Gas Stove Heaters vs. Pellet Stoves

As the seasons begin to change and the cold weather approaches, it is time to think about home heating options and what type of heating system (pellet stove vs gas in this case) will benefit your home the most.

One of the most efficient heating options that people often overlook is a stove. Not to be confused with a kitchen stove, stove heaters are steel or cast-iron boxes with glass doors that, depending on the type, use different fuels to circulate heat throughout your home.

Not intended to heat the entirety of large homes, the purpose of stove heaters is to supplement primary heating systems. They are a great option if you are looking to warm smaller spaces or specific rooms with an attractive yet effective heating system.

There are different types of stove heaters, which may make it difficult for you to decide what style is best for you. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what option is best for you, here is a quick guide comparing two stove heating options: gas stove heaters and pellet stoves.

What Is a Gas Stove Heater?

If you have ever wanted the warmth and comfort of a wood fireplace without having to worry about carrying wood into your home and the soot, debris and smoke emissions that come with it, a gas stove heater may be the solution for you. With their realistic log set and real flame appearance, you can create the same welcoming and cozy atmosphere that a fireplace would, but without the upkeep.

Gas stove heaters use a fuel source, like propane gas, that mixes with oxygen and a spark, causing a combustion reaction that produces a flame and heat. The stove releases different intensities of gas based on how high you turn up the heater. These types of heaters come in either vented or vent-free options.

Vented gas stove heaters don’t draw in air from the home, instead using vents to bring in air from the outside to start the combustion process. These vents play an important role in removing any byproducts or fumes created by the heating process. They filter the air back out through the ventilation system, never allowing it to escape into your home.

Vent-free gas stoves differ in where the air the stove uses comes from and goes to. Instead of pulling air in from the outdoors, non-vented systems use air from the home. Similarly, these heaters do not filter the combustion fumes outside of the home, but just allow the gas to filter into the home. Because of the lack of outside air exchange, vent-free heaters tend to be more effective than vented ones, but vent-free heaters release carbon monoxide created by combustion into the home. Although vent-free heaters have safety sensors to alert you if oxygen levels become too low or if the stove heater malfunctions, some people prefer to choose vented gas stove heaters that direct fumes outdoors.

Because of the difference in the air filtration systems of vented and non-vented gas stove heaters, it is important to think about the desired location of your heater. Vented gas stove heaters pass any harmful byproducts or fumes to the outdoors, so these types of heaters are ideal for indoor use. Since vent-free heaters filter any possible fumes into the room that houses the heater, these types are better for well-ventilated rooms, such as porches, sunrooms or detached garages.

What Is a Pellet Stove?

Pellet stoves are alternative heating sources that are some of the most eco-friendly stoves available. Instead of using gas or propane as fuel, pellet stoves burn sustainable fuels, such as wood, corn or other compressed materials, in the form of pellets to produce heat.

These pellets act as the fuel source, stored in a hopper and fed via a mechanical chain into a burn pot, where combustion occurs. These stoves operate by being plugged into an electrical outlet. You have to fill the hopper with pellets, then use the stove’s ignition system to ignite the pellets.

Which Is Better?

When trying to decide between a gas stove heater or a pellet stove, there is no right or wrong answer. You just have to compare the two options and choose which will work better with your expectations and needs. There are pros and cons to each choice, and the deciding factor for you really may just be personal preference.

Here is a comparison of some of the important factors to consider when choosing what type of heater to use in your home:

Maintenance

One of the most important things to think about when comparing gas stove and pellet stove heaters is the upkeep they require. While gas stove heaters require minimal periodic maintenance, such as vent or chimney inspection and cleaning, pellet heaters require much more regular upkeep. You must keep your pellet stove stocked with the appropriate amounts of pellets to use it, which may require attention daily or even multiple times a day depending on the stove and how much you use it. In addition to filling the pellet stove, you must also empty the ashes created by the burning of the pellets.

Emergency Heating

If a major concern you have is establishing a backup heating system that works in emergency situations, you may want to consider a gas stove heater over a pellet stove. Pellet stoves require an electrical connection to distribute the heat they create. On the other hand, gas stove heaters do not need an electrical source. Instead, they use the gas lines that feed into your home regardless of the weather or electricity status.

If you are leaning more towards a pellet stove, you do have the option of getting a backup power source for your pellet stove in emergency situations. However, these power sources are not as efficient, as they do not last for extended periods of time and are an additional expense.

