Wood burning stoves are a great way to provide supplemental heat to your home and reduce utility bills. This guide will explain the different types of wood stoves so you can choose the right one for your home.
Safety Tip: Even the best wood burning stoves create a significant amount of smoke, so they require a chimney and flue. Before the start of each heating season, have your stove and chimney inspected by a professional.
How Do Wood Stoves Work?
Energy efficient wood stoves warm through radiant heat. Many have a built-in or optional blower to help distribute heat more evenly over a larger area. Blowers help save fuel and increase the overall comfort level in the space being heated. Some models provide enough surface space to cook on, and most provide an enjoyable view of the flame. These are the best wood stoves to accent your home’s decor while providing the functionality you need.
They burn wood, which is carbon neutral. This makes them better for the environment than natural gas or petroleum-burning heaters. Some newer wood stoves include a catalytic combustor resulting in cleaner exhaust gases.
Wood stoves are available as standalone units or as fireplace inserts. Inserts make use of existing masonry or prefab fireplaces and chimneys. These require less space but can be more difficult to install.
Tip: Pellet stoves offer similar benefits and operate at much lower temperatures. They are often cool to the touch and use a built-in blower to help warm a room.
Wood-Burning Stove Benefits
Wood burning stoves are an energy efficient and cost-effective way to heat your home. The renewable heat source produces very low carbon emissions, which is great for the environment. Wood stoves also continue working during power outages, providing light and warmth even when there’s no electricity.
In addition to their practical benefits, wood burning stoves can also enhance the look and feel of your space. With many stylish options to choose from, these appliances are a focal point in many living rooms. They’re the perfect central place to gather around on those brisk winter evenings.
Wood stoves are also fairly easy to operate and require minimal maintenance.
Types of Wood Stoves
There are two main wood stove styles: catalytic and non-catalytic.
Catalytic wood stoves feature a catalytic combustor that traps smoke and other emissions. The combustor typically features a metal coating that ignites the flame at a lower temperature. This reduces creosote emissions and boosts the burn time. Over time, the catalytic combustor on your unit can wear out and will eventually need to be replaced. It’s also more susceptible to damage from using treated firewood and lower quality fire starters.
Non-catalytic wood stoves are generally easier to operate since there’s no catalytic combustor to engage. These burn more efficiently at higher temperatures. At lower temperatures, they produce higher levels of ash and emissions. However, many still meet EPA efficiency requirements. These don’t burn as long as catalytic versions.
Neither one is better than the other. When trying to decide between catalytic vs. non catalytic wood stoves, consider the following:
- How long you plan to operate the stove in peak cold season.
- The cost to replace your combustor.
- The level of emissions output.
Factors to Consider
Other than choosing between catalytic and non-catalytic, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a wood-burning stove.
Wood fuel type: Some wood stoves are fueled by firewood. Wood pellets have the lowest particulate matter emissions of all fuels. Their density allows them to produce lots of heat and very little ash. Wood pellet stoves are easy to maintain, but routine maintenance is necessary to ensure it functions properly.
Style: Since a wood stove is a prominent feature in any home, it’s important to choose the style that complements your space. Some are taller than the traditional square-shaped stoves. Some smaller ones may sit on a pedestal, and others are wider and barrel shaped.
The size of your space: The most efficient wood stove for your home is one that provides the right amount of heat based on the square footage of your space. A stove with a 2 to 2 1/2 cubic foot firebox will provide ample heat for a 2,000 to 3,000 square foot home. For smaller homes, cabins and garages, a 1 to 1 1/2 cubic foot firebox is enough. Confirm the square foot rating with the manufacturer info to be certain.
Placement: Make sure the stove is placed in a central location to properly heat the whole home. Otherwise the heat distribution will be uneven throughout the house.
Material: The materials most commonly used for the best wood stoves are sheet iron (steel and stainless steel) and cast iron. Cast iron wood burning stoves are the traditional option. These take a bit longer to warm than sheet iron stoves, but they’re extremely durable and will never warp or otherwise change form.
Use case: Do you need one that also features a cooktop? Will you be heating your whole home or just one area? Different wood stoves have different features and ratings according to the use case.
Upkeep: Maintenance depends on your stove choice. As mentioned above, a non-catalytic wood stove may take longer to heat and produce more smoke, but it is less expensive and requires less servicing. A catalytic wood stove must be inspected regularly and serviced.
Special features: A wood burning stove with an ash drawer makes cleanup easier. An air wash system helps prevent the glass from blackening. Units with a rear heat shield offer an extra layer of protection. This means they can sit closer to a wall and take up less space in the open.
Tip: Make sure to only use mobile-home approved wood burning stoves inside a mobile home.
Adding a wood stove to your home is a great way to conserve energy and help preserve the environment. Once you’ve chosen the best wood burning stove for your needs, shop our wide variety of options. The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.