How to Buy a Wood Burning Stove

A wood-burning stove offers an efficient and inexpensive heating alternative, particularly amid the rising energy costs most homeowners are facing. Free-standing wood stoves can be used as a supplement to your current heating system, or you may opt for wood stoves or inserts (wood boxes that fit in existing fireplaces) to replace any other heating sources you may have. Before you decide to buy a wood stove, you should consider some factors that could impact your energy costs and housing situation. One of the main concerns with wood-burning appliances is that they will need repeated attention when it comes to loading fuel and cleaning. The following tips will help you decide what type of wood stove will best fit your needs.


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    Consider your heating needs by evaluating the size of your home. You will need to determine the heat load necessary to maintain the square footage of the area you want heated. Heat load is measured in BTUs, or British thermal units. You will need 25 to 30 Btus per square foot.
    • Measure each room to be heated with measuring tape. Write down the measurements for each room.
    • Add the square footage of each room to calculate total square footage. Although size requirements may vary, a stove that is rated at 60,000 Btus will heat a 2,000-square-foot area, whereas a stove rated at 42,000 Btus will cover about a 1,300-square-foot area.
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    Choose the type of stove best suited for your space. Wood stoves are categorized as catalytic and non-catalytic.
    • Consider the options of a catalytic stove. These types of wood stoves contain converters that allow gases and fumes to heat repeatedly, resulting in a fire that is longer lasting and more even. Because of the recycling system in these stoves, they emit fewer pollutants into the air. These stoves are more expensive and must be cleaned regularly.
    • Consider the options of a non-catalytic stove. Like fireplaces, non-catalytic stoves lose more heat because of how they are vented. Unlike a catalytic stove, they do not recirculate heat, and therefore lose a certain percentage of warmth, as well as create extra pollutants. However, they do not require as much maintenance as catalytic stoves. Non-catalytic stoves are very common on the market and less expensive than catalytic stoves.
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    Look for a stove dealer. Once you have determined the factors needed for a wood stove, look for a reputable wood stove dealer.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau to find certified dealers, or ask the dealer to provide proof of certification. A reputable dealer will be certified by the National Fireplace Institute. He will help you choose from the many types of stoves and manufacturers available.
    • Choose a dealer who can provide a comparison of stoves that you can look at, deliver and install your stove, and repair and provide parts and warranties for your stove.


  • New wood stoves will come with an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) code. Emissions regulations for wood-burning stoves vary from state to state. Contact your city or county government offices and ask for the local air pollution district office. Some counties are divided into more than 1 office. They will be able to provide you with your local air pollution guidelines. Your stove dealer should also have information regarding EPA codes.
  • When discussing heating space with your stove dealer, don't forget to mention any insulation concerns. Heat loss within a space will also be dependent upon the amount of windows you have, the type of insulation, and whether the space below or above the room is heated.


  • Wood fuel doesn't burn as cleanly as natural gas or propane. If you or other family members have any respiratory disorders, you may want to consider whether a wood stove is right for your home.

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Categories: Appliances