A Gas Stove vs Pellet Stove Comparison Guide to Help You Choose the Right Stove for Your Home
With winter upon us, it’s time to start thinking about additional home heating options to get rid of the months-long chill.
One of the most efficient home heating options is a stove—a cast-iron box with a glass door that burns fuel and circulates heat throughout your home.
But with so many stove options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on one to buy.
So if you’re confused about which stove to buy, here’s a gas stove vs pellet stove comparison guide to help you choose the right stove for your home.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PELLET STOVES
A pellet stove is made of cast iron and has a hopper for dumping in a bag of pellets (which is usually enough to burn for a few days). Pellet stoves burn corn or wood pellets—sawdust compressed into cylindrical pellets that look like rabbit food.
Regulated by an auger, the pellets drop one by one into a firebox. And the fire is maintained by a fan in the unit. These units are often controlled by a thermostat with blowers that circulate heat.
Pellet stoves are ranked high in efficiency, burning a small amount of fuel and circulating the warm air by blowing it out into the home from the heat exchangers.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GAS STOVES
Gas stoves are often made of cast iron and run on natural gas or propane gas. With a large BTU output, these stoves are ideal for heating homes, apartments, mobile homes, and cabins.
Many types of gas stoves are designed to run without electricity, so they can still heat your home if the power goes out.
Gas stoves are easy to turn on and off with the push of a button, and they can also be controlled by a thermostat.
Instead of using a chimney, pellet stoves can be directly vented outside with an exhaust pipe or direct vent system. Gas stoves are vented outside with a direct vent system, as well.
Due to the need for venting, both gas and pellet stoves need to be installed in an ideal location that will:
- Be central to efficiently heat a large area of the home; and,
- Be close enough to an exterior wall for direct venting.
Pellet stoves tend to be less expensive than gas stoves. But when you factor in installation costs, they tend to be around the same price. New pellet stoves cost around $1,000 to $3,500 installed, while gas stoves cost between $1,000 to $5,000.
As for ongoing costs, pellet stoves tend to be cheaper since it usually costs less to heat your home with a pellet stove than with natural gas. Though natural gas is efficient, the costs of buying pellets tend to be less than paying for natural gas to heat a home.
VENTILATION SYSTEM COMPARISON
The ventilation system of pellet stoves is very easy and straightforward. It can be vented through a small pipe and hole in the wall instead of requiring a chimney. Gas stoves also require venting outside, usually through a direct-vent system.
FUEL SOURCE COMPARISON
Natural gas is sourced from fossil fuels, delivered by pipeline, and is more readily available from local utility companies in the city.
Pellet stoves burn pellets made from recycled materials, such as compressed sawdust, branch tips, wood chips, other by-products of the lumber industry, and sometimes unprocessed corn and fruit pits.
These pellets usually resemble inch-long rabbit feed and are often packaged in 40-pound bags. You can purchase pellets from pellet stove retailers and home improvement stores.
POWER SOURCE COMPARISON
Both pellet and gas stoves use electricity to run fans, but a gas stove can still emit heat without electricity. So if the power goes out in the middle of winter, you can rely on your gas stove to heat your home.
STOVE EFFICIENCY COMPARISON
Pellet stoves are ranked high in efficiency, burning a small amount of fuel as needed. A pellet stove rated 35,000 to 50,000 BTUs per hour can heat a home that is between 1,500 to 2,500 square feet.
Gas stoves also have similar BTU ratings and are highly efficient since most of the heat produced by burning gas is distributed and radiated into the home.
While gas stoves don’t emit any smoke or particulates into the air, there is a risk of carbon monoxide entering the house from burning natural gas. But this risk is averted by venting gas stoves to the outside.
Otherwise, both gas and pellet stoves are fairly safe to use. Just be careful to not touch the glass on either as it gets extremely hot when in use.
Gas stoves require periodic maintenance and inspections, such as chimney or vent cleaning and pipeline inspections.
A pellet stove requires much more regular maintenance than a gas stove. To use a pellet stove, you have to fill it with pellets daily. And you may even need to fill it more than once a day. You will also need to remove the ashes regularly.
Whereas with a gas stove, you can simply turn it on and off whenever you want. And you won’t need to add fuel or clean ash from the firebox.
Pellet stove maintenance includes:
- Empty the ash once or twice a week (depending on usage)
- Ensure air holes are clear
- Clean the burn pot two to three times a week
- Clean the heat exchanger monthly
GAS STOVE VS PELLET STOVE
Here are some of the pros and cons of pellet stoves and gas stoves.
Gas Stove Pros
- Low maintenance
- Clean and efficient burning without any smoke
- Emits the least particulate matter
- Quick and easy to use
- Can be used (without the blower) to heat the home during a power outage
Gas Stove Cons
- Relies on non-renewable fossil fuels sourced elsewhere
- Natural gas may not be readily available to customers outside of cities
- More expensive to run than a pellet stove
Pellet Stove Pros
- Usually cheaper than a gas stove
- Pellets burn hot and clean—are one of the cleanest fuel burners with an efficiency rate of 85%
- Pellets are usually locally sourced and readily available—can be easily purchased at local pellet stove and home improvement stores
- Ideal for those who live outside the city and don’t have access to a natural gas utility hookup
Pellet Stove Cons
- High maintenance compared to gas stoves
- While cleaner than firewood, pellets can be dusty, which is a problem for those with asthma
- Units rely on electricity to distribute heated air, rendering them useless during a power outage
- Require more maintenance than gas stoves
If you want to save money, then a pellet stove might be the better option. But it will require more regular maintenance than a gas stove. And if you’re willing to spend a bit extra for total convenience, then a gas stove is probably the best choice for you and your home.
The type of stove you choose will depend on many factors, including your budget, where you live, your preference for a fuel source, and how much energy you’re willing to spend on maintaining your stove. So weigh the costs and benefits of each when shopping for a new alternative heating source to help keep you warm this winter.