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AN OVERVIEW OF FUEL characteristics

There is one thing we know for sure about fuel, there is no perfect fuel for everyone. Each common (and not so common) hearth fuel has it’s own advantages AND disadvantages. It is important to gather all the information you can before making your decision. Here are some of the basics.

Fuels Pros Cons
Gas · Convenient

· Requires no Electricity (99% of models need no house power)

· Clean Burning

· Low Maintenance
· Cost variable and generally high

· Reliance on supplier
Wood Pellets · Convenient Compared to Wood or coal

· Thermostatically Controllable

· Clean Burning

· Environmentally Friendly

· Low Maintenance

· Very little ash
· Reliance on supplier for fuel

· Seasonal Fuel Pricing (can work for OR against you—but takes planning and storage for best benefit)

· Requires Power (some models work with batteries, but all need electricity)
Firewood · Economical

· Possibility of Self Sufficiency

· The most realistic flames

· No need for house power

· Environmentally Friendly

· Clean Burning
· Bark, Bugs, Dust

· Significant amounts of ash, but garden supplement

· Potential for Creosote build up IF not fired correctly or if wood is not seasoned.

· Hard work

· Short burn times ranging from a few hours to 40+
Coal · Economical

· Long burn times ranging from about 8 hours to up to days for stoker coal units.

· Charming, Warming Glow

· No need for house power for hand fired units

· Clean Burning Anthracite produces NO creosote and burns with very little odor, indoors or out

· Coal stores indefinitely, indoors or out
· Significant amounts of ash,

· Ash NOT good for gardens or plants.

· Although creosote is not possible, fly ash is corrosive and regular chimney maintenance is a must.
Corn · Economical to VERY Economical

· Supports the local economy and the local farmers

· Most of the other advantages of a pellet based stove, but potential for more maintenance depending on the unit and the corn
· Storage can be challenging, corn is hydroscopic. It is very moisture sensitive.

· Significant amounts of ash, some corn ash (species specific) can be harmful.

· Rodents like corn
Oil/Kerosene · No need for power for nearly all models

· Good alternative back-up heat for homes with oil already present

· Warm, consistent heat

· Flame has “Cheery Glow”
· Generally tied to local supplier who is linked to foreign suppliers.

· To operate without power and pumps, the oil tank must be higher than the stove or insert.
Electricity · Very Convenient

· Virtually no maintenance

· “Flames” can be surprisingly realistic on some models

· “Flame” without heat option, good for entertaining
· Electric portion (the heat) is one of the most expensive ways to heat.

· Although the flames have come a long way and most people are surprised by the authentic look, they pale in comparison to the real thing.