Types of woodstoves

A trip to a stove shop can be a confusing undertaking, if you are not familiar with "what's out there." There are hundreds of models available, big and small, steel and cast-iron, enameled and black. How do you make sense of it all?

Don't panic! Once you know the basic categories, it is pretty simple.

We will cover all the basic categories, from Franklin stoves to modern catalytic units. But first, let's define some key terms.

Clean Burn

As you would guess, this simply means burning without creating a lot of smoke to pollute the environment.

Efficiency

This is a bit tricky, since "efficiency" can be measured in several ways:

Combustion Efficiency

The amount of heat actually produced, compared to the amount that would be produced if all of the combustible materials were converted to heat.

Heat Transfer Efficiency

The amount of heat that enters your home, compared to the total amount of heat produced.

Overall Efficiency

The amount of heat that enters your home, compared to the amount that would be produced if all of the combustible materials were converted to heat.  Overall efficiency is the one homeowners are concerned with. You want as much heat in the house as possible from each piece of wood – as close as possible to the total potential heat in the wood.

For the facts & figures buffs:  Older, non- EPA-certified stoves generally measure at about 50% overall efficiency or less. EPA- certified stoves test at 63% to 72% or better.

EPA Regulations

In 1988 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted rules for cleaner operation of wood stoves. Now, all new stoves sold in the U.S. are required to be designed and tested to meet strict emission control and efficiency standards. As we cover the types of new stoves, you will see how this increased efficiency is accomplished, and how it benefits both the environment and the stove user.

Note: Certain types of stoves, such as cook stoves, or stoves with a very high fuel-to-air ratio (which are not very effective as heaters, but often don't emit much smoke) are exempt from the EPA requirements.

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