Are Wood Burning Stoves Easy To Use?

In Indoor Fireplaces, Wood Burning Stoves by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Wood burning stoves help to improve the efficiency and heat output when burning wood in your home, but work in a slightly different way to having a fire in an open fireplace.

Unlike open fireplaces, wood stoves have controls that allow you to adjust the amount of air getting to the fire, allowing you to be able to control a fire in your home with greater effectiveness.

But are wood burning stoves easy to use?

Wood burning stoves are easy to use and the controls are simple to understand, but it can take a few attempts to fully understand how best to use your particular model of wood stove to have a hot and efficient wood fire.

I’ve explained below how we operate our own wood stove and which components of the stove are easy to understand and use, and which parts can take a few fires to fully understand how they help to maintain a fire.

Are Wood Burning Stoves Easy To Use?

Wood burning stoves create an enclosed environment where wood can be burnt in your home to produce more heat more efficiently than when using an open fireplace.

Open fireplaces are very inefficient because the air supply to the fire can’t be controlled, causing much of the heat generated by the fire to be rapidly lost up the chimney.

The only real way to manage the heat output from an open fire is to adjust how much wood is added to the fire, and how often. If your open fireplace has a damper then this can also be used to help control the heat output from an open fire, by slowing down how quickly the heat leaves your home.

Open fireplace fires are therefore easy to use, but it can be hard to get more heat out of them because the air supply to the fire can’t be managed.

Wood stoves are designed to overcome this problem by allowing you to control both the airflow to the fire and the amount of wood on the fire.

I’ve explained how a wood burning stove works in another article here.

Using A Wood Stove

With the door to a wood stove closed, the only way for air to get to the fire is through the air vents. Air vents on a wood stove can be manually controlled to adjust the amount of air getting to a fire, and are simple and easy to understand and use.

With the vents closed, no air can get to the fire and it will eventually go out due to lack of oxygen. Fully open air vents means that the fire is being supplied with as much oxygen as possible, and will be rapidly burning through the wood.

Here’s what our wood burning stove looks like:

Our wood stove has one controllable air vent that’s located underneath the stove. The handle for this vent sticks out the front.

Wood Stove Vent
There’s only controllable air vent on our wood stove and so it’s easy to control the supply of air to a fire

By pushing the vent handle towards the stove or pulling it away, it closes and opens the air vent respectively. The air vent can also be placed in any position between closed and fully open.

On other models of wood stove there can be two controllable air vents, where one is typically located near the top front of the stove and one is located near the bottom.

The only real difficulty with using a wood burning stove is understanding what each air vent does, how it plays a role when having a fire, and how it should be used at different stages of a fire.

The one controllable air vent on our wood stove provides both primary and secondary air to the stove. Primary air is provided for the fire itself and secondary air is supplied to the glass door to help keep it clean as part of the air wash system.

You can find out more about primary and secondary air in wood stoves here.

I’ve also explained air wash in stoves in more detail here.

On other models of wood stoves where there are two air vents, one may supply air to the fire while the other may be supplying air to keep the glass clean. Reading the instruction manual for your particular model of wood stove will let you know which vent performs what function.

On all wood stoves, the heat output can also be controlled by how much wood is on the fire at any one time. Stove doors simply need to be opened using the handle so that more bits of wood can be added to the fire as required.

Simply open the stove door to add more wood to the fire

As all models of wood stove are designed to operate differently, a wood burning stove can be easy to use once you understand where the main components to control a fire are, and how they should be used throughout the fire.

I’ve put together a complete guide on how to use a wood burning stove at every stage of a fire here.

Operating A Wood Stove

By understanding where the air vent controls are on a wood stove, and what their function is, you can learn how to use your stove at each stage of a fire to ensure it’s burning the wood as efficiently as possible.

The process of using a wood stove to control a fire is relatively straightforward. For a typical fire:

  • The air vents should be wide open before lighting a fire and remain fully open as the fire catches hold of the initial bits of wood.
  • Smaller logs should be added early into the fire with progressively larger sized logs being added as the temperature of the stove increases.
  • The air vents shouldn’t be left fully open for the durations of the fire, as much of the heat will be escaping the stove too quickly to be able to heat the room.
  • To maximize efficiency, the air vents on the stove should be closed down until the fire is burning through the wood calmly, without smoldering or smoking.
  • If the fire is burning through the wood too fast, close down the air vents.
  • If the fire is smoldering due to lack of oxygen, open up the air vents.

Our wood burning stove is very easy to use. More wood can be added to the fire by simply opening the stove door, and there’s only one air vent control that can be used to adjust the strength of the fire. It only took us a couple of uses before we understood at what point the air vents could be closed down without causing the fire to go out.

Wood Stove Closing Vent
Simply by using our wood stove for a while learnt how best to use the air vents to control the fire

As the situation for every wood stove is different, with different models and sizes of stoves installed in various sized rooms, it will always be a learning process to understand how best to use your own wood stove to maximize heat output and efficiency.

Are Wood Stoves Easy To Use?

Wood burning stoves are simple but very effective appliances. On many wood stoves there are no moving parts or electrical components, and the whole operation of a fire can be controlled by adding more wood or adjusting the air vents,

Wood stoves are therefore easy to use but it can take a few fires to learn and understand how best to use the controls to have a successful fire.

Further Reading

How To Use A Wood Burning Stove

How A Wood Burning Stove Works

Parts Of A Wood Burning Stove Explained

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