The Ultimate Wood Stove Buyer’s Guide
Using a wood stove is a perfect way to keep your home warm during the winter without having to spend money on electricity. As such, many households in the United States use wood heaters because they are cheaper alternatives.
There are standing wood stoves, fireplace inserts, cast-iron models, and more variations. With so many types of wood stoves, sizes, shapes, and models, it can be challenging to find the right one for your home.
In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at how to choose the right wood stove for your house. We’ll also give you all the information you’ll need to understand the present regulations and fees for having a wood stove in your home.
Why You Should Consider a Wood Stove (7 Reasons)
If you live in a state with a harsh winter climate, chances are you are spending a lot of money on electric heating. A wood stove is an alternative to electricity, making it perfect for small cottages and houses with smaller living rooms.
Wood stoves can also be beneficial for larger houses if you position them correctly so that the heat is used efficiently. Furthermore, you can use a bigger wood stove or more than one unit to warm up your house more quickly.
However, saving money is not the only benefit of using a high-efficiency wood stove. You can also utilize one for different purposes. Let’s discuss some reasons why you should consider purchasing a wood stove.Shop Wood Stoves
1. It Is Cost-Efficient
Overall, wood is a lot cheaper than oil or electricity. Therefore, warming up your home with wood will cost you a lot less than using other fossil fuels or electricity. A wood stove is an even better option if you know how to use strategic zoning in your home.
Strategic zoning involves placing the wood stove or stoves in specific parts of your house. These areas can transmit heat better and, therefore, need a lot less heat to warm up. Moreover, some high-quality wood stove models can also prevent heat loss.
2. Wood Burning Stoves Offer Placement Flexibility
One of the advantages of using a wood stove is that you can place it almost anywhere. You can have it in your living room or any other part of your house as long as there’s space to install the proper venting. Thanks to this feature, you can use more than one stove in your home to replace an entire central heating system.
Note: Always check first with your local authorities before purchasing a new wood stove. Some states and counties require official installation and an inspection to approve the use of wood stoves.
3. Wood Stoves Provide Exceptional Heating
Wood stoves use radiant heat to increase the temperature of your home. This heat transmission method means that the heat expands in a specific radius. Overall, radiant heat is more efficient than using an electric heater, which just blows hot air inside the room constantly. It is more efficient because you do not need the entire room to warm up, only where you’ll be sitting. As such, it is faster to heat one part of a room than to heat the entire space.
Tip: Using more than one stove can help you warm up your house faster if you place them in strategic areas.
4. You Don’t Need to Worry About Power Outages
Unfortunately, winter weather brings power outages to many communities worldwide. During this season, there are more people using electricity. Furthermore, sometimes there’s not enough energy to provide for everyone.
If you have ever experienced a power outage during winter, you will know that it can get cold quickly. However, using a wood stove can prevent this issue. Wood stoves don’t use electricity, and wood is generally not difficult to find.
5. Wood Stoves Are Better for the Environment
If you compare wood to fossil fuels, you’ll notice that it is a much better alternative for the environment. Wood is considered “carbon neutral,” meaning it doesn’t increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release it into the atmosphere as oxygen. When you burn wood, you just emit carbon dioxide that was previously in the atmosphere. In contrast, burning fossil fuels releases new carbon dioxide.
6. You Can Use Wood Stoves for Cooking
Another reason to get a new wood stove is that you can use it for cooking if you have the right model. You can even abandon gas stoves altogether if you want a more economical option. However, be sure to practice cooking before making the transition. Heat distribution is different in wood stoves, so you’ll likely need to adjust your techniques.
7. Wood Stoves Can Complement Your Interior Design
Standing wood stoves can make your rustic and vintage home look even more authentic. By adding a wood rack, you can create a unique look that is cozy and warm. Alternatively, if you want a more modern style, you can choose a fireplace insert made of black cast iron.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wood Stove
There are multiple characteristics you should consider when selecting a wood stove for your home. We will examine some of the most common ones.
The Standing Stove and the Fireplace Insert
When choosing the right wood stove for your home, you first need to understand how many types of wood stoves are available. First, you’ll likely notice that there are standing stoves and fireplace inserts.
A standing stove is the easiest and fastest model to install because you can put it almost anywhere, as long as it is safe. There are also more standing stove models on the market, making it easier to find a suitable model for your home.
Fireplace inserts are usually the most modern and luxurious-looking options. However, these models are difficult to install if your home was not designed to have one. Therefore, because installation is more difficult, they are also generally more expensive.
Types of Materials Used for Wood Stoves
Steel or cast-iron wood stoves are usually the most common options on the market, but they are not the only ones. The correct type for you will depend on the style of your home, budget, and size of your cottage or living room.
