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?