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Old 02-11-2020, 12:02 PM   #1
Hillcountry
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Default Wood stove vs Pellet

We have a beautiful, Woodstock Soapstone wood stove (built right here in Lebanon NH) and as we age are using wood less and less (expense,
work to move, stack etc.)
That said, is it worth selling the soapstone stove and installing a pellet stove?
I know you still have to buy and carry/move bags of pellets, which I have no problem with as I am capable of heavy work.
Surely, someone has weighed both and made decisions on this...
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:34 PM   #2
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I think there are too many variables to make the comparison objective. We use wood because I get it for free and don't mind processing it, I like the silence, I like the smell, I like that it doesn't use electricity, and I like the look.

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Old 02-11-2020, 12:35 PM   #3
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With most pellet stoves if the power goes out, there too goes your heat. Do you have some sort of backup heat source?
I use a pilot lit propane space heater in the basement as my backup and it works admirably at all times. A lot of good woodstove companies, Woodstock included, make gas stoves that look and retain heat just like a woodstove, you could probably drop one right in place of the lovely old soapstone and never worry about lugging fuel again
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:45 PM   #4
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Default Wood

As others have said it comes down to convenience and cost. For us, I end up with the same argument every time, I cannot cut down a pellet tree. Meaning I have to rely on others for part of the process. And... as others have said, you need electricity to properly run a pellet stove. Get our soapstone stove up to 600°F and let it radiate all day.
We also get most of our wood for free and process it ourselves.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:01 PM   #5
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I hate cutting and splitting wood. I will buy it in the spring all cut and split. I don't mind stacking it and I have a tractor so it makes lugging it into the garage easy.
I have a friend of mine that has a pellet stove and when the electricity goes out so does his heat. Plus he loads up one stall of his garage with pellets as you get a better price buying in bulk. You have to have dry space to store pellets.
I'm not giving up my garage space for pellets. I can keep the wood outside covered up and just bring in what I need for a few days which doesn't take up too much space.
There are pros and cons to each so you have to weigh what's best for your situation.

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Old 02-11-2020, 01:22 PM   #6
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I've done both. I like cutting and splitting wood but man that takes a lot of time to which I don't always have. Overall I say the pellets are less work but they do create there own mess with dust just as a wood stove does as well hauling wood into the house. The nice thing about the pellets is you can toss a bag or two in the hopper and take off the day, even overnight if you have an hopper extension, and it takes care of itself. That is nice. You do need back up power though. Propane tends to be expensive so I save a bit in NH. I have natural gas in Mass and honestly for the price of pellets heating with natural gas isn't going to cost me much more now a days. Pellets can be stored outside but trudging out in the snow to get them isn't always fun. If you have a wood stove IMO I would stick with it. Pellet stoves are not cheap and then you would likely have to buy some piping etc to hook it up. On a cold morning when you step outside the door nothing smells as good as a wood stove............except the bacon your neighbor is frying...........
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:43 PM   #7
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I've done both. I like cutting and splitting wood but man that takes a lot of time to which I don't always have. Overall I say the pellets are less work but they do create there own mess with dust just as a wood stove does as well hauling wood into the house. The nice thing about the pellets is you can toss a bag or two in the hopper and take off the day, even overnight if you have an hopper extension, and it takes care of itself. That is nice. You do need back up power though. Propane tends to be expensive so I save a bit in NH. I have natural gas in Mass and honestly for the price of pellets heating with natural gas isn't going to cost me much more now a days. Pellets can be stored outside but trudging out in the snow to get them isn't always fun. If you have a wood stove IMO I would stick with it. Pellet stoves are not cheap and then you would likely have to buy some piping etc to hook it up. On a cold morning when you step outside the door nothing smells as good as a wood stove............except the bacon your neighbor is frying...........
You know what they say about wood, you get warm multiple times cutting, splitting, stacking, and burning.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:59 PM   #8
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Concerning the question around the pellet stove during power outages, a small generator and a line conditioner solves that issue. The key is the line conditioner and when I say "small generator", I'm talking under under 2kv. Just something enough to run the heat element, kick the blower on and power the electronics.


Personally, I prefer a wood stove. There's a certain kind of heat that a pellet stove simply cannot offer....at least not the ones I've seen.

As already stated, the pros and cons must be weighed by each person for their unique scenario. To me, the processing of wood in order to heat my house is "worth" it.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:08 PM   #9
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One more thing to consider, Hill, is that the pellet stove may perform much more like a steel wood stove—a molten lead ball with a fan—as opposed to what should be a much more evenly dispersed soapstone pattern (at least that's my experience with my Hearthstone and Englander stoves and my brother's pellet stove).

