Propane vs. Wood Heating: Which Is Best For Heating Your Home?
Updated: Jul 5
Most homeowners have, at some point, questioned whether their home heating method was the best possible option for them.
But sometimes, sticking with a sub-par option seems easier than figuring out what might be best. There are so many options, and the nuances of comparing them can get complicated so quickly!
Today, Affordable Tanks wants to help eliminate some of your confusion by contrasting two common heating methods: wood and propane. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each method, then give you some advice for choosing which would be best for you.
Let’s get started!
Wood: Pros and Cons
Let’s start by looking at some of the pros and cons of the most classic heating method: good old-fashioned firewood.
After that, we’ll cover the pros and cons of propane and see how it compares.
However, keep in mind that when comparing heating methods, there is an infinite amount of nuance you could dive into. Factors such as your geographical location, fluctuating prices, time of year, climate, the efficiency of your stove or furnace, the size of your home, and more all affect which fuel is best for you.
We’ll do our best to show you some of the general pros and cons of wood and propane. Just remember that what’s a pro and a con can be different for different people, and we can’t cover every detail. At the end of the day, only you can make the final decision.
Pros of using wood as a heat source:
1 - Cost-effective
Prices vary, but wood is consistently one of the cheapest options for home heating, and it’s almost always cheaper than propane.
2 - Charm
Nothing is quite like the charm of an authentic, crackling, smoky wood fire. No matter how good your insert is, you’ll never match the homey charm of a woodfire with a propane furnace.
3 - Independent
One of the reasons wood is a good heat source is that it’s less of a “dependent” heat source in several ways:
You don’t need a regular provider for wood. You may be able to harvest it yourself, and it’s normally fairly easy to find on the market.
Wood is reliable in a crisis because woodstoves aren’t dependent on the grid. You can burn wood in your stove anytime, including in the middle of a power outage.
If you can harvest your own firewood, you aren’t subject to fluctuating prices.
Overall, wood is a more “independent” fuel source than propane.
4 - Healthy
Using wood to heat your home can be great for your physical and mental health–it gets you outdoors stacking and splitting wood, or at the very least, it gets you carrying the wood from your woodpile to your stove. If you are physically able, this can be a great way to get outside and get some exercise!
Plus, there’s the fun of building your fire and tending your stove, which some people find therapeutic.
Cons of using wood as a heat source:
While wood is charming and cost-effective, it also has its drawbacks. Here are a few of them:
1 - Labor intensive
To some, cutting wood and tending a stove is therapeutic. But to others, it’s just a chore. For the elderly or infirm, it’s impossible. Nobody can deny that using wood as your heat source is a whole lot of hard, backbreaking work!
2 - Messy
Ashes, bits of bark, mud, and leaves get tracked into the house, and stacks of firewood by your stove…using wood is a messy business! If you use wood, you need to keep a broom, mop, and duster handy.
3 - Dry air
Burning wood causes the air in your home to dry out quickly, making the interior uncomfortable. Some people find this aggravating, and it means you’ll need to run a humidifier regularly, if not constantly.
4 - Needs constant attention
Wood stoves need constant attention and feeding, and each wood stove can have a unique set of quirks you’ll need to learn. That means you’ll be more tied down because of your stove, and if you want to leave, it can be challenging to get someone to house-sit for you.
5 - Insurance issues
If you want to burn wood as your primary heat source, you should know that finding insurance that covers homes with wood stoves can be a bit more difficult. Wood stoves are slightly less safe and predictable than some other heat sources, so at the least, using a wood stove may jack your premiums up a little.
Now that we’ve taken a quick spin through firewood's pros and cons let’s see how propane compares!
Propane: Pros and Cons
Pros of using propane as a heat source:
1 - Easy to use
With propane, you don’t have endless chores. There’s no cutting, splitting, stacking, and feeding the fire–you just flip a switch, and (voila!) you have heat. For those not physically able enough to do the work needed to use wood, that’s invaluable.
2 - Can be left unattended
With propane, you can set your thermostat and leave your home unattended instead of constantly feeding and stoking your wood stove. That means you can go away for a weekend and return to a warm home with all your pipes intact!
3 - Still looks attractive
Propane isn’t real wood, but you can get some lovely propane-run fireplace inserts that look fairly realistic.
4 - Less work and mess
With propane, you don’t have to worry about all those wood-related chores and won’t have bark bits, mud, and leaves all over your home. You also won’t have to clean ashes out of your stove or keep lighting materials on hand.
5 - Versatile power source
You can use propane to run almost every appliance you have in your home. It’s a far more versatile fuel than wood.
Cons of using propane as a heat source:
1 - Not independent
Propane is less reliable than wood in a crisis because propane furnaces depend on electricity. Plus, if you don’t own your propane tank, you’ll be tied to one propane provider and always be subject to fluctuating propane prices.
2 - More expensive
Propane isn’t the cheapest fuel out there. Prices vary according to location and other factors, but propane is rarely cheaper than wood. Plus, you’ll never have the option of harvesting your propane for free.
3 - Less charming
Propane inserts can look good, but they aren’t authentic like a wood stove. And some people genuinely miss the back-to-earth charm of tending their wood stove when they switch to another fuel.
4 - Fossil fuel
Unlike wood, propane is a non-renewable fossil fuel, and this might make some people uncomfortable.
Wood Or Propane: Which Is Best For You?
As we said initially, we can’t confidently answer whether wood or propane is best. It's ultimately a subjective question, with many factors affecting which is the correct answer for you.
In the end, you are the only one who can make a definitive decision for yourself and your situation. But here are a few things to think about when comparing wood and propane:
Wood could be a good choice if you are physically sound and enjoy fresh air and exercise. But if you are elderly or unable to handle a lot of physical activity, propane is better for you.
Wood is more cost-effective if you have the time and energy to process your wood and tend your stove. But if you have to take time off work to process your wood, that could offset the savings from the lower cost, and propane might actually be more cost-effective.
If you simply don’t want a lot of bother, fuss, and mess, it might be worth paying a little more for propane.
If you plan to travel and leave your home unattended often, there may be better choices than wood. Propane offers more flexibility and doesn’t tie you down like wood does.
But you can't beat real wood if you care about charm and authenticity!
If the grid isn’t reliable in your area, you might find peace of mind knowing you have a huge stack of firewood that will function in any emergency.
Also, it may not be a question of one or the other. Some folks use both heat sources: When they are home, they use a wood stove to save a little money and enjoy the beauty of the fire, and when they leave, they switch on their propane furnace and set the thermostat to avoid coming home to a cold house and broken pipes.
So maybe you could opt for a hybrid solution and get the best of both worlds!
We hope this article helps you make an informed decision about what home heating method is best for you!
If you want more information on different home heating methods, check out these articles we wrote:
If you think propane is best for you, owning your propane tank can be a real asset. At Affordable Tanks, we’ve found that owning your tank means you aren’t tied to one provider and can shop around for the best prices, plus avoid contracts and annual fees.
Contact Affordable Tanks today if you want to learn more about owning your propane tank.
We look forward to hearing from you!