What to Expect: Finding Your Perfect Wood Stove

Our “What to Expect” series explores some of the factors to consider when you’re purchasing a new wood or gas appliance. Previously: gas fireplaces

So you’ve decided that a wood stove is right for you! Congratulations on your choice of such an environmentally-friendly heat source; Wooden Sun carries a variety of high-efficiency, low-emission stoves that will keep your home cozy and your air clean. A wood-burning appliance is a complicated system, however, and there are a lot of factors to consider when planning your stove project.

As in our last post, the first question to answer is what your goals are for your new stove. Customers sometimes ask us what our “best” wood stove is. There’s really no such thing as “best” in the wood stove world, only “best for you”. If you’re building a tiny home, for example, you’ll want to look into a stove with a small footprint (both stove size and required clearances) and a small enough heat output that it won’t drive you out of the house. If you’re looking for a stove that will give you an overnight burn, or let you bank the stove while you’re at work, you may want to consider a catalytic stove, which will let you keep the stove at a low temperature for a very long time. And, of course, you’re going to be looking at this stove for a very long time, so it’s important to consider what your aesthetic goals and preferences might be.

The first install consideration, of course – once you’ve chosen your dream stove – is where to put your stove for optimal safety and performance. Every wood stove on the market has its own clearance requirements to both protected and unprotected surfaces, as well as specifications for the floor protection required underneath the stove. These clearances can put your stove far enough into your room to eat up much of your room footprint, so consider traffic patterns and space usage in your home (many customers have found it helpful to cut out a piece of cardboard with the dimensions of their preferred stove or its floor protector, and set it in different locations around the house, observing clearance requirements, to get a better feel for it). And since a wood stove heats primarily through convection, it’s important to take into account the air movement patterns within the home. Placing your stove at one end of a narrow hallway, for example, will not heat the house as effectively as having it in a central location with lots of air movement to other rooms. If your HVAC system has a fan that will circulate the air in your home without having to run the heat, then installing a wood stove near the cold air return will make it easy to move the air from one room to another.

Venting requirements also need to be taken into consideration before you make your purchase. As we learned previously, wood appliance venting is a bit more particular than direct vent gas piping, since it relies on natural draft. If you want to put your stove in, say, a sun room or other 1-story addition, but the rest of your house is 2 or 3 stories high, you’re going to wind up with a lot of chimney sticking up above the roof (requiring a roof brace), which may be a deal-breaker for you. This is another reason a central location is desirable, since having the chimney relatively close to the peak of the roof will minimize how much stainless steel chimney is visible above the roofline. If your preferred stove location is directly underneath living space, rather than an attic, we may need to build an enclosed chase around the class A chimney, or find an alternate vent path; depending on how close you are to an outside wall, it’s sometimes possible to use a wall thimble connected to the stovepipe itself, then run the stainless steel chimney up the side of the house. Each situation is different, and initial designs sometimes have to be revised to take the specifics of your home into account.

Wood stove installed through cathedral ceiling with round support box
A wood stove installed through the wall, with class A chimney held in place with wall support brackets
Metal chimney enclosed in a wooden chase

We hope that this post has given you some points to keep in mind as you plan your stove project, and will continue to help you prepare for your showroom visit and sales conversations. We look forward to seeing you, and helping you “bask in the warmth”!