Informational Guide

Comparing Pellet Vs Propane Stoves

We compare pellet and propane stoves for heating, efficiency and costs. Discover which is best for your home.

by Romeo Abaquita

The nights are drawing in, and it’s time to think about your heating needs. There are so many different heating options out there, but stoves are making a resurgence as one of the more stylish options. Traditionally, stoves would be used for cooking as well as heating, but these days they are also used for the warmth and aesthetic they bring.

Two of the best options out there are pellet stoves and propane stoves and, in this guide, we’ll give you the full breakdown of pellet stoves vs. propane. By the end of this article, you should hopefully understand all the similarities and differences and be in a position where you can choose the best for you.

Pellet stoves use a fundamental idea that’s been around for generations. Heat is used to light wood, spreading the heat around your home and allowing you to cook on the stovetop. Modern pellet stoves use an automatic ignition to light the pellets within the stove, and these, in turn, generate heat. The warmth will then naturally dissipate into the room, and fans are used to help it circulate. In this way, it operates as a space heater.

Pellet stoves have actually been used since the late 1800s but were normally only used on a very large scale in commercial environments. It was only in the 1980s that a viable domestic model was produced, allowing smaller pellet stoves with specific ventilation to be available for homeowners.

A commonly held view is that burning wood is bad for the environment, but it’s actually the exact opposite case. The pellets themselves are made from compressed sawdust gathered as a by-product in the manufacturing of furniture. This actually lowers the carbon footprint of the manufacturing industry as there’s less waste.

Pellet stoves themselves are also regarded as one of the most efficient ways to heat a room, and on average, they are 50-75% more efficient than electric heaters. While there are some fumes involved in burning pellets, it’s not as extreme as with traditional wood heaters, and they come with a professionally fitted ventilation system which removes the need for a traditional chimney.

Pellet stoves are popular with homeowners because they combine efficiency with style. They offer cheap, effective heating in your home and have a large glass screen so you can watch the flames. However, they do need professional installation and can’t be moved once set up, so they work best as the centerpiece of the main room in your house.

What Wood Pellets Look Like

Pros & Cons of Pellet Stove

What We Like
  • Efficient Heating: Pellet stoves are very good at providing lasting heat in your home.
  • Environmentally Friendly: The use of pellets and the heating efficiency make them more environmentally friendly than other heaters.
  • Cheap To Run: Pellet stoves are significantly cheaper to run than alternatives and 50-60% cheaper to run than propane heaters.
  • Stylish: There’s no denying that pellet stoves are aesthetic and can add a lot to the look and feel of your home.
  • Electricity Needed: You will need a power source to run the stove, which may limit where you can install it.
Things We Don’t
  • Fixed Installation: Your pellet stove needs to be installed and can’t be moved.
  • Ventilation Required: Pellet stoves do give off by-products, and while you don’t need a chimney, you will need some fixed ventilation. This can up your installation costs.

All About Propane Stoves

Propane stoves look very similar to pellet stoves and work to achieve the same effect. Propane gas is used to light a flame within the device. The heat from the flames is then directed into the room and provides a heat source. You can get a wider variety of propane stoves, and while you can opt for a stylish inside unit, you can also get a more functional outdoor stove that can be used for actual cooking.

The first gas stoves were used in the 1820s, but it wasn’t until 1857 that propane was discovered. From the late 1800s, it was used in stoves, but it wasn’t until the mid-1900s we saw propane stoves that resemble today’s modern ones. They are now more of a cosmetic piece, with large glass panes that allow you to see the flames so you can feel cozier as you cook and enjoy the heat.

Propane gas is considered one of the most efficient ways to fuel heaters, and it’s up to 60% more cost-effective than electric heating. Propane itself also produces no by-products as the gas is burned off, but you will need to fit some ventilation to get rid of any smoke and ash. Those who aren’t used to propane can find it a bit daunting, but it is perfectly safe. Modern propane stoves and heaters have built-in safety features, including automatic shut-off, if there is an issue. If you handle it properly, propane is safe and efficient.

Propane stoves are popular with homeowners because of the clean, cheap heat they provide. They’re flexible and can be used inside or outside, and some models can even be moved from room to room so you can use them as needed. In addition, they’re low maintenance, and apart from refueling, you won’t need to do much, so they’re quite an easy way to heat your home.

Two Grey Propane Tanks

Pros & Cons of Propane Stoves

What We Like
  • Cheap To Run: Propane is really efficient and one of the cheaper fuels out there.
  • Flexible: Propane stoves can be used in a variety of locations, inside or outside.
  • Safe And Clean: Propane is perfectly safe and burns clean, making less mess in your home.
  • Instant On And Off: You are in complete control of the fuel, so it will turn off exactly when you want it to.
  • No Other Power Needed: Propane stoves aren’t connected to your electricity or any other external power source, so you can still use them if there’s a power cut.
Things We Don’t
  • High Up-Front Cost: A propane stove can be expensive, and some models will cost several thousand dollars.
  • Carbon Monoxide: Propane produces carbon monoxide as a by-product. Indoor propane stoves are safe, but others can only be used outdoors. You need to make sure you get the right model.

