User surveys alone do not accurately measure the actual use of improved cookstoves in the field. We present the results of comparing survey-reported and sensor-recorded cooking events, or durations of use, of improved cookstoves in two monitoring studies, in rural Maharashtra, India. The first was a free trial of the Berkeley-India Stove (BIS) provided to 159 households where we monitored cookstove usage for an average of 10 days (SD = 4.5) (termed “free-trial study”). In the second study, we monitored 91 households' usage of the BIS for an average of 468 days (SD = 153) after they purchased it at a subsidized price of about one third of the households' monthly income (termed “post-purchase study”). The studies lasted from February 2019 to March 2021. We found that 34% of households (n = 88) over-reported BIS usage in the free-trial study and 46% and 28% of households over-reported BIS usage in the first (n = 75) and second (n = 69) surveys of the post-purchase study, respectively. The average over-reporting in both studies decreased when households were asked about their usage in a binary question format, but this method provided less granularity. Notably, in the post-purchase study, sensors showed that most households dis-adopted the cookstove even though they purchased it with their own money. Surveys failed to detect the long-term declining trend in cookstove usage. In fact, surveys indicated that cookstoves’ adoption remained unchanged during the study. Households tended to report nominal responses for use such as 0, 7, or 14 cooking events per week (corresponding to 0, 1, or 2 times per day), indicating the difficulty of recalling exact days of use in a week. Additionally, we found that surveys may also provide misleading qualitative findings on user-reported cookstove benefits without the support of sensor data, causing us to overestimate impact. Some households with zero sensor-recorded usage reported cookstove fuel savings, quick cooking, and less smoke. These findings suggest that surveys may be unreliable or insufficient to provide solid foundational data for subsidies based on the ability of a stove to reduce damage to health or reduce emissions in real-world implementations.