Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves: Which is More Energy Efficient?

Pellet stoves have become very popular in the world of green home heating. However, pellet stoves are not superior to other methods, like the traditional wood stove, in every single way.  In fact, there are certain ways that wood stoves are better than pellet stoves. So, which is actually better for you? Let’s run through the pros and the cons for both pellet stoves and wood stoves.

Pellet Stoves


The pellets that are burned in pellet stoves are made from recycled wood shavings, sawdust, or corn. These materials are known as biomass wastes, and they burn at very high temperatures, resulting in a much cleaner and more efficient resource. This is accomplished by making the pellets extremely dry, which increases energy efficiency. Plus, burning pellets creates far less creosote and ash than burning wood does.


The motor in a pellet stove requires electricity from an 11-0-volt outlet. Therefore, it is a good idea to purchase a battery backup or a gas-powered generator if you plan to rely on your pellet stove during a power outage. Also, pellet stoves are more complicated than other stoves:  they contain many moving parts, which require regular maintenance.

Wood Stoves


EPA-certified wood stoves are more energy efficient and burn cleaner than they have in the past. Wood can be used as a renewable fuel resource when obtained and used responsibly. Also, when using wood that was left to rot, burning wood releases the carbon dioxide it has absorbed.  If left to fully decay, more carbon dioxide will accumulate in the wood and result in more pollution over time. So, while it might sound weird, it’s actually better for the environment to burn discarded wood and release that carbon dioxide—when done responsibly and intelligently, of course!


Wood stoves are not as efficient as pellet stoves.  The driest wood usually contains two to three times more moisture than pellets. Also, it requires a lot of cordwood to heat a home for an extended period of time. If you are only using cordwood to heat your home, you will consume an average of three cords of wood per year—that’s roughly 45 trees.

So which is better?

The short answer is this: it depends. While pellet stoves and pellets as a whole are a better source of heat than wood stoves, pellets can be hard to come by and require the initial investment of buying a pellet stove. Plus, from an environmental perspective, consider that if you cannot find pellets in your area, shipping them from another region will probably cost more and will also pollute the environment.

So, in a nutshell: pellet stoves are better for energy efficiency, but only if you can afford them. If you cannot find a reliable source of pellets, or keep up with the maintenance required for pellet stoves, then wood stoves may be a better choice for you.

For more information about pellet stoves and wood stoves, check out this article.