The purchase of a wood burning stove, which has become a popular home heating choice, is not a small expense. Anyone considering installing one of these stoves in their home would be well advised to do some thorough research before making the investment. The size of the stove is only one of the factors that needs to be considered. Others factors include whether the stove is a catalytic or non-catalytic design, the size of the viewing window and how the stove is loaded to name a few. Also how easy is it to maintain and clean the stove to keep it operating at maximum efficiency.
Learning how these wood burning stoves evolved would be helpful in appreciating the value that they represent.
The History Of The Wood Burning Stove
The first wood burning stoves were made in 1642 in Lynn, Massachusetts and were constructed with cast iron plates. This boxy creation was the inspiration for the elegant designs of modern wood stoves.
Much credit is given to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1744, took the original stove idea and modified it to make a cast iron stove that was more efficient and better designed than those build previously. To this day his design remains very popular which is a testimony to his efforts.
For nearly two centuries the configuration of the wood stove remained the same with a design that consisted of a controlled air intake and a sealed firebox. There were, however, a few modifications that emerged during that time which included the cylindrical and pot belly designs. By the beginning of the 20th century these stoves were adapted for use in the kitchen. This created an increase demand which culminated in the early 1970s with the oil crisis and the high cost of fuel oil. More people were choosing wood as their fuel source for heat and cooking their meals. The need for more efficient stoves lead to the development of better designs and different configurations.
At the beginning of the 19th century, a substantial stove was designed by Benjamin Thompson. This stove was also used as a cooker for stately homes and large canteens in addition to its role as source of heat for the home. From the 1830s smaller designs became popular, such as the stove created by Philo Stewart which could be used in an average size kitchen.
Jotul wood stoves of Norway first appeared in 1853 along with other dutch models. The Rayburn stove was launched in 1946 which was an efficient solid fuel burner that functioned both as a heater for the home and an oven. The AGA stove was introduced in 1922 and is a multi-fuel heater that is still in production today.
The Materials Used To Make The Wood Burning Stoves
The stoves of today feature an air tight design that uses aluminum, steel, cast iron and soapstone in their construction. For better heat retention, they have a firebrick or soapstone lining together with the catalytic converters that are designed to burn waste fumes. This makes the modern stove very environmental friendly while being more efficient than traditional fossil fuel furnaces.
These modern stoves are generally of three types. There is the box wood stove, which houses the fire in a metal box. This type is not very airtight when compared to the other types of stoves, however, it is the cheapest of the three types. There are also the airtight stoves and the pellet wood burning stoves.
To control the heat output, the modern airtight stove has an automatic or manual method of regulating the amount of air flow that goes in to the stove. This is accomplished not only by the airtight construction but by using various materials in the door that insure the airtight integrity is maintained when the door is closed.
Pellet stoves, such as those made by Harman and Breckwell, on the other hand, use electronic regulators as well as an alternative source of fuel. In these stoves, the fuel feed is regulated by an electronic sensor and timer. The pellets themselves resemble rabbit feed and measure 3/8 to one inch long and are made from materials which include compacted sawdust, bark, wood chips, and various other organic materials. Some pellet stoves can use a great variety of biomass fuels including corn kernels, sunflowers, nutshells, barley, and others.
The heat output from these stoves is very similar to the ancient wood burning stoves with the added advantage of high efficiency and low environmental impact. This makes them the most popular modern day stoves.
All said, modern day wood burning stoves are an excellent way of warming your home during that cold weather, while utilizing a renewable resource.
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