Here is an overview of the different wood stove materials:
- Cast-iron wood stoves are the most common because they offer more style and unique designs. Furthermore, they are handcrafted using large molds to provide beautiful-looking models. Moreover, if you choose a cast-iron stove, you’ll notice that they are easier to clean. However, they can be more expensive.
- Steel wood stoves are the most affordable models with the most simple looks. To create one, manufacturers just bend steel into the shape of a box. Therefore, they all tend to have similar aesthetic appearances.
- Soapstone stoves are the most efficient options because the material can retain heat even after the fire’s been extinguished. However, this type of wood stove is difficult to find and consequently can be extremely expensive.
The Correct Size of the Wood Stove
The size of your home will determine how large the new wood stove should be. For example, a small stove is perfect for a cottage or living room, but it will not adequately heat up a big house.
Most manufacturers sell their stoves as large, medium, and small. Each one of these sizes works best for a specific type of use. In general, the larger the stove, the more heat it will provide, and the more space you will be able to warm up.
The square footage of your house is another essential element to consider when buying a wood stove. A small stove can heat up to 1000 sq. ft. (92.9 sq.m), making it perfect for a small living room or a rustic cottage.
A medium model can heat up to 2000 sq. ft. (185.8 sq.m), and the larger models can heat up to 3000 sq. ft. (278.7 sq.m).
Tip: Calculator.net offers an excellent way of understanding how much heat your room needs. With that information, you can make a more informed decision about the size and type of the stove you need before choosing one.
A Catalytic or Non-Catalytic Stove
There are two main types of wood stoves: catalytic and non-catalytic. Each one offers different benefits and drawbacks.
A non-catalytic wood stove uses a type of burn system known as a baffle. It sits below the top of the stove, inside the firebox. Its purpose is to pump oxygen inside the stove so that the fire can burn before exiting through the pipes.
It is the most common type of stove because it requires less maintenance and is easier to use. Moreover, a non-catalytic wood stove tends to cost less than a catalytic model because it is easier to manufacture.
Catalytic models are more expensive because they use precious metals such as palladium or platinum to create combustion. The catalyst can make the smoke burn as if it were fire, providing more heat from the combustion. Therefore, you will need less wood to warm up your home.
Unfortunately, a catalytic wood stove needs constant maintenance and it is a lot more challenging to use. However, because it utilizes less wood and can keep your house warmer for longer, it is overall better for the environment.
Note: There are also wood stoves that combine both mechanisms to provide more heat and longevity. This model is known as a hybrid, but it is not common yet, and finding one can be challenging.
Single Door, Two Doors, Side Doors, and Glass Doors
When it comes to wood stoves, you have more than one door option:
- A single wood stove door is the most simple option available. It is also the cheapest door design on the market. However, it only allows you to place the logs inside and clean them after every use.
- A two-door wood stove provides a different aesthetic and makes it easier to clean after every use. It is more difficult to handcraft than a single door model, and thus it is slightly more expensive.
- A wood stove with a side door enables you to more easily place the logs inside. It also allows you to move and place more logs when the stove is burning. Furthermore, cleaning a side-door model is significantly easier because having multiple access points enables you to reach more places.
- A wood stove with a glass door is the most expensive option, providing the most modern and luxurious look. The glass door allows you to see what’s going on inside the stove without opening the door. It also creates a warm and cozy environment, perfect to enhance the aesthetics of any room.
Log Capacity and Firebox Orientation
Another aspect to keep in mind when choosing a new wood stove is the log capacity. This term refers to the amount of firewood you can place inside your wood stove. The more log capacity, the more heat you can produce with a single fire.
The log capacity also determines the size of logs you’ll be able to use inside your stove. Therefore, ensure that the logs you purchase are sized properly for your wood stove.
In contrast, firebox orientation determines whether you view the ends or the sides of the logs. There are wood stoves that are longer than they are wider. However, most models are wider than they are longer.
When choosing firebox orientation, you need to consider the size of your room and which part of the logs you prefer to view.
Other Aspects to Consider Before Choosing a Wood Stove
These are some additional aspects to consider when purchasing a new wood stove:
- You need to decide whether you want an indoor or outdoor wood stove. However, most states heavily regulate the use of outdoor wood stoves. Therefore, ensure your home is allowed to have one before you purchase it.
- An energy-efficient wood stove should be one of your priorities. It can heat your home without consuming a lot of wood. Therefore, it can minimize air pollution and environmental damage.
- There are many shapes of wood stoves You can get a rectangular model, round options, vertical, and square. Therefore, you might like to choose the shape that best matches your interior design.
