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5 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Wood Burning Stove

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If you're considering wood heat, here are a few things you should know before you invest in a wood burning stove, wood fireplace insert or wood cookstove. With rising fuel costs, wood heat can be a money saving investment, but you need to plan ahead and make good choices.

wood burning stove

#1 – You Must Have an Ample Supply of Clean, Dry Wood for Your Stove

Some of the best trees to harvest for fire wood include:

  • sugar and red maple
  • hickory
  • any of the oaks
  • beech
  • hornbeam (ironwood)

Hardwood species (like those listed above) will give you the best return on your investment of labor by burning longer and producing a lot of heat. These species are readily available in northern Wisconsin, but you'll need to do some research to find what's available in your area. For a detailed listing of the BTU content of various woods, visit FirewoodResource.com.

A wood lot can produce from 1 to 2 face cords of fire wood per acre each year. You may also be able to salvage some wood from tree trimming services, yard waste centers or storm damage.

I burn everything that dies in the woods at my house. This includes elm, aspen and birch, but not much softwood (such as pine). Softwoods burn quickly and produce less heat, which means that you need to refuel frequently and use a lot more wood overall. (Note: Pine does make good kindling for a quick start to your fires.)

Firewood should be “seasoned” or dried for at least six months to a year before you burn to reduce creosote in the chimney and air pollution. Green (unseasoned) wood will burn slowly and produce a lot of smoke and particulates. When these build up in your chimney, it increases the risk of a chimney fire. This means you should be planning for next winter a year in advance.

wood storage shed
This wood shed provides good air circulation and protection from rain and snow.

#2 – You Need to Plan for Proper Wood Storage

To cure (dry), wood needs good air circulation. This means a shed without sides or rows with tarps. Personally, I'm not a fan of tarps or plastic because the wind and the sun will tear holes in them in short order, and water will leak in.

You should also find something to stack the wood on to keep it off the ground. Old treated 4x4s are a favorite of mine. It doesn't have to be fancy – salvaged materials used correctly can get the job done just fine.

Above is a picture of my wood shed. You might recognize it from the post about natural back pain relief.

#3 – Heating with Wood Burning Stove is Labor Intensive

One thing that most people don't think about is how much time you will have to invest in cutting and splitting wood to heat your home. If you cut a cord or two of wood, split, and stack it, you will be doing a full day's work.

If you have back problems or other health problem you might want to consider buying your wood from a logger. There is also the task of keeping a fire. Most wood burners will require attention every 6 to 8 hours, maybe longer if you have a good furnace or outdoor boiler.

*Editor's note – Our masonry stove is fired only once or twice per day, but burns a little different than a conventional stove.

On the plus side, you can skip the gym membership and get your workout at home.

#4 – Wood Burning Stoves are Not Cheap

The initial cost of a wood furnace will be about $3000 plus installation. Resale value drops quickly, so if you don't think you are in it for the long term, any savings will be negated by the initial cost. (You *might* be able to get a deal on a used unit, but don't count on it. Most people hold on to their stoves.)

Quality wood cutting tools cost money, too, and with tools, you generally get what you pay for – it's worth the extra money to get tools that last. This is an investment – so make good choices.

Pellet stoves may be a better choice for urban areas, because you don't need to dry and store a year's worth of fuel.

Outdoor boilers are another option. You will lose some BTU's because if the stove is outside the home, the water has to travel underground and be transferred to the home via a heat exchanger. If you choose an outdoor boiler, radiant heating is preferable to a forced air system, which would reduce your efficiency even further.

Masonry heaters are another option, but they may be more expensive than regular wood stoves or pellet stoves. See “What You Need to Know About Masonry Heaters for Radiant Heat” for more information.

wood cutting tools
Basic wood cutting tools include a maul, a chainsaw, and an axe

#5 – There are Risks Involved in heating Your Home with Wood

Make sure your home owner's insurance will cover you if you have wood heat, and what restrictions they have on heating with wood. Clean your chimney every year and check for problems.

Improper ventilation can lead to carbon monoxide build up, which can be deadly. (A carbon monoxide detector is a good investment for nearly every home, but especially those with combustion appliances.)

Creosote and Chimney Fires

Creosote build up is another concern. Mastersweep.com explains:

What most people think of as “smoke” is better termed “flue gas.” This “smoke”, or flue gas is released by the initial fire: the “primary combustion.” Flue gas consists of steam, and vaporized but unburned carbon based by-products (vaporized creosote).

