The difference between catalytic and non-catalytic wood stoves is that catalytic wood stoves use a catalyst, while non-catalytic wood stoves do not. The catalyst enables the stove to hold the fire for a greater amount of time. Most available wood stoves are non-catalytic.
A catalytic wood stove works by passing smoky exhaust through a coated ceramic honeycomb in the stove. This causes the smoke to gas and ignite particles that burn. A non-catalytic wood stove works by using firebox insulation, a large baffle and pre-heated combustion air introduced through small holes above the firebox's fuel.
A catalytic wood stove has higher heating efficiency than a non-catalytic wood stove. The catalytic stove's heating lasts longer, is more even and is more eco-friendly than that of a non-catalytic stove.
A catalytic wood stove is more difficult to maintain and operate than a non-catalytic wood stove. It is also a little more expensive than a non-catalytic wood stove. It can be complicated to figure out the most efficient way for a catalytic stove to operate. A non-catalytic stove is simple to start, operate and maintain. Overall, a catalytic wood stove is generally better for greater heating needs, while a non-catalytic wood stove is generally better for less-demanding heating needs.