Wood Burning , Gas Insert , Pellet Stove Which is best ?

deer66January 29, 2005

I have been doing research for about a month now , Here is my situation . I currently have a Country Flame heatlaitor fireplace box and have been burning wood for about 10 years now . I am getting tired of messing with the wood . Please give me your input . I am using for supplmental heat only in a 2,050 square foot house (because I have a Heat pump, wife hates it ) , Here are the Facts ?

Currently burning about 2 cords a year which cost me about $150 total if I haul it (which I do ) and about $210 a year if I have it hauled in and dumped . It does a very good job heating , but the doors get dirty very fast so you cant even see the fire , without cleaning the glass about every 2 weeks . Then I still have all the mess from the wood , plus I still have to Haul it down to the house , and then there are the snakes , I have my share of them and they love the wood pile . (copperheads ) As you can tell I seem to come up with alot of CONS for wood burning . But it seems to be the Cheapest .

Research I have done Below :

I have done alot of research on Gas and pellet inserts and have decided I like the Country Stove Gas Insert the best , but it is not Cheap . I do not have gas so I will have to install a propane tank . What do you guys Know about the Country Stoves , seem to have the heaviest duty metal .

Stove cost $2499

Installtion $250

Pipe $250

Propane Tank $695

Cost of propane per gallon in my area is $1.37 per gallon . Last summer propane was around $1.00 in my area (summer prices )

Now for the info on the pellet stove . I have decided on the Harman Accentra pellet insert . Power is not an issue because I already have a generator . Pellets are selling in my area for about $2.79 per sack . The major Cons I see with the pellet stove is that it has 3 different motors and a control board and I see that as just a matter of time before they go out . Also my wife doesnt think that the pellet insert will get as hot as the wood . Please give me feedback on short and long term problems with pellet insert .

Harman Accentra $ 2895

Installtion $ 250

Pipe $ 100

Please give me feed back , I am not in a hurry because I still have about 1/2 cord to burn , Can I get better prices waiting to this summer . I have been told Harman will have a price increase around May . ( prices of steel). Sorry to have such a long post but I wanted to get the facts out .


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Another Con I forgot to post about pellet stoves , is the noise level of the fans running . My fireplace is in the living room , where the TV is . Is the noise level loud on the Harman Accentra Insert ?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 11:54AM
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Please someone give me some feedback ?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 12:16PM
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You might want to look at a Bellfires fireplace system. Here is a link.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 12:26PM
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We are planning to get a pellet insert for our firplace also. We currently have a pellet stove. There is nothing as safe and convenient as loading it up with pellets and forgetting about it for the rest of the day!

The fans usually have 3 speeds and once you get your room as warm as you like it you can turn the fan to low and keep comfortable so the noise shouldn't be much. Our stove is about 6 feet from our TV.

They are clean and safe and environmentally sound and pellets are the cheapest form of heat I've read. I have had a gas fireplace in the past and it was nice because it was so easy, but the pellet is almost as easy, it lights itself and does everything automatically. The only downside I see is that if the power goes out, you need a generator, which you already have.

We toyed with the idea of getting a wood burning fireplace insert too, but when it comes right down to it, the pellets are just easier, cleaner and more economical. I don't like having to constantly tend a fire, and you can't manage the fire if you're not home whereas the pellet stove keeps plugging away while you're gone, or sleeping at night.

I also like the idea that the pellets are made from what would otherwise be waste from the timber industry. I'm not sure where you live, but most pellet stoves will also burn corn and that seems to be big in the midwest. My stove will burn pellets or a 80% corn/20%pellet mix. I don't burn corn as I live in the northwest and we have pellets a plenty!

While it is true that pellets stoves operate with a control board that could go out, so does the computer you used to send your message, and I'm sure you wouldn't want to go back to sending letters and waiting for replies by post.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 1:23PM
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Holy cow, you can get propane for $1.37? Where the heck do you live? Around here, if you get a propane tank installed, they'll give you the first fill-up for a "special price" of $1.59 per gallon. After that, it runs $2.30 to $2.50 per gallon! Are you absolutely sure that the $1.37/gallon isn't a special price for your first fillup?

Propane cost has got to the point where it's just as expensive; if not more expensive than electric heat. We have a vent-free fireplace in our basement; but we only use it when we're down there.