Space

Another important consideration when thinking about what kind of stove will best suit you is the space the heater needs versus the amount of room you have to offer. Both gas stove heaters and pellet stoves are larger heating options, ranging in size around 1250 square feet gas stoves and 2200 square feet pellet stoves. This means that you need to have a room large enough that it can safely house a stove heater. Remember that some gas stove heaters have vents, meaning that they need extra space for the insertion of a vent or pipe and exterior ducts that lead outside to bring in air and remove any fumes generated by the heater.

You also need to think about the storage that each of these stoves requires. For example, pellet stoves require pellets to ignite, so you will need to have a place to store backup pellets. Depending on how much your stove needs to run, you may need to have a decent amount of pellets stored in your home so you do not run out. As for gas stove heaters, you have different fuel options. While one option is to have a stove that runs on natural gas that comes from gas fields and runs into your home, another option is to have a gas stove that runs on propane. If you choose a propane-run stove, you will want to consider having a safe place to store extra propane cylinders in case of an emergency.

Convenience

Relating to the maintenance and space required for these heaters is the convenience factor. Before deciding what type of heating system to use, think about if the convenience and ease of the stove outweighs other points of consideration. If you want something with a more convenient installation, look at the pellet stove since this does not require ventilation. If you are looking for something with minimal upkeep and easier long-term care, consider the gas stove heater to avoid having to fill and clean the pellet stove after use.

Efficiency

Both gas stove heaters and pellet stoves have relatively high efficiency rates. Gas stoves have an efficiency rate of around 70 percent, meaning that about 70 percent of generated heat stays in the house. Pellet stoves offer one of the most efficient heating systems with an efficiency that can range between 70 and 83 percent.

Cost

Related to the efficiency of any stove heater is the cost to install and operate. Gas stove heater installation runs slightly more costly than pellet stoves. The average gas stove falls within the price range of $1,000 to $5,000. You also have to consider the installation fees, the price of creating a ventilation system or chimney and the cost of fuel for the heater. As natural gas and propane prices fluctuate, you may not be able to accurately gauge the cost of heating your home with a gas stove heater.

Pellet stoves are a more budget-friendly option because they have a less intensive installation process since you do not need to install venting. Pellets, typically made from wood waste and other recycled materials, tend to be cheap to purchase in bulk. Also, consider the electricity usage of a pellet stove and factor that into the monthly operation price. Depending on the price of gas versus the price of pellets and electricity, this means that pellet stoves may have less of an operational cost than natural gas or propane stoves.

Environmentally-Friendly

Comparing gas stove heaters and pellet stoves, pellet stoves are a better option considering their lower environmental impacts. Gas stove heaters use fuel to run, meaning that they burn propane or natural gas to create a combustion effect. This burning emits significant levels of nitrogen oxides, which can be harmful to people and the environment. Specifically, nitrogen oxides can affect the respiratory systems of people and can harm vegetation and crop yields.

Conversely, pellet stoves are one of the most environmentally friendly stove heating options. Because pellet stoves produce heat from burning the pellets, which are a sustainable energy source, they emit little smoke or chemicals. Although burning the pellets does still produce gases, it does so minimally and significantly less than gas stove heaters.

Safety

Both gas stoves and pellet stoves are relatively safe options to consider when looking at alternate heating options. Although gas stove heaters have a reputation for being more dangerous, modern gas stoves have improved safety features and technologies. Any time a device or system feeds off of natural gas, there is a risk of a gas leak or a blocked gas line. This runs the risk of a fire or explosion or adverse health effects. However, you can equip your gas stove with a sensor to alert you if carbon monoxide levels become too high in your home, indicating a problem with the gas line or ventilation system.

Pellet stoves do not release carbon monoxide or large amounts of any other harmful fumes, making them a safe option to heat your home. As with any time a flame exists, it is important for you to keep an eye on the heater as it operates to ensure there are no unforeseen issues. Also, be mindful that because the purpose of the stove is to release heat and warm the room, the stove will become warm. Keep children away from the stove and avoid touching it, especially on the glass window, to prevent getting burned.

Pellet Stove vs Gas: Which Is Best for You?

Overall, there is no definitive answer as to if one option is inherently better than the other. The deciding factor should be whichever option meets more of your wants and needs regarding your home heating system.

Regardless of what you decide, at Ingram's Water & Air Equipment, we have a variety of gas stove heaters and pellet stove options to suit your personal preference. We pride ourselves in having a team staffed with industry veterans who want to help you figure out what is best for you and your budget.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact us through our online form or give us a call at 270-575-9595.

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