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Pellet Stoves vs Wood Stoves: Which One Is Better?

In a home improvement, adding a wood or pellet stove is the best investment you can make. This heating option is easy to use, lowers gas/electric bills, can be added to the coldest rooms, and is a remarkable visual addition.

As you get ready for the transition, you will have to answer this question: which is better, pellet or wood stove? Pellet stoves can be placed in the same family as wood-burning stoves. So are pellet stoves as good as wood stoves? To better answer this question, you must review both options individually, and fireplaces in Toronto generally. By the end of this post, you will know what is more efficient, a pellet stove or a wood stove.


Cost: Is a Pellet Stove Cheaper Than a Wood Stove?

Are wood stoves worth it, or is the pellet stove worth the cost? The first thing you have to consider when comparing pellet and wood stoves is the cost of installation and the running costs. Wood stoves are generally priced the same as pellet stoves. This is unless you have your own free source of wood, in which case wood stoves would be cheaper to operate. Also, the installation cost is quite similar. So how much do wood stoves cost? The cost is between $3,000 and $5,000. As for how much do pellet stoves cost, the cost runs from $3,500 to $4,000.

The cost differs in the price of pellets and firewood. Wood stoves can burn firewood and wood scraps, whereas pellet stoves only burn pellets. The availability of pellets and firewood may vary from one area to the next. When the availability is scarce, the cost will be high.

How Do You Run A Pellet Stove vs a Wood Stove?

Another aspect that distinguishes wood and pellet stoves are how they operate. The wood stove works similarly to a fireplace. You purchase wood, add it to the stove and light it. These stoves operate free of power. No electricity is needed, thus making them ideal for use anytime provided timber is available. Concerning how do you run a wood stove efficiently, consider getting pre-cut logs and choose a stove with an eco-boost technology, which can burn wood for up to 24 hours.

Pellet stoves, on the other hand, rely on electricity to operate. The stove requires electricity to power a motorized hopper which feeds pellets into the stove. With that being said, can pellet stoves run 24/7? It depends on whether you have a backup source of power. When the power goes out, the fire stops. There is, however, a way around this issue. If there is no power, you can use a generator or an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) backup battery.

In terms of how they run, the woodstove wins in this category. This is for the simple fact that pellet stoves need extra resources and expenses to operate. Bearing in mind electricity is essential in the operation of a pellet stove, if there is a power outage and you have no backup power, you may be left without heat on a chilly winter day. Paying for at least 100 kilowatt-hours (about $9) every month is also not as attractive.

Pros and Cons of Maintaining Pellet Stoves and Wood Stoves

Taking a look at the pros and cons of each stove can simplify decision-making. Here are the main pros:

Wood stoves

  • Require minimal maintenance: As to how often should a wood-burning stove be serviced, the answer is annual chimney sweeping and occasional glass cleaning. Ash drawers don’t need to be emptied often. Pellet stoves have to be cleaned weekly.
  • Uses renewable, carbon-neutral fuel.
  • Produces beautiful glowing ember with the crackle of a fire.
  • They burn hotter than pellet stoves.
  • Freestanding wood stoves can be installed almost anywhere in a house.
  • Doesn’t require electricity to work.
  • Available in numerous customization options.

Pellet stoves

  • Require minimal effort to operate, thanks to the feeder, which loads pellets into the fire.
  • Use renewable, carbon-neutral fuel.
  • The flames are quieter than those of a wood stove.
  • Produce consistent heat.
  • Can be installed anywhere in a home.
  • Available in many modern styles.

These stoves are not without drawbacks. With the wood stoves, the damper often gets sticky or the glass door cracks. To prevent this issue, you must commit to using seasoned wood and clean the stove at least once a year. The stove must also be inspected for damage. When this is done, they can last for decades.

Another common issue with the wood stoves comes when the stove is over-fired. Over-firing a wood stove increases the risk of damaging the wood insert or the stove. Using a thermometer and monitoring the operation of the stove closely will help avoid these damages. The key to a long life when it comes to a wood stove is proper maintenance.

Now to the pellet stove. What are the disadvantages of a pellet stove? Pellet stoves suffer more problems than wood stoves. This can be attributed to the fact that they have more components than wood stoves. Having so many necessary electronic parts located in a stove that heats up to 200 degrees doesn’t help either. A pellet stove has a circuit board, several sensors, several feet of wire, and mechanical components. The hot environment causes most of these components to fail.

A pellet stove has three motors. If any of these motors fail, the stove will not function properly. Additionally, while the circuit board is quite sturdy, it has a high risk of malfunctioning.

Many professionals advise against the installation of pellet stoves mainly because of the many service problems most customers experience. Even when there is routine maintenance and cleaning, the mechanical and electronic components of the pellet stove are bound to malfunction at one point in time. Experts do not even recommend the installation of smaller pellet stoves that are used occasionally. There is also the fact that replacing a broken part, regardless of how small, can be time-consuming and quite expensive.

When evaluating the pros and cons of wood and pellet stoves, the wood stoves are the winner. Wood stoves have been around for more than two centuries. They are preferred for their reliability as well as their long service life. However, if you love the conveniences of modern-day stoves, there is no harm in taking chances with a pellet stove.

Are Wood Stoves More Environmentally Friendly Compared to Pellet Stoves?

What is more efficient, a pellet stove or a wood stove? In regards to being ‘green’, wood and pellet stoves vary. EPA-certified wood-burning stoves release between 2 to 7.5 grams of smoke per hour of use. This is quite an improvement from old stoves that produced more than 40 grams per hour. According to the Biomass Energy Center, wood releases about 0.00612 pounds per kilowatt-hour of carbon dioxide when burnt.

