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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

Wood or Pellet – Which is better?

It’s not really a new topic, but some might say it’s a hot one right now. Interest in wood-burning (both in traditional and pellet forms) heating appliances is growing once again as heating oil prices remain high. While wood- and pellet-burning stoves and inserts require up front costs and cannot be used as a sole heating source in some instances, the savings are substantial and allow consumers to cut their overall energy usage and costs. The service pros at Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney urge you to continue reading to see why adding one to your home could be a huge money saver in terms of your future heating costs.

Pellet Stove - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's

Woodstoves and Fireplace Inserts

The increased efficiency of wood-burning inserts makes them a great alternative heating system for your home. New inserts can heat a room three times longer, with the same number of logs, than a traditional fireplace. The reason for this is that traditional fireplaces have open hearths that draw heated air into the fire, which causes it to burn faster at a much lower temperature. In contrast, fireplace inserts have an airtight, sealed door, which allows the wood to burn slower and at a much hotter temperature. The overall efficiency ratings of fireplace inserts ranges anywhere from 65-80% depending on the age and type of the insert, thereby making them an affordable way to heat your home during the winter.

Fireplace inserts can reduce your heating bills further because they also provide more insulation for your home and solve downdraft problems with which traditional fireplaces struggle. When your fireplace insert is installed, insulation is installed around it, which allows less heat to escape during winter and keeps cool air in during summer. The sealed glass doors also prevent cold wind that blows down your chimney from entering your home. Even when not in use, your fireplace insert will lower the cost of heating and cooling your home.

Pellet Stove and Inserts

In colder climates, heating costs account for approximately one-third of a homeowner’s annual utility bill, which is why many are seeking thriftier ways to stay warm and toasty. Freestanding pellet stoves and inserts that fit inside an existing fireplace are an increasingly popular solution for homeowners. Pellet stoves create a tiny fraction of the ash produced by an older wood-burning stove or fireplace, so cleaning s much less frequent. If used daily, you’d probably find yourself emptying the ashpan once a week.

Pellet stoves and inserts look like traditional woodstoves but operate more like a modern furnace. You need only fill the stove’s hopper with pellets made from compacted sawdust, set its thermostat, sit back, and get cozy. A mechanical auger deposits the pellets into a burn pot, where they are incinerated at such a high temperature that they create no vent-clogging creosote and very little ash or emissions, which keeps both indoor and outdoor air cleaner. The best part is that they are about twice as efficient at warming your home as older woodstoves that have not been certified by the EPA and are vastly more efficient than traditional fireplaces.

Wood-burning heating appliances are a great way to heat your home. They provide the beauty of a traditional fireplace, with the added energy efficiency advantages. With the fluctuating costs of home heating oil, a new wood-burning stove or insert might very well pay for itself in a few short winters. Depending on the particular model or style of the unit you select, you could own a unit and the wood to heat your home for the winter for less than half the price of heating oil. No matter which option you choose, we have your service needs covered. We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul! Give us a call or stop by our showroom today.

Wood, Gas, or Pellet – Which One is Right for Me?

Wood, Pellet, & Gas Stoves - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace & ChimneyAs you make the decision of what type of fireplace you want, take your needs and your own capacities for fueling into consideration. Sometimes a backyard fire pit or open-hearth barbecue can satiate your desire. Especially during brisk fall or winter nights, the allure of dancing flames, a chorus of crackling sounds and a nice woodsy aroma are all that are needed to bring back fond family memories and/or build new ones. However, whether indoors or out, there are some practical advantages and drawbacks to wood-, pellet- and gas-fueled fireplaces. Keep reading to determine which is right for you!


The main advantage to a wood-burning fireplace or an outdoor fire pit is the ambiance it creates. Since wood is the original renewable fuel, all the positives that go with a green/conservationist perspective come into play for some homebuyers. And with advanced fireplace technology, you can reduce gas emissions, increase the circulation of heat in indoor versions, or help warm both family members and guests alike on those colder evenings.

The disadvantages to a wood-burning fireplace are fairly straightforward. A certain degree of vigilance is always needed to keep the embers safely where they belong. Cleaning up ashes and soot is an uninspiring pastime, and it’s even less enjoyable when accidental spills spread the mess. Then there is the annual need to keep the chimney clear and clean, not to mention the annual task of finding the fuel—either chopping wood or paying for it to be delivered. Additional hassles can surface if there are problems starting the fire or keeping it going. There is also some evidence to indicate that particles generated from wood burning can be harmful to one’s health as well as the environment.


The main advantage of gas fireplaces for some homeowners is how easy they are to turn on and off. Instead of matches, newspaper, kindling, and close attention, starting many of these units can be as simple as flipping a switch. Cleanup? Ha! Nor is there a need to religiously tend to the fire. Most gas fireplaces have non-burning displays that resemble wood logs, and burners that conserve fuel by getting the most visual appeal through well-designed flame spreaders.

For many people, the main disadvantage of a gas fireplace is that there is no roaring fire, wood smell or crackling of a dancing flame. For environmentalists, gas fireplaces deplete a non-renewable resource. While it’s not necessary to carry logs to an outdoor gas fire pit, the gas tank must be refilled (or possibly a gas line run to the unit from a larger, stationary tank).


The main advantage of pellet stoves is the fact that they’re more convenient to operate and have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies than ordinary wood stoves and/or fireplaces. A benefit of this: they produce very little in the way of air pollution. In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel burning residential heating appliances; with combustion efficiencies ranging from 78-85%, they are exempt from the EPA’s smoke-emission testing requirements. Their heating capacities can range anywhere between 8,000 and 90,000 Btu per hour, making them suitable for homes, apartments and condominiums.

The main disadvantage of pellet stoves (if you can call it a disadvantage) is their relative newness to the market in comparison to their gas- and wood-fired counterparts. Operator error accounts for more service calls than equipment failure. It’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions, which can reduce the likelihood of damage to the appliance (e.g. most manufacturers recommend removing unused pellets from the stove at the end of the heating season). This can minimize difficulties in lighting the appliance at the start of subsequent heating seasons. Having the flue vent cleaned and inspected on a regular basis is another recommendation to prevent soot from building up.

Whether gas, pellet or wood burning, each option remains an attractive amenity to a considerable proportion of many homeowners. This is an area where, as always, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced professional. If you are considering a home remodel, be sure to weigh the long-term advantages and disadvantages to your choice as well. No matter which one you decide on, look forward to the addition of a fireplace to your home. Quality time spent around a roaring fire is usually the stuff of which long lasting memories are made. Give us a call at 800-876-6539 to speak with a team member or to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul!

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