As the flue gas exits the fireplace or wood stove, it drafts upward into the relatively cool flue where condensation occurs. Like hot breath on a cold mirror, the cool surface temperature of the flue causes the carbon particles in the warm vapor to solidify.

The actual cause of creosote condensation, is the surface temperature of the flue in which the flue gas comes in contact. This resulting carbon based condensation which materializes inside the flue is creosote. It's usually black in appearance. It can be the fine black dust called soot, (1st stage creosote); or porous and crunchy, (2nd stage: see photo on left); or it can be tar-like: drippy and sticky, until it hardens into a shiny glaze, (3rd stage).

All forms of creosote can occur in one chimney system. Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and ignites inside the chimney flue: the result is a volcanic chimney fire.

Several conditions encourage the buildup of creosote:

  • A flue too large for the wood burning appliance, (e.g.. unlined insert)
  • A restricted air supply
  • Unseasoned or rain-logged wood
  • Cooler-than-normal surface flue temperatures, (e.g.. metal fireplace chimney)

Please note the phrase “volcanic chimney fire” – ‘nuf said. Clean the chimney.

Chain Saws and Other Cutting Tools

Chain saws and other wood cutting tools are dangerous. Anything strong and sharp enough to take down a tree can also go right through you. The chain saw is a tool the demands the utmost respect – poor judgment can leave scars that last a lifetime.

You should also invest in steel toed boots, logger's chaps, safety glasses and a hard hat. Every year professional loggers die in the woods. It is definitely not something to do with the boys and a few beers.

The Satisfaction of Heating with a Wood Stove

I hope this post hasn't scared you off of using wood heat. I've used it as my primary heat source for years, as have many friends and family members. It's a good feeling to look out at a well-stocked woodpile and know that whatever happens to fuel prices, your home will be warm without breaking the bank.

Wood heat isn't drafty and dry like a forced air system. The radiant heat from a wood stove soaks right into your bones. And, like the old saying goes, it's the heat source that warms you more than once.

Richard Poplawski

This post is by Laurie Neverman's brother, Richard Poplawski. Since his service in the Marines, Rich has been a mechanic, fabricator and “fix just about anything” guy for over 20 years. He lives in northwest Wisconsin in the farmhouse that was owned by his grandparents, and maintains a large orchard and perennial plantings, as well as a vegetable garden. He loves spending time with his grandkids, introducing them to gardening or getting in some fishing with “Papa Rich”.

His posts on the site include:

wood stove tips

Originally posted in March 2012, updated in 2016.

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60 Comments

    1. yay! a permies thread! Mass Rocket heating stoves will be my heating source for the underground green house.
      If that works well, I will move in!

  1. One other thing to consider, when storing wood, is what animals might hang out in, under, or next to your woodpile. Our wood has to be at least 8″ up, so we can clearly see any rattlesnakes hanging out underneath it. In other areas of the country you might be dealing with certain spiders, rodents, etc — just something to keep in mind.

    1. I lived in Arizona for a few years and there was a large rattlesnake that lived for years under the woodpile by the back door lean-to woodshed. It went out every night to hunt (prairie dogs/ rats, mostly) and came back dawn next morning. Early some Spring/ Summer mornings I would take my coffee out and sit on the back door patio and watch it slide back under the wood-pile, always by the same route. The landlord called the snake “Herbert” because he “Hoovered up vermin”. The landlord had told me about this snake (which had lived there that he knew of for 10 years. There was a line set in tiles about 14 inches from the front edge of the woodpile, which you would not step over. Herbert didn’t feel threatened by any any feet farther away than that. (Needless to say I never went out to the woodpile wearing sandals, only boots; and in the winters, the snake was hibernating under the wood-pile, so that worked out for both of us) The snake was a good neighbour for 4 years, after which I moved. The landlord thanked me for appreciating “his” snake, which kept prairie dogs from digging near/ under the foundations of the house. If this happens, the foundation will crack and the house will become unsafe.

      1. Hats off to you petrichor! I could not of done that. I would not of killed it, I would of relocated the snake. Then again I am thinking if it behaved and stayed away from the main house like you said, than maybe better Herbert then another nastier snake to move in.

