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Wood Burning Stove or Pellet Wood Stove?

 

With the extreme winter weather that we’ve been having this year, you might be re-evaluating your home heating sources. The high winds and power shortages that much of North America has been experiencing this year have made many people reconsider heating with wood to supplement their existing heating systems and to reduce their overall heating costs.

According to Inspectapedia, an online Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair, wood is one of the more cost effective alternatives for home heating. Taking into consideration regional differences, there is a wide range in the costs of different heating fuels per 1000 BTU’s such as home heating oil which cost $3.17; natural gas which cost on average $15.24 and electricity which cost $3.22. When comparing the costs of pellet stove fuel which cost $225 per ton and the costs of hardwood $170 per cord - 2012 softwood at $130 per cord, wood heating fuels are more reasonably priced.

While the traditional wood burning stove will always be a favourite the dual fuel pellet stove is gaining in popularity. A dual fuel pellet stove is much more flexible because not only does it burn wood but also corn, cherry pits or other non-traditional fuels. Another difference is in their appearance. While wood heat stoves come are available in free-standing models fireplaces, fireplace inserts, wood cook stoves and box heat stoves, the design of pellet stoves has come along way over the years to look more like wood stoves

Another difference is in heating performance, as a pellet stove can be more efficient than an airtight stove or fireplace insert. While both the wood burning and wood pellet stoves produce the same amount of heat, a wood pellet stove operates at 70% efficiency vs. 50% efficiency for a wood burning stove.  It will probably cost you less to install a wood pellet stove. While initial costs for a woodstove or a wood pellet stove are almost the same for the unit itself there are differences in connection costs.  Wood heat stoves usually require a chimney system that must extend up to the roof, while many wood pellet stoves need only a direct-vent system to exhaust which is cheaper and easier to install.

Finally, there are differences in the materials themselves which can lead some people to favor one type of stove over the other. Because pellet stoves don’t produce smoke; you’ll never have to worry about the room getting too smoky or unpleasant odors after you’ve put out your fire. And while you’ll have to remove ash from a wood burning pellet stove, the difference in the case of a wood burning pellet stove is that there isn’t that much to remove. But wood pellets can be much heavier to carry because they are sold in 40 lb. bags.

There are some drawbacks to pellet stoves such as most models need  electricity to operate and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has banned the installation of pellet stoves in manufactured homes. All in all, there are a lot of things that a homeowner has to take into consideration when deciding on the right stove for him/her.


 

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