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Old 02-11-2020, 07:50 PM   #10
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I should have mentioned that I do have a whole house generator and a propane fired boiler...no worries about being without heat. We love the wood stove and all the pleasant things about it as well. We have only used the wood stove sparingly this winter to “warm up the house” before bed. Turning up the thermostat is a lot easier! We ran out of wood in January (what we had scrounged from ice damage last winter) and then burned lots of leftover scrap wood from an addition we built...got a lot of heat out of that stuff for free! Once that soapstone heats up it radiates a long time. Anyway, we have a great spot for a stove basically a center chimney log home and was thinking pellets might give us “some heat” without all the dirty work of wood. I also have a covered porch where I can store a ton or
more of pellets easily right outside the door near the stove. Very convenient.
Guess we’ll stop at some of the stove shops and have a look at the pellet burners.
We also acres and acres of hardwoods that we could cut down for firewood...would never have to pay a cent for wood if we went that route....just pay in blood and sweat!
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
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You know what they say about wood, you get warm multiple times cutting, splitting, stacking, and burning.
True enough!
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:09 PM   #12
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Another thing to consider, a while back there was a major interruption in the pellet supply where a big producer had a factory fire and could not supply any product. As a result there was a run on inventory and prices for pellets went through the roof, if you could find some at that time.

I burn wood and while it is a lot of work the supply is always there and like everyone else I scrap most of mine for free. That said I do have a pretty good amount invested in a couple really good chain saws and a log splitter. Makes all the difference having the right tools.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:57 PM   #13
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Default Wood stove vs Pellet

20 years ago I enjoyed moving 3 tons of pellets from the storage shed to the stove. What a great way to stay in shape!! And to stay warm!...

Now age 60 something and fuggetiboutit... we were happy to move away from that stove and pellet hauling. Daily cleaning, ash dumping and ehhhh. No bargain either with pellet prices too. It Was fun then, but glad we left it in our other home when we retired to the Lake. We have a wonderful propane insert with a remote thermostat now!!!

Stay warm, and happy!
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:03 PM   #14
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Not far behind you there Steveo ! I seem to get enuff exercise without hauling pellets.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:51 PM   #15
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Hill,

You probably know this but just in case...there is no savings burning pellets. Actually, at last for me, it’s cheaper To simply turn the thermostat on and burn oil...

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Old 02-11-2020, 11:15 PM   #16
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We had a wood stove in our first house and loved the heat but it was a lot of work. Years later in our second house we installed a pellet stove fireplace insert since dealing with pellets was much easier and cleaner. The stove ran well for the first two years but after that was nothing but problems. We had several different techs clean it and try to get it running well, without luck. Last year it was running very poorly and I just couldn't keep it going without the burn pot quickly loading up. We'd had it thoroughly cleaned over the previous summer and it was still awful. We barely made it through a half-ton of pellets because I couldn't keep it running to any real extent, and then the feed mechanism failed right about this time last year.

Enough was enough with that stove. I had zero interest in getting it repaired so we started looking at new stoves, particularly Harmon based on reputation. But we also decided to explore propane inserts. We found that having a propane tank installed and lines run by Eastern was very reasonable, and ended up going that route. We absolutely love having the convenience of pushing a button on the remote control to start, adjust flame height and fan settings, and turn off whenever we want. Being able to run it just for an hour to knock the chill out or just to relax in front of, makes for great convenience. In terms of maintenance, I'll clean the glass in the spring, and we'll have it professionally serviced every other year or so.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:19 AM   #17
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I had a wood furnace(not a wood stove) for years , it still amazes me why anyone would want a pellet stove.
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:09 AM   #18
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Default Stopped burning wood this year

The first woodstove in our house was Fisher Mama Bear cast iron stove, which served admirably from the mid 80's to the early 2000's. We then switched over to a Hearthstone Mansfield soapstone. Plusses on the change was a more even warmth, no need to polish the enameled cast iron portion, no damper in the stove pipe, and a glass door to enjoy the flames.
Disadvantages required a reducer for the 8 inch triple wall chimney (6 inch stove pipe), not easily cleaned by me (2 brushes needed 6 in & 8 in)(unscrewing slip sleeve in stove pipe and sliding up to vacuum out ash from the top of the stove) (Enter The Chimney Sweep- Dan R), slower to heat the room from a new start after room cooled down, keeping glass clean, replacing door gaskets every year or two.
We burned 5-6 cords of wood annually. Wood was delivered cut and split. I would supplement with fall downs I cut and split. Wood delivered late spring, early summer, stacking in September.
We decided to bite the bullet this year and heat with oil. Cost is very similar. Advantage: house stays far cleaner, no ash residue in LR from emptying the stove, no almost daily vacuuming of the trail of wood dust etc, , and no daily exercise of moving the wood from the wood pile to the mud room. Disadvantage: house is poorly insulated (a ton of sliding glass windows) and we keep the thermostat set at a lower temp. Love my sweatshirts.

