If you put too much wood on the fire, the heat level may become uncomfortable, so you need to use precise judgment when adding fuel.

A pellet stove uses an auger to feed pellets into the firebox. You can set your desired heat level, and a pellet stove maintains that set temperature throughout the day. This feature can be handy if you leave the house for several hours because you can look forward to returning to a warm and cozy room. 

Fuel storage 

Although it’s best to keep your wood stove logs in a dry place, you can still get a vibrant fire lit if they are slightly damp. This factor is important because many consumers don’t have room to keep a bag of logs in their homes. Using a shed or garage as a fuel storage location ensures your home doesn’t become cluttered with firewood. You can carry in small amounts of wood whenever you need to light your stove. 

In contrast, it’s essential to keep pellets dry in an indoor location, or they may not burn. Retailers often sell wood pellets in 40 lbs. bags, but this weight may be too heavy for some people to move. You can use a container and place small amounts of pellets to take to your appliance, but this might be too much hassle for many consumers. 

Stove Installation

If you already have a fireplace or chimney in your home, installing a pellet or wood stove is relatively straightforward. There are different methods of installing a stove depending on which model you buy, but many pellet stoves only require a vent or small chimney system for safe and efficient operation. Remember that your pellet stove also requires an electricity supply to power the system.

Wood stoves may require a more extensive chimney system, and you could find the installation costs are higher. However, they only require wood to keep their fire burning, so there is no need to worry about connecting to your home electricity supply.

Stove Safety

When considering the benefits of a pellet stove vs. a wood stove, safety is of the utmost importance. Both stove types are safe, but pellet stoves have the edge when it comes to reducing the risk of inflicting physical harm on the user or causing property damage.

When you stoke a wood stove to keep the fire alive, there is a chance sparks may leap out and make contact with your skin, clothing, or your floor. You may misjudge how quickly flames could flare up, which could lead to severe injury. 

These issues don’t arise when using a pellet stove because the auger controls the number of pellets it feeds into the firebox to maintain a steady heat level. The flames are more consistent, and there is no need for human interventions aside from adding more pellets to the auger. 

Wood stoves may also build-up creosote deposits, which can be highly flammable. It’s essential to clean these deposits from your wood stove, or it could contribute to a house fire. Pellet stoves do not suffer from this problem, and they also come with automatic safety shut-off features in the event of a malfunction. 

If safety is a deciding factor, a pellet stove is the better option.

Stove Maintenance

Both stove types produce ash and soot, and you need to regularly clean the appliances to keep them in efficient working condition. However, wood stoves tend to make more mess, and you also need to ensure a professional inspects and cleans the chimney on a regular schedule. 

It’s good practice to check the parts of a pellet stove, such as the auger, to ensure they are in working order, but the maintenance requirements are less than when using a wood stove.

You Can’t Go Wrong

Choosing between a pellet stove and a wood stove is a nice decision to make. Both models provide plenty of warmth and are an attractive addition to any home. Whichever stove you choose, it will make an excellent addition to your cabin, living room, or man cave.

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