How to Buy a Wood Stove
Researching wood and pellet stoves can be difficult, and there is little independent research or reviews available. Consumer Reports reviewed pellet stoves (but not wood stoves) in their October 2009 issue , and though we feel there were some flaws in their analysis, the ratings are still useful. Luckily, third party wood stoves are required by the EPA to be tested for emissions and at least that vital information should always be available to the consumer.
Several websites have been created to provide potential buyers with an insider view of how well various models really perform by allowing current owners to write reviews of their wood or pellet stove. The sites generally use a worksheet format to ensure that the same type of information is available for each model reviewed, then organize the reviews for users to compare. Unfortunately, some of these sites are as unhelpful as commercial sites, providing incomplete or misleading information. Below is a “Review of the Reviewers” to point out positives and warn of the problems present in each of the major reviewing sites currently available.
Of the websites currently providing wood and pellet stove reviews, we recommend Hearth.com
is the next best site.
Note: The Alliance for Green Heat does not accept advertising or any kind of payment or contribution linked to promoting any product or service.
Reviewing the Reviewers
Created and run by a former frustrated consumer, WiseHeat is a combined review site for wood, pellet, corn, and oil stoves.
+ Allows reader feedback on overall performance, efficiency, and ease of use
+ Wide variety of brands and feedstock-types represented
+ Provides summary of other review site ratings for some stoves
- Efficiency ratings are from consumers, not scientific tests
Consumer Reports is the 800 pound gorilla of the consumer product testing world, and it is generally a very highly regarded. independent, and trustworthy information source. Click here
for a full review of their pellet stove ratings.
+ Did independent, objective testing of 6 stoves.
+ Rated stoves by capacity, ease of loading, ease of cleaning, and controls.
- Failed to test or even list particulate emissions from the rated stoves.
- Did not test for quietness of blower fan.
- Gave worst case payback periods, but not best case payback periods.
Rates stoves based on satisfaction with the dealer, manufacturer, and overall satisfaction with the unit.
+ Only rates stoves purchased in the last 10 years, so uncertified stoves should not be promoted.
- Reader reviews often do not include more specific information on pros and cons of specific units.
- Awkward navigation, very clunky website design
Small subsection of a larger site dedicated to user-driven reviews. Does not cover pellet or corn stoves, only those that burn cord wood.
+ Nice variety of owner-written reviews, covers a range of models
- Reviews of specific stoves are not consolidated
- Owner-written reviews cover ease of use but not efficiency
Wood Stove Review
Provides manufacturer profiles of several stoves from 12 brands, with general manufacturer-provided specifications.
+ Several listings do include emissions and efficiencies.
- Sneaky wording- watch out for “EPA-certified exempt” which seems to be presented as a positive, but usually means that it falls under a loophole of unregulated, dirty stoves.
- Does not provide owner-written reviews, only manufacturer descriptions.
An additional “Review of the Reviews” may be found at ConsumerSearch.com, which also ranks reviewers by their credibility rating. It provides suggestions for the best stove in four categories- Best Wood Stove, Budget Wood Stove, Best Pellet Stove, and Budget Pellet Stove.