Winter weather is quickly approaching, so it’s time to start thinking about how you will keep the family warm this year. Increasing utility bills are making more and more homeowners consider other heat sources to help decrease the monthly costs of comfort. Today we’re going to go over some of the differences between a wood burning stove and a wood burning fireplace. We’ll take a look at a few pros and cons for each to help make the decision a little easier.


A wood burning fireplace has more visual appeal than most wood burning stoves. They’re usually considered a decorative piece in the corner or along one wall in a room. The mantle may be as plain or as eccentric as the homeowner chooses and should always match the home’s decor. A fireplace casts a nice warm glow throughout the room when a fire is burning and allows the homeowner to watch the flames dance within the firebox.

A wood burning stove is traditionally a black cast iron box that contains a fire and keeps it out of view of the homeowner. Some of the options today sport glass doors or decorative doors that allow full visibility of the flames within. Newer wood burning stoves may mimic the color of brushed nickel or be available in a variety of colors to match your home’s decor.

Heat-Wood Efficiency

The open wood burning fireplace loses approximately 80% to 90% of the heat it produces up the chimney. The draft may be mostly-closed and a fan installed to disperse heat to make it more efficient, but never close the draft completely if a fire is burning.

Wood burning stoves are very highly efficient. They contain the heat in the body of the stove and radiate it throughout the room. They use about one-third less firewood than a fireplace but produce about three times the amount of heat due to their overall design.


Wood innately pops and spreads burning embers as it burns. A wood burning stove contains the embers within and keeps them from popping onto carpets, furniture, or pets. A fireplace with an open face has no protection whatsoever, but you may install mesh curtains or a guard to prevent popping embers from escaping.


Both units require regular cleaning and maintenance, and the chimney should be inspected and cleaned at least once per year. A visual inspection of the fireplace or wood burning stove is sufficient in most cases, as you will notice rust or damage right away. Call us at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service to discuss potential problems with your fireplace, wood burning stove, or chimney and we’ll schedule an appointment for a consultation or inspection.

The Overall Idea

The wood burning fireplace is generally the primary choice in appearance where the wood burning stove is much more efficient at warming the home and wood conservation as well. Both options have similar pros and cons where safety is concerned and should be used with great caution. Wood stoves are a pretty clear winner where environmental friendliness is concerned.