Outdoor Wood Boiler Vs Wood Stove | 12 Differences

An outdoor wood boiler or a wood stove – what’s better?

It’s really just comparing apples to oranges – wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers function in absolutely different ways.

A better comparison would be between an indoor wood boiler and an outdoor. But still, this question comes up quite a lot, and even though both of the heaters differ a lot in function, you might still be interested in which one is better from the two.

Outdoor Wood Boiler Advantages

You can load it with large firewood.

I’m talking logs that aren’t even quartered, or even split in half.

The size of wood an OWB can support really depends on the model, but you should expect to load it with larger sized pieces than in a wood stove.

From that comes the saved time when processing firewood in general, as you won’t have to cut it to standard length pieces (like 16 inch long); just throw the long cuts in, and you’re good to go!

All of the wood mess is kept outside.

If you heat your house with a wood stove, every single time you go outside and bring some firewood in to load, some bark, dust and anything else will end up falling on the ground.

The ash inside accumulates constantly after each burning session – eventually you have to remove it; some of that stuff can also end up on the floor.


It is a lot safer to use an outdoor wood furnace to heat your house, as the unit itself isn’t actually inside. If something happens to the burner, the fire will be contained in or near it, and not spread to your living space.

Hot water, anybody?

Outdoor wood boilers also heat your water; they can also heat multiple buildings at the same time.

Great temperature control

It’s very easy to maintain a toasty temperature with an outdoor wood boiler, as they have advanced thermostat controls.

Indoor air quality

The air inside your home won’t become dry again, and you won’t really feel the smoke a wood stove would give out; just to be clear, this does depend on which type of boiler you’d get.

Spreads out heat to all the rooms equally

A wood-burning stove, on the other hand, does do that nowhere near as good – the room in which the stove is itself will be more warm than the others.

Oftentimes that room will simply get too hot, so you will probably start opening/closing windows to keep the temperature at a comfortable level (which only wastes energy). At the end of the day, a wood stove is more designed to warm the close radius, not spread through.

You can also burn a wider variety of firewood

Wood Stove Advantages

More economical choice

Image by Dan Phiffer via Flickr

It is a lot cheaper to buy, install and use a wood stove.

I can’t really quote the exact prices as they can differ a lot, but a quality wood stove can go from around 1000-2000 dollars, while an outdoor wood boiler might cost over 7 times more, and that’s not including the installation costs.

You have to keep in mind that for an outdoor furnace, there will be some ground digging involved for the water pipe laying, especially if you’ll want to heat multiple buildings, so the cost might be even higher.

Use less wood

It really depends on which kind of stove you have, but you should expect a wood stove to use 30% less firewood than an OWB.

Cozy looks

A wood stove inside your room looks amazing. Sitting down near one on a cold night – now that’s a lovers dream. They also come in numerous designs and colors, adding even more aesthetic value to the whole house.

Less smoke

Even though a wood stove might give out some smoke and smell inside of your home and dry up the air, it won’t generally produce as much of it to the outside, compared to an outdoor wood boiler. You’d be surprised how important that can be if you have close neighbors.

More legal than not

You can have a stove inside your house in pretty much any place on the earth. Outdoor wood furnaces are banned in some of states and places.

No need for power

It does not need any electricity to operate; an outdoor wood boiler on the other hand does, which means if you do lose electricity, you won’t be able to heat your house or other buildings.

In Conclusion

In my opinion, the best option is no doubt the outdoor wood boiler. But even then, the choice here does entirely depend on your needs.

Even though initial costs of buying and setting up an outdoor boiler are bigger than of a stove, it should buy itself back after some years; yes, you will mostly end up buying more firewood, but the constant supply of hot water, even and spread out heating of all your rooms, and multiple house option is just unbeatable.

If you’ll want to purchase an OWB, i think the biggest thing you have to make sure is if it doesn’t produce too much smoke.

You certainly do not want to fill up your house or even the neighborhood with smoke, as that is obviously only dangerous for your and others health.

But that also has a lot to do with what you choose to burn – I would suggest only burning well seasoned firewood in the furnace, as unseasoned or simply wet kind will undoubtedly cause problems.

If you are indeed considering the OWB route, be sure it is the most modern and ecologically friendly one you can afford, as they consume less wood than older models, and produce much less emissions.

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  1. “More legal than not
    You can have a stove inside your house in pretty much any place on the earth. Outdoor wood furnaces are banned in some of states and places.”

    You need to remove this. The article is about outdoor wood boilers not outdoor wood furnaces. The latter is a different beast than a boiler…

  2. I appreciate the info in your article. My husband and I are in our 70’s and I am worried sick about rising costs, threats of black/brown outs, diesel shortages, etc. We can’t walk to stores. My husband is not well. We have a geothermal system which is pretty new and works well. I am worried about not having elec. for reasons above and don’t know if a generator, outdoor wood furnace, wood burning stove (can one be inset into our existing fireplace?) is best. I am not a fan of solar. Wood stoves can’t regulate heat, what about outdoor wood furnaces? I am lost and worried and don’t want to spend a lot of $’s and get the wrong thing. I guess I am mainly worried about a heat source if we have no electricity thanks to our govt.

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