Wood Stove or Pellet Stove – which is best?
I was going to write an article on the ‘pros and cons’ of these alternative solutions for heating your home but it turns out a nice man by the name of Collin Dunn has ‘done’ (excuse the pun Collin) it for me on the website ‘Treehugger’ (nice)!
The article contains some Interesting observations which are very relevant for us here in SA where pellets are often not manufactured ‘locally’ (hence not as ‘green’ as we might hope), where we have a plentiful supply of ‘alien’ wood that we cannot fell fast enough and where we will be ‘enjoying’ Eskom load shedding for the next few winters to come.
Collin’s article compares the ‘green’ values exclusively. It does not cover the following features which are relevant when considering the two options:
Pellet stove wins hands down! Load your ‘hopper’ with pellets, set your thermostat, sit back and let it do all the work. Of course, none of this works when you enjoy the delights of ‘load shedding’. However, it is effortless to the extreme when you have electricity (or a suitable battery back up which some units come with).
On the other hand, wood must be collected from the pile, chopped (if you do not buy pre-bagged kindling) and loaded manually. You will need to re-load every 45 minutes or so throughout the evening. Not too taxing but a chore none the less.
The natural ‘flicker’ and ‘dance’ of a real flame has mesmerised us for millenniums. ‘Fire-gazing’ is a pleasure in itself. Sat with your feet up on your favourite sofa and a glass of red wine ‘parked’ within arm’s reach, you cast your eyes over the top of your book or newspaper to share a few seconds with the ‘flame’ before continuing. Okay! Over-romanticized!!
However, there is nothing like a natural flame. The pellet stove cannot offer this as the very premise of the stove prevents it. The pellets which are small (necessary for automatic feeding) cannot offer the same delightful spectacle that the wood offers. The flame is ‘manufactured’ by means of a fan which creates a flame that looks more like a ‘jet’.
The ‘sound’ of each product gives a similar result. All you will hear from your wood burner is the gentle crack and crackle of dry wood combusting and the ‘ticking over’ of your stove as it ‘breathes’.
The pellet stove will present a gentle ‘hum’ created by the fan that assists the combustion process. No more irritating than a regular fan (perhaps quieter) but not the same experience as the wood option by any means.
In conclusion, I am a ‘wood’ fan and prepared to handle the extra work required to enjoy the experience of a real fire. Given the current availability of pellets here in South Africa and the unreliability of of the power grid for a few years, wood is the ‘natural’ choice for me!