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Best Wood Burning Fireplace

By Lawrence Macmillan October 25, 2021

There’s something uniquely satisfying about a wood burning fireplace. Sure, technology’s advanced, and now you can get electric, or gas, or even propane-fueled fireplaces that look pretty much identical to the wood burning versions.

But it’s never quite the same. The minute you know it’s not really a wood burning fireplace, it loses that satisfying effect.

So, we haven’t included any kinda, sorta, looks-like-wood burning fireplaces on our list.

On the other hand, in this modern day and age, it’s far more efficient, not to say convenient, to have a fireplace that burns wood pellets, rather than ye olde logs that have been chopped and hoppered.

So, it’s worth confessing up front. We went looking for the best wood burning fireplaces, to lay them out before you like a wood burning banquet.

And in doing so, we realized a thing. It’s absolutely worth including both log burning fireplaces and pellet burning fireplaces in our reckoning, because this is the 21st century, and convenience is a huge factor in the pleasure of a wood burning fireplace these days.

So yes, we’ve included wooden pellets (usually made of compressed sawdust) under the definition of “wood” in our reckoning, because to leave them out would do you a disservice and hide some of the best available options on the modern market.

Ready to find the best wood burning fireplaces around?

In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.

Castle Serenity Stove 12327 Wood Pellet

See? If we’d left out the option of wooden pellets, you wouldn’t have seen our top pick, the Castle Serenity Stove.

So why does the Castle Serenity make it to the top of our list?

Well, first of all, it’s pretty serious about its heating capacity. How does 1500 square feet sound to you?

Yeah, it sounds pretty good to us too. You’ll be pretty toasty with a Castle Serenity burning away in your room, unless you own a Hollywood mansion with rooms the size of football fields.

In which case, you can afford two Castle Serenitys, one for each side of the room. Problem solved!

Yes, some people don’t feel like it’s really a wood burning fireplace unless they have a wide, space-stealing chunk of wall overtaken by a sprawling fireplace, but if you’re a touch more focused, there’s no reason why the Castle Serenity 12327 shouldn’t give you a good deal of nostalgic fire gazing within its pretty sleek, streamlined, modern design.

What’s at least as useful is that the Castle Serenity brings the habit of pellet stoves for being easy to use, relatively cost effective to run, and also cleaner to use than a standard log burning stove, so you get lots of the benefits of traditional wood burning, but with less mess, less fuss, and less cost.

That means it’s difficult to find anywhere in the Castle Serenity to hang a question or a fault.

Add in modern features like automatic ignition and a built-in blower, and you may well start to see why the Castle Serenity climbs to the top of our list, despite being ‘only’ a pellet burner, rather than a log burner.

It means you don’t have to coax the fire into life, old-style, and you also get a lot more heat distribution out of it without any extra effort.

And yes, thank you – it comes with a remote control, so you can control what happens to your pellets from the comfort of your favorite snuggling chair.

What are we talking about in terms of efficiency? How does 78% thermal efficiency sound?

Sounds pretty good to the EPA, who certified the stove, allowing you to claim a tax credit simply by switching to this model.

Any downsides?

Mmm, maybe two. On the one hand, the internal pan and fire pot are small, so while you will get the pleasure of gazing into the flames, you may have to squint a little to get the full effect of them.

That also means that you’re probably going to have to clean out the firepot every day, and the ash pan every couple of days.

But you knew there was some cleaning involved, right? That’s part and parcel of a wood burning fireplace.

Overall, the Castle Serenity delivers a lot of the benefits of a wood burning fireplace with only half a handful of the trouble – and the price is lower than many on the market, too.

Pros

  • It delivers 1500 square feet of heating from a slim, chic design
  • Built-in modern touches like instant ignition and a blower make it smarter than the average wood burning fireplace
  • Remote control is an extra that adds luxury to efficiency
  • The efficiency is strong in this one, adding up to an EPA tax credit

Cons

  • You might have to squint to see the flames in the smaller-than-average firepot
  • You will also find yourself cleaning and raking out the fire on an almost daily basis

Comfortbilt Pellet Stove

No, seriously, there are some full-on log burners coming in a moment. But we needed to put the Comfortbilt Pellet Stove in at second place.

How come? Check it out. First of all, it has an easy install, coming direct to your house pretty much ready to go.