        1. Herbert was a “civilised” neighbour– we had mutual rules, stuck to them, and we didn’t bother each other.
          I also had the security of knowing anybody messing around the back door at night to break in, would probably “rile” Herbert, — and that was OK by me.. . only thing better than an attack dog (which you have to feed and vet) is an attack rattler (who takes care of himself).

  2. We have geothermal but supplement with a wood insert in the fireplace. We have the chimney guy come out and inspect and he did find a flaw which was easily repaired. We also learned, and I can’t remember if it was the chimney guy, tv or CERT, that you should have a stack of newspapers that can be soaked quickly in water for your fireplace in case of a chimney fire. You throw the stack of soaked newspapers (in one lump pile) onto the fire and it’s the steam from them that puts out the chimney fire. I had never thought of that.

    Also, we save wood for outdoor bonfires such as cedar. We never burn that inside.

  3. Thanks Karla, I took a peek and filed that one for later consumption!

    We heat our house with wood, using an old (very old LOL) cast iron parlor stove. We do have an oil heater which we use sparingly to keep the house from dipping below 55F, but over the winter we’ve used approximately 1.25 tanks of fuel. To put that into perspective, the average person in our neighborhood uses almost that much in a single month, and has been doing so since October’s big snow. We’ve put about $1000 into oil, which made us very unhappy.

    The wood we’ve harvested ourselves from the back woods. UNfortunately it’s been largely green wood, so we’ve been incredibly careful with our flue. It was green or freeze, though, and so we went with what we had to. We only moved here in October, couldn’t afford to purchase cured wood, so… Luckily we’ve lots of experience with harvesting wood, and had all the equipment (safety chaps, big orange stick thingie that turns the logs over, etc *grin*).

    The best thing about wood is that it heats you multiple times, unlike any other type of heating. It heats you when you go to cut it down, when you buck it (cut the big tree into fireplace length logs), when you split it (cutting the logs into sticks that will burn), when you stack it for drying, and then when you haul it into the house to burn. *chuckle*

  4. Hi,

    I love wood heat, for more then just the cost savings compared to oil. I use wood heat at work, and at home I have oil heat, so every day I experience the difference.

    I’ve been following your posts for awhile and I enjoy learning from you, but this article I felt that, while pointing out many important things, it comes off negatively overall. In my head I was summarizing it as “save money, but hurt your back, add a daily chore to your routine, and don’t die of CO2” and so on. I’m sure that’s not what you intended, and it could be just the way it read in my head, please don’t be offended.

    One big difference I’ve noticed with wood heat that doesn’t come up very much is the benefit of dry air! With the way that homes are built now, with everything being so well sealed in the name of efficiency, there has also been a rise of mold issues from moisture getting trapped. In my experience, both personally and talking to others, those with wood heat (and making sure the air is able to circulate in all rooms especially the bathroom) are much less likely to have dampness that leads to mold. That is a huge health benefit if my findings are accurate.

    Another think I love about the wood stove? I keep a kettle of water on it, so I always have hot water ready for tea or a little bit of dishes… no extra energy spent for the water tank which might seem like a small cost but it really adds up. I’ve also baked potatoes and other things in the wood stove for lunch at work just because it’s there, and the food tastes and smells so good.

    1. It is imperative to keep a pot of water on a wood stove. Wood stoves dry the air and cause “dry rot”So to speak, of cloth curtains, sofas,and other furniture. Spontaneous combustion can a cure from a dried out house.even the cornmeal, flour,etc. In your cupboards can spontaneously combust. Moisture is important.

      1. Dry rot occurs from a fungus that was already on the wood used to build the house, primarily older houses. Dry rot can also be found in houses that were left vacant for too long….no sorce of heat so moisture “and fungus” normally set in. While a pot of water can help with excessively dry air “bloody noses, dry cough, etc..” it won’t help with Dry rot. Best to remove the boards in question if dry rot is indeed present.

        1. Very good for starting fires, like any other conifer. Dry rot is rot from the fungus spores floating in the air that landed on a wet eatable surface.

  5. i enjoyed this post and the tips in the comments! here in connecticut we can buy permits from our department of environmental protection to harvest wood from state forests- very cheaply. you are putting in all of the labor but getting the product dirt cheap!

