In the middle of a bleak, dreary winter, there is nothing worse than a heating system that doesn’t quite keep your tiny house warm. Equally some electric-based heaters can produce heat that feels a bit uncomfortable, whilst using loads of power.

This is where wood and pellet stoves can be ideal: your heating system will be sustainable and the gentle-yet-effective heat that they produce can keep you and your tiny home warm even in the middle of winter.

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Wood/Pellet Stoves Vs Conventional Heating

A black wood/log burning stove in the middle of a room, with mountains in the background (seen through the glass doors), from Michael Shannon of Unsplash.

Wood Stove

Wood stoves are all the rage at the moment, and they are an appliance which is mainly used for giving out heat - but they can sometimes be used for cooking too. They are also called log burners and they utilize wooden logs (which you can buy pre-cut, or cut them yourselves) which are burnt to give off heat, and they can be surrounded by sawbdust bricks as its base. The wood stove is usually made from steel and/or iron, and they have a control system which regulates air flow (very important for the burning performance) - this is usually automatic but can be manually controlled in some models. Burning logs produces various combustion gases, which need to be dispersed - this is done via a flue/vent which connects to the outside.

They are an old invention, originally patented back in 1557 in Strasbourg and used when electricity and gas had not been industrialized (and so weren’t used as heating sources). However wood stoves are enjoying a resurgence today due to the comfort, low cost and possible dual heating/cooking functions. This is especially true amongst the tiny house community because log burners take up less internal space than heating systems, and they don’t require full electric/gas hook-ups.

Pellet Stove

Pellet stoves are very similar to wood stoves in that they are used for heating and slow cooking in both residential and industrial areas. The main difference, however, is the source of fuel and the heating mechanism. Pellet stoves are fueled by small wooden pellets made from sawdust or small wood chips, and the heating mechanism is a bit more complicated with more circuit board(s) and an auger which ‘pushes’ the pellets from the hopper (container) into the burner.

Pellet stoves have also been around for many years due to their reliance on renewable sources of energy, but due to the mechanisms inside being more complicated than wood stoves, they only started to emerge in the 20th centry. Pellet stoves are more traditionally used in industrial applications, but they have been growing in popularity in houses - especially in tiny houses in cold, remote climates.

How They Differ Compared To HVAC

Many tiny house owners opt for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units, which control the whole house temperature (be it from cooling or heating the air) along with allowing fresher air. They also control the level of humidity, air distribution, and other atmospheric factors.

As you can tell, HVAC units are pretty useful as a result - and they can be purchased as “mini-HVAC” units which are wall-mounted and take up little space as a result.

In terms of how wood and pellet stoves differ from HVAC units:

  • Wood and pellet stoves take up more space than mini-HVAC units, especially since stoves will take up floor space whilst the HVAC unit will be wall mounted.
  • Stoves are fuelled by wood (either logs or small pellets) and so are renewable, whereas HVAC units are powered by electricity - which is often not renewable.
  • The HVAC system is multi-purpose, enabling ventilation and air control in addition to heating. This compares to stoves which purely generate heat and do not cleanse the atmosphere.
  • Wood and pellet stoves will require more cleaning and maintenance than a HVAC unit, probably requiring daily attention compared to a HVAC system which only needs occasional maintenance.
  • The heat from wood and pellet stoves will feel more comfortable and natural, since it emits radiative heat which feels like sunshine on your face as though you are sunbathing! They can therefore be perfect below a wall-mounted TV or in-front of a couch.

Wood Stoves Pros/Cons

Pros

Amazon marketing image of the Pleasant Hearth 1,800 square foot wood burning stove.

  1. Flexibility with installing and placement: you have a free choice where you place the wood stove in your house as it doesn’t require much space, meaning you can easily have a heating system anywhere in the house just by installing a ventilating pipe. However due to how the heat is distributed around the house, putting it in a central place in your tiny house would make more sense.
  2. Radiant heating: one of the most exceptional qualities of a wood stove is the production of radiant heat, which warms the area quicker than other source of heat and feels more natural. Wood stoves help make a very cozy movie night as a result!
  3. Eco-friendly: the wood stove doesn’t require the burning of fossil fuels like gas, oil, or petrol that produce harmful toxins. Whilst burning logs does lead to some carbon emissions, this is lower than gasoline-based sources and the emissions do not contain numerous toxins.
  4. Economical and convenient: the initial price of a wood stove is comparatively low, plus purchasing wood isn’t as costly as gas or electricity, meaning they are a perfect solution for warming your whole family - along with cooking, especially as a backup option for your electric/gas stove.

