This Article has been approved by our on staff NFI Certified Specialists & Master Hearth Professionals
Purchasing a wood stove is a life long investment that will provide warmth for your family and efficient operation to dramatically reduce home heating costs. When choosing the right wood stove for you and your home, there are a lot of questions you should ask yourself before you make your move. You should know exactly what you want to get out the wood stove. What is your main purpose for purchasing a wood burning stove? Is the wood stove going to be strictly for heating your home, cooking purposes, ambiance, or maybe a combination of all of the above?
Next, you should consider the area that you are going to be heating with the wood stove. Wood stove generally come in three different sizes including small, medium and large. Small wood stoves should be used for heating a small cabin or one large room while medium size wood stoves should be used for heating small or moderate sized homes. Large wood stoves are great for heating stately, larger style homes or homes that might have draft issues. Whether you are heating one room, one floor, an entire home, or a small cottage, size and the space you wish to heat is a crucial part of buying a wood stove.
People often make the mistake of buying a wood stove that is entirely too large for the area they are attempting to heat.
An over sized stove is a potential fire hazard, because it's often operated in an extremely slow fired condition, which leads to creosote buildup and increases the risk of chimney fires.
The next thing you are going to want to check out is whether your home has an existing fireplace or not. Obviously, if it does you should go with an insert and use the existing fireplace. If there isn't one, go with a freestanding model. If you are building a new home and trying to decide on whether to go with a freestanding wood stove or an insert, freestanding wood stoves offer many advantages that an insert is not capable of producing. They operate much more efficiently, give off better radiant heat, and in the event of a power outage you can cook on them or even humidify your home by heating a pot of water on top of the stove.
A key factor in choosing the right wood stove to fit you is determining how often the stove will be used. Typically, wood stoves are constructed of one of two materials, cast iron or welded steel. As far as performance goes, they are both pretty equal.
This, however, is where the question of how often the wood stove will be used comes into play. Welded steel wood stoves heat up a lot faster than cast iron stoves. So if you plan on using the wood stove to take the chill out of the house and put the fire out, welded steel is the way to go. Steel wood stoves are also safer to the touch over cast iron wood stoves, so if you have kids or pets that might brush up against the stove they will not get burned.
Cast iron wood stoves take a while to heat up but they radiate a lot more heat even after the fire is put out so they are the better choice to go with if you are looking for a wood stove to run all day throughout the cold winter months.
Another option to consider when purchasing a wood burning stove is Catalytic or non-catalytic. Catalytic stoves contain a ceramic, honeycomb-like combustor that is plated with a metal such as platinum or palladium. The metals on the catalytic converter act as a catalyst to ignite these gases at lower temperatures. This catalytic feature has two advantages. First, it increases the stove's efficiency 10 to 25 percent by burning hydrocarbons that would otherwise go up the chimney. Secondly, it burns the wood more completely, so there are fewer emissions. The catalytic stoves also have disadvantages and have been decreasing in popularity over the years due to the increased upkeep verses having a non-catalytic stove, increased use of electricity and reports of the motors dying out only after a few years.