wood stove vs pellet stove

Wood Stove vs. Pellet Stoves – Buying Guide (August. 2017)

With fall approaching, it is time to say goodbye to the hot summer days and get ready for colder weather. Arming your home with a heater is a smart way to prepare for the transition in seasons and to keep warm. Rising fuel costs have pushed many homeowners to buy natural fuel heaters in order to cut utility costs.  However, the multitude of models/features/prices may be overwhelming and confusing. The first thing to consider is the fuel type you prefer, so we going to use this article to help differentiate your two main options. You can’t go wrong with either choice, but let’s take a closer look.



Fuel Cost

The focal difference between the two types is the fuel they use to operate.


Wood burning devices obviously use logs as fuel. Finding firewood to use is cheap and convenient. There are plenty of opportunities to acquire it for free, and purchasing it is cheaper than buying pellets in the long run. A few good scavenging ideas are: dead or dying trees, tree clearing at a new building site, landfills, etc. If you can split your own firewood then you are in even better shape.


Wood pellets, made up of concentrated sawdust and wood chips, are used as the fuel. Pellets are made by special manufacturers and sold in home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. They can also be ordered online or purchased from local dealers (local varieties often best). They are typically sold in 40 pound bags that store well if kept away from moisture. People who use this type of heater often burn through around 2-3 tons of pellets during the winter time. For this reason, we recommend that you buy all your fuel up front because shortages can be common if local suppliers run out.

Powering Source

The power that either type requires to operate is another characteristic that distinguishes them.

Wood Burning Stoves

These operate just like fireplaces. You add your fuel, light it, and stoke as needed. A key factor in their operation is that they do not need external power or electricity to work. They are always operational as long as there is fuel available. If your home is prone to power outages, these are your best option.

Pellet Fueled Stoves

Unlike their competitor, these depend on an external power source in order to run. Electricity is a necessity for pellet stoves to function, so if the power goes out, so does your heat. The electricity is used to operate a motorized hopper that shoots the pellets inside the burn chamber. Nonetheless, a backup generator or alternative power supply can be used to run the machine during power outages.

Environmental Friendliness

Neither option emits hazardous levels of smoke and carbon, but there is a slight difference that should be considered if minimizing environmental impact is a priority.

Wood Burners

They release about 2 to 7.5 grams of smoke every hour. This is a minimal amount and is accepted by EPA standards.

Pellet Burners

They release almost no smoke, at an amount less than 1 gram per hour. Furthermore, pellets are made up of wood waste, and using them as fuel is a form of recycling them because you keep them out of landfills.


These products are not toys (or simply home decorations) and precautions should always be taken when there is fire involved. The two types operate differently and have their own safety factors. Understandably, both become extremely hot, and small children and pets should be kept away.

Wood Stove 

Much like fireplaces, they can emit sparks that can cause burns. Additionally, the firewood brought inside the home may bring pests from the outside.

Pellet Stove

These innovative machines don’t have the risks mentioned above because they burn cleaner and safer. This will allow you and your family to avoid erratically flying embers, but also lose out on a more attractive flame pattern.

Stove Maintenance

Each type requires different forms of maintenance and cleaning.

Wood Stoves

If you have ever owned a fireplace, you know the process. Both need to be cleaned after usage and have excess ash removed. Furthermore, a certified chimney professional should annually inspect the system.

Pellet Stoves

Maintenance is a straightforward process that can be done by following the manufacturer’s guide. Here’s a reminder to make sure you select the best pellet stove. Simple checks of the motors and fans, as well as removing used pellets is all you need in regards to upkeep. That being said, we do still recommend an annual inspection by a certified pro.


Buying a new heater is a great investment for your home that comes at a reasonable cost. The price differences between models that burn logs vs. pelletized wood are slim, so that should not influence which type you decide to purchase. There are many other factors that should have higher priority. Both styles have lower end and premium options based on quality and performance. Overall, finding a product that matches your budget should be a relatively simple task.

Key Considerations

Wood Stove

  • No power required (essential if your home is prone to frequent outages)
  • Uses firewood/logs to operate
  • Offers more intense heat
  • More attractive flame pattern
  • Provides the homely ambiance of a fireplace
  • Usually requires a chimney to vent out smoke

Pellet Stove

  • More convenient to maintain and easier to clean
  • Requires electricity
  • Can run for a long period of time unattended
  • Often noisier than wood version
  • Relies on pellets to operate
  • Steady, soft heat (controllable thermostat)
  • Easier to install
  • Can be vented through a small hole in the wall, rather than a chimney

Final Thoughts

Both options have clear advantages, and although this post was titled “wood stove VS pellet stove” we guarantee that you will be satisfied with either one. This being said, compare the pros and cons between the two and decide which features are most beneficial for you. These products are growing in popularity because of their cost-saving and convenience benefits. Your decision to invest in an appliance that keeps your family and home warm is remarkable, and we are happy to help you along the way.

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