Woodstove Buyer's Guide

John Gulland shares a detailed woodstove buyer's guide, including types of woodstoves, cast iron or steel, woodstove emissions, heat output and the top ten reasons to heat with wood.

| December 2001/January 2002

Choose your wood heater using our woodstove buyer's guide.

The golden glow and cozy warmth of a wood fire always have drawn family and friends to the hearth. A woodstove truly does help transform a house into a home. But here in the super-high-tech 21st century, does a return to our heritage heating fuel make sense for your household?

Whether you decide to make wood your primary heating fuel or just want to spend winter evenings around a warm, flickering fire, you'll need to choose from a bewildering array of options: elegant enameled woodstoves, high-efficiency fireplaces, furnaces or even cookstoves. Our woodstove buyer's guide will give you what you need to help you make the right choice, including a comprehensive list of stove models, sizes, prices and other details.

The benefits of home heating with wood are numerous: comfort, beauty, independence, security and environmental responsibility. Surely the most discussed advantage is the promise of cost savings compared with the mainstream alternatives. Although there are many variables involved, you can almost certainly save money by heating with wood if there are forests in your region and you don't live in a city. If the recent volatility of oil, gas and electricity prices provides a hint of the future, the savings could increase in the years ahead. As long as you enjoy managing the firewood supply and the fire, you will be a successful full-time wood burner.

I've not only heated with wood for nearly 30 years, wood burning also has been my life's work for almost as long. I've heated with rusted-out cookstoves, sooty furnaces and gleaming enameled cast-iron heaters. I've worked as a welder, stove designer, wood-energy bureaucrat, dealer, trainer and writer. And I've tried out eight different stoves in the 12 years since we built our present house.

The first decision you'll have to make is whether to shop for a central or space heater. The two main advantages of a central furnace or boiler is that it can maintain the entire house at an even temperature and keep the mess of firewood and ash out of sight in a utility room. But one big disadvantage is that the beauty of the fire is hidden behind a, steel door. Furnaces and boilers also tend to be large, crude and inefficient, which, unless your house is also large and inefficient, can mean a smoky, smelly, overheated home. In other words, furnaces and boilers work best when called upon to meet a big heating load like a very large or leaky house. It pains me to say this as one who started his wood-heat career working on central wood furnaces, but I don't usually recommend furnaces and boilers because they have not kept pace technologically with the advances of woodstoves or of North American housing.

4/6/2016 9:59:27 AM

We bought a wood heater to run a pressure canner, as my cook top was not rated for that much weight. it was just a medium sized heater- too small to get the canner up to temperature quickly, but it did a marvelous job of heating our home. At 35 to 40 below, we had to get up once in the night to light a fire or it got chilly by morning. We heat with pine so fires are hot and short, about 45 minutes to refilling. It was so effective that we shut off the natural gas, but then we had no hot water, so we kept a large stock pot on one side of the heater. Our joke was that we had hot running water - dip it out and run it to where we wanted it. That got old, but it did make us value how much hot water we used. After a couple years, and a lot of grumbling from our kids, we researched wood cook stoves. Our experiences allowed us to make informed choices. We wanted a water coil for hot water, and to to hook into our home's in floor heating system. Hubby wanted a glass door so that he could see the flames. We both wanted and oven, not just a heater. By using the data for the existing heater, and comparing it's BTU rating to other models, and factoring the loss from the water coil, we developed a formula of approximate BTUs per square inch of fire box dimension. Using this data, we began stove shopping. It took some time doing Internet searches to find the stove of our dreams. It does everything we need. Without the experience of knowing what we used and realizing the value of each of it's outputs, we would not have made such informed decisions, nor would we value the convenience that so many of us take for granted. Having to ready our wood pile for winter is a constant reminder of how resources e we consumed and keeps us mindful of our consumption. We live in an area whose economy is heavily dependant on oil and gas, so as friends and neighbors find money tight, we are so thankful that despite the economy, we will be as warm and snug as we ever. It's not a small blessing!

8/21/2007 12:58:02 PM

i have a globe wood burning cook stove. i am having a problem with finding any thing out about it ! it has a tempiture gauge on oven door ,chrome,white doors . six pot holes! can yous help me out ?looking for value can you give me a hand in finding any thing about it checked the internet nothing i could find there not even a picture ! please help n! even a ball park figure ! would be nice! thank you !

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