- There are smart wood stoves with technology that makes lighting the fire a lot easier and faster. They tend to be more expensive than standard stoves, but they are excellent for older people who need help preparing fires.
- All stoves and fireplaces require constant maintenance to prevent the fumes from getting stuck inside the house. Therefore, before buying a new wood stove, consider whether you’ll do the maintenance yourself or if there’s a local company that provides that service.
Top Wood Stove Brands on the Market
It is better to buy wood stoves from authorized brands, as they can be heavily regulated in your state.
Here are the most reliable and highly recommended wood stove brands on the market:
- MORSO offers high-quality cast-iron wood stoves with impeccable Danish designs perfect for modern and rustic houses. It has a wide range of models with economical options and luxurious models. Furthermore, the company commits to providing and creating wood stove models with higher efficiency to help preserve air quality. Shop Morso Wood Stoves
- Pacific Energy is another leading wood stove manufacturer offering excellent prices and high-quality models. It creates traditional steel stoves, contemporary steel stoves, cast-iron stoves, and high-quality inserts. Shop Pacific Energy Wood Stoves
- Blaze King is a best-selling manufacturer of wood stoves, wood inserts, gas stoves, and fireplaces. It has models perfect for rustic homes or luxurious houses of any size and shape. The company also provides excellent customer service and has a strong commitment to the environment. Shop Blaze King Wood Stoves
- KUMA has been manufacturing American wood stoves for over 40 years and has a distinguished reputation for quality across the country. Its products are among the most energy-efficient models in the world. Moreover, the company provides fully featured stoves with unique and smart designs. Shop KUMA Wood Stoves
- True North offers quality wood stoves at affordable prices with 2020 EPA certification. The company has not been in the business long, but each model it offers has the best possible quality. Additionally, True North is known for its excellent customer service and long-time warranties.Shop True North Wood Stoves
- WITTUS is an American company that’s been importing high-quality Danish stoves for almost 40 years. It provides fireplace inserts, freestanding stoves, and other related products.
Note: If you want to know more about the best wood stove brands in the United States, you can check out our full product range.
Factors to Consider for Wood Stove Installation
These are some of the factors you should take into account when purchasing and installing a new wood stove in your home:
Finding an Installer
Now that you have found the right wood stove for your home, you will need to install it correctly. In many cases, this means you’ll need to seek out a licensed professional to complete the installation. Finding a competent installer that meets all the regulations can be hard, but the task is not impossible.
The EPA recommends using the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to find a certified installer and maintenance team. It is a non-profit organization focused on promoting chimney and venting system safety knowledge.
You can also utilize The National Fireplace Institute (NFI) website to find local and certified wood stove installers. The organization tests hearth planners and technicians across the country, giving them an EPA certification only if they meet all the necessary requirements.
One of the most important aspects of installing a new wood stove in your house is venting.
All indoor stoves must have proper venting space that enables the smoke to leave the house.
You will need to install some stovepipes to move the smoke out of the house. You also need to ensure that your chosen stovepipe has the capacity to vent the woodstove.
The size of your stove pipe will depend on the dimensions of your wood stove. In general, larger stoves have bigger stovepipes. In some cases, a stovepipe connects to a chimney to enable the smoke to leave the house.
Note: Remember that stovepipes also produce heat because of the smoke constantly moving through them. Therefore, it is important to place them at least 18 inches (45.7 cm) away from any type of combustible material to prevent fire hazards.
Stoves and stovepipes must be as far from combustible materials as possible. You should avoid installing them in bedrooms, closets, or other similar areas, as the lack of space could ignite the walls.
To protect your wall, you should use an asbestos millboard or a gauge steel metal. Utilizing them will reduce the risk of ignition considerably because they enable air circulation between the stove, wall, and ceiling.
You should also consider these protection measures:
- If you don’t use protection, you’ll need to place the stove at least 36 inches (81.2 cm) away from the wall and ceiling. If it is possible to place it even farther away, you should consider it. The space will allow air to cool down the wall, reducing the possibility of fires.
- Using an asbestos millboard can help you cool down the space between the wall and the stove. The proper space between the stove and the asbestos wall protection should be 18 inches (45.7 cm).
- A gauge sheet metal is the most common option for wall protection when using wood stoves. It is placed just between the wall and stove, leaving a space of 12 inches (30.4 cm) to allow air circulation.
Note: Avoid using a wood stove if your home has drywall or wood frame walls, as they are highly flammable.
A hearth pad is a type of floor protection that goes underneath standing stoves to protect the floor from the constant heat. Using floor protection will also reduce the risk of fire damage, making it safer for you and your family.
