Wood burning stoves can be a great replacement for your traditional open fireplace. You can expect to see significant increases in heat output over a wood burning fireplace, but can the added cost of buying and installing a wood burning stove justify the extra heat?
Both of my parents, as well as my grandparents, have recently installed wood burning stoves in their homes. Although the initial cost of purchasing and installing their stoves was quite high, after using their stoves throughout the winter they all believe that the added benefits over the lifetime of the stove will far exceed the upfront costs.
As with all expensive purchases, it can take a lot of research, thinking and discussions before deciding to buy. My family members took several months deciding whether wood burning stoves would be right for their homes.
As a result I asked both my parents and grandparents to give me their reasons why they finally decided to buy their stoves. I also did some research on why other people would buy a wood burning stoves
I’ve combined everything together to bring you the top 17 reasons to buy a wood burning stove, and to hopefully help you decide whether a wood stove is right for you and your home.
So why buy a wood burning stove?
Up to 80% of the heat generated by a wood burning fireplace can be lost up the chimney, whereas a wood burning stove is much more efficient, transferring up to 80% of the heat produced by the into the room.
This means that burning wood in a stove rather than a traditional open fireplace can provide up to four times the amount of heat output into your home.
The efficiency of a stove can be defined as how well it transfers the energy stored within the wood into heat energy. Wood burning stoves has been specially design to transfer as much of that heat out into your house.
The higher the efficiency rating on a wood burning stove, the better it can transfer the energy stored in wood to heat your home.
I myself don’t have a wood burning stove, but I can honestly say that my family’s wood stoves give out so much more heat that my open fireplace. There really is a noticeable difference between the efficiency of a wood stove and a fireplace.
Although most modern wood burners can reach high heat output efficiencies, the type of wood you’re burning can have a major influence in how efficient your stove really is.
Burning wood with low moisture content over wood that is wet will have a much bigger impact on the efficiency of the stove rather than a couple of percent on your stove’s efficiency rating. Using wood with a moisture content of 20% or less will help your stove reach its maximum heat output.
We therefore all make sure that we burn only well seasoned or kiln dried wood, and always check the moisture content of the wood before it’s used.
Wood burning stoves can achieve much higher efficiency ratings than an open fireplace thanks to the help of secondary combustion of the gases released by the fire.
This feature can be found in many new wood burning stoves, and works by providing a source of fresh air to any smoke and other gases that have been released through burning the wood. This secondary set of air vents helps to reignite the smoke and gases, therefore producing even more heat than burning the wood alone would provide.
An open wood burning fireplace isn’t able to achieve this secondary burn, meaning that all of the potential extra heat that could be generated from the fire is lost up the chimney.
Suitable For Smoke Control Areas
Secondary combustion in wood burning stoves also helps to reduce the emissions from burning wood in your home.
Some towns and cities are located in a smoke controlled zone, in which only the most efficient wood burning stoves are allowed in order to regulate emissions.
Thanks to secondary burn of waste gases from burning wood, wood burning stoves make it possible to be able to burn wood in these areas.
Wood burning stove units absorb the heat from the fire and radiate that heat out into your room thanks to being a fantastic conductor of heat.
Wood burning stoves have the added bonus that they can radiate this heat for an extended period of even after the fire in the stove has subsided.
Not only do wood burning stoves provide heat for a longer period of time, they also radiate the heat over a much larger area compared to an open fireplace.
Prolonged heat from a wood burning stove is especially useful for keeping up the temperature up in your home overnight.
A Chimney Isn’t Required
Although an ideal place to locate your wood burning stove would be in an existing open fireplace, you don’t need to have a chimney to be able to enjoy the benefits of having a wood stove in your home.
You’ll still need to vent any smoke and gases produced by the stove out of your home though. A wood burning stove can be vented via a flue through an external wall of your home, or straight up to the ceiling and through the roof.
Installing a wood burning stove isn’t as quite as easy when you don’t have an existing fireplace or chimney, but is very much still possible. You shouldn’t discount getting a wood stove if you don’t have an existing fireplace or chimney.
Flexible on Location
Being able to have a wood burning stove in your home without a chimney means that they have more flexibility in where they can be located in your home.
Wood stoves don’t just have to be placed in your existing fireplace. They can be placed on both internal and external walls of your house, but your flue system will have to work with its location.
Some models of stove can be bought that are specifically designed to be located in the corner of room, meaning that they can be used in smaller sized rooms without taking up too much space.
Wherever you decide to locate your wood stove, it should always be placed on a suitably sized hearth.
Contact a professional installer to get their recommendations of where a wood burning stove can be located in your home if you don’t have an existing fireplace.
The cost of the wood for the heat output can be much lower than your monthly fuel bills for central heating. A wood burning stove can be used to adequately heat the room you’re actually in, rather than turning on the central heating to heat all of the rooms in your house.
Small wood stoves shouldn’t be considered as a complete alternative to your central heating system however. Wood burning stoves are very efficient at heating the room, and so it may be more economical to use a wood stove when you plan to be in that particular room for a long period of time. Depending on the size of your home, larger wood burning stoves may be able to heat your entire house if you can circulate the heat well enough around it.
Wood burning stoves are very durable, and so you won’t need to update your stove every couple of years when something goes wrong. You’ll find many stoves with long warranties of up to 5 or even 10 years, giving you peace of mind that the stoves are built to last.