Will we go back to burning wood? Probably not full time, but maybe a cord or two., unless oil prices skyrocket.

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Old 02-12-2020, 10:24 PM   #19
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We had a wood stove in our first house and loved the heat but it was a lot of work. Years later in our second house we installed a pellet stove fireplace insert since dealing with pellets was much easier and cleaner. The stove ran well for the first two years but after that was nothing but problems. We had several different techs clean it and try to get it running well, without luck. Last year it was running very poorly and I just couldn't keep it going without the burn pot quickly loading up. We'd had it thoroughly cleaned over the previous summer and it was still awful. We barely made it through a half-ton of pellets because I couldn't keep it running to any real extent, and then the feed mechanism failed right about this time last year.

Enough was enough with that stove. I had zero interest in getting it repaired so we started looking at new stoves, particularly Harmon based on reputation. But we also decided to explore propane inserts. We found that having a propane tank installed and lines run by Eastern was very reasonable, and ended up going that route. We absolutely love having the convenience of pushing a button on the remote control to start, adjust flame height and fan settings, and turn off whenever we want. Being able to run it just for an hour to knock the chill out or just to relax in front of, makes for great convenience. In terms of maintenance, I'll clean the glass in the spring, and we'll have it professionally serviced every other year or so.
When you say “insert” is that a burner that fits into a wood stove or a fireplace opening?
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:43 PM   #20
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When you say “insert” is that a burner that fits into a wood stove or a fireplace opening?
The new propane unit is an insert in an existing fireplace, as was the pellet stove.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:52 AM   #21
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The new propane unit is an insert in an existing fireplace, as was the pellet stove.
Ok thanks. I am familiar with inserts as I had a coal burning insert many years ago which I liked a lot. Coal was dirty too but I was much younger and dealt with it!
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:57 PM   #22
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Hill, you should be getting some extended burn times with that Woodstock, right? From what I know about their stoves, a couple loads a day is all it takes.

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Old 02-15-2020, 09:35 PM   #23
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Hill, you should be getting some extended burn times with that Woodstock, right? From what I know about their stoves, a couple loads a day is all it takes.

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My model is a great stove but the fire box is not huge. When burning good dry wood when I loaded it up before bed around 11pm and when getting up next morning (not having gotten up during the night) the wood would be completely burned. The saving grace was that all you needed to do was take the poker and turn the ashes over and there would be hot glowing coals that easily started the next fire. This was consistent and as long as you loaded it again within say 8 hours you always had those glowing coals. Not sure how others did with this stove but we never got an overly, prolonged burn. Rather than load it to max during the day I would just throw a couple logs on at a time and repeat every few hours.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:48 PM   #24
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My model is a great stove but the fire box is not huge. When burning good dry wood when I loaded it up before bed around 11pm and when getting up next morning (not having gotten up during the night) the wood would be completely burned. The saving grace was that all you needed to do was take the poker and turn the ashes over and there would be hot glowing coals that easily started the next fire. This was consistent and as long as you loaded it again within say 8 hours you always had those glowing coals. Not sure how others did with this stove but we never got an overly, prolonged burn. Rather than load it to max during the day I would just throw a couple logs on at a time and repeat every few hours.
It may be worth looking into how people bank their wood for long burns. I'm not sure of the different Woodstock versions, but I've always seen 10+ hour burns. Though, now that I think about it, that was with the new(er) catalytic combustors...

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Old 02-15-2020, 11:14 PM   #25
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Default My stove

My stove was rated, i believe, a 14 hr burn. No way. 8 or 9 hours or so was about normal, wood pretty much burned with a bed of embers. Depending on the wood, I would pack the firebox pretty tightly, get a good fire going, and then adjust to stove draft to maintain a 400-500 degree stack temperature. I too would re-stoke the stove around 11pm or so, and it would need to be refilled 6-7am or so.

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Old 02-15-2020, 11:23 PM   #26
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Yeah, not many stoves can do a solid burn all night, but supposedly the new catalytic ones can go a solid 12 hours. My Hearthstone gets ~8 with oak, about ~5 with pine. I almost always burn pine because a. It's free, 2. It's easy to split, c. It's light, and 4. It's also perfect for campfires.

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Old 02-16-2020, 04:41 AM   #27
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Exclamation Good Stuff...But!

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Ok thanks. I am familiar with inserts as I had a coal burning insert many years ago which I liked a lot. Coal was dirty too but I was much younger and dealt with it!
About 20 years ago, I was able to buy bituminous (soft) coal in Ossipee.

