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Few things can beat the look, feel, and aroma of a wood fire, but many homeowners can get stymied on deciding whether a wood burning fireplace or potbelly stove is a better, more efficient choice. While each type has its own advantages & disadvantages, a little research into the comparisons of both can help you make the right decision for your family, your style, and your heating needs.

Leaving cost outside of the equation since both kinds of wood burning appliances can range greatly according to the size & setup you need, we’ll discuss the aesthetics, safety, efficiency, and eco-friendliness of each type. Here’s an evaluation the differences of a wood burning fireplace and a wood burning stove.

Pure Aesthetics

The breathtaking design of a masonry fireplace is often like none-other. With endless possibilities encompassing mosaic tiles, brickwork, stacked marble, veneer, or stone, a wood fireplace & hearth will be the centerpiece of any home. Open views of dancing flames and the incredible appearance, feel, and scent of wood burning in a fireplace makes this style extremely popular among homeowners.

Conversely, while wood stoves can available in a variety of beautiful designs, from sleek & modern to rustic & traditional, they lack the natural ambiance that a fireplace provides. When in use, Free standing stoves can act as a decorative accent to a room. Since wood-burning stoves feature glass doors, homeowners don’t have the same view as an open burning fireplace design.

Safety Considerations

Any hearth appliance featuring a wood burning fire can come with natural safety challenges. Since EPA certified freestanding stoves offer a more complete combustion process than open burning fireplaces, wood stoves are able to burn away the byproducts more completely.

Sparks are another hazard of wood fires. Installing doors & screens to fireplaces can help ensure that hot embers won’t land on nearby furniture or carpeting and start a fire.

Wood stoves are a bit safer in that respect since the fire is not directly in the open, but there still is a minimal risk of someone being burned if they touch the glass or the stove door of the stove. Safety gates are a great way to keep pets and children away from wood fires, no matter if they are in a fireplace or free standing stove.

Overall Efficiency

Cheap to fuel, wood fireplaces are not the most efficient hearth appliance in the industry. On the other hand, wood burning stoves can provide 3x as much heat with 1/3 of the firewood, meaning they are more efficient and offer more heating power than open burning fireplaces. When it comes to efficiency and heating capabilities, wood stoves win.


Burning wood is carbon-neutral which means that burning a wood fire releases less CO2 than a tree does decaying naturally in the forest. That being said, the wood stoves available today are EPA certified and produce hardly any harmful emissions due to their closed combustion burn system. Since they are more efficient & better at providing heat, potbelly stove can help supplement your current heating unit, allowing you to lower your utility bills during the cold weather.

The heating appliance you choose will depend on what you prefer when it comes down to it. A wood fireplace will be the choice for you if aesthetics, atmosphere, and authenticity are your main priorities. A wood burning stove would be a better choice if you desire a highly efficient heating powerhouse.