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wood,pellets,coal,gas,electric comparison

By Jack Huang    Jan 14, 2014

With different fuel sources, you will have various choices for heating and cooking. Which do you choose, wood, pellets, coal, gas or electric? Naturally, the decision needs to be made after taking consideration of the features of various fuels.

Features of Wood, Pellets,Coal,Gas and Electricity


wood fireWood is a primitive and common fuel source for it’s natural and easy to be obtained. Wood can be used solely and can co-fire with other biomass fuel such as pellets which can reduce heating costs. Wood can provide immediate and steady heating performance and efficiency with steady adding of wood after be ignited with kindling, such as paper,etc. And the storage of wood is important for wood has to be kept dry or it will be hard to be burnt or produce large amount of smoke and other harmful gas. Usually, the wood will occupy relatively large room for its relatively low density comparing with pellets.

Comparing with other fuels, the wood fuel emits relatively large amount of pollutions. The pollution contains organic gases, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and other elements that have bad influence to the body. And also, the burning of the wood is one of the factors causing the air pollution in rural areas.


buring wood pelletsPellets are a solid renewable fuel made from biomass materials such as agricultural residues, forestry industries residues and other combustible wastes. Pellets are available and affordable for the production costs is low and the pellets can be produced at households with a proper home pellet mill. (If the pellets is produced by your own home pellet mill, the heating cost will be lower largely for a long run. ) The fire of pellets are active, robust, clean and consistent which can be easily ignited and kept by the automatic thermostats and temperature controller of the pellet stoves while the heat of the pellet are usually conventional kept by the heat exchanger.

The direct thermal conversion efficiency of pellets is up to 80%. The burning of wood pellets has a lower particulate emissions because of the high combustion rate and high pellets density. Comparing with the oil, one ton of wood pellets reduces CO2 emission around 105 tons. While on the other hand, one ton of wood pellets equals to 2.8 barrels of #2 fuel oil in terms of net energy output.


coal fireCoal is a traditional fossil fuel, which can burn up all around clock without refueling. And the coal fire is strong and steady with clean blue flames and a stunning glow with powerful radiant heat after the starting period which will last a while after been ignited by kindling. The coal fire is hotter and last longer and burn more sustainable than wood.

Coal is one of the most inexpensive and relatively abundant fossil fuel, which is easier to be obtained and used comparing with oil and natural gas, etc. However, the biggest problem for coal is the air pollution. It emits much more CO2 than other fossil fuel and other harmful elements, such as sulfuric dioxide and carbon dioxide, etc.


gas fireGas is very convenient for the fire can be controlled easily. The turning on or off of the fire, the flame height and fire intensity all can be obtained and adjusted by turning the switches. The heat of gas is radiant, convective and steady.What you need is a pipeline and gas cylinder to deliver and store your gas.

Comparing with other fuels, the gas has the features as easy operation, clean burning and low maintenance. The operation of the gas fireplaces is as easy as pressing the button for turning on and off the fireplaces. And gas fuel is much cleaner than wood, fuel pellets, coal, releasing less pollution, such as soot. However, gas are non-renewable fuel which is not environment friendly. What’s more, the fire of the gas is more expensive.


electric false fire

Electric is one of the most common, reliable and convenient heat source. With certain electric appliance, the hypnotic heat with no flames can be obtained and controlled conveniently. With the wire and electricity supplying, the heat is available 24 hours in a day and you do need not to bother about the storage problem.

After talking about the features, it’s time to talk about one of the most important issue, the heating cost of the various fuel.

Heating Costs Comparison of Oil, Gas, Firewood, Pellets, Propane and Coal

Before comparing the heating costs of the various fuel, it is important to know the heating costs vary with the geographic locations, and the energy content and heating efficiency of the fuels are also varied with the heating appliance.

Geographic reason

The geographic area is one of the influence factors for fuel cost. Wood would be a good choice for heating fuel for places with plenty of wood resources however it would be a bad idea to have wood as heating fuel for residents who live in places in want of wood source.

Heating efficiency

Heating efficiency refers to the efficiency of the heat delivering system which is significantly influenced by your heating appliance and the distributing system. If half of the produced heat is lost in the distributing, i.e. going out of your rooms through the chimney, the heating efficiency of your heating system will be just 50%, which will increase your heating cost despite of the fuel costs.

Heat loss rate

Heat loss is one of the factors that increase your heating bills. It would be reasonable to improve or change your inefficient heating appliance or heating distribution system. The old style open fireplace suffers from high heat loss rate because of the fireplace tends to draw so much combustion air into the building.

Other factors

It is complicated to calculate the seasonal fuel cost of a home for it involves in many factors which varies with the situations of individual homes. Typically, the factors include the heating efficiency, heating loss rate, heating space size, heating time, the other heating sources, such as, the heat produced and gained from the sun, cooking, boiling water and even the lighting.

Even though it is complicated, there is a diagram for your reference. It is a study on the heating cost of different fuels in the United States.

fuel cost comparison

Extracted from A Comparison of Current Energy Costs: Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Firewood, Electricity

How to calculate your own fuel costs?

There is a calculator which can help you to costs of various fuels. It can be used to calculate to your specific individual situation. Get to know your own fuel cost by click here.

How to Choose the Right Heating Appliance to Lower Your Heating Cost?

Since the heating appliance affect your heating efficiency and eventually affects your heating cost, it is important to choose the right heating appliance for your home. There are few factors needed to be considerate beforehand.

Size of the heating space

Before the selection of the appliance, it is necessary to know the size of the space needed to be heated. The heating stove should not too big nor too small. If the power of the heating stove is too large, it is easy to get overheating, which may cause the waste of the fuel and air pollution at the same time. While if the stove is too small, the heating effect will be disappointing. Generally, a home with the size of 2000 square feet can be heated by a stove with 60.000 British Thermal Units. Whereas a home with the size of 1,300 square feet needs a stove with 42, 000 British Thermal Units.


The maintenance of a heating stove should be within your consideration. The cleaning and regular maintenance and the fixing of the stove should also be calculated into the heating cost. The daily loading of the fuel, such as, coal, wood or pellets also needs to be considered. Among the coal, wood or pellet stoves, the pellet stoves are the cleanest stove. And also, some of the some pellet stoves can be automatically loading the pellets. Comparing with the gas, electrical heating stoves, the coal, wood and pellets stoves need to clean the ash of the fuel time from time. While on the other hand, the coal, wood and pellet stoves are obvious over the gas and electricity stoves in terms of the purchasing cost.


Cost is one of the major considerations. Naturally, there are various of the heating stoves on the market with different price. However, the pellet stove is cheaper than the others in one way or that. A pellet stove can heat your home with relatively low cost. And if the pellets are homemade, the pellet stove is no doubt the best choice for you. ( More information on how to make your own wood pellets by the homemade pellet mill, please click here.)

General consideration

If you want to find the ideal heating solution for your own home, all the factors need to be taken into allowance. If you have no idea about how to do it, you can consulted the heating expert locally and comparing the solution all around. Or you can leave a message below, free consultation will be provided.