Most hearth pads are made of ceramic tile, stone tiles, or cement boards. These materials are non-combustible, making them ideal for enduring constant heat and embers.
Here are the main aspects to consider when purchasing a hearth pad:
- Ember protection is the material’s capacity to withstand embers falling from the stove onto the floor. It prevents your wooden floor from catching on fire because it absorbs the embers.
- Thermal protection is the capacity to withstand constant heat. As such, you should focus on finding a hearth pad with proper insulation. Naturally, the more insulation it offers, the better the protection will be.
Adding a wood stove to your home can increase its value, but it can also make it harder to find home insurance. Stoves and other heating devices use fire to warm up the house, increasing the risk of fires. Therefore, most insurance companies will make it difficult to buy the insurance you want by increasing the price or denying your application.
A Deeper Understanding of Wood Stoves
Your new wood stove is a more affordable alternative to gas or electricity. However, it will release unhealthy fumes that could endanger your health. Burning wood is something humans have been doing for long periods, but it is not the only option you have.
Here are some alternatives to wood fuel for your new wood stove:
- Organic briquettes or green charcoal are made of agro-waste materials such as rice husks and corn cobs. They burn quite easily and are significantly cheaper than buying wood logs for your stove. They are also easier to store, as their size enables them to fit in a small storage space.
- Sawdust bricks are other cheap alternatives to firewood that are eco-friendly and safe to use. They are densified and recycled sawdust and wood chip waste that you can find in almost any wood mill.
- Wood pellets are similar to sawdust brick, as they are made of recycled and densified wood chip waste. They are cheap and easy to use, and they make it easier to clean after burning because they produce less char than firewood.
- Switchgrass or soy logs are other interesting alternatives to firewood made of biomaterials that do not harm the environment. The type of plants contained in these small logs have natural oils that burn intensely and slowly.
- Liquid petroleum gas or LPG is a unique form of inflammable hydrocarbon that burns steadily and strongly. It is a suitable alternative to firewood because it is healthier for people.
- Lava rocks are other safe options you can use many times before having to replace them. These rocks can burn for long periods using only a small amount of oil, alcohol gel, natural gas, or plant-based wax.
- Compressed paper bricks are straightforward DIY alternatives you can create with used cardboard and paper trash. Unfortunately, they release a strong smell whenever they burn.
Wood Stove Maintenance
Wood stoves are long-lasting units. However, you’ll need to maintain them regularly if you want to get the most use out of them. Here are some factors to consider:
The Lifespan of a Wood Stove
A high-quality wood stove can last up to 20 years if you perform the proper maintenance when it is needed. For example, you need to remove the ash after every use, and utilize the stove only when necessary.
The stove’s lifespan will also depend on the materials used to craft it. For instance, a cast-iron model is more resistant than a steel stove. In contrast, a soapstone stove is more durable than cast iron.
How to Clean Wood Stove Glass
If you are using a wood stove with a glass door, you might notice that the glass becomes dirty or hazy after a while. Unfortunately, a dirty glass door will dramatically reduce the light provided by the firewood.
You can follow these steps to clean wood stove glass:
- You’ll need to get a damp paper towel or some crumpled newspaper before starting. The paper towel is ideal for cleaning the glass without scratching it, but the newspaper is still a good alternative.
- Now, burn a high-temperature fire to expand the glass, making it easier to clean out all the built-up ash. However, we recommend waiting until the glass is cool enough to touch.
- You can now use the paper towel to remove the ash from the glass. If the door is still difficult to clean, you can purchase a specialized stove glass cleaner.
Note: Cleaning the stove and glass door after every use will prevent ash from accumulating on your wood stove glass.
Avoid doing the following when cleaning wood stove glass:
- Never spray water when the wood stove glass is hot. The thermal shock can cause the glass door to crack or shatter.
- Avoid cleaning the glass while there is a fire burning inside the stove. It can make the process a lot more difficult, and it can also lead to serious burns.
- Avoid using any harsh cleaners or blades, as they can leave scratches all over your door glass.
Wood Stove Accessories
You should consider purchasing the following wood stove accessories:
- A cast-iron kettle is the ideal wood stove accessory. You can boil some water while enjoying the warmth of the fire. When the kettle is boiling, it will increase the moisture of the room.
- A non-electric fan can help circulate the warm air inside the room, warming it up more quickly. Non-electric or stove fans can be the ideal models for large rooms. All you need to do is place them on top of the stove, and the heat will make them work.
- A firewood rack can efficiently store your firewood and logs. It also makes your room look more elegant and organized. Furthermore, it is generally inexpensive or you can construct one yourself.
