Coal can be a viable option for those folks who live within a few hours drive of Pennsylvania’s Anthracite (hard coal) mines. This hard coal is packed with an enormous amount of energy. Coal stoves usually can burn longer on each fuel load than woodstoves and they provide a more even and controllable heat. Coal is also “American Made.”
Pennsylvania Anthracite coal is very clean burning and produces no visible smoke or creosote. However, the mining of coal can produce some negative effects on the environment. Coal is not renewable (at least not without waiting a few million years).
Coal is most efficient when burned in freestanding stoves. Some stoves are “dual-fuel” and capable of burning both wood and coal. Coal fires are difficult to start, but once alight a fire can last for weeks or even months. For this reason, coal is best suited to those who use their stoves on a full-time basis.
Maintenance—Coal Stoves—Coal stoves produce no creosote or tar, and the chimney and smoke pipe will usually only contain a white or brown fine ash coating. It is important to clean the coal stove, smoke pipe and chimney immediately following the burning season as this ash can be quite corrosive when combined with the heat and humidity of the spring and summer.
How Long will they last? A quality coal stove could easily last ten years or more. Coal burns much hotter than wood, so it should be common to replace coal grates and liners as time passes.