Pellet Stove Vs Propane Stove: Key Differences Explained

Propane and pellet stoves are very similar, and it’s not always easy to discern which one is best for you. We’ve given a breakdown of the key factors so you can determine which is best for you.

Time To Heat a Room & Home

It isn’t just about how much heat your stove can provide; it’s how quickly you’ll feel the benefits. The heat output from your stove is measured in BTUs, and ultimately a propane stove will provide fewer BTUs than an equivalent pellet stove. However, propane will fuel your flames instantly, and the heat will be generated more quickly than a pellet stove which takes time to light the pellets and generate warmth. Therefore, a propane stove will heat your room more quickly but less efficiently than a pellet stove.

Purchase Price

There’s no denying the fact that pellet stoves are more expensive than propane stoves. This is largely due to the fact that pellet stoves are large, static units, and there isn’t as much choice with them. In contrast, there are a lot of different propane stoves available on the market, including wall-fitted and freestanding units. You can expect to pay between $400 and $2000 for propane stoves, but pellet stoves will likely cost you over $2000.

Installation Cost

As with any home appliance, you need to consider the installation cost on top of the initial cost of the unit. Pellet stoves need ventilation, and there are some complications involved with installing them, which can push the price up. You can expect to pay between $200 and $800 for installation.

Propane stoves also need some ventilation, but given the nature of the propane gas, the installation can cost considerably more, potentially over $900. In both cases you will need professional help, and it won’t be an easy DIY job.

Running Costs

A pellet stove will cost around $75-100 per year to run as you only need limited power and a healthy supply of pellets for the flame. Propane will typically cost about $50-75 per year, depending on the size of your device, so it is cheaper to run. These are both very efficient fuels, and you’ll get a lot of BTUs for very little input.

Design & Appearance

Both pellet stoves and propane stoves have stylish designs, and both generally feature a glass panel so you can see the flames. They’re very similar in appearance, but generally, pellet stoves are a bit more aesthetic, and the flames look more like what you would expect. Propane stoves look good, but some of the cheaper models are a bit less stylish than pellet stove equivalents.

Fuel

Both stoves use cheap, accessible fuels, which you can get from most hardware stores. Propane is a little more challenging to handle, and there are some safety precautions you need to take when using it. Pellets are a bit more straightforward as they are just compressed wood shavings, but they do need some electricity to ignite. Both fuels produce by-products and need ventilation, but they are clean and fairly environmentally friendly compared to electricity or other fuels.

Safety

Both propane and pellet stoves are very safe. Modern propane heaters have built-in safety features that will turn the device off if any gas leaks into your home. They also have tilt features to shut off the stove if it happens to fall over.

Pellet stoves are also safe and have a lot of the same safety features built-in. Both stoves so need proper ventilation and will get hot to the touch once turned on. Ensure you keep flammable objects away from the heaters and don’t leave children or pets unsupervised near them.

Environmental Concerns

The pellets in pellet stoves are made from saw and dust created during the manufacturing process for furniture. This re-purposing of waste is fairly green, and an adequately ventilated pellet stove won’t give off much smoke or ash. Propane heaters burn clean, and for indoor units, there isn’t much of a by-product.

Both propane and pellets are efficient ways to heat, and there is much less environmental impact compared to electricity or oil. Pellet stoves produce more BTUs for the same amount of fuel and are therefore slightly more environmentally friendly.

Maintenance and Upkeep

A pellet stove involves burning wood pellets, so some ash and smoke are to be expected. You’ll need to empty the ash pan every week and clean the gas door fairly regularly to keep it looking good. You’ll also need to perform an annual check-up to make sure it’s all working correctly.

In contrast, a propane stove is much lower maintenance and won’t need much cleaning. You will need to replace the propane from time to time, and you’ll need to get an annual safety check-up. Propane stoves are definitely less work to maintain.

Check our guide on how to clean a pellet stove with a more step-by-step approach.

Wood Pellet Stove Heater

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Do pellet stoves really save money?

The running costs for pellet stoves are very low, and you can save a lot compared to other heating methods. On average, they are 75% cheaper than electric heating.

Is there a vent free pellet stove?

No. Your pellet stove will need to have ventilation to work, and it’s dangerous to run one without proper ventilation.

Is a propane stove cheaper to run than electric?

Yes, electricity is one of the most expensive ways to power a heater and is much less efficient than propane.

Are propane stoves safe to use indoors?

Not all propane stoves or heaters can be used indoors because they give off carbon monoxide. Only specific indoor propane stoves can be used indoors, so make sure you look for the right type of unit.

Conclusion

Propane and pellet stoves are both great ways to heat your home. They are both efficient and low-cost to run, and there is no real environmental impact. Pellet stoves are slightly more expensive and have higher maintenance, but they are more stylish. They won’t work in every location, but they can add a lot to the look and feel of your home.

Hopefully, this article has given you some valuable information to make an informed decision about which stove is best for you.

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