There aren’t many moving parts and certainly no electrical components, meaning that wood burning stoves can be longer lasting compared to other types of fireplaces such as electric fireplaces.
This is also comparable to central heating systems where boilers are much more complicated meaning there’s more things that go wrong. Our brand new boiler packed up after two years thanks to the hardness of the water!
As long as you pay a bit extra for a high quality stove, keep it maintained and operate it as recommended, you should see your wood stove lasting for many years to come.
Some newer models of wood burning stove incorporate an air vent at the top front of the unit to allow for cooler air to directed down across the inside of the glass door.
This helps prevent the buildup of soot on the front of the stove, causing the glass to turn black over time. This would require the glass needing to be cleaned periodically and prevent you from enjoying the flames.
I’ve put together an article explaining why stove glass turns black, how to prevent it and how to clean it.
Any leftover ash and burnt wood can be left behind the closed doors of your stove, hidden away from guests.
In contrast, an open fireplace can look very messy after a fire. We’ve also learnt the hard way from owning two very curious cats that any leftover ash in a traditional fireplace can make its way into your room when you’re not watching!
Independent Heat Source
As with an open fireplace, a wood burning stove doesn’t require an electrical supply. You therefore aren’t losing the ability to heat your home during a power cut.
A wood burning stove will be able to burn your available supply of logs much more efficiency than a traditional wood burning fireplace, while also providing more heat output during the fire, and for an extended period of time after the fire has subsided.
Bulk Stash The Fuel
Unlike gas or electric fireplaces which require a constant supply of gas and electricity to operate, you can load as much wood for your stove as you can fit in your home.
This means that you can continue to use your stove even through periods of harsh weather conditions, or when gas and electrical sources may be unexpectedly cut off.
More Child And Pet-Friendly
The fire in wood burning stoves is located behind closed doors, meaning children or pets are at less risk from being in contact with the flames.
A wood burning fireplace on the other hand will require a screen to prevent any bits from being thrown into your room from the fire, and to help stop children and pets from getting too near the flames. These screens aren’t going to stop a child from getting to the fire if they really want to though!
The only downside with a wood burning stove is that the stove will be extremely hot to the touch, and we will stay hot to the touch for a prolonged period of time after use.
Can Be Left Alone
As the fire in a wood burning stove is located behind glass doors, it can provide piece of mind that they can be left alone for a while to burn without supervision.
Be sure to always have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors located within the same room as your stove for added safety.
Focal Point For Room
Wood burning stoves can be an attractive centerpiece for your room, and can provide a focal point for when you have friends and family over.
We also think that stoves look much better than a traditional open fireplace, and can be seen as another addition to the furniture in a room.
Can Add Value To Your Home
Surveys have shown that a wood burning stove can help increase the resale value of your home.
This will come down the buyers preference however, but you can expect that turning your existing open fireplace into a wood burning stove and adding one somewhere else in your home will be an added bonus to some people.
Wide Range of Choice
Wood stoves can come in many different sizes, finishes and styles. Whatever your choice of style you’ll be able to find a wood burning stove that fits the look and feel of your home.
The style of a wood burning stove can usually be divided into two categories:
- Traditional wood burning stoves
- Contemporary wood burning stoves
Traditional wood burning stoves help to keep the traditional look and feel of your open fireplace, while contemporary stoves combine modern looks with artistic designs to provide great views of a fire in your home.
Should I Buy A Wood Burning Stove?
Probably the biggest benefit of a wood burning stove over an open fireplace is the significant increases in heat output for burning the same amount of wood.
It really is amazing how much more heat a wood stove can produce over an open wood fireplace. The different between sitting next to my open fireplace and my parents’ wood burning stoves is almost night and day.
Some major urban locations have cracked down on inefficient wood burning stoves and especially open wood burning fireplaces, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have burn wood in your home.
There are many wood burning stoves on the market today that are on approved emissions lists, meaning that you can burn wood in your home when using an approved stove if you live in a smoke control area.
In the UK, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) tests and approves certain wood burning stoves. Look out for a DEFRA approved stove if you’re looking to buy one and you live in a smoke free zone, or want to reduce your emissions from burning wood.
The biggest cause of producing smoke from your wood fire can be burning wood that is unseasoned or wet. Burning wood with a high moisture content creates more smoke and harmful particles than wood with a recommended 20% or less moisture content.
If you decide to buy a wood burning stove then be sure to choose the right wood to burn as it can almost be as important at choosing the right stove.
Is A Wood Burning Stove Worth It?
If you’re still deciding whether you should buy a wood burning stove, take a look at what stoves are on the market today and weigh up the cost of purchase and installation against how long you plan to stay in your home, and how often you think you would use the stove.
A wood burning stove can be an expensive upfront cost, but can be a cheaper for of heating for your home and can add value to a home for some buyers.
Don’t expect a wood burner to completely replace your central heating system however. From our experience wood stoves are brilliant at heating the room their located in, and that’s what they should be used and enjoyed for.
If you tend to stay in one room in your home then consider getting a wood burning stove to help reduce your heating bill, and to improve the efficiency of heating your room over a traditional open fireplace.
Have you bought a wood burning stove? What were your reasons for buying?