Fall is around the corner and the winters here in Flagstaff can be very cold, so it’s time to start thinking about your heating in the house. The ambiance and the idea of curling up to a stove is always a great way to spend your time on a cold day, but what is better: a wood stove or pellet stove?

Portrait of HomCo employee Jason Brown

Jason Brown, Fireplace & Chimney Expert

We reached out to Jason Brown here at HomCo, who is a National Fireplace Institute Master Hearth Professional Woodburning, Pellet, and Gas Specialist #160574. We ask him what stove is the best and why. Here is what he had to stay…

“If you are in the market for a hearth appliance to supplement your home’s heating system or to provide a cozy ambiance, a wood or pellet-burning stove may be a good option. Both stove categories can effectively heat a wide range of spaces while providing an aesthetic appeal.

If having the most reliable heat source is your priority,

a new high-efficiency wood-burning stove and chimney system may be the best choice for you.

Current wood stoves burn incredibly clean using traditional cordwood and provide a warm glow through their viewing glass. Wood stoves require no external power or other energy source to operate and therefore are a perfect option for off-the-grid homes. Many different sizes and styles or wood stoves are readily available. Wood stoves are commonly constructed of plate steel or cast iron and range from those with a rustic traditional design to a modern contemporary look.

To achieve clean burning standards required by the EPA, wood stoves fall into two basic functional categories. The first method, typically referred to as a “secondary combustion wood stove” uses a baffle system and a configuration of air tubes or channels at the top of the firebox to reintroduce exhaust gasses into the burn chamber. When employed properly, this method ignites almost all the remaining hydrocarbons before the exit the stove.

The other technique is to employ a catalytic combustor cartridge that is typically coated with platinum or palladium. The stove exhaust is directed through the combustor that interacts with the gasses and lowers their ignition temperature from approximately 1100 degrees Fahrenheit to around 500 degrees. This lower ignition temperature allows the stove to operate at a lower temperature for an extended period on a single load of wood.

Both systems operate passively once engaged and require few moving parts and no electrical components. Choosing one or the other is usually a decision based on the size of the area to be heated and the buyer’s preference of operation.

Pellet burning appliances are a newer product to the market

when compared to wood-burning stoves.

Pellet stoves offer functionality more akin to a traditional furnace or heating system in that they can be operated thermostatically to provide a consistent temperature. Wood pellets are composed of compressed wood fiber commonly reclaimed from recycled materials, sawmill waste, and timber clearing operations. These pellets must meet strict standards and burn at a consistent rate.

Pellet stoves use an auger feed motor, a combustion fan motor, and a room air distribution motor coordinated by a system of sensors and control board to accomplish a very highly efficient burn with very little particulate emissions. These stoves commonly operate for a day or more without needing to be refilled with pellets and require very little daily interaction from the homeowner. Like wood stoves, pellet stoves are available in a wide variety of styles and exterior finish materials to suit nearly any taste. You can check this review guide by bestreviewslist to get the detailed information about some of its best variants which are trending in the market.

Choosing between a wood stove and a pellet stove is a matter of preference

concerning the level of interaction the homeowner wants to have with the appliance.

Wood stoves are a very reliable heat source but require wood to be cut and stacked, frequent loading and emptying of the firebox, and attention during the burn to monitor the stove temperature and performance.

Pellet stoves typically only require daily loading and weekly cleaning. The fuel comes conveniently bagged, and they can operate automatically. Downsides to pellet appliances include the fact that you must purchase the fuel commercially, they require a constant electrical power supply, and periodically require attention and the replacement of motors, ignitors, and sensors.

Both wood and pellet stoves should be inspected annually by a qualified technician and swept periodically as needed.”

However, if you want the ambiance without the hassle, you can just get a gas stove fireplace. This takes a gas line to be installed which makes the gas stove the more expensive option, but is a great no-hassle option that provides great ambiances. Here at HomCo, we can help you explore all these options too.

Whatever you decide, please make sure you are prepared for the next winter. Please note, if you get or have a pellet stove, make sure you get enough pellets for the winter or at least have some in reserve. Last year, the town of Flagstaff ran out of pellets for about 5 weeks, so order your pellets now and make sure you have enough.

If you get a wood stove, make sure you have enough for the winter because last winter many people also ran out of wood and the forest is not open until May for people to get more. Now that you are up to speed about the different stove’s types, please come down to HomCo and ask for Janice Picard, Jason Brown or Jake Hotsenpiller if you have any questions.