It’s the wood burning fireplace equivalent of that Christmas when your folks remembered to buy batteries for all your games in advance, so you could just play your face off all day long.

When the Comfortbilt comes home? Same feeling.

Got bigger rooms? This is even more worth considering than our list-leader, because this fireplace puts out 44,000 BTUs, giving you a heat impact zone some 900 square feet larger than the Castle Serenity, at 2,400 square feet.

You were impressed with the Castle Serenity’s 78% thermal efficiency, right? Add an extra 8% to your thinking, because the Comfortbilt turns up to 86% of its wood fuel into pure heat.

It also comes with all the modern tricks and gizmos. Auto-ignition? Naturally. Remote control?

But of course. How about a programmable thermostat controller, so you’re not just melting, but can be just as toasty as you want to be?

That’s here too.

One thing that sets the Comfortbilt apart in a crowded field is that it’s extremely versatile and portable. That’s because it was initially built with the likes of mobile homes in mind.

So it’s not only useful in traditional homes, but if you want a wood burning fireplace in your mobile home, this may well be your best available option.

With a 55-pound hopper capacity, you can fill up with enough pellets to give you a good deal of heat for a long while.

But it also has a vacuum safety switch, that will alert you when the hopper is close to empty – while also shutting the system down, rather than trying to burn pellets of nothing

That high thermal efficiency means the Comfortbilt produces less ash per pound of pellets than most of its competitors. That, and a strategically placed ash pan make clean-up of the Comfortbilt a relative ease.

And yes, naturally, it comes with a built-in blower, to help you maximize the effectiveness of the produced heat in the room.

Added to all that, Comfortbilt gives you a 1-year warranty, so you can really go to town with the fireplace and explore everything it can do, safe in the knowledge that you’re covered in the event of mechanical failure.

Pros

  • The Comfortbilt has an even higher zone of heat impact, at 2,500 square feet
  • It also has an 86% heat efficiency rating, meaning more heat per pound of fuel, and less ash
  • It comes with all the modern conveniences, like a remote control, thermostatic regulation, and a blower to help get the most out of the heat produced
  • It also comes with a 1-year warranty for peace of mind

Cons

  • The price is higher here than with some competitor models

US Stove US1269E 900 Sq. Ft. Log Wood Cast Iron Stove

Look, look! An actual log burning stove!

Are you excited? We’re excited.

Now… we know what you’re going to say.

That’s properly a stove stove, not really a fire-flickering heating system you can gaze at across a room.

So it loses quiiiite a lot of the fireplace charm you’ve come to expect of both wood burning and pellet burning ‘stoves’ whose principal job is to put out the BTUs and look pretty.

Yyyyyep. You’re absolutely right. We’d love to tell you there’s some cunning explanation, but no, you’re right – it’s a stove stove.

That means exactly what you think it means – you lose out on quite a lot of the fun of gazing at flames.

But hear us out here. There are plenty of places where you want some heat, but where your standard fireplace either can’t go, or is at best a frankly drunken idea.

Want some heat in a garage in January while you work on the truck that stubbornly won’t start? You’re not dragging a wood or pellet burning fireplace out there. US1269E to the rescue.

Driving up to the cabin in the woods for Halloween? You can take the US1269E with you and get yourself not only 54,000 BTUs of hardcore heat covering a good 900 square feet, but also, somewhere to cook your foraged critters.

Warmth and a full belly in those circumstances is a double bonus not worth sniffing at.

One look at that US1269E and you can tell this is one sturdy piece of equipment. That’ll be the cast iron construction doing its fair share of the talking.

The US1269E can take logs up to 19 inches in length and will happily burn them into heat for as long as you keep feeding it.

It’s EPA certified, because it may look old fashioned, but it’s perfectly serious about its 21st century credentials, and being made of cast iron, it has the life expectancy of a tree.

Are there downsides about the US1269E? Sure. It lacks that fire-flickering window of many fireplaces, for one. You can’t use it in mobile homes, for another.

And most vexing of all, it comes without any of the bits and pieces you need to install it, like floor protectors, chimney connectors, or a flue – so it takes an old-fashioned amount of work to set it up and to move it.

It also of course, being a full-on log burner, doesn’t have any of the modern conveniences of our pellet burning options, so you’ll be lighting this fire the old-fashioned way too, which when you’re freezing cold in a log cabin and darned hungry to boot, can be a real pain in the butt.