We installed a Quadra-Fire pellet stove this year in our great room. It's one of the smaller models (about 35K btu), and it cost $1600 plus $500 for the pipe and installation. The cool thing; is that it runs on a thermostat just like our heat pumps - it turns itself on and off automatically. I have mine on a digital programmable thermostat. Basically, the pellet stove heats our whole house for about $3.00 per day. Very inexpensive! Takes me about 3 to 5 minutes per day to clean the stove, which is easy.

If you really can get propane for $1.37 per gallon on a regular basis (make sure that's not the "new customer" price) - then there is no question that a propane stove/fireplace is easier and less work than a pellet stove. But for the price of propane around here; it's just not cost effective.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 7:29AM
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Yes the $1.37 is correct . I am only going to have to pay $1.29 to fill the first time . Back during the summer it was .97 cents per gallon . ( I am in Arkansas ) This is a new Company about 5 miles from my house been there about 1 year and is beating the pants off everyone around , I dont know how long it will last .

Thank You

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 9:00PM
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Well just giving my 2 cents...We bought our house 3 years ago which is electric heat with a wood burning fireplace. Although wood kept the house warm I found it to be a real pain and also quite dirty and smell of smoke was not pleasant. Our electric bill for our 1st winter year was 400.00 a mo. Last year we had a gas insert put in with a programmable remote control & blower which we love. Our propane cost right now is 1.63 (in Pa) and we have 2 200 gal tanks. We run the gas insert at a set temp of 72 when we are home and a temp of 60 all other times. Our electric bill now is 129.00 a month and our propane is filled 50% every other mo averging about 185.00 each fill. The insert is safe and glass doors never need cleaning. IMHO I think either propane or pellet is better than the hassel of wood.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 11:24AM
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Well I cannot decide what to do , I have also found out that I can buy pellets from a pellet factory about 2.5 hours from me for about 80-90 dollars a ton during the months of May,June and July . I think that the propane insert would be alot easier to use , less hassle but I still do not want to be tied to a fossil fuel . I think fossil fuel is not going to do anything but keep skyrocketing . What are your thoughts on this .

By the way Thank you for the feedback I have gotten so far . Keep it coming , because like I have said I havent made my mind up . Also I am waiting for the heating season to get over and see if stove prices come down , do they ?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Hello deer66,

I live in nothern ohio where natural gas and propane is expensive. I have a 90%+ high efficiency forced air furnace which burns natural gas. Due to the high cost of natural gas and propane I would not even consider burning these fuels in anything but a high efficiency heating appliance.

The price of propane will rise in Arkansas sooner or later!

I think you are right on target with the pellet stove and, furthermore, i think you have chosen the absolute best pellet INSERT made - the Harman Accentra. All harman pellet stoves are bottom feed which is very desirable. Furthermore the Accentra INSERT is the only insert that I am aware of that can hold a significant amount of ashes. The pellet inserts sold by Travis Industries under the Avalon and Lopi brand names have small ash holding capacity and therefore must be emptied/cleaned very frequently.

I think another option for you is a coal but I don't have any experience with coal. Somebody else at this forum had a couple of coal stove recommendations.

BTW, Harman can hardly keep up with the demand for their pellet stoves. Place an order for one at least 1 month (preferably 2) before you actually need it.

Good luck

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 8:00PM
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May, June and July are the best months to buy and install a stove.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 8:57PM
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Thank you . Xanndra how much can I expect the stoves to go down during May, June and July . Also I am still worried about the fan noise(it will be in my TV room ) and Maintence problems . Have you seen a lot of motor or board problems with Harman .


    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 11:13PM
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Is hauling in wood really such a big deal??? It amazes me how many posts I see about the trouble of using wood. I would never even consider gas or pellet..but that's just my opinion. Going outside and fetching a few logs to throw on the fire is actually enjoyable to me. Are people really this lazy or are there lives so hectic that they actually don't have the time to go outside and grab some logs? For those that like a fire but don't like the smell of smoke?? I really don't know what to say...except wow.......

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 8:05AM
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As far as how much the stoves can go down in the "off-season" depends on many factors. If there is a discontinued model, it will go cheaper. On others, it just depends on how motivated the dealer is or maybe there is a stove in a particular color that they want to clear out. Mostly, the off-season is best for scheduling the installation and ordering any parts. That's probably where you will save the most money. Maybe they can even throw in installation for free if they don't discount the stove. There is more bargaining room on everything when they have more time.

