Fire Place Inserts: Wood, Pellet, or Gas?

As I mentioned in this post, we had a few pangs of eco-guilt about using our wood fireplace.  Wood not only emits more pollutants into the air than other fuels, it doesn’t even do a good job of keeping our house warm during the cold winter months.  We started looking into a fireplace insert that would allow us to sit by a greener, cleaner fire.

First we looked into a gas fire insert.  We already have a gas line to our house, so we thought this might be the way to go.  Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel out there.  However, we were not big fans of the fake-looking logs or coals that come with gas fires.

Then we considered a wood stove insert.  My dad got one of these years ago and loves it.  A wood stove burns wood much more efficiently and cleanly than a regular open fire place–plus it is an excellent heat-generator.  My dad enjoys finding free sources of firewood and keeps himself fit with hours of wood-splitting.  Somehow I couldn’t imagine myself thinning the forests or wielding a chainsaw.  Of course, here in the Pacific Northwest it would be easy to get a cord of split, seasoned hardwoods delivered and stacked for under $250.00.

What about a pellet stove?  My aunt and uncle and my cousin all professed undying love to their pellet stoves.  Pellets are a carbon-neutral fuel, made from sawdust and other castoff wood from lumber mills.  They burn cleaner than wood (though not as clean as gas or oil).

So what did we choose?  You will just have to tune in next week when I reveal the answer to our riveting, emotionally-fraught fireplace dilemma.

Did any of you decide to modify your wood-burning fireplace to make it more efficient?  Let us know!


  1. another Josh says

    I’m going with the wood stove insert, to be installed next month. It saves the trouble of getting the gas line run to the fireplace, and I’ve got a pile of seasoned wood cut from a tree that fell a few years ago. There is also a US Federal tax credit for biomass (wood or pellet) stoves in 2010, see

    Benefits I’m hoping for are more heat from the fire coming into the room thanks to the blower, less smoke smell in the room because of the sealed fire chamber, and a sealed up chimney to keep the heat in the room when the fireplace is not in use.

  2. Wow, that is great news about the tax credit! I am afraid I missed that opportunity–argh.

    Enjoy your new wood stove!

  3. I am really curious with what you decide. I am trying to decide wether to get a wood or pellet insert.

    The one benefit i like about pellet is it can run without watching it. You can just run it all day because of the automatic feeder.

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