But for that genuine ye olde wood burning feeling – that heat that crinkles your eyebrows and makes your face glow – there are very few available substitutes.

Pros

  • It takes logs up to 19 inches at a time
  • It produces 54,000 BTUs for an impact zone of 900 square feet
  • It’s EPA certified for safety
  • It’s perfect for garages or log cabins
  • It acts as a real stove for cooking as well as a heat source
  • It comes with a 1-year warranty

Cons

  • It lacks the kind of window that makes it appealing in the house
  • It’s not suitable for mobile homes
  • It comes with none of the necessary bits and pieces to install it

Pelpro Pellet Stove PP 130

Looking for a lot of heat but with simple, simple controls and efficient pellet-use? The Pelpro PP 130 may be your huckleberry.

With a maximum output of around 46,000 BTUs, you can actually dial down the burn on the PelPro to just 11,000 BTUs for slow, deliberate heat over a longer period.

That’s all controlled by a single, simple rotary dial.

To keep it quieter than most, the PelPro has only a variable speed circulating fan, so for instance, when the stove is running on low, the noise level goes right down.

Giving you up to 80 hours of heat on a single load of pellets, the PelPro is exceptionally fuel-efficient, and with a 1-year warranty, you can use it with peace of mind.

Pros

  • You get great fuel-efficiency with the PelPro, as you can dial it right down to 11,000 BTUs
  • The controls are simple to understand and use
  • A 1-year warranty means you can use it with confidence

Cons

  • Cleaning the ash out of the PelPro can be an issue

Drolet Wood Stove On Pedestal Model Escape 1800

And finally, let’s talk about the Drolet Escape 1800 (on a pedestal, rather than legs).

It’s arguable that the Drolet Escape 1800 has pretty much everything you came here looking for. The company has a strong reputation.

The 1800 has a good size (it’s available in both the smaller 1500 and the larger 2100 versions, depending on the size of your room), and a maximum heat impact zone of 2,100 square feet.

An output of up to 75,000 BTUs per hour is quite hot enough to be going on with for most users, though again, you can scale up if you want to.

And yes – it has both the window so you can watch your logs burn, and it takes actual logs as fuel (up to 20 inches).

Unlike the potentially unwieldy cast iron of the US1269E, steel is in play here – the body is 3/16” thick, and the top is 5/16” thick top that’s also made of steel. The front door is made of ceramic glass, and there’s a cast-iron frame around.

This is a serious piece of steelwork, but it delivers the heat, and it delivers the visual thrill you want, while burning actual logs for that traditional look and potentially, that traditional smell.

Naturally, as a log burner rather than a pellet burner, it lacks some of the 21st century conveniences, like automatic ignition and thermostatic control, but if there’s a fireplace on our list that delivers the nostalgia, the visual and the heat better than the Drolet, we’d be hard pressed to find it.

A limited lifetime warranty shows you Drolet’s commitment to its product – and arguably to its customers too.

Pros

  • It’s 100% the real deal, burning logs and delivering the visual of them burning
  • It puts out 75,000 BTUs/hour up to 2,100 square feet
  • It comes with a limited lifetime warranty for your peace of mind

Cons

  • The price is up there, considering it lacks the 21st century advantages of a pellet burner

Buyer’s Guide

Before you buy a wood burning fireplace, consider the following:

Logs or Pellets?

Logs have a nostalgic look and feel, but they’re trickier to find, and much less controllable.

Pellets give you 21st century options like automatic ignition and thermostatic control. Choose whether the nostalgia or the convenience is more important to you.

How Important Is The Visual?

Are you looking simply for a machine that can throw out the heat, or do you want to fall asleep to the crackle and the flicker of flames? How important is it to see the fire? That will steer your choices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Pellet Burners Count As Wood Burning Fireplaces?

Arguably, they don’t, having a niche of their own. But as most pellets are made of compacted sawdust, they’re worth thinking about as wood burners because they give you exciting new options.

Are Wood Burning Fireplaces Worth The Money?

A wood burning stove gives you increased heat output compared to the likes of electric or gas fires, and they can also key into important nostalgic memories.

Whether that’s worth the money you spend depends on your disposable income and your commitment to those nostalgic feelings.


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