Cons

  1. Maintenance: with such a busy and rushed life, people want to be duty-free and avoid extra hassle - however the wood stove requires frequent maintenance (such as the removal of ashes when the fireplace is full). Such maintenance is not required if you use gasoline-driven stoves instead.
  2. Effort: since you almost certainly won’t be able to store a big pile of logs inside your tiny house, you will need to either store them outside or fetch them in batches fairly often. This will be annoying to do when it’s freezing outside in the middle of winter. You will also need to ensure that the logs in the wood stove is properly stacked up, otherwise it might not burn as well as you would like.

Pellet Stoves Pros/Cons

Pros

US Stove 5660 pellet stove with 2,200 square foot heating capability, from Home Depot.

  1. Efficient heating system: pellet stoves are one of the most efficient appliances used for the production of heat. And pellet stoves are also recommended by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency saying they may be the easiest system to operate and maintain, and they don’t require any stacking/
  2. Budget friendly: pellet stoves are fairly easy on the pocket as well, with an initial outlay of around $1,500-$2,500 for the system compared to $2,500 upwards for a mini-HVAC system.
  3. Clean burning: pellet stoves burn clean and produces less smoke compared to other burning sources of fuels, and contain just 1-3% ash content once burnt - meaning less clean-up needed afterwards.

Cons

  1. Needs electricity: pellet stoves need a little amount of electricity to run. This is because it has fans which spread heat out, along with an electric controller and pellet feeder (auger) to push the pellets from the hopper (pellet store) into the burner. Cheaper models will therefore fail to work if there is a power outage, although more expensive models can have batteries as a backup.
  2. Complex maintenance: whilst there will be less ash build-up with pellet stoves, they still require regular (weekly) maintenance of several parts. The bearings on the augers have been known to fail, as have the electric control boards. Hence these should be inspected regularly, which is not ideal for those with busy lives.

Wood vs Pellet Stoves: Which Are Better For Tiny Houses?

Wood and pellet stoves both have various advantages. Both can be used in tiny houses, but there are certain troubling factors that mean that pellet stove are less suitable for tiny houses compared to wood stoves.

Why? Because wood stove doesn’t require electricity at all and they purely run on wood, which is a big advantage for people who don’t have access to electricity. Plus whilst wood stoves need more cleaning out, they have simpler internal mechanisms meaning that parts maintenance and repair bills should be lower. If it wasn’t for the logs being bulky (compared to pellets), wood stoves would always be the perfect choice for tiny homes.

Top 5 Wood Stoves

  1. Pleasant Hearth WS-2720 1800 sq. ft.

    On the top of the list is a wood stove that has leg bases. For extended durability, it has a brick-lined firebox and if you buy this American-made Pleasant Hearth, it comes with a 5-year warranty. It has a small size yet it’s extremely efficient to warm your house in no time.

    The WS-2720 is currently $821.13 on Amazon and has a 4.5/5 rating (with 5 total reviews).

  2. US Stove 2200i EPA Certified Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

    This classy wood stove comes with an 18” log capacity, and it comes with a fireplace surround which is good for creating a nice visual surround - but it does take up more space. The 2200i is easy to install, and it includes the blower.

    This stove is $1,149.99 on Amazon and has 3.5/5 stars across 7 reviews.

  3. HiFlame Epa Approved Wood Burning Stove HF905U

    HiFlame 1,200 square foot wood stove from HomeDepot.

    This clean-burning wood stove has a compact design with ample space for logs. It is made of cast iron, giving the stove a nice vintage feel. It comes with a 6” long stove pipe and air-washed door for a see through view of the burning logs.