Burned in a woodstove easily converted to coal, I discovered you wouldn't need to burn coal unless you wanted a whole lot of heat!
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:42 PM   #28
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About 20 years ago, I was able to buy bituminous (soft) coal in Ossipee.

Burned in a woodstove easily converted to coal, I discovered you wouldn't need to burn coal unless you wanted a whole lot of heat!
I used to buy the coal which was coated (to keep down the dust) but it still continued to create a dust issue.

Because it was so dusty and dirty I stopped using it and switched over to wood as a cleaner alternative to coal.
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Old 02-18-2020, 09:37 AM   #29
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Red face Good Stuff...But!

We must have burned different types of coal.

'Never had a dust issue, and loaded the stove by hand. No indication of a coating, the coal just looked and felt like shiny black stones.

After burning, the individual lumps of coal got smaller, turned a red-brick color, and eventually disappeared into the ash previously left by wood.

Burning wood was cheaper, and didn't need the ample heat that was offered by bituminous coal. Last I recall, "soft" coal is becoming unavailable.
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Old 02-18-2020, 04:09 PM   #30
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We must have burned different types of coal.

'Never had a dust issue, and loaded the stove by hand. No indication of a coating, the coal just looked and felt like shiny black stones.

After burning, the individual lumps of coal got smaller, turned a red-brick color, and eventually disappeared into the ash previously left by wood.

Burning wood was cheaper, and didn't need the ample heat that was offered by bituminous coal. Last I recall, "soft" coal is becoming unavailable.
Not so much as "dust" but more of a residue from handling...my coal was shiny as well and I built a bin in my garage that handled 2 tons. the guy delivering it would use a dump truck with a chute that the coal traveled through and as it dropped into the bin there was a "cloud" of black that developed over the pile as it filled the hopper. more like a grit than a dust.
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Old 02-18-2020, 10:24 PM   #31
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We have a beautiful, Woodstock Soapstone wood stove (built right here in Lebanon NH)
If is ain't broken . . . why fix it ?

But if money is no issue and you like to try new things . . then go for it.
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Old 02-19-2020, 05:13 PM   #32
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If is ain't broken . . . why fix it ?

But if money is no issue and you like to try new things . . then go for it.
Burning wood is getting old, as I am...just looking for something "easier" to deal with. I never said my wood stove was "broken"
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:47 PM   #33
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We just sold our house back in NY that had a fireplace and a wood stove and we loved burning wood. We loved the crackling of the wood in the fireplace and watching the flames and also the same with the wood stove (a Vermont Castings catalytic). Nothing like the warmth of wood.

Pellet stoves- not so much. Never appealed to us.

But yes- stacking and carrying wood- good exercise but gets harder and harder.

Now we are living in a cottage in The Weirs with propane heat but unfortunately no room for a gas heat stove or fireplace. We have plans to buy an electric stove heater- yeah- I know. But at least it will be something. They make some realistic looking ones- well- kind of...

We really miss having a wood stove.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:13 PM   #34
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We have a beautiful, Woodstock Soapstone wood stove (built right here in Lebanon NH) and as we age are using wood less and less (expense,
work to move, stack etc.)
That said, is it worth selling the soapstone stove and installing a pellet stove?
I know you still have to buy and carry/move bags of pellets, which I have no problem with as I am capable of heavy work.
Surely, someone has weighed both and made decisions on this...
Is it worth it? to change to pellet stove. Yes, in my opinion it is. Used wood stove for years at ski house, loved it once it was up and running but getting up on Friday night and sometimes it would not light and get going and if it did it could be 2 hours before getting any heat out of it, most times it would not stay going during the night, stacking wood sucks, hard to find a good place to store wood, I could go on.

Pellet stove, lights every time in 5 minutes or less, start feeling heat immediately, takes half hour to 40 minutes for the ski house to be up to or close to temp, can control heat sooo much better than a wood stove, much more steady temp than wood stove, goes all night long without getting up, 40 lbs bags easy to stack, store, can store inside, less mess. I could go on, pellet stove sooo much better in my opinion. I agree, the wood gets old.

The 2 drawbacks I will point out, if its in the TV area, its louder than wood stove so if that's an issue look for ones that are quieter than others, they are out there, second, cleaning it is more involved. However, creosote does not build up in the chimney like a wood stove so cleaning chimney needed much less.

Having said all that the pellet stove is much better and easier in my opinion and the drawbacks do not change my opinion and do not regret the change.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:22 PM   #35
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Default pellet stove

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Originally Posted by swnoel View Post
I had a wood furnace(not a wood stove) for years , it still amazes me why anyone would want a pellet stove.
There are many reasons. I had both. Read my post above.
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