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The Best Clean Stoves

Updated: May 2020


The Best Clean Stoves
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We consider the best wood stoves to:

  • Burn cleanly without any visible smoke coming out of your stack,

  • Minimize the opportunity for user operator error

  • Use wood or pellets efficiently to create heat, and

  • Operate for years or even decades without repairs.


But one of the most important things for consumers to understand is that the stove is only a third of the equation. Another third is the firewood you use. It needs to be seasoned. And the other third is you. You have to know how to operate your stove cleanly and make sure to give the stove enough air at the right times, and not ratchet down the air supply too soon or too far. If you are looking for pellet stoves, you still need to buy good quality pellets, store them properly and make sure that you clean your burn pot and heat exchangers on a regular basis.

The main technology that minimizes operator error is the pellet stove and we highly recommend pellet stoves for more densely populated areas, or even rural areas that experience frequent weather inversions. Pellet stoves can be easier to keep going 24/7 are drastically reduce or eliminate your need for fossil fuels. A new breed of wood stoves that minimize operator error is emerging. Consider an automated wood stove that uses sensors to adjust air settings.

Some of the biggest and best-known manufacturers make some great stoves. For pellet stoves, price matters more as cheaper pellet stoves tend to be less reliable. However there are exceptions so you need to do your research first. For example, as of 2020 the low priced PelPro pellet stoves have been getting excellent reviews where low priced United States Stove Company stoves often get very poor reviews. Buying a pellet stove from a local reputable dealer who can service the stove is also important.

In the woodstove industry, high quality stoves aren’t always easy to spot. As our section "Consumer Reviews" lays out, there are few independent third-party reviews such as Consumer Reports to rely on. There is also no Energy Star label for wood or pellet stoves to look for.

The most obvious thing to check for is that the stove EPA certified, which all new stoves are. If you are buying on the second-hand market, there are now plenty of EPA certified stoves to choose from at very reasonable prices. Often, the seller does not specify whether it’s EPA certified or not. Glass on the front door is one indication that it’s probably EPA certified.

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Wood and pellet stoves are now also required to test for actual efficiency. Efficiency impacts your pocketbook and effort but it’s important to remember that with wood stoves, actual efficiency numbers are when the stove is being burned in optimal conditions with seasoned wood. For pellet stoves, the efficiency on the EPA list of stoves is a good indication of efficiency in your living room. We do not recommend relying on manufacturer claims. Always check the EPA website to find the actual, verified efficiency.

Virtually every EPA certified stove and all pellet stoves will claim to be eligible for the IRS tax credit, but many are not 75% efficient and there is no enforcement over these claims.

If you are in the market for a pellet stove, we tested six popular pellet stoves in September 2015 and rate them here.

To summarize:

  • Buy an EPA certified wood or pellet stove and check for lower grams of particulates and higher efficiency levels.

  • Consider a hybrid stove if you are interested in catalytic technology. Hybrid stoves are often cleaner, more efficient and easier to use.

  • If you want cleaner emissions, buy a pellet stove, as they operate far more cleanly in real world settings.

  • Buying from a local reputable dealer instead of the internet or a big box stores is even more important for pellet stoves that will need to be repaired and serviced by a professional.

  • Have your stove installed by a professional. Look for NFI or CSIA certification.

  • Check here to see if your state offers a rebate or tax credit. Idaho, Maryland, Montana, New York, Vermont and other states offer incentives.

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