How to Improve the Efficiency of a Small Wood Burning Stove
Are you taking advantage of all the warmth your small wood burning stove has to offer? From the significant, to seemingly unimportant, many things can impact the efficiency of your little wood burner. Make the most of your stove and your wood this upcoming winter season, keeping things toasty with these efficiency boosters…
8 Ways to Get More Heat Out of Your Wood Stove
- Buy the right size stove for your application.
A mole-size stove will not heat a mountain-size login cabin. Similarly, a titan-sized stove will leave you sweltering (on) or freezing (off) all winter. Forget the ‘best deal’ – go for the best size.
- Put it in the right spot.
We’re not talking about installing your stove 36-inches away from your couch. We know you have common sense. We’re talking enlisting the help of a Fireplace Warehouse pro to find the magic intersection of the ideal heat distribution location and problem-free venting. In open floor plan homes, this is much easier, as large, partitioned homes make stove-only heating difficult. Toward the center makes obvious sense, but venting limitations must also be considered: No more than 7 feet of stovepipe, no more than 2 elbows, with an interior chimney height of 12-feet or more allows for the most efficient operation.
- Look to your chimney.
Remember that magical intersection of the ideal location and venting? Chimney efficiency = heating efficiency, so setup is essential. Maintenance is as well. Filthy chimney interiors absorb heat and inhibit airflow, reducing oxygen supply to your fire. When was the last time you had your chimney and stove pipe cleaned?
- Pick the right fuel.
Wood must be dry, with 15-20% moisture content, and split small enough to fit several pieces into your stove. Choose your wood variety based on your heating needs, noting seasoned hardwoods can have more than twice the heat value of softer evergreens, which are better suited for kindling. Plan and stock-up based on your seasonal heating needs. What’s best in October may not be ideal for the February chill. Variety will vary by your location. But doing some research here with an experienced burner or state forester can really pay off.
- High heat value: Hickory, oak, apple, yellow birch, beech, ash, sugar maple, hornbeam.
- Medium: White birch, elm, big leaf maple, red maple, Douglas fir, eastern larch.
- Low: White pine, lodgepole pine, hemlock, aspen, spruce, cedar, redwood, alder, cottonwood.
- Watch your wood.
Always make sure wood will be cut to fit your stove prior to ordering. To ensure you’re getting what you pay for, familiarize yourself with common quantities: By the cord (128 cubic feet, measuring 4x4x8 when tightly stacked), or by the ‘face cord,’ which is a bit less. Inquire about delivery methods: Tightly-packed loads will be right on-the-money, whereas tossed-in a truck bed willy-nilly, loads are often short 25-33%. Buy it green in advance. Perceptions of ‘seasoned’ wood vary widely, and cost is much higher.
- Expertly build your fire.
Be sure to add more than one log. You need the larger surface area to boost turbulence, maintain the right mix of air, and keep the process going. Stack logs tight, and light from the top. Modern wood stoves are designed to burn from top to bottom (http://woodheat.org/top-down-steps.html), reaching temperature more quickly, burning better, and making the more out of fuel with this method.
- Understand moderation is key.
Don’t simply pack in logs, torch, and reload. Thick, dark smoke means you’re losing high-energy gases that were not burned. You can more efficiently maintain temperatures by adding small bits of wood at frequent intervals and maintaining a clean fire with steamy, light smoke.
Get the most out of your heating investment. From finding the perfectly-sized, small wood burning stove to meet your needs, to expert installation and regular fireplace maintenance, Fireplace Warehouse ETC has your home comfort needs covered.