How to Buy Your Wood Stove

Posted on 12 February 2009

Given all the variety in today's wood burning stove market, when you come to the point of actually buying a stove for your house, the prospect can be intimidating. The good news is that it doesn't need to be. Here are a few tips to make the buying process as simple as possible.

First, choose a wood stove that matches your home size.

Several factors are involved here. In a nutshell, you need to decide what you want your wood stove to accomplish. Are you heating a single room, a floor, or your entire house? Once you after that question, you'll be able to decide what size category you should be looking at.

Fortunately, on the technology side of things, any new-model stove you buy will be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. This means, practically, that the stoves you consider will all produce clean, radiant, efficient heat--so there's no need to get too concerned about so-called spec numbers like Btu output and square footage ratings. At best, these numbers are very general estimates, because they are not standardized, and vary widely depending on factors like climate, fuel, and house type. That's why stove size is the best way to guide your decision making.

Second, pick out your favorite designs and materials.

If buying a wood stove is part art, part science (I think it is), here's where the art kicks in. After you know what size you need, you can cut loose and let your sense of style be your guide. Case in point: welded steel is cheaper than cast iron and just as durable--but if you're looking for class, it's likely that the clean, sculpted lines of iron stoves will catch your eye.

Go ahead and decide, "Am I looking for heating output only, or heating and style?" In terms of sturdiness and efficiency, there's virtually no difference between iron and welded steel stoves. Designer materials like pewter and soapstone--offered in an array of colors--give you some opportunities to make your stove a conversation piece, but no drop-off in heating ability. So relax and enjoy this part. It's your call.

Third, list any "super powers" your stove should possess.

This is kind of obvious, but what could be worse than buying your stove, only to make a painful discovery a few weeks later? "Hey, where's that built-in spit for roasting small pigs and turkeys?" More seriously, you should ask yourself, "Do I need a wood stove with a cooking surface? How about an ash pan for easy maintenance? Do I have to have a removable fire screen?"

By identifying any non-negotiable features, you'll make your search more focused and make sure you don't regret your decision down the road. With all the manufacturers in the market today, someone is sure to be making the stove you're looking for. So take your time as you compile your feature list. These options pertain to convenience and aesthetics--not vital heating ability--so don't sweat it.

Finally, purchase your wood burning stove from a trustworthy dealer.

In the past, brick and mortar stores were the default place to buy wood stoves--and there continue to be reasons to buy locally, such as the opportunity to talk with an experienced dealer and inspect floor models first hand. Of course, buying via the internet is also a viable route today, and this may be even more true if you have a clear idea of what you're looking for. If that's the case, then shopping around online may lead to discounts. A good online store will have generous return policies and reps to address any questions you have. Whether you buy local or online, by doing your research, you're setting the stage for a happy purchase.

AJ Vanderhorst writes about how to get the most out of wood stoves. A world of warm aesthetics and hot, clean, fuel economy awaits your discovery. Explore today's wood burning stoves at Modern Wood Stoves.