Circulating Wood-Burning Stoves – Two Adjustable Settings For Using Them Efficiently

The circulating wood-burning stove and its similar counterpart, the circulating fireplace insert, put out a cozy dry heat. This dry heat can help prevent cold-weather illnesses. These stoves work most efficiently when the draft and damper settings are correctly balanced.

Circulating stove or insert description

This stove or insert operates similarly. They are both made of iron or plate steel. They have hinged doors for adding wood to their fire chambers. The wood fuel is placed on raised grates on the floor of these chambers, which also have outer metal jackets through which built-in electric fans circulate the room air. The hot metal plates on the chamber-side of these jackets warm the room air passing next to them, which, in turn, are blown back into the room continuously. For safety and efficiency reasons, this stove or insert is controlled thermostatically. That is, the circulating fans do not turn on until the warming jackets reach preset temperatures.

Term definitions

  • Draft. The small adjustable opening on the lower side of the fire-chamber that allows air to be pulled into the chamber for burning purposes (the more air entering the chamber, the hotter and larger the flames).
  • Damper. The adjustable flap on top of the stove or in the chimney flue that controls the amount of smoke, ash, and vapor leaving the fire-chamber up through the flue or smokestack-pipe. It also helps to control the amount of air entering the fire chamber through the lower-placed draft opening.
  • Warming jacket. The enclosed space around the fire-chamber through which the room air is circulated and warmed.
  • Air vents. The louvered openings for the room air to enter and exit the warming jacket in a circulated manner.

Two main settings for burning the wood efficiently

The most efficient way to use the wood stove is to adjust the draft and damper combination to the minimum air and smoke flows needed to maintain a slow constant burn. When these two settings are in the correct balance, the wood smolders slowly under low flames while providing adequate heat at the same time. In other words, the wood needs to slowly combust and turn into hot coals with as little flame as possible. This slow burning process allows the wood fuel to last for a maximum burn time.

Also, the heat produced at these settings is not wasted by overheating the room or by going up the chimney flue unnecessarily. These two settings might differ slightly for the different kinds of wood being burned. Yet, they are easy to adjust with a little practice. Generally, the dry well-seasoned hard woods, like, oak or walnut will burn efficiently, consistently. However, other kinds of wood will also work by adjusting these two settings slightly, especially if that wood supply is low-cost or free.