There’s no better way to heat an off-grid home than with a wood stove, but that’s not to say they don’t have their drawbacks. Some people decide to get a pellet stove instead so they don’t have to deal with the flaws of wood stoves, but pellet stoves also have disadvantages. In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the difference between wood stoves and pellet stoves, examining the pros and cons of each.
Wood-burning stoves have been the primary way people have heated their homes, and cooked inside of them, for centuries; especially in non-industrialized parts of the world. Cast iron wood-burning stoves were invented hundreds of years ago and could be found in almost every home throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century. Though the technology may seem primitive, wood stoves, especially modern ones, are incredibly effective at heating just about any space, and their high heat output makes them ideal for cooking on. Modern wood stoves also meet EPA standards that regulate the output of air-polluting emissions.
- High heat output
- High efficiency, doesn’t require a lot of wood to generate a lot of heat
- Most models have a flat top that can be used as a cooking surface
- Can burn any kind of wood, excluding painted or pressure treated lumber
- Does not require electricity or gas
- Wood fuel is free if you can harvest it from your land
- Require lots of maintenance and need to be cleaned frequently due to the accumulation of ash and creosote buildup
- Can be a fire hazard if not properly installed and monitored
- High smoke emissions, excluding some newer top of the line models
- Difficult to control the temperature
Pellet stoves look like wood stoves and are similar in many ways, but they use pellets made from saw dust as fuel instead of wood. The pellets are poured into a hopper where a mechanical auger feeds them into the burning pot. Once the pellets are ignited, they produce a flame that looks similar to a fireplace. A thermostat on the stove allows you to adjust the heat output. Many homeowners are investing in pellet stoves so they can reduce their energy costs while also creating the rustic ambiance of a wood-burning stove or fireplace.
- Low smoke emissions
- Fuel efficiency similar to or greater than wood stoves
- No buildup of creosote
- Work automatically, set it and forget it
- Easy temperature control
- Low maintenance, easy to clean
- Built-in electric fan circulates heat throughout the space
- Typically more expensive than wood stoves
- Require electricity and therefore do not work during power outages
- Can only burn pellets, which must be purchased
- Lower heat output than wood stoves
- Not practical for cooking on because they do not get hot enough
Which One Is Right for You?
Now that you know the pros and cons of each, which type of stove should you get?
If you’re living off the grid, a wood stove is probably the better choice since it does not require electricity and can be used as a both a furnace and a cooktop. There’s also a good chance you can harvest firewood for free from your land depending on your acreage and the terrain.
That being said, chopping wood is hard work, takes a long time, and the wood needs to be properly seasoned and stored. If you are not able to harvest and store your own firewood, you might want to consider a pellet stove instead.