3 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Wood Stove

When you set out to find the right  stove  for your home, there’s a lot to think about. Fortunately, after you answer some basic questions, picking a wood  stove  becomes a question of style-not survival! Here are some steps to help you enjoy the buying experience.

Step one, know why you want a wood  stove . What main purpose will the  stove  serve? Heating, cooking, ambiance-or some combination? How much heat does the  stove  need to provide? Are you heating a single room, a whole floor, a good-sized house, or a cottage? A final question is how often the  stove  will be used-frequently or occasionally? Knowing what you want your wood  stove  to accomplish is the first step toward buying the perfect model.

Step two, read the small print-but read it casually. When you look at models, find the stickers on the  stoves  that tell you they are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This means they are environmentally friendly and burn efficiently. If you’re shopping for  stoves  online, this information will be readily available. The EPA approval is the important thing. You’ll find the Btu ratings and square footage heating estimates as well-but since they aren’t standardized, it’s a mistake to depend on them too much as you shop. Consider them rough estimates, and focus instead on the size of the  stoves  you’re looking at. (See below.)

Step three, don’t buy the biggest, shiniest  stove  you can find-unless that’s what you need. You can buy a Hummer for cross-country driving without sacrificing comfort. But buying large  stoves  for small heating needs causes potential fire hazards and stuffy rooms. In addition, wood  stoves  that are too large cost you money. To control the heat, you’ll be forced to cut down the  stove’s  air supply-which will reduce efficiency and waste fuel. Buying over-sized wood  stoves  is a common mistake-but not one that you have to make. Practically,  stoves  come in only three sizes-small, medium, and large. Here’s a breakdown of how the sizes relate to your needs:

  • Small  stoves  heat a small cabin or large room.
  • Medium  stoves  heat small or moderately-sized houses.
  • Large  stoves  heat large or drafty houses.

Ultimately, a solid understanding of why you want a wood burning  stove , with your climate, house type and fuel choice factored in, will lead you to the correctly-sized, EPA-approved models. At that point, the purchase gets fun: Which colors and styles do you prefer?