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Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove: What’s the Difference?

Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove

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When you want a more traditional home heating method that does not come with skyrocketing electricity bills, pellet and wood stoves are the two best options. But, while modern pellet and wood stoves all do a great job and are more energy-efficient, they still differ in many aspects.

If you are stuck between the two stove types, we look at their main differences to help make it easier to decide which to buy.

Overall Findings

Pellet Stove

Wood Stove

  • 80% energy efficiency rating
  • Requires an electrical connection
  • Only a smaller chimney system or direct-vent is required
  • Minimal maintenance & cleaning
  • Lasts 15 to 20 years
  • Initial cost is $2,000 to $4,000
  • 60% energy efficiency rating
  • No electric power required
  • Full insulated chimney required
  • Typically requires more maintenance
  • Lasts up to 25 years
  • Initial cost is $2,500 to $5,000

Pellet Stove

  • 80% energy efficiency rating
  • Requires an electrical connection
  • Only a smaller chimney system or direct-vent is required
  • Minimal maintenance & cleaning
  • Lasts 15 to 20 years
  • Initial cost is $2,000 to $4,000

Wood Stove

  • 60% energy efficiency rating
  • No electric power required
  • Full insulated chimney required
  • Typically requires more maintenance
  • Lasts up to 25 years
  • Initial cost is $2,500 to $5,000

Pellet Stove vs. Wood Stove

1. Energy Efficiency: Pellets Stoves Have a Clear Advantage

Energy efficiency is perhaps the main factor in most people's minds when choosing between pellet and wood stoves. But here, the more modern pellet technology has a clear advantage as most stoves that run on this fuel offer more efficiency than wood ones.

Data from a Penn State University publication shows that the wood stoves have an energy efficiency rating of 60%, while for the pellet stoves, it is 80%. This means you have to burn much more wood to match a pellet stove's heat output.

Although pellet stoves are the winner here, it is worth mentioning that the wood stoves are also getting more energy-efficient and modern ones now produce more heat and very little smoke.

2. Installation: Pellet Stoves are a Breeze to Install

The ease of installation ultimately depends on the model you choose for both pellet and wood stove. Other things like the conditions in your home and whether you have a chimney or not also come into play. That said, those with existing ducts or a fireplace find both easier to install.

However, in most cases, the pellet stoves tend to be easier to install than wood stoves. You often only need a small chimney or a direct vent for installation with the pellet stoves. However, wood stoves require a full insulated chimney, making them more demanding to install.

3. Heating Performance: Pellet Stoves Still Have an Edge Here

Like most other things, any stove's actual heating performance largely depends on the model and brand. But, you will need to keep adding more wood to maintain consistent heat output when using a wood stove.

The pellet stoves are designed to offer more consistency, and as long as there are pellets in the chamber, they should provide the desired heat output. Better still, most models have thermostats for even more precise temperature control.

One area of the heating performance where the wood stove seems to have an edge is that, unlike the pellet stove, it does not require any electrical power to work. Hence, the stove continues to work even if there is a power outage.

4. Safety: Wood Stoves Still Pose more Safety Risks

Even as wood stove technology continues to advance and manufacturers incorporate more safety features, they still pose relatively more risk than pellet ones. For example, wood stoves give off tiny sparks as the wood burns, which can cause injuries or start a fire.

Things like creosote deposits that build up when using a wood stove and increase the safety risks are almost a non-issue with the pellet stoves as they burn more cleanly. The only safety concern you might have with pellet stoves comes from the dangers associated with electrical connections.

5. Maintenance: Wood Stoves Come with More Work

Maintenance is inevitable whether you go for the wood or pellet stoves. However, since wood stoves produce more ash and lots of smoke, they typically take more work to maintain. Before you start using one, a thorough chimney sweep is required, which means more work for you.

Pellet stoves produce less ash, meaning there is less work involved in maintenance. Other things you need to do for these stoves are checking different parts like the hopper and flue vent to ensure they are in good working condition.

6. Lifespan: Quality of What You Buy Determines the Lifespan

Given the many models out there that differ in various aspects, the lifespan for both wood and pellet varies a lot. However, wood stoves tend to be more rugged and tougher, as most last at least 25 years. Pellet stoves typically have a relatively shorter lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

7. Buying and Running Cost: Wood Stoves Cost more to Run

The initial costs of both wood and pellet stoves are pretty similar. On average, you can expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 for buying and installing a pellet stove, while for a wood stove, the cost is $2,500 to $5,000.

However, when it comes to the cost of running the two stoves, pellet ones seem to have an edge. Given how energy-efficient they are, these stoves are cheaper to run since they burn fewer pellets. Depending on your location, you can get a cord of firewood for around $200, while a ton of pellets costs about $250 but lasts much longer than then pre-cut wood.

Conclusion

There is no clear winner between these two stoves as the best one for you largely depends on your preferences and specific situation.

However, pellet stoves are the best for those looking for a safer, more consistent, and cleaner option. On the other hand, wood stoves are perfect if you want something more aesthetically appealing you can use with or without electricity and have a good supply of cheap wood.

Sources

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