Here are some of the most useful maintenance accessories that can keep your wood stove clean:
- A brush and a metal ash bucket are essential to clean your new wood stove after every use. As a rule, you’ll want to avoid ash building up inside the firebox, as it can make it more challenging to light a fire. The ash will also make venting impossible, smoking up the house.
- You will need fireplace tools such as a scoop to pick up the ash and tongs to move hot wood logs. You should also consider getting a fireplace poker to adjust the position of the logs without burning yourself.
- A chimney cleaning kit can be invaluable, especially if you don’t want to pay for someone else to do the maintenance. You’ll need some fiberglass chimney rods and a high-quality wire brush.
- Using a vacuum can make the entire cleaning process a lot faster. However, using it to remove ash from the stove can reduce its lifespan drastically. If you choose to utilize a vacuum cleaner, you should consider purchasing one just for the stove.
Wood Stove Regulations and Approvals from Local Authorities
Many Americans use wood stoves to heat their homes during winter, as they are more affordable than using electricity or oil. However, the constant burning of wood produces air pollutants that can cause various diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Therefore, wood stove use is heavily regulated by local authorities, especially in places where the air is stagnant for long periods. Each state and county has different regulations for wood stove use, so it is important to check with your local authorities before buying a new model.
EPA Regulations for Indoor Wood Stoves and Heaters
An EPA-certified wood stove follows all the regulations, such as the correct emission rate, heat output, efficiency, and more. For instance, all wood stoves approved by the EPA have an emission limit of 4.5 grams per hour if installed before 2020. In the later models, the emission rate per hour is 2 grams.
To make it easier for residents and users, the agency has offered a database of all models and brands that are EPA certified. You can check the database for wood stoves, pellet stoves, forced-air furnaces, and hydronic heaters on EPA’s website.
Taxes, Fees, and Laws in Each State
Here are some examples of wood stove regulations per state:
- Idaho provides tax deductions to taxpayers willing to replace old and uncertified wood stoves and heaters. The state does have some burning restrictions that apply to everyone. However, you are permitted to burn wood. Still, you are not allowed to burn plastic, trash, animal waste, tires, or industrial waste.
- Colorado has laws for wood stove use that apply during days of high pollution. You can check to see each of the regulations and laws on their Air Quality Commission website.
- Michigan does not have indoor wood stove regulations, but it does regulate the use for outdoor burning. You can check what the regulations are on the Woodburning and Air Quality website. It also provides tips and information about wood stoves and heaters.
- Oregon can regulate fuel heating during times when the air is stagnant. You cannot sell or buy uncertified wood stoves, heaters, or other related items. If you want to know more about Oregon’s regulations, you can view their Heat Smart Program.
- Montana offers an income tax credit for residents willing to install non-fossil heaters or low-emission wood stoves. This income tax credit can go as high as 500 USD.
- Wisconsin only regulates the use of outdoor wood stoves, heaters, and fireplaces. Therefore, it allows you to install a wood stove without any problems, as long as it is inside the house.
Note: These are just examples of how different state laws can be for indoor and outdoor wood stoves. If you want to know more about your state’s laws, taxes, and other fees, you could benefit from contacting your local air agency.
When to Replace a Wood Stove
Wood stoves are not unbreakable, and an old one is a hazard you likely do not want in your house or near your family. Old wood stoves are prone to fires and malfunctions. Furthermore, they do not completely remove the smoke from the house.
Here are some typical signs that you should consider replacing your wood stove:
- If the steel of the wood stove is warping and the surface is no longer smooth, it is time to replace your wood stove. When the steel or cast-iron starts to warp on the outside, it may also be changing on the inside. This means it is no longer safe to use, so you should consider replacing it.
- You notice that the wood logs are consumed faster than usual. It is important when using a wood stove to keep an eye on the burning time. After ten years, if the firewood is burning faster, you might have to replace the stove.
- If you find it harder to light a fire, there is not enough oxygen inside the stove to enable ignition. There’s a possibility that the materials inside are not allowing oxygen to circulate. If that happens, you will need to replace your wood stove.
- The smoke is staying inside the house and not leaving through the proper venting system. Stovepipes can warp, and the baffle could have caved in, making it impossible for the smoke to leave the house the way it should. If you notice excess smoke inside your home, turn the stove off and replace it as soon as possible.
Find the Best Wood Stove for Your Home with CAPO Building Specialties
Are you seeking a high-quality wood stove for your home? CAPO Building Specialties has you covered. We offer models from the best and most reliable brands, allowing you to choose the one that fits your home and budget.
If you want to know more about our high-quality wood stove options, you can check out our
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