Wood heaters are a great way to stay warm during winter, but they can be a lot of work. If you’ve grown tired of messing with firewood, you may be wondering what’s the best alternative to a wood heater that will still keep you warm. There are plenty of heating options available, like heat pumps, gas heaters and electric heaters, all of which don’t require you to chop, split or stack firewood. However, while each of these different types of heaters have their benefits, if real, natural heat is important to you then consider buying a pellet heater as I think they are the best alternative to a wood heater that still gives you natural heat from a real fire.
Alternative Heater – Convenience
The first thing to consider when looking for an alternative to a wood heater is convenience. Convenience here relates to how easy the heater is to use. That includes handling the fuel, like firewood or wood pellets, along with actually using the heater. As I touched on in my pellet hater vs wood heater vs heat pump post, pellet heaters off great convenience while still providing real heat. The fuel, wood pellets, come in easy to handle 15kg bags. You don’t need to dry the pellets as they are ready to burn the day you buy them. Plus you can put them in any size car, making them easy to transport (no need for a ute like firewood).
Heat pumps are another option and also very convenient. Like pellet heaters, they start heating with the push of a button. Since the “fuel” is electricity, there’s no work involved at all, which is what makes them a popular choice. However, the heat is terrible with many people saying it’s not natural or warm. Electric heaters also offer great convenience. Plug it in, switch it on and instant heat. Again, however, the heat is anything but natural. Pellet heaters offer convenience and real heat. While there is still fuel, it’s easy to handle and absolutely nothing like the hassle you get from firewood.
Alternative Heater – Cost
The next thing to consider is cost of the wood heater alternative. Cost being how much the heater itself costs and any ongoing running costs relating for fuel. Pellet heaters in Tasmania cost anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 and in the rest of Australia pellet heaters cost a bit more, but you’ll still find a pellet heater that suits any budget. These prices are comparable to other types of heaters. Wood pellet fuel, however, will depend. In Tasmania, wood pellets are much cheaper than wood pellet prices in Australia overall. Pellet heaters are cost effective to run in Tasmania, only a bit more than wood heaters and much cheaper than electricity, but this isn’t the case for other states.
Heat pumps, electric heaters and gas heaters, like pellet heaters, come in a range of models and sizes. You’ll find prices vary depending on how much you want to spend, but electric heaters are the cheapest starting at $50 or so. Running costs for these heaters varies. Heat pumps are the most efficient and cheapest to run. Next would be gas heaters and finally the worst or most expensive being electric heaters. Don’t believe the “100% efficient” advertising on electric heaters. They are 100% efficient but the cost of that electricity is very expensive makes these heaters costly to run.
Alternative Heater – Maintenance
Next, what kind of maintenance do you want in a wood heater alternative? Pellet heaters, unlike wood heaters and to the surprise of some people, do require maintenance. The good news is cleaning your pellet heater is easy to do and doesn’t take long, with a full service only being needed once a year. However, it’s still something people switching from a wood heater aren’t used to. You’ll spend MUCH less time cleaning your pellet heater than you do splitting, stacking, drying and moving firewood. But, it’s still something that needs to be done and is important to keep your pellet heater running efficiently.
Heat pumps “should” be cleaned once a year (I’m sure most people don’t do this), and gas heaters every two years (again how many people do this I’m not sure). Electric heaters, well there’s nothing to worry about as they typically work until they one day just stop working and you throw them out and buy a new one. Overall, I think you’ll find the required maintenance for these heaters to be less demanding than pellet heaters. However, pellet heaters aren’t expensive to service and you can do most of it yourself, but it’s still an added cost. It’s the price you pay for that lovely, natural heat you get from burning wood pellets in a pellet heater.
Alternative Heater – Heat
Finally, quality of heat you want from a wood heater alternative. If you are looking to move away from firewood then I am guessing you love the heat but not the hassle. If that’s the case then the best choice is a pellet heater. Heat pumps, as I mentioned above, are convenient but the heat doesn’t feel warm. Electric heaters are the same, easy to use but terrible heat. Gas heaters are good but just not quite the same because you are burning gas instead of wood. I know this is subjective and some people don’t care, heat is heat, but for me you can’t beat the heat from a pellet heater if you are used to a wood heater.
Below is a brief table I created to try and summarize the most common alternatives to a wood heater and the pros and cons of each.
|Type of Heater||Pros||Cons|
|Heat Pump||Energy efficient, versatile, and can cool and heat||High initial cost, limited by outdoor temperature, and can be noisy|
|Gas Heater||Efficient, easy to use, and provides instant heat||Dependent on gas supply, requires venting and can be expensive to install|
|Electric Heater||Cheap to buy, easy to install, and low maintenance||High operating cost and may not provide enough heat for large spaces|
|Pellet Heater||Eco-friendly, convenient to use, and cost-effective fuel||Can be expensive to install, requires storage space for pellets, and requires cleaning.|
You can see that each type of heater has its pros and cons. I’m also not trying to sugar coat anything. I totally understand that pellet heaters are not for everyone. If efficiency is important to you, then heat pumps are best. If you just want something cheap for a small area then check out an electric heater. However, if you are looking for an alternative to a wood heater then I think this means real, natural heat is important to you. Heat pump heat doesn’t feel natural or warm. Gas heaters are good but not available everywhere. Electric heat also doesn’t feel natural. If you want real heat then nothing else is as good as a pellet heater.
Why Pellet Heaters are the Best Alternative
If the above hasn’t made it clean, let me spell it out why I think pellet heaters are the best alternative to a wood heater. Pellet heaters burn wood pellets, which are made from wood (usually sawdust) and provide heat from a fire. This is why I think they are the best alternative to a wood heater. You are still burning wood, in the form of wood pellets, and the heat generated from a pellet heater comes from fire, just like a wood heater. Nothing else, not even a gas heater, comes as close to natural warmth you get from a pellet heater. It’s the next best thing to burning firewood and why people swap wood heaters for pellet heaters.
Another reason pellet heaters are the best alternative to a wood heater besides the lovely, natural heat is they are much less work than wood heaters and firewood. Wood pellets come prepacked in bags making pellets easy to move, stack and store. You don’t have to split, stack, or dry wood pellets, and you can buy them anytime of the year. Wood pellets are ready to burn straight from the bag, so you can buy a bag of pellets today and burn it today. Pellet heaters also have a storage area or “hopper” where pellets are stored. This means you don’t have to refill the pellet heater every 2 or 3 hours like a wood heater.
Pellet Heaters with Similar Heat to a Wood Heater
If you are looking to switch away from a wood heater and want lots of heat, then there are a few models I’d recommend you check out. First, the Grace 13kw pellet heater sold b Pellet Fires Tasmania. It looks like a wood heater and packs a lot of heat. If you are after something a little more budget friendly then the Bass 09 pellet heater by Bass Pellet Heaters in Tasmania offers 12kw heat but is considerably cheaper. If you live outside of Tasmania then check out my best pellet heater in Australia or pellet heater reviews articles. They’ll help you find a pellet heater with a lot of heat to match your wood heater.
Summary of Best Wood Heater Alternatives
Wood heaters offer natural heat, but they can be a lot of work. For some that’s great, but for others wood heaters become a chore. If natural heat is important to you, a pellet heater is the best alternative to a wood heater. Wood pellets are burnt to create natural warmth, much like you get with a wood heater, which is why they are a great alternative to a wood heater and much better than heat pumps and electric heaters. Other type of heating methods offer convenience, but they don’t provide the same natural heat that a pellet heater does. So if you want real, natural heat with less work, consider investing in a pellet heater.