Wood burning stoves help to deliver a great fireplace experience and can generate great amounts of heat for home.
Electric fireplaces are also becoming a popular way to heat a home thanks to their relatively low cost to buy, ease of use and ability to use electricity to generate heat. Electric fireplaces can also come in the form of a wood stove to imitate the look and feel of a real wood burning stove.
When it comes to costs, a wood stove can be a more expensive upfront purchase compared to an electric fireplace, but in many instances firewood can be a more cost effective source of fuel.
So is a wood stove cheaper than electric?
Studies have shown that burning firewood can be more cost effective than using electricity in terms of the price per amount of heat produced. However, fuel costs will vary between regions and a modern, highly efficient stove will be much more cost effective in the long run compared to older models.
Whether a wood stove is cheaper than electric needs to be compared by looking at the overall costs throughout the lifespan of each unit.
We have both a real wood burning stove and an electric stove and so we’ve explained in more detail below the cost differences between the two.
Is A Wood Stove Cheaper Than Electric?
Wood burning stoves are appliances that you can install in your home in order to burn firewood to generate heat, while also being able to enjoy the experience of real fire.
Wood stoves don’t require a source of electricity in order to work, but some models of stove can have an integrated blower to help disperse heat around a home, in which an electrical supply would typically be required.
We have a number of stoves in the family, two of which are shown below, and don’t need an electrical supply:
Pellet stoves, which differ from wood stoves because they use pellets as their source of fuel, typically do require a source of electricity in order to work. The electricity is used to help feed the pellets into the stove, but a pellet stove still has a real fire like a wood burning stove.
Electric fireplaces do require a source of electricity in order to operate.
Electric fireplaces, like our electric stove shown below, don’t have a real fire but use electricity to generate the look of flames through lights, and generate heat through use of an integrated conventional space heater.
While wood burning stoves, pellet stoves and electric stoves all generate heat and a fireplace experience; the difference lies in the type of fuel used.
The cost of the firewood, pellets and electricity will be different, and will also differ between every region.
Whether a wood stove is cheaper than electric will depend on a number of factors, but the cost of the fuel will play an integral role.
Pennsylvania State University (PSU) conducted a study on the cost of wood versus other types of fuel, including electricity, for the previous 20 years.
The study showed that cordwood had been the least expensive type of fuel throughout the period, with electric being the most expensive.
The prices were for just the Pennsylvania state and PSU noted that their study might not be accurate for other regions.
There are a number of factors that influence whether a wood stove is cheaper than electric, and we’ve outlined the main costs for both types of fireplace below.
Wood Stove vs Electric – Cost Summary
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|Ease Of Use
Wood Stove Costs
When compared to electric, the main costs of using a wood burning stove to heat a home include:
- The price of purchase for a stove can be anywhere from relatively cheap to expensive, depending on the brand, model and how efficient the stove is. Our particular stoves cost over $1000 each.
- A wood stove must be installed in a home in line with local and/or national safety regulations and so depending on the situation installation costs can be quite high. A sealed flue is required and installation can be more expensive if there isn’t an existing chimney to utilize.
- Buying firewood in bulk will help to save money, but using your own firewood from your property will completely save on fuel costs (like we do). Firewood must be properly seasoned in order for it to burn well, and you can find out more about seasoned firewood here. Studies have shown that firewood costs can be less than electricity costs in certain regions.
- There are no moving mechanical or electrical parts in the main body of a wood stove and so the life expectancy of a stove can be 10-20 years plus. Buying a well built, modern stove from a reputable brand, and treating it with care will help keep it working for many years.
- The fundamentals of a burning wood must be understood in order for a wood stove to be cheaper than electric. Using a stove in the wrong way can lead to inefficiently burning fires that aren’t producing much heat, or burning through the firewood too quickly to be cost effective. We have a complete guide to using wood stoves for more information.
Electric Fireplace Costs
In comparison to wood stoves, costs associated with using electric fireplaces include:
- The cost of an electric fireplace is typically far cheaper compared to a wood stove, but more upmarket electric fireplaces can still reach into the thousands. As an example, our electric fireplace stove cost about $100
- Many freestanding electric fireplaces won’t cost anything at all to install because they can simply be plugged into a standard home electrical outlet and be used straight away. Some types of electric fireplace, such a wall mounted or inserts may require DIY or professional installation.
- The cost of electricity will differ between location, and the cost of electricity may or may not be more than the cost of firewood in some areas. The study undertaken by PSU showed that electrical costs were much higher than cordwood costs in that state.
- Electric fireplaces have both mechanical and electrical components. Many come with a one-year warranty but if one of the major components fails then a whole new unit may be required. Our particular electric fireplace doesn’t have any user serviceable parts and so if there’s a problem we’ll have to get a new one. The life expectancy of an electric fireplace should be factored into the whole life costs when comparing it to a wood stove.
- Electric fireplaces are extremely easy to use and you can produce heat for a room in your home at the touch of a button. Unlike wood stoves there’s no ‘getting it right’ in order to produce heat. An electric fireplace is either on and producing as much heat as designed, or off and not using any electricity.
Whether a wood stove is cheaper than electric will depend on your location, as the cost of the fuel will play a major role in the whole life costs of either a wood stove or an electric fireplace.
A wood stove can be more expensive to purchase compared to an electric one, but studies have shown that the cost of firewood can be cheaper compared to electric in terms of heat produced.
Wood stoves can also last for far longer than electric fireplaces, and you may have to replace an electric fireplace multiple times before ever having to replace a stove.
It can also be much more expensive to have a wood stove installed in your home compared to an electric fireplace because of the requirements for a sealed flue and hearth, and electric fireplaces are much more user friendly when it comes to using them and you can’t ‘get it wrong’ when it comes to producing heat.