As far as the motor and boards on the Harman, I only ever replaced one board, but I am convinced the owner of the stove messed it up (there were other issues with this guy). I never replaced a motor or even a blower, even on my own stove. There is fan noise with all pellet stoves and I would always recommend to people that it not be put in the TV room. It seems to bother some people more than others. If you are sensitive to sounds it will bother you. It is kind of like a range hood fan on low all the time.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 11:04AM
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Dear ThePlayer-
Yes, people really are busy enough that going outside and getting logs along with tending a fire, and cleaning up the mess and shoveling piles of ash is an inconvenience. I don't think it has anything to do with laziness, if it did, all the good folks on this forum would turn up the furnace, grit their teeth and pay the bill. The fact that anyone wants to heat with any type of alternative fule is admirable and all forms should be given consideration, one type is not right for everyone. Many people have jobs, kids, animals and a lifestyle that simply doesn't support lounging around home tossing logs on a fire, yet they struggle because they want to be warm and not go bankrupt at the same time. Many people would like a fire to go all night, untended, or leave a fire burning when not at home and not worry they'll come home to a pile of smoldering ashes. The list goes on......
Wood has its place, but to say that people who consider pellet or gas are lazy is very close-minded!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 11:34AM
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I guess I'd put it this way:

regular woodstove = very cheap, but also the dirtiest of the lot. Lots of work.

pellet stove = clean. pellets easy to store. But more expensive than a plain woodstove, and there are "moving parts" to go bad. Does require daily cleaning, although it's quick and easy.

gas stove = cleanest. Nothing to haul, just sit back and enjoy. But in most areas of the country, unless you can get natural gas, it's also the most expensive of the lot.

The point is; there is no "perfect" solution - there is always a trade-off. For me, pellets work pretty good, and they are a lot cheaper than running our heat pumps in the dead of winter. If propane was the same price as what I'm paying for pellets (I'm averaging about $90 a month in pellets) - I would definitely go with propane! But around here; running a 35K btu propane stove 24/7 like I run my pellet stove would cost me a fortune.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 4:01PM
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brad_brown2: Harman pellet stoves do not require daily cleaning. They can go weeks at a time 24/7 burning without having to be shut down.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 4:40PM
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I would like to say Thank you to everyone for the great information and also to say to one person I am not a "too Lazy " to haul wood .Like I said I have been doing it for ten years . If I was lazy I would not mess with any of this . My wife and I both work full time jobs ,they are not just 40 hour a week jobs . I have gotten to a point in my life that I would rather do other things with the little free time that I have .
Also my wife has a hard time taking care of the wood fireplace when I am not here ,and I would like to have something a little easier for her to run .
I agree that wood creates the most heat and is the cheapest , but it also creates a big mess .
Again Thank You for all of the feedback , and keep the info coming because like I said I have still not made up my mind .

Thank You

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 8:51PM
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I have 2 englander wood stoves, a 24icd and a 24acd that I wouldn't trade for anything, The heat exchanger in them is a little too efficent if that is possible, causing a little more cresote then a regular wood stove. Hauling in wood is good exercise for me.

I also have a 65k btu US stove vented propane heater as a backup, propane here in tennesse is about $1.59 a gallon.

I bought the englanders at a "parking lot yard sale" at a home depot in Michigan for $150 each. The newer englanders dont seem to have the same type of heat exchangers that these do.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 3:24PM
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deer66, I understand completely. We used to heat entire home with wood. Very warm, dry, dirty, smelly, cobwebs etc. My husband doesn't like to use the FP because of heatloss. We too are looking at inserts. I really favor the convience of the gas insert. It wouldn't be a heat source except in power in our case but I am definately leaning toward the gas, my husband toward the wood and both eliminated the pellet because of the noise. Good luck

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 12:11PM
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Does any one have a quadra mt. vernon? If so do you like it?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 10:39AM
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I bought a Quadra Fire Mt Vernom AE two winters ago. Yes they had a bad start as the mother boards and wall controls were being improved as time went on and it seemed they couldn't get the right combination. However the last modification in which they replaced the mother board and the wall control seems to have ended the problems. It is probably the stove of the future as it burns several fuels by you selecting the right fuel on the wall control. Then you can set the thermostat for the week each day differently. It has a advanced heat exchanger that captures more heat then the old system. And Auto start and stop with auto dump of the burning pot completes the picture.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 7:14PM
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Thank you for posting your Q/A

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 6:13PM
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