Wood-burning stoves are an efficient source of supplemental and/or zone heating. Their energy efficiency rating is 40-65 percent of available usable heat; by comparison, most furnaces operate at about 70 percent efficiency.
About 70 percent of a stove's usable heat comes from radiation; therefore, it is important that it be made of a metal with a high conductivity rating, be a color that aids heat radiation, and have enough surface from which the heat can radiate. It should be airtight to aid combustion and lined to retain heat for prolonged radiation.
Cast iron and steel have almost identical conductivity ratings and both are suitable for stoves; however, the Insurance Information Institute recommends cast iron. In either case, the thicker the metal, the longer the stove will last.
A flat black finish is best, radiating 90-98 percent of usable heat. Paints and enamels radiate 70-90 percent, while shiny metallic finishes offer efficiencies of less than 60 percent.
The three general types of wood stoves are: box (radiating), airtight (circulating) and pellet-fed.
A box stove draws air for combustion through the door, is not tightly sealed, has no damper control and releases a great amount of unburned gases up the chimney. It radiates warmth through the firebox to the surrounding air. A box stove should never be left unattended.
An airtight stove will have a sealed firebox and tight fitting door. It will have a manually operated or thermostatically controlled air-intake damper to allow air to circulate around the firebox and to control the rate of fuel consumption. It provides slow-burning heat for a long period with relatively little attention.
However, because the airtight stove is slow burning, it can cause heavy creosote buildup in the chimney and pipes. Chimney brushes or soot removers solve this problem.
This pellet-fed stoves are a newcomer on the wood stove scene. They use a processed wood pellet that resembles rabbit food and is fed to the stove's combustion chamber electronically. Pellet stoves have the advantage of having a steady and easily controlled fuel source. The only downside to them is that their electronic controls won't work if the power is out.
Wood stoves present potential safety hazards including:
Most of these dangers can be avoided with proper installation. Stove manufacturers include detailed safety instructions with each product.
In addition, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tests and lists stoves that meet standards developed in cooperation with the Fireplace Institute, the Wood Energy Institute and the National Fire Protection Association.
Other safety suggestions are:
|These recommendations are provided by the National Fire Protection Association. If manufacturer's specifications differ from these, the consumer should follow the manufacturer's recommendations.|
|Type of Appliance||Distance From Combustion|
|Radiant stoves or room heaters||36"|
|Circulating stoves or room heaters||12" to 24"|
|Cooking stoves||36" (18" on non-fired side)|
|Vent connections, stove pipe (all types)||18"|
|Clearances are for back and side wall. Front side and loading side clearances should be 36"-48". Distances can be reduced if a protective shield with 1" spacers is installed.|
Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.
Don't forget to select your local Rocky's Ace Hardware for free local pickup