Pellet stoves, on the other hand, emit very little smoke, about 1 gram per hour. As a result, they are not monitored by the EPA because they have a minimal footprint. Moreover, since pellets are recycled wood, they are more environmentally friendly. The Biomass Energy Center reports that pellets produce 0.035 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. Pellet stoves are thus more environmentally friendly than wood stoves.

Pellet Stove vs Wood Stove: How Different Is the Flame Experience?

While they both produce great radiant heat, you have to think about more than just that when choosing between wood and pellet stove. If you love the classic crackling of the fire and an amazing ambient glowing ember, a wood stove will be a great choice. Wood stoves produce dynamic flames that flare high when you add new logs and when there is a draft. The flames simmer when the draft is closed partially and when the logs are burning out. No fan is needed in a wood stove. However, some stoves come with blowers that can be turned on to help with warm air circulation.

Pellet stoves produce flames that are lively and vibrant. The flames produce no noise, but you will notice sound coming from the electric fans, which are needed for airflow. Every now and then, there will also be a noise from the electronic power belt as it adds more pellets into the flame. The key difference is that a pellet stove gives you the ambience of a live flame but without the crackle, embers and dynamic flames.

Heat Output – Pellet Stoves or Wood Stoves?

The stove is meant to keep you warm. Its performance is measured by the amount of heat it is able to produce. Wood stoves produce more heat than pellet stoves. However, it is good to note that the amount of heat produced will depend on the type of wood used as well as the moisture content in the wood. The number of logs that are burning as well as the design of the fireplace will also impact heat production.

Pellet stoves don’t produce as much heat as wood stoves, but they are more efficient and consistent. The amount of heat produced by a pellet stove will depend on the craftsmanship of the stove, the type and quality of pellets used, and the heating settings. All in all, a pellet stove is able to produce significant heat required to heat most areas.

The amount of heat pellet stoves produce is no match for the heat from wood stoves. Therefore, if you need to heat a larger area or need more heat, you will be better off with a wood stove.

Difference Between a Pellet Stove and a Wood Stove When it Comes to Installation

The cost of installing pellet and wood stoves is almost the same. The difference, however, will be seen in the installation requirements. Wood stoves need a suitable vertical chimney. This can be in the form of a standalone flue that runs through the roof or an existing chimney. You need to line an existing chimney with flue when installing a wood chimney. As a result, it often costs more to install a wood stove.

Are pellet stoves hard to install? Pellet stoves don’t necessarily need a flue to be installed. The vent can go through an external wall and up the side of the house. This makes it possible for these stoves to be installed almost anywhere. The fact that these stoves produce less heat also means they can be tucked in a corner. They are also effortless to install.

Powering Pellet Stove vs Powering Wood Stove

Another essential aspect to consider when choosing between pellet and wood stove is how they are powered. Wood stoves don’t require any power to work. They are basically fireplaces. You simply add wood, light it up and stoke when needed.

Pellet stoves, on the other hand, need electricity to work. Electricity is required for a pellet stove to work correctly. This is thanks to the many electrical components these units contain. Electricity is needed to power the motorized hopper, which is responsible for feeding pellets into the burner. Without a source of power, the unit will not work. You will need to invest in a power generator or UPS backup battery for when there is a power outage.

While pellet stoves require additional expenses and resources to work, pellet stoves make the best choice if you want a stove that requires little effort to operate. However, the woodstove will be perfect if you don’t mind loading the burner manually to keep the heat consistent. It is all a matter of personal preferences.

Which is Safer Wood or Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove has more sensors and is thus considered safer than a wood stove. However, wood stoves produce flame sparks, which can cause burns. The units also accumulate creosote deposits which lead to dangerous house fires over time. Firewood also increases the chances of bringing pests and mould from outside.

A pellet stove is safer and cleaner. The unit has a contained flame that keeps you safe from sparks and embers. It is, however, good to note that pellet stoves can cause burns when touched. You have to keep children and pets from the stove.

If you buy a premium crafted wood or pellet stove and get it installed professionally and maintained properly, it will perform efficiently and safely for years. However, in terms of safety rating, pellet stoves win.

Choosing Between Wood or Pellet Stove in Terms of Appearance

With the functionality, safety and pros and cons out of the way, you may be wondering which of the two stoves is prettier. It is good to note that both wood and pellet stoves come in a wide selection of shapes and designs. They are crafted to fit any home décor. Some are designed to fit preexisting fireplaces, while others can be moved when needed.

The beauty of having a wood stove is the ability to see the classic orange flames, hear the crackling and smell the smoky aroma of burning logs. Moreover, the style of wood stoves has evolved over the years. You can choose between contemporary and classic styles. There is also the option of getting a custom-built unit. The units are available in many colours, decorative accessories and backing plates.

As for the pellet stoves, you will be spoilt for choice. The increased popularity of pellet stoves has prompted the introduction of modern styles. You can still get classic styles that are still in high demand. Pellet stoves allow you to customize the look of your unit with a wide selection of faceplates and door overlays. The units are available in both freestanding and insert models. They may have or lack a viewing window.

All in all, the final decision lies solely with you. The definition of beauty varies from one person to another. It is your job to choose something that impresses you.

Bottom Line

At the start of this post, your question was probably are pellet stoves as good as wood stoves? Hopefully, the post has helped you understand the difference. So which is better, pellet or wood stove?

If what you need is a pocket-friendly way of heating your home and you have plenty of wood to burn, then the woodstove will be the perfect choice for you. Wood stoves allow you to heat your home without worrying about high power bills and failure due to power outages.

On the other hand, if you feel you can handle the bags of pellet, are certain power will not fail, or have backup power, pellet stoves will be an excellent investment. The added bonus of a pellet stove is that it offers a clean way to heat your home. 

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