    HomeDepot sell this for $949.34 and it has 4.5/5 reviews.

  4. Vogelzang TR001 Defender EPA Wood Stove

    This smartly designed woodstove will fit within the décor of your living room, bedroom, or any corner of the house without being too noticeable. It has adjustable legs and is rated to heat up to 1,200 square feet (at 68,000 BTUs). It can burn for hours and hours with a single log.

    This popular model on Amazon sells for $776.40 and it has a great 4.4/5 stars.

  5. Cubic Cub Mini Wood Stove – CB-1008

    Specially designed for tiny houses, this wood stove is extremely small but very efficient for heating purposes. It has a modern design, and some parts are constructed with ceramic for longer durability. The stove is lightweight (27 lbs/12 kg) so it can be carried around easily whilst installing it. It can put out anywhere from 6,000 to 14,000 BTU, making it ideal for 100-200 square foot areas. For larger tiny houses, installing two of these could make sense.

    You can buy this direct from the company for just $449 and it has a 4.8/5 rating across 26 reviews.

Top 5 Pellet Stoves

US Stove 5500M pellet burner with automatic igniter, from Amazon

  1. Deari Serenity Wood Pellet Stove

    This brilliantly designed pellet stove is appropriate for tiny houses; the makers hope that its design and easy functioning are what sets it apart. It can be maintained more easily than some pellet stoves due to an adjustable exhaust pipe, and the smart controller has four settings to adjust how heat is generated and spread around your home.

    This can currently be bought from third party sellers on Amazon or picked up second hand from local sources of Gumtree/Craigslist.

  2. US Stove 5660 Pellet Stove

    If you like things to be customizable yet elegant, then the US Stove 5660 pellet stove is the best pick. It consists of 6 integrated heat settings which are easily adjustable according to the temperature you require. It has a different design to other pellet stoves, looking more like a fancy electric stove - adding class to your overall décor. This requires less pellets to produce the same amount of heat (as some of its competitors), meaning it will also be easy on your pocket.

    This sells for $1,739.30 on Amazon and has 3.3/5 stars (11 ratings) which isn’t too bad for pellet stoves on Amazon. It’s also available for $1,544.98 at HomeDepot and is rated 3.1/5 by 45 reviewers.

  3. Pleasant Hearth Pellet Stove

    We also recommend the Pleasant Hearth to those who love a touch of antique in their homes. It has an 80-120lb hopper capacity (depending on the exact model purchased) and five different modes of heat settings. It has a glass door for a clear view, and can pump out up to 50,000 BTUs for fairly large spaces (of up to 2,200 square foot). It will be fine in a smaller tiny house too, though!

    You can buy this from GHP Group for $1,549.00 where it has 3.4/5 ratings (28 reviews) compared to Amazon where it has 3.1/5 stars (over 140 ratings) - a big seller in the pellet stove market.

  4. BOSCA BCPS500BL Pellet Stove

    Enough talk about the design and exterior, let’s talk about the comfort of not refueling pellet stove over and over! This larger-than-average pellet stove is heavy duty, sturdy and can contain enough pellets to provide 53 hours of burn time! Its cabinet is made with high-quality ceramic, ensuring durability. The only downside is (as you might be able to guess) its size: due to its large hopper, this pellet stove is fairly large and thus may not be suitable for a tiny house. It also has a two-speed blower to distribute heat in a more fine-grained way than with some other pellet stoves.

    The BOSCA used to sell well on Amazon, but now it’s only available from third party sellers or Woodstovepro who sell it for $2,398.79. It has 3.1/5 stars from 8 reviews.

  5. US Stove 5500M King Pellet Burner with Igniter

    This pellet stove is designed to be fairly small - you won’t even realize you have a pellet stove burning in your room until you feel the rising warmth. As small as it is, it’s effective at its job and can burn up to 20 hours once its fueled. This is lower than some pellet stoves, but this is more of an entry-level stove. Despite this, it has 5 heat settings and comes with an LED which provides running information, error details and allows you to change the settings.

    This stove is currently available to buy for $949.05 from Amazon and it has a 3.1/5 rating across 23 reviews.