The 6 Essential Considerations for Buying the Right-Sized
Wood Burning Stove for Your Off Grid Shed, Cabin or Home
By 30X40 Design Workshop
The video above presents a comprehensive buying guide for wood stoves – a primer on exactly what you’ll need to know before buying a wood stove for your off grid shed, cabin, container home, earthship, steel building, tent, tiny house, yurt and/or any other type of off home.
Top Stove Buying Decision Include:
- Steel vs. Cast Iron Cost
- Stove Output (BTU vs. Size)
- Firebox size
- Efficiency Catalytic vs. Non-Catalytic
- Flue (Interior and Exterior)
- Hearth Protection
- Wood Storage Ash Pan
- Aesthetics Maintenance
Checklist of Items to Consider when Buying a Wood Stove:
It may be summer now, but winter is coming and its going to be a cold one. Here are some simple considerations to think about when buying the right wood stove for your shed, cabin or other type of off grid home.
1. Decide Between a Fireplace and a Wood Burning Stove
There are two main types of wood stoves. A fireplace, which is usually imbedded into a wall and a free standing stove, which sits in an open air space somewhere in a room. Fireplaces are usually open and waste a lot of energy and are prone to fires outside the fireplace as popping wood can send sparks flying out onto the room’s floor.
Free standing stoves are usually better because they can control the burn rate of your wood. They are much safer because they keep the fire enclosed inside a door. And, they radiant heat on a 360 degree basis, which is really important in very cold climates. When combined with masonry stone walls, they will heat up stone that will do a great job of efficiently heating up your home and keeping it toasty warm.
2. How Large Should Your Heat Source Be?
Picking the right sized wood stove for your living space is critical. A number of wood stoves for sale come with huge fireboxes, 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 cubic feet. But with modern insulation and the supplementary heat that most houses have now, these are usually overkill. A home between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet usually calls for a wood stove with a firebox between 2 and 2.5 cubic feet. If you’re heating a smaller space, like a garage or a cabin, you might want to try looking for even smaller wood burning stoves – 1 to 1.5 cubic feet.
3. Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency – Meeting EPA Standards
Higher efficiency means less money spent on wood, less work chopping and hauling wood, and a product that is better for the environment. Older wood stoves tend to be inefficient and waste wood and many companies don’t publish their efficiencies as a result. Look for wood stoves for sale that have EPA listed efficiencies of 70% or above to get the most bang for your buck. Some new stoves, like MF Fire’s Catalyst, also come with smart thermostat technology that helps to cut down on overheating, giving a real world efficiency boost of 20 to 25%. Buying a wood stove from MF Fire means less chopping, less stacking, and fewer trips to the wood pile during winter storms.
4. Clean Air and the New EPA Regulations
Gone are the days of smoke belching potbelly stoves. New clean air standards have set a high bar, restricting wood stove smoke emissions to only 2.0 grams/hour by January 2020, making nearly 85% of currently available wood stove illegal to sell. But some manufacturers are still trying to squeeze out their old units before the deadline. To get the cleanest and most efficient burn, look for wood burning stoves for sale with EPA listed emissions below 2.0 g/hr.
5. Catalytic or Non-Catalytic Fireboxes
When they were first introduced in the 80’s catalytic stoves, or wood burning stoves that use a catalytic combustor to reduce emissions, got a bad reputation. These initial poorly designed wood burning stoves were impossible to get started and used catalytic combustors that fouled and went bad after only a few seasons. New catalytic stoves don’t have those problems.
Most catalytic wood stoves for sale today are significantly cleaner and more efficient than their non-catalytic counterparts and those catalytic combustors can last for 10 years or more. When they do need to be replaced, the replacements generally cost less than $100. Some catalytic stoves can be harder to start, but buying a wood stove with new smart stove technology like automatic igniters or MF Fire’s TurboStart technology makes them easier to start than ever.
6. Smart Wood Burning Stoves
Technology is in everything nowadays: phones, cars, even refrigerators. Modern wood stoves are no exception. Some new wood stoves include features that make it easier to start, remotely control your burn, and even to protect your family from chimney fires. Buying a wood stove with these modern features help those of us who are getting up in years to do a little less work and have a lot more peace of mind. While smart wood stoves frequently cost a bit more, buying a wood stove with the added features are usually more than worth it.
7. Gathering and Stacking Wood
Acquiring, stacking and moving wood will become a part of your life. I personally embrace these as part of my choice to live in a cold climate, and I feel like the added effort is good for both myself and the environment — but it’s certainly not for everyone.
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