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 produce less smoke compared to other burning sources of fuels, and contain just 1-3% ash content once burnt - meaning less clean-up needed afterwards. The wood ash is in turn a great fertilizer for your garden or plants, as it contains a high amount if lime and potassium.

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. However, nicely arranged logs can make a great decorative item on the outside of your tiny house.

Top 6 Wood Stoves

  1. Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P 1200 sq. ft.

    This stylish and modern certified wood burning stove from Ashly Hearth is a great value purchase. For extended durability, it has a brick-lined firebox. The firebox comes with a lifetime warranty and all other parts with a 1-year warranty. It has a small size yet it’s extremely efficient to warm your house in no time. This stove for suitable for tiny houses accepts logs up to 18 inches.

    You can find the Ashley Hearth AW1120E-P here on Amazon.

  2. Drolet HT3000 High-Efficiency EPA Certified Wood Stove

    This classy wood stove comes on a pedesta with a 22” log capacity. It is one of the larger models that we recommend for tiny houses with a heating capacity of 110,000 BTU. This stove is elegible for a $300 biomass stove tax credit. The stove has a great burn time and keeps the house warm for periods of time.

    Check it out on Amazon.

  3. Drolet Myriad III with Blower Extra Large EPA Certified Wood Stove

    HiFlame 1,200 square foot wood stove from HomeDepot.

    This clean-burning wood stove has a compact design with ample space for logs up to 20 inches. It has a maximum heat output of 90,000 BTU/h and is therefore able to comfortably heat houses up to 2,300 square feet. Since the blower is already included, the heat will be evenly distributed throughout your home and you won’t have to additionally invest in a blower. This stove is also eligible for a $300 biomass stove tax credit. You can find more information about the tax credit here.

    More information about the stove and prices can be found here on Amazon.

  4. Vogelzang Plate Steel Wood Burning Insert with Blower

    This smartly designed woodstove will fit within the décor of your living room, bedroom, or any wall of the house without being too noticeable. It is rated to heat up to 1,800 square feet. It can burn for hours and hours with a single log and accepts a maximal log length of 18 inches. This stove also includes the blower, sparing you from additional expenses.

    This popular model can be found on Amazon.

  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.

  6. US Stove US1269E 900 Sq. Ft. Log Wood Cast Iron Stove

    This small cast iron wood stove combines all important elements for a tiny house in a small price. It comes in a classic cast iron design and features two cooking surfaces on the top. It has a heating output of 54,000 BTU/h and is therefore suitable for houses or cabins up to 900 square feet.

    You can buy this inexpensive small stove on Amazon.

Top 5 Pellet Stoves

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

  1. Castle Pellet Stoves Serenity 12327

    This brilliantly designed pellet stove is appropriate for tiny houses and is also mobile home approved. The makers hope that its design and easy functioning are what sets it apart. It can be maintained more easily than some pellet stoves with an easy-access firepot and ash pan. It comes with a range of important safety features such as a thermal overload protection. The smart controller allows an easy adjustment of the heating capacity to ideally fit your heating needs.

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

  2. US Stove 5040 Pellet Stove

    If you like things to be customizable yet elegant, then the US Stove 5040 pellet stove is a great pick. It comes with 4 integrated heat settings which are easily adjustable on the digital control board according to the temperature you require. It has a classy wood oven design with a visible flame - 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 pellet stove is also approved for mobile and modular homes and burns up to 40 hours.

    Check the current price on Amazon.

  3. Cleveland Iron Works PS20W-CIW Pellet Stove

    This is a simple designed pellet stove that will do a great job heating up tiny houses or rooms of up to 800 sq. ft. It has a 20 lb. hopper capacity. The advantages of this model are the price, which is considerably lower than other models, as well as the fact that it is remote controlled. This means that you can turn the stove on and off from the comfort of your sofa. And what is even better: This pellet stove is smart home compatible. So you can turn on the heating from your smartphone while you are on your way back home and return to a cozy warm home without haveing to waste energy all day long.

    You can buy this inexpensive pellet stove on Amazon.

  4. US Stove Company US GW1949 Wiseway Non-Electric Pellet Stove

    As the name suggests, this pellet stove has one massive advantage over other pellet stoves: it runs completely without electricity. This makes this pellet stove great to use in tiny houses with a limited energy supply. The design of this stove is somewhat unique. With a heating capacity of 40,00 BTU/h, it can heat up to 2,000 sq. ft. This stove has a 60lb hopper capacity, lasting about 30 hours.

    Check out the current price on Amazon.

  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 comfortable 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 on Amazon.