Selecting a fuel source is one of the first decisions you will make when you visit your local fireplace store. Here are some things to consider when trying to decide what fireplace fuel is best for you - wood or pellets.
Wood burning stoves are generally priced similar to their pellet and gas counterparts. In terms of fuel cost, unless you have a free source of wood, you'll have to pay for wood, although wood is typically cheaper than gas. To reduce the cost of your annual chimney sweep, pick a wood stove that has a limited number of removable parts.
As mentioned above, pellet stoves are generally priced similar to their wood and gas counterparts. The operation cost of your pellet fireplace product will be relative to the efficiency and craftsmanship of the unit you buy, the quality and type of pellets you use, the cost of electricity in your region, and the heat setting you maintain. If you’re converting to pellet, review available government eco-rebates and tax incentives and pellet stoves on sale near you before you buy.
Wood needs to be purchased (or sourced), stored, split, and then the fire needs to be built and maintained by hand. There is significant effort required in running and supplying a wood fire. To minimize the amount of effort required, you can source pre-cut logs and choose a wood fireplace, stove or stove that has Eco-Boost technology like the Pro-Series 3500, which can burn one load of wood for up to 24 hours! Wood burn time is relative to the type and moisture content of the wood you use and the quality of your fireplace; different types of wood and moisture contents will produce a variety of burn times.
Aside from having to load the hopper (the feeder that adds pellets to the fire as needed) and regular maintenance, pellet stoves require minimal effort to operate. Similar to gas, most pellet stoves can be turned on/off and adjusted with electronic with the push of a button either on a remote or control panel. To minimize how often you will need to load pellets into your hopper, choose a pellet stove that has a large hopper like the GF55 or GC60. How often you load the hopper will depend on what temperature setting you select. The lowest setting will burn approximately 1 ¼ lbs of pellets per hour, while the highest setting will burn approximately 5-6 lbs of pellets per hour.
Other than annual chimney sweeping and the occasional glass clean, wood burning fireplaces require very little maintenance because they have no mechanical components to maintain. Thanks to the efficiency of three-stage Eco-Boost technology, you won’t even have to empty the ash drawer very often. To minimize the time you spend maintaining your fireplace, choose a wood stove that has strong durable hinges and an adjustable door latch.
If used regularly, pellet stoves usually require both annual and weekly maintenance. On a weekly basis you’ll need to clean the burn pot (the place where pellets are burned) and sweep ash off internal components to prevent air flow blockages that can decrease the efficiency of the unit or stop it from operating. Similar to a wood stove, you will also need to clean the glass on your pellet stove if you want to maintain a clear fire view. Because pellet stoves have several mechanical components, they require more maintenance. To minimize maintenance costs, maintain your pellet fireplace regularly as outlined in your owner’s manual.
When it’s sustainably harvested, wood is a renewable, carbon neutral fuel source. New technology has revolutionized the environmental efficiency of wood burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts. The most efficient wood stoves certified for EPA’s 2020 guidelines, which means they release very little particulate matter (smoke and ash) into the atmosphere. Regency’s cleanest burning wood stoves utilize triple stage Eco-Boost technology, a process that re-burns smoke and particulate matter to reduce emissions compared to non-Eco-Boost models.
Similar to wood, pellets are a renewable, carbon neutral alternative to fossil fuel. Made from compressed wood or bark, pellets are not a new fireplace fuel, but they are becoming more popular. In terms of efficiency, the best pellet stoves are comparable to wood stoves that utilize Regency’s Eco-Boost technology.
Wood is the only fireplace fuel that produces the classic crackle of a fire and the stunning ambient glowing embers. The flames in a wood fireplace are dynamic. They flare high when new logs are introduced and when the draft is open, and they simmer low when logs have been burning for a while and when the draft is partially closed. Wood stoves do not require fans to operate, but the best wood stoves include blowers that can be turned on or off at the homeowner’s leisure. Blowers are a great way to circulate warm air throughout the room.
The flame produced by pellet stoves is vibrant and lively. Pellet stoves are generally quiet, but you may hear noise from the electric fans required to maintain airflow to keep the fire burning and/or the electronic powered belt that drops pellets into the burner. With a pellet stove, you will experience some of the ambiance of a wood fire but without the dynamic flames, embers, and crackle.
Wood stoves burn hot, but the amount of heat generated will depend on the type and moisture content of the wood you use, the number of logs you are burning, and the design of your fireplace. The best wood stoves are built from scratch using premium grade, thick gauge steel.
Pellet stoves are hot, consistent and efficient heaters. The amount of heat your pellet fireplace produces is relative to the efficiency and craftsmanship of the unit you buy, the quality and type of pellets you use, and the heat setting you maintain. Depending on the unit, a pellet stove will produce a significant amount of heat capable of heating most rooms/areas; however, pellet stoves are no match for the raw heating power of a traditional wood stove.
Thanks to new venting technologies freestanding wood burning stoves can be installed virtually anywhere in the home. As long as there is acceptable clearances, the unit can be vented correctly and the unit is appropriately sized for the space it can be installed anywhere in the home!
Similarly to wood stoves, as long as certain conditions (venting, clearances, floor protection) are met a pellet stove can be placed virtually anywhere in the home. Pellet stoves typically produce less heat than wood stoves and therefore are likely to have smaller clearance requirements, meaning they can be tucked further into the corners of a room. Pellet stoves are also more straightforward to install than gas fireplaces because they do not require a fuel line.
Electricity is not required to run any Regency wood burning stove. The only part of the stove that requires electricity is the blower; however, without the blower the stove will still produce radiant heat and keep you and your family warm – even during a power outage!
The motor that feeds the pellets from the hopper into the fire requires electricity to run. In addition, the blower that is needed to distribute heat will not function without electricity, and therefore will not work in a power outage.
Wood (Classic & Modern)
The style of wood stoves has evolved. In addition to new contemporary models, premium manufacturers have also introduced new levels of customization to their products. The customization options for wood burning stoves are not as robust as gas fireplaces, but depending on what model you select, you should be able to select from a variety of colors, backing plates and decorative accessories.
Pellet (Classic & Modern)
The increasing popularity of pellet stoves is prompting new modern styles like the GF40, but traditional and classic styles such as the GC60 and GF55 are still readily available and in high demand. The best pellet stoves invite you to customize the look of your unit with the choice of various door overlays and faceplates.
Safety – Wood ★★★★
If you purchase a premium crafted wood stove from an authorized dealer, install it professionally and maintain it as per your owner’s manual, your wood stove will perform safely and efficiency. Most accidents related to wood burning fires are preventable. Remember to only burn approved materials in your wood stove and remember to wear gloves to prevent splinters and burns while stoking the fire.
Safety – Pellet ★★★★★
If you purchase a premium crafted pellet stove from a reputable dealer, have it installed professionally, and you maintain it as per the owner’s manual, it should perform safely and efficiently for many years to come. Pellet stoves and stoves score high in the safety department because you don’t need to open the viewing window to fuel them.
Quick Review Wood Stoves vs Pellet Stoves
The following is a quick summary of the differences between wood stoves and pellet stoves.