Wood Stoves Vs Pellet Stoves – Design, Fueling, Usage, Safety & Heat Output

Choosing a stove for your fireplace can be quite tricky especially when it comes to making the pick between stoves that burn similar fuel; here, we’re talking about wood stoves and pellet stoves.

What are the differences and similarities? What will best suit your needs?

All of these are important questions needing the right answers. With the right answer, you’re able to determine what best fits your needs or what stove type to get for your fireplace.

We’re all about helping you achieve your desire.

So wood or pellet stove, which one should you buy? See a guide on wood stove vs fireplace.

Pellet Stove Vs Wood Burning Stove: Compare Design, Cost, Power, Fuel & Safety

Stoves are quite popular as home heating devices.

Unlike traditional fireplaces, they provide better and more efficient combustion.

However, the stove type (in terms of the fuel being used) considered the most efficient seems to have created a divide with ongoing debates on what works best.

As you read through this article, you should find as much information about the topic under consideration. So without further delay, let’s begin;

A Common Feature Of New Generation Wood and Pellet-Burning Stoves

To lay the groundwork for our discussion, we first have to list or mention the features both pellet and wood stoves have in common.

First off, these are both called new generation designs due to significant improvements over older designs.

Such improvements border on cleaner combustion, more efficient in terms of operability as well as durability in design. What more?

The heating efficiencies of both pellet and wood stoves are enough to heat many average-sized modern homes.

Now, we’ll delve into additional details about wood and pellet stoves. Although these two look similar in varying ways, there are fundamental differences as you’ll soon see.

Wood Stoves

In making your pick for a wood stove, you’ll have to make several considerations. That is because variations are involved.

You’ll have to consider choosing between a freestanding stove or an insert, the size & heat output, its ease of use, ash bin, blower, DEFRA or EPA approved, and efficiency among several others.

  • Fuel Consideration

Wood stoves are already designed to use wood as fuel.

However, this is only ideal for use when it serves your purpose better than a pellet stove. In other words, it’s preferable to get this stove over others if your wish is to use wood that offers simplicity.

  • Freestanding or Insert

If your bias is towards buying a wood stove, then you may want to consider looking at other aspects of its operation.

That is, choosing between a freestanding wood stove or a fireplace insert. As suggested by the name, a freestanding woodstove functions as a standalone.

In other words, it has greater flexibility and can be placed wherever you want it to be. However, the fireplace or stove insert will need to be installed into an existing fireplace. This too functions effectively but requires a fireplace.

  • The Size and Heat Output

With wood stoves comes the need to choose the right size that’s designed to efficiently heat your home space.

Wood stoves come in different sizes. Getting one which isn’t the perfect size will result in overheating or over-firing your stove which ends up damaging it.

  • Ease of Use

A wood stove shouldn’t be complex or difficult to operate.

This is an important consideration to make when buying one. Different designs come with varying numbers of air vents. There are those with a single air vent while others have double. You’ll need to pick which is easier for you.

  • Ash Bin

Ash bins serve an important function in wood stoves. These come with removable ash bins.

Such ash bins enable you easily remove ashes between fires which are typical with wood stoves. This is an important component as it helps your wood stove burn longer.

  • Blower

Improved wood stove designs come with a blower. These help to push heated air out into your room. You might want to look out for these types of wood stoves.

  • EPA Approved

EPA-approved wood stoves give you the added confidence that you’re using an efficient product with little to no negative impact (emissions) on the environment. Such stoves are also efficient heating systems.

  • Efficiency

There are efficiency ratings that accompany wood stoves. This makes things even easier as you can easily pick up those having the highest ratings. Such stoves will efficiently burn wood resulting in proper heating of your home.

Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves are quite sophisticated heating devices that come at an added advantage; low-cost heating. As earlier stated, their fuels are made from recycled sawdust, wood shavings, or corn.

Others include peanut shells and walnut. These pellets or fuels are sold in 40-pound bags.

  • Freestanding or Insert?

Like wood stoves, pellet stoves come in both freestanding stoves as well as fireplace inserts. Your needs will determine the product you go for. Freestanding pellet stoves shave the advantage of being placed wherever you want them to be. However, the same cannot be said for fireplace inserts.

Pellet inserts will require an existing fireplace to install. This means they aren’t as versatile or can’t be moved around like freestanding pellet stoves.

  • The Cost Angle

When it comes to comparing the cost between wood stoves and fireplace inserts, there’s a clear difference. Pellet stoves are more sophisticated, hence cost more than wood stoves.

However, the energy-saving benefits derived make them more preferred.

  • Fuel

Pellet stoves are designed to combust pellets. Compared to wood fuels, pellets burn much cleaner and produce more heat than wood stoves. This results in the release of less particulate matter into the air.

So, why are pellet fuels more efficient burners than wood? The answer is simple!

The process of production contributes significantly to their efficiency. Pellets are highly compressed to squeeze out moisture. This significantly drops their moisture content, thus making them dryer.

Now, dryer fuels produce more heat than those which aren’t as dry such as wood. Now, pellet stoves are meant to be highly efficient. These factors contribute to giving off far less creosote, thus lessening the chances of a chimney fire.

