Freestanding Stove Fuel Types
With a wide range of options including wood, gas, pellet, corn, or even coal-fueled, many factors can come into play when determining which the best fuel type best suits your needs for a freestanding stove. These may include fuel availability, cost, convenience, venting options and preference on flame style.
An abundant, renewable resource, wood is a common fuel source for stoves. Sophisticated, cleaner burning designs have doubled the energy efficiency of stoves, helping to reduce overall heating costs while reducing environmental impacts. All wood stoves and inserts sold today are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as clean-burning.
There are two types of woodstoves: catalytic and non-catalytic. Catalytic woodstoves use a catalyst, which enables the stove to burn the fire longer. However, catalytic woodstoves are more difficult to maintain and operate and can be more expensive. They are good for those seeking to rely their heating needs largely with a woodstove. Non-catalytic stoves are more commonly found in homes, are simple to start, operate and maintain. Non-catalytic woodstoves are slightly more affordable and require less maintenance.
Woodburning appliances require the most intensive maintenance. Not only do you need to acquire and store seasoned wood, but also you have to build the fire and dispose of ashes. However, wood is a renewable resource that is plentiful and inexpensive in many parts of the country. Many also find the work to be very rewarding and a woodburning fireplace will keep homes warm in a power outage.
See our tips for responsible wood burning.
Gas stoves add heat and ambiance at the flip of a switch, and can be economical for zone heating. All gas stoves, fireplaces, inserts and logs can burn either natural gas or propane (LP). Installation costs vary, especially if you do not already have a gas supply to your home. A gas burning stove will operate during a power outage and can be installed just about anywhere and vented outside more easily. All gas appliances require proper circulation and ventilation, they can be quite hot to the touch, and there is the risk of a gas leak. Proper installation and maintenance are important.
Wood pellets are made of compressed sawdust that might otherwise end up in landfills. Pellets are clean-burning, renewable energy that offer a convenient alternative to wood. Pellets are typically bought by the bag and are poured into a hopper that feeds automatically into the stove. A single load can burn up to 24 hours. Pellets, which are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to heating oil or propane, can be purchased from hearth specialty stores, mass merchants, home improvement stores, and feed stores.
Clean, dry shelled corn is a renewable fuel option that is burned in freestanding corn stoves or inserts or in some pellet/biomass stoves. The corn is sold by feed and seed stores or directly from farmers (least expensive).
Although it is becoming a more rarely selected option, coal burning stoves are available. Coal stoves can burn longer per fuel load than wood stoves and provide an even and controllable heat.
Depending on fuel costs, homeowners may consider heating oil as an economical, convenient reliable room heating option. A less common option, oil stove runs quietly unattended without electricity as long as there is fuel in the tank.
An electric stove is a simulated gentle wood fire, but without a chimney or venting system. Although not designed to efficiently heat large spaces, electric stoves have a built-in heater to provide the right amount of warmth controllable by the flick of a switch. They are ideal for apartments, town homes, offices or even hotel lobbies and rooms.