We are asked this almost everyday. We always say it depends on your needs, what works for one person isn’t necessarily the best thing for another.
The installation costs is similar for both, a wood burning stove is cheaper but the liner for a wood burning stove is more expensive and with gas the liner is cheaper but the stove is more expensive. If you need to pipe your gas from further away then this can make it more expensive.
The cost of fuel is also dependent on your circumstances. Do you have a ready supply of well seasoned wood? Wood used to be very cheap but due to the rise in demand it can be quite costly to buy kiln dried logs.
With logs, there are three grades; there is: -
- kiln dried which is handled by companies that manage their woodland like a crop, they cut the trees down, chop them up, dry them out in big kilns and bag it up ready for use. These are the most expensive logs.
- seasoned wood which is handled by people who have woodland but don’t process the wood through a kiln but leave it for 18 months to 2 years in a barn to season. This should be able to be used straight away but you may find that it has not been seasoned for long enough, and the moisture content is too high so you then have to dry them out for longer. This is your mid priced log.
- green wood which is a tree cut down yesterday, this is the cheapest log however you have to do the most work including cutting it up, splitting it and storing it for 3 to 5 years.
Pricing logs is difficult, but a small bag (lasting 2-3 nights) will cost roughly between £5 and £12.
So why do we have to season wood? Can’t I use any old bit? - The reason we recommend only logs as opposed to any pallet wood, treated wood or your old dressing table is because the closer it is to the tree, the better it is for you stove and liner. The reason they must be seasoned is because you need a low moisture content in them, if you don't have this, all you are doing is creating steam which is wasting energy. In that steam you will also have a lot of sap which will stick to your liner and cause you problems meaning you will need to replace it a lot sooner (remembering the liner is not cheap).
The cost of gas is of course dependent on your supplier and how frequently you use your fire. We believe this is still the cheapest heating fuel with an average cost of about 3p per kW/per hour. For example a 5kW input appliance will cost you between 15 and 25p an hour to run. If this appliance is 80% efficient it would give you 4kW of heat which we refer to as output.
How would you like to spend your time?
If you enjoy chopping wood outside, taking your time to clean a stove and have a several hours at a time at home to spend enjoying your fire, then woodburning is for you.
If you like to come in, press a button and sit down and be able to leave straight away then gas is your choice.
Which is better for the environment?
This depends on your perspective. In the UK the government treats logs as a green fuel as they are carbon neutral whereas for example in the US they don’t. This is because it releases particulates into the atmosphere which deteriorates air quality. Gas on the other hand does not affect air quality. However gas is a fossil fuel which we know is not a renewable energy source. There is no deforestation with log burning, the trees are treated as a crop and rotated.
Do you have a small room in a top floor flat or a large cottage with flagstone flooring? This is not set in stone and you could have wood burning stove in a top floor flat (we have installed several) and enjoy a gas stove in rustic cottage but it may be something to consider.
What is your lifestyle like? Are you in and out or more likely to be spending long evenings and days at home? Ideally you don’t want to leave your woodturning stove unattended.
What is your Priority - authenticity vs convenience
If you are tempted by the idea of clean hands, a remote control and the convenience of an instant fire then gas is undoubtedly for you. Your reward is more time with your feet up enjoying the flames with the beverage of your choice and the freedom to switch it off and leave the room without a second thought. For those with busy lives gas offers a really great compromise.
Ultimately if you have your heart set on an authentic woodburning stove, then nothing else will do. You have to have a love and a passion for your stove and no doubt it will reward you with a deep sense of satisfaction and joy as well as that gorgeous, unbeatable smell! Plus you can toast marshmallows! and chestnuts! and crumpets! Did I mention we sell toasting forks?