  • These Aren’t Perfect

Although we’ve stated the many benefits pellet stoves have over wood stoves, these heating devices aren’t perfect.

Compared to wood stoves, pellet stoves are much complex to operate. There are more moving parts and motors which end up needing more maintenance than wood stoves.

However, there are ways you can go around their complexity. When buying one, you should be specific about getting less complex models.

Other Points To Compare

To better understand the differences between pellet and wood stoves, you’ll have to look at different points of comparison. These enable us to have a rough measure of what edge one stove type has over the other.

Such points of comparison include power, fuel cost, safety, and environmentally friendly aspects.

What more? We’ll also be looking at aesthetics, performance, and maintenance. All of these are vital areas that give us a better idea of what works best.

Let’s have a look at each of these points.

  • Aesthetics

Aesthetics basically have to do with the looks of both stove types.

Which of these two types have the most appeal? Wood stoves do. With wood stoves, you get to see the dancing flames plus the noise coming from sparks

This article has focused on the different areas of comparison between pellet stoves and wood stoves. If you had wondered what to buy based on the above considerations, you should have your answer by now.

  • Power

How are pellet stoves and wood stoves powered? Is a power source required for these to function? For pellet stoves, some power in the form of electricity is required for their smooth functioning.

These stoves come with motorized hoppers that help with feeding pellets into the stove.

In the absence of electricity, such hoppers won’t function unless of course, you have an alternative power source. On average, the power needed for this function is around 100-kilowatt hours every month.

This translates to approximately $9 monthly in utility expenses added to total costs.

Wood stoves on the other hand have no such need for power.

With these, you get to heat your home independent of electrical power. From this feature alone, it’s evident that those wood stoves have a clear edge.

  • Fuel Types

As their names suggest, wood and pellet stoves burn different fuels.

Unlike wood stoves that burn wood, pellet stoves are designed to burn pellets. Now, such pellets are made from corn recycled wood shavings as well as sawdust. These are efficient fuels for this stove type and produce the needed heat

So, although these are in varying forms, the main constituent remains wood.

The names alone reveal what type of fuel is combusted in these types of stoves (that is, pellet and wood stoves).

Pellet fuels are actually in compressed pellet form. Such pellets could either be made from wood or other biomass or a combination of both.

In terms of the benefits of pellet fuels, there are actually several such as being sustainable and providing a cost-effective fuel option for heating homes. What more?

Pellet fuels are much more convenient to use and are eco-friendly. There’s a clear advantage over fossil fuels as they are made from renewable materials.

Wood fuels on the other hand have their own benefits. Most of the benefits are quite similar to those of pellets and include low cost, serving as an environmentally friendly option as well as ready accessibility.

There’s also sustainability when it comes to wood fuel usage in stoves.

  • Fuel Cost

We earlier mentioned that both pellet and wood fuels are considered cost-effective. Even at that, there is a need to compare to see where both measure up. This helps give us a picture of which is the cheapest.

For pellet stoves, an average of 7.5 tons will be used per season.

When translated to real figures, this will amount to about $190 a ton. Multiplied by 7.5 tons, you get approximately $1,425.

This is what you’ll be spending as fuel (pellet) costs each season.

Wood stoves on the other will require roughly 6.5 tons per season. This is the volume of wood to be combusted in a stove. Now, a ton costs approximately $190 per ton. When multiplied by 6.5 tons, you have about $1,235.

This is the average cost of wood to be used per season.

It’s still evident here that wood stove has the edge as it’s a bit cheaper than pellet fuels, but that isn’t all. Let’s have a look at the other points of comparison.

  • Safety

Safety comes first when using any heating device.

Fire outbreaks may occur when either stove isn’t used correctly. So, how do these two measure up against each other using the safety index?

Compared to woodstoves, pellet stoves tend to be safe with much cleaner combustion. There are also zero flying embers as is common with wood stoves.

Extra caution needs to be taken to keep away from the heat generated.

With wood stoves, there are many safety concerns.

You tend to have sudden sparks that could cause fires when combustible materials are close. Also, there’s a risk of getting burnt from such sparks.

What more? Stored wood could harbor pests that can be brought indoors.

In terms of safety, pellet stoves come out tops. These do not create creosotes as wood stoves do. Plus, they burn cleaner.

  • Environmentally Friendly

Recall we earlier said both pellet and wood stoves are environmentally friendly, but to what degree are these stoves environmentally friendly?

Here, we’ll need to consider the volume of smoke production.

For pellet stoves, less than a gram of smoke per hour is produced. This translates to about 0.035 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. In practical terms, pretty much no visible smoke is produced.

This is quite different from a wood stove.

With wood stoves, about 2 to 7.5 grams of smoke are produced every hour. This translates to about 0.0612 pounds of CO2 being produced per kilowatt-hour.

The difference is quite clear here. Pellet stoves tend to have cleaner combustions, hence are more environmentally friendly than wood stoves.


This article seeks to make key comparisons between pellet stoves and wood stoves. Which is best in terms of combustion efficiency?

Also, what stove type is easier or more convenient to operate?

If you’ve also pondered on these questions, this article further helped by identifying key aspects of comparisons.

Wood stoves and pellet stoves are important heating devices. Although both are designed to supply heat, we’ve seen the differences between the two.

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