Gas Stoves versus Wood Stoves – What are the Differences

Gas Stoves and Wood Stoves each Have Unique Advantages and Disadvantages

By Mark J. Donovan

Growing up at my parents’ home in New Hampshire we used wood stoves for supplementing our winter home heating. Today, in my own home I use a direct vent gas stove for providing supplemental and emergency backup heating. Wood stoves and direct vent gas stoves each have their own distinctive pros and cons however with that said, and with some reservations, I’d have to tip my hat to the direct vent gas stove.

Wood Stove Advantages

Wood stoves can pump out a lot of heat, and in some cases too much heat. 

Similar to a gas stove, wood stoves can be controlled in terms of how much heat is outputted, by controlling the amount of fuel and air fed into them.

However, unlike a direct vent gas stove you can’t as easily and immediately see the results by adjusting the wood stove and chimney dampers.

Wood stoves, versus direct vent gas stoves, are typically less expensive. In addition, if you have hardwood readily available on your property, heating your home with wood is virtually free. Of course that’s only if you consider cutting and splitting wood an entertaining hobby. That said, even if you have to purchase fire wood, it is typically cheaper than the cost of propane or natural gas and its price normally doesn’t fluctuate as much.

Wood stoves are also available with catalytic converters to burn cleaner and more efficiently. With a catalytic converter wood stove you can run the stove at a lower flame level to produce the same level of heat as with a non-catalytic wood stove.

As a result, the catalytic converter wood stove allows you to burn less wood, and burn it more efficiently. Wood stoves are also available with blowers to help pump out the heat into a room or home.

Though extremely heavy, wood stoves can be connected into a chimney by the handy homeowner. This said, the homeowner should first check with the local municipal officials to make sure the wood stove is installed per local fire and building codes.

Wood Stove Disadvantages

Wood stoves are dirty, plain and simple. Wood chips inevitably end up all around the wood stove area. Constant sweeping is necessary to keep the area looking clean. Wood stoves are also dusty.

Also, unlike gas stoves, wood stoves require constant care. Albeit you can load a wood stove full of wood and mostly close the dampers and they will run for hours without having to refill them, but this said they absolutely need a lot more care than a gas stove. Getting a wood stove fire going also takes time. First, it requires stoking with paper, kindling and wood. Preparing kindling takes time. Then there is the frequent checking of the wood stove as you work it up to temperature and adjust the stove and chimney flue dampers. Also, when you decide to no longer use the wood stove you need to make sure to close the dampers after the fire has burnt out. If you neglect to close the dampers after the fire has gone out the wood stove and chimney will suck out warm air from the home and expel it out the chimney.

Then there is the process of obtaining and storing the firewood. Cutting and splitting wood, storing it to dry and then stacking it in an area near the wood stove is hard work and takes extensive time. Dried hardwood should only be used in a wood stove. The use of green wood or evergreen wood should never be used in a wood stove. Green wood burns poorly, and as with evergreen wood, creosote more quickly forms in the chimney.

Chimney and wood stove maintenance is also extremely intensive. Creosote buildup in the stove pipes and chimney can lead to house fires so they need to be checked and cleaned at least once a year depending upon how often you are using the wood stove.

In addition, due to the constant expansion and contraction of the wood stove piping, typically it needs to be replaced every few years. Also, ash has to be regularly removed from the wood stove.

Direct vent gas stove fireplace

Wood stoves are also extremely heavy and typically require a couple of people to move them into position.

Direct Vent Gas Stove Advantages

Unlike wood stoves, gas stoves are clean burning, easy to use, and require little maintenance. With a simple flick of a switch they are operational. With a twirl of a dial you can control the flame. With some direct gas vent systems they can even be controlled by a hand held remote control or by a wall thermostat.

Besides being highly efficient, with gas stoves there are no dust or wood chips lying on or around the gas stove hearth.

Direct vent gas stoves are also available with blower fans to help circulate their warm air throughout a room or home.

Direct gas vent stoves are available in a variety of BTU output levels and styles. Consequently there is a gas stove for almost any type of home heating need.

Direct Vent Gas Stove Disadvantages

Gas stoves typically do not put out the same amount of heat as a wood stove of similar size. They are also more expensive than a wood stove to purchase and require a skilled and licensed person to assemble them and connect them into a gas source. Propane gas or natural gas is also typically more expensive to operate than burning wood.

Unlike a wood stove, gas stoves are less forgiving if regular maintenance is not performed. If the pilot light on a gas stove, for example, is not regularly cleaned it is very possible that the gas stove will not light or the gas stove will go out after being lit. Fortunately gas stoves are specifically designed so that in the event the pilot light goes out, the gas to the stove is automatically shut off. As a result, it is important that a gas stove be checked by a licensed professional annually in order to ensure the gas stove will be operational when you need or want it.

So when making your own gas stove versus wood stove comparison make sure you consider your time and budget, access to fuel, and most importantly your real home supplement heating needs.

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For information on how to maximize a wood stove’s heating efficiency, see’s Installation of Hood over Wood Stove eBook

For information on how to clean a wood stove pipe, see’s How to Clean a Wood Stove Pipe eBook.

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