If you are thinking of having a wood burning stove in your living area, but are not sure how to choose one, you have come to the right place. In this article, we take a look at six important factors that need to be considered when choosing a wood burning appliance.
1. Heat Output
The first thing you need to consider is the amount of heat you need from your wood burner. The heat output of a stove is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). A stove with very low output may not be able to heat your room while a stove with very high output may make your room too hot. So, it is important to choose a model with the right heat output. You can calculate the amount of heat output required by multiplying the total square footage of your house by 40. If you have a 2000 square-foot home, you need a stove with an output of 80,000 BTUs.
2. Stove Type
You can find catalytic and non-catalytic stoves on the market. Catalytic stoves use catalytic combustors and are very efficient. They make excellent use of the fire’s energy and produce a nice, even heat, however, they are slightly more expensive. Non-catalytic stoves re-circulate ash and re-burn it. They are not as efficient as their catalytic counterparts so the heat produced is less even. They produce an amazingly beautiful roaring fire and are less expensive than catalytic stoves.
You'll need to consider the pros and cons of each type and choose the one that suits your budget and preference.
3. Stove Design
A high-quality wood burner should have features that promote complete combustion. Baffles, for example, hold the combustion gases inside the firebox and promote secondary burning. Similarly, pipes and channels tend to preheat the primary and secondary air and allow them to mix with the smoke to promote secondary combustion. So, it is essential to look for the stoves with advanced designs and features that promote complete combustion.
4. Stove Construction
Most modern wood stoves such as those made by Ashley and Jotul are constructed with cast iron, however, other brands such as Hearthstone are constucted with soapstone as well as the more tradtional cast iron. The thermal mass of soapstone is greater than cast iron which means that it will continue to radiate heat longer after the fire is out. Other features include top loading as with Jotul stoves and the Air Wash system with Ashley stoves that keep the front glass clean.
Efficiency is basically a conversion of fuel into room heat. A highly efficient wood burner burns less fuel and produces more heat. A less-efficient one, on the other hand, burns a lot more fuel to produce the same amount of heat. So, you should always go for a stove with a high efficiency rating. An EPA-certified stove with an efficiency rating of 75 – 80% is usually a good choice.
6. Tax Credit Eligibility
The Federal Government offers a tax credit for the purchase and installation of high efficiency green heating appliances. To qualify, you should buy a stove with at least a 75% efficiency rating. So, insist on getting a certificate from the manufacturer that states that the appliance you purchased is eligible for the tax credit.
7. Emission Rating
Wood burners typically emit unburned wood particles into the atmosphere. The EPA has strict regulations that limit particulate emissions to 7.5 grams per hour for non-catalytic stoves and 4.1 grams per hour for catalytic stoves so you should look for units that best meet these emission standards.