Updated: November 2017
Wood Stove Reviews:
- What is a wood stove?
- Benefits of wood burning stoves
- How much do wood stoves cost? Which should I buy?
If you are considering buying a wood burning stove, then you are right in line with thousands of others who are switching over to a more economical and environmentally friendly heating source for your house.
Wood stoves are becoming more popular today with the higher cost of fuel to heat homes and the fact that wood burning stoves have become more efficient through research and technology. Wood stoves are commonly made from cast iron, welded steel, soapstone, or porcelain. Wood burning stoves are an excellent alternative to fireplaces and have many benefits and added features you can't find with contemporary fireplaces. Wood stoves are available in many sizes and shapes and can be installed indoors or outdoors. Even the antique wood stoves are selling well with their stylish good looks and low cost to run them.
The video below shows the basics of choosing and installing a wood burning stove:
Wood Stove Buying Guide
Many people ask us which gives you better heating performance - cast iron or steel. Experts in this field say that there is really no difference, but cast iron stoves are preferred because they look better with "curves and artistic patterns". Welded steel stoves are similar to cast iron wood stoves in that many parts are replaceable and need to be rebuilt every few years to seal the joints to prevent air leakage. Before you buy anything, you need to decide if you will be using your wood burning stove as your primary heating source or just as a warm fire on Sunday nights. A small wood stove can easily heat a single room while a medium sized wood stove is powerful enough to heat a lower level on a modern home.
One of the keys to the installation is to make sure the wood stove is centrally located in the house so that the heat is distributed equally throughout. Some of the benefits and advantages of wood stoves are: during cold months they are cost-effective heating options, if the power goes out you can still have a warm house, firewood is cheaper to buy than trying to fuel your house with natural gas, and they create less smoke and ash than traditional fireplaces. Some disadvantages of wood stoves are that they do run hot and can be a danger to small children touching them (much like a fireplace screen). Also, you will need to have a ready supply of firewood to burn which means buying a cord or 2 of wood each year or cutting and chopping your own. Wood burning stoves are a beautiful addition to any house and we will go into which models are considered the best below. Pellet Stoves are another heat source option for your house and we have covered those in a separate article.
We researched the various brands (Vermont Castings, Fisher, Jotul, Lopi, Soapstone, Hearthstone, Ashley, Regency, Napoleon) and read consumer reviews on the various models to come up with a list of the most popular and best selling wood burning stoves. Wood stoves are roughly 30% more efficient than todays central heaters and modern wood burning stoves are definitely better at producing lasting heat than their ancestors - the old box or pot belly stoves. Lastly, the heat output and heat capacity of popular stoves does vary but most are measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Most wood stoves produce between 25,000 and 80,000 BTUs and can heat a home that has 1000 to 2000 sq ft. Many conditions will effect the overall productivity of the wood stove like age of house, location of house (cold or warm climate), and square footage of home (1 or 2 stories). Expect to spend between $500-$3000 on a wood burning stove. We looked at inventory on Fireplacesnow.com, Lowes.com, and Woodstovesdirect.com and read articles at Motherearthnews.com, Hearth.com and Woodstove.com. RECOMMENDED - We suggest looking online - you can browse their top selling wood burning stoves here.
Best Wood Stove:
The Fireview Soapstone Wood Stove ($2500) has remained a top selling and top rated stove for almost 3 decade. The Soapstone wood stove is efficient and powerful and produces heat up to 55,000 BTU's per hour. You can easily heat up to 1600 square feet and the large firebox gives you a burn time of 10-12 hours. The double soapstone wall construction gives you steady, radiant heat and the front glass remains clean and clear through the "Airwash" technology. This side loading wood stove will definitely keep your family warm during the coldest winter months and ensure a hot fire even if the power is out. A runner-up award goes to the Lopi Liberty Wood Stove ($1800) - the largest Lopi makes and the cleanest burning large stove ever approved by the EPA (2.6 grams of emissions per hour). The Liberty will take 24" logs and you can get burn times up to 12 ours with an adjustable airflow that features a single control. Heat out is up to 74,300 BTUs and heating capacity is between 1500-2500 square feet. The Lopi Liberty is approved by HUD for mobile home installation as well. Owners say the Lopi wood stove lights quickly and easily and heats homes efficiently, even those with cathedral ceilings. Others say the stove is "aesthetically pleasing" and it can burn all-day or all-night with no problems.
A few owners mention that the air intake and damper controls are a bit tricky to learn, but once you've read the manual and played with them for a while, the stove works wonders on cold nights. As a finishing comment, we had heard that Vermont Castings wood stoves were top rated until we read reviews on their catalytic stoves to find many negative comments. Supposedly they have set out to fix any issues and perhaps we will include them in our next update. A moderator (Will lockwood) from Hearth.com recently emailed us with some updates. He said the Vermont Castings down drafting stoves like the Resolute Acclaim or the Encore non-cat get the majority of complaints. For the most part the catalytic models perform fairly well and receive better than average owner reviews. Vermont Castings Intrepid II is one to look at.
Learn how to use a wood burning stove efficiently in your home - click the image below to go to video.
Best Budget Wood Stove:
The Napoleon Wood Burning Stove - 1400 ($1000-$1700) is an excellent budget wood stove with a medium size single door supported by a pedestal. It features a firebox size of 1.7 cubic feet, efficient convection heating, log sizes up to 18 inches, and you can even cook on the heated cast aluminum surface. The pedestal style offers a quick solution to emptying your ash pan with ease. Perfect for almost any room in the house with efficient heating. A blower is sold separately for about $180. Certainly not designed to heat an entire house, owners say this is the ideal wood stove for smaller homes or larger family rooms or living rooms. Amazon.com carries the Napoleon and a variety of other stoves -- be sure to check out their prices and selection of Napoleon wood burning stoves online. Keep in mind that the majority of wood stove brands aren't allowed to be sold online. Companies like Englander and Pacific Energy are 2 great examples of quality stoves that you may find in stores like Lowes or Home Depot. The Englander (aka Summer's Heat) stoves are readily available in home improvement stores and provide solid construction and reliable performance.
Top Rated Wood Stove:
The Jotul F500 (Oslo) ($1800-$2300) is Jotul's most popular stove ever and combines a simple design with solid fuel combustion technology. You get both front and left side-loading options. The 5 year limited warranty is a positive for consumers. Also, when using things like heatshields or double wall chimney connectors, the clearance makes it easy. The maximum output is 70,000 BTU and the heating capacity is roughly 2000 square feet. Log length capacity is up to 22" and burn time is up to 9 hours. It weighs in at a solid 445 pounds with a flue size of 6 inches. Check out their website at Jotul.us. Other stoves in this category range that are considered solid amongst owners are the Hearthstone Shelburne, Morso 2110, Pacific Energy Alderlea T5 and the Lopi Endeavor.
More videos and resources are here on our Wood Stove Resource Page.
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