Wood Stove vs Propane Heat Cost Comparison

If you're still unsure about what heat source is right for you lets look at wood stove vs propane heat cost comparison. The cost of fuel for your heat source can be significant! Whether you choose wood or gas each has it's own cost.


Finding sources of quality dry firewood is pretty easy in most locations. A simple craigslist search will likely bring a list of sellers. Depending on the wood you’re purchasing the cost varies. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 - $250 for a cord of wood. A cord of wood heating a small space would last a LONG time!

Unlike propane you always have the option of doing the work and harvesting your own fuel. The cost here is a little time and sweat equity. The beauty of heating a small space is you don't need tons of wood to keep your space toasty and there are numerous potentially free options for fuel!


Pallets. Used pallets are often available for free. A few pallets broken down could be a great heat source for your tiny wood stove.

Craigslist. A simple search online could bring a free wood source. You can place an ad or browse the free listings for potential sources.

Harvest. The beauty of heating a small space with a wood stove is you don't need tons of wood. A few minutes in a wooded area and you could easily harvest enough down, dead and detached wood to heat your small space for a few days. Check local regulations before harvesting, for example for National Forests.

Wood Shops. Many wood shops like cabinet builders will toss their scraps. I have a friends that parks a truck outside a cabinet shop and gets truckloads of free hardwood. In fact our counter-top in the Airstream was made from such scraps. This could be a source of quality fuel!



Catalytic Propane Heater        3,200 – 6,000 btu $2.49 per gallon
4kW Small Wood Stove       8,000 – 14,000 btu        free / low cost wood scraps

A medium Catalytic Heater can generate roughly 6000btu. To heat our Airstream comfortably we would need two of these heaters ($600) plus they consume roughly 1/4lb of propane per hour, which if left on 24hrs would last 3 days on a 20lb tank. To heat the trailer 12hrs per day would cost about $120+ per month in propane.


From strictly a cost perspective a wood stove makes the most sense in the long term. Add in the fact that you can scrounge for free or low cost scrap wood in most locations and a wood burning stove is a no-brainer. For some the added work of a wood stove is not worth the time and effort. If you’re looking to save money get a wood stove if you’re looking for convenience with the look and feel of a wood stove consider a small propane fireplace.

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