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Hearth Fuel Primer for Choosing a Fireplace or Stove

wood burning stove firewoodWhile fireplaces and stoves can add elegance and warmth to a room, many buyers overlook a critical element in choosing which type to purchase: the heat source.

Obviously any heating device uses some sort of man-made or nature-made heat, which is derived from a particular source. When considering buying a stove or fireplace, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of the most common heat sources:


  • Wood
  • Gas
  • Pellets
  • Electricity
  • Coal


Along with gas, wood is the most popular fireplace fuel. It is readily available and can cut heating bills by 30 percent. Wood produces a robust fire with crackling flames, and the fire is easily started with kindling, paper or starting logs. Homeowners who use wood-burning fireplaces regularly must purchase (or cut) wood, transport it and keep it stored away from sources of moisture. Of course a wood burning fireplace insert will deliver the best efficiency.


Gas fireplaces and stoves are easy to use: a flick of a switch starts the fire which can be adjusted remotely for intensity. These units emit a mix of convective and radiant heat. In the case of a gas stove, placement will be determined by proximity to the gas line that brings the fuel in from an outside tank.


Wood PelletsFireplace inserts & stoves that run on pellet fuel have grown in popularity over the years. Pellets burn more cleanly and consistently than wood logs and are a cheaper source of fuel. The flame generated by pellets is active and vivid and can be controlled by the amount of pellets used. A hopper adds pellets to the firebox at a rate determined by the homeowner. Pellets normally are sold in 40-pound bags.


For those who aren’t interested in an actual fire, electric fireplaces and stoves are a good choice. They’re a reliable heat source with no wood or gas to buy. Because no venting is required, electric units can be placed virtually anywhere. With a glowing faux fire in the firebox, electric fireplaces create heat in a way similar to standard electric heaters.


While not as popular as wood or gas fireplaces, units that run on coal are cheaper to operate and can maintain heat for up to 24 hours. Coal fire, with its blue flames and ambient glow, is strong and steady. The fuel must be kept dry at all times during storage. A 4’x4’x8’ stack will be enough for the average home during the cold months.

As you can see, a variety of factors come into play when determining which type of fireplace or stove to add to your home. These include:

  • Convenience
  • Appearance
  • Safety
  • Economy
  • Ease of use

Whatever kind of unit you decide on, UFS member stores across North America can help you select the best model for your specific needs and lifestyle. In addition to stoves and fireplaces, you’ll find a complete selection of tool sets, doors and screens, mantels and surrounds and other accessories to compliment your hearth area. Find one of our member stores near you today.

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