Wood Stove Buying Guide: How to Buy the Right Wood Burning Stove in 8 Essential Steps
There are so many types of wood stoves for sale everywhere. Knowing how to buy the right wood stove is the single biggest way to avoid buyer’s remorse. Many buyers, when looking for wood stoves for sale, miss important details and purchase an inefficient wood stove because they are anxious to finish shopping and get burning. A happy winter and a beautiful fire is the result of knowing how to buy the right wood stove. There are a lot of wood stoves for sale right now, but buying a wood stove is more complicated than just picking the first one available.
There are many things to remember when buying a wood stove. To make your life a little easier, we put together a checklist of the most important items you need to take into account so you know how to buy the right wood stove.
Wood Stove Buying Guide:
There are essentially two types of wood stoves for sale: free standing stoves and fireplace inserts. Freestanding wood burning stoves generally come with a lot more functionality. While freestanding wood burning stoves can sometimes fit in a masonry fireplace, fireplace inserts are perfect if the only good space for your wood stove is in a small, existing masonry fireplace.
How big of a wood stove do you need? 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Knowing how to buy the right wood stove isn’t enough. If it isn’t properly installed, even the best wood burning stoves will give you bad results. We like to get the best service and installation for your wood burning stoves, so we recommend chimney sweeps certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). The CSIA has been the industry leader in chimney maintenance since 1983. There are more than 1,800 certified chimney sweeps across North America. To find one near you use the CSIA Certified Professional Locator on their site, here.
All wood burning stoves need proper maintenance. We recommend getting your chimney swept at the beginning of every burning season, and maybe more frequently if you notice any problems. With more and more people switching to wood stoves every year, chimney sweeps usually fill their schedules up fast. After buying a wood stove, set that cleaning appointment early to make sure you keep burning happy.