  6. To Sunny, yes the overall tone of the post was intended to be one of caution. When facing a decision as important as heating your home it is important to consider the negatives that go with the perks. If you are building a new home or remodeling a lot of money can be saved by making the right choices in the planning stages. Failing to plan, is like planning to fail. I built my own duct work and installed it, with the help of a heating contractor custom building a few key components, but not everyone has the skills. I work as a maintenance mechanic, I build specialized equipment for my employer and I never candy coat information, if I make a mistake when I give advice it could be a million dollar mistake. I also know older people that had to leave their homes when they could no longer cut their own wood. Retirement is a time when many folks have a restricted budget and have to make the most of every dollar. Same for young families, planning is paramount.

    1. Here in Montreal wood fireplaces are disappearing from the city, as most put out a considerable amount of pollution. It would mean lots of smog hanging around in winter, so only fireplaces with very very low rates of polluting particles per hour are allowed anyway.

      For the city and older people propane can be a good alternative. Our new house will have one and the propane fireplace gives off a really nice heat, works without electricity as well (battery operated fan) and burns cleanly. The chimney is less of a problem as well, because the fumes aren’t as hot. The tank sits outside the house and can also be connected to a gas stove if you have it and to an outlet on the patio for the grill.

      1. There are now “smokeless” wood stoves.
        I know little about them other than that they are (more) expensive; however I know some areas in both the USA and UK are starting to restrict wood stoves that emit smoke, so they might be a good deal if you live in an area which has a militantly “green” local regulatory agency. If you are still looking for a wood stove, plan for the future when you can.
        If any of you are inventors, you could make a fortune if you could invent something to retro-fit to a stove to eliminate chimney-smoke.

  7. Thanks for sharing! We have been researching and writing blogs lately about the importance of “getting back to basics” and what can be learned from homesteaders in comparison to conventional lifestyles. We feel that the use of wood heating is a great way to begin a simpler, off the grid lifestyle.

  8. Great post! We heat with wood here in Montana since we have access to a lot of dead standing wood in the mountains around here. We live in a valley that has issues with inversion (air getting caught in the valley in the winter) so oddly enough air pollution is a big issue in this small town. We were able to get a tax credit on a new EPA approved woodstove that reduces the amount of particulate put out in the air compared to the old stove we had in the house. We love the warmth of wood heat so the extra work is well worth it!

    1. The right stove makes a a HUGE difference, and I highly encourage folks to do there research to find the unit that best meets their needs and minimizes pollution. I am not a fan of nasty, black smoke bellowing burners. They are less efficient and can be downright dangerous because of increased creosote build up.

  9. Thanks for all the cautions. We have been considering switching to wood heat, but we thought it would be a lot simpler than that … you know, buy a woodstove off Craigslist, stick the stovepipe out the window, and burn all our fallen wood. Now I’m seeing it’s a much bigger project and should probably wait till next year at least. Better to do it once, right, than get in over our heads and have to start over!

    1. Don’t forget that before buying the biggest wood stove that you can afford, that you must measure the cubic area of the space you want to heat, and not buy “too much” stove, — or you will waste wood and roast yourselves; if you have too large a stove, you will not be able to “make a smaller fire” as it will not burn efficiently, waste wood, and creosote up your flue quickly.

  10. BEWARE THE BUGS! They will hitchhike into your home on firewood. I love heating with wood. Grew up around it. It is hard work, but as soon as we bought our first house, in went a stove. A little hard work can save a whole lot of money.

  11. Your best bang for your buck with wood heat is a free standing wood stove. There are some wonderfully engineered stoves which are worth the extra money as compared to something like the old Ben Franklin stoves. Before we put in our stove, we contacted our insurance company. Some won’t insure you with a woodburning device. We had to document our installation to the proper specifications (clearance, materials in the chimney and the surround, double layer of fire resistant material under the stove.) But now we only pay a $75 rider to be ensured for the whole year for wood heat. One thing we do NOT do is burn anything in the stove besides well seasoned wood except for the little bit of newspaper we need to start a fire. I am always arguing with others who want to burn the garbage–no, no, no!
    Additionally, watch what kind of cap you have on your chimney. We have to change the cap seasonally; it must be screened until the birds stop nesting or you will have birds down the chimney! We put on one with more open flow for late fall and winter to prevent that!
    Another aspect of a freestanding stove is that it will continue to operate during a power outage. We can use it for limited cooking and it will keep the house warm enough to prevent freezing of pipes without power. We can also use our drying racks in the area near the stove to dry our laundry fairly quickly.
    The disadvantage of the freestanding stove is that the heat is uneven, but we always have a warm spot to sit whereas before, the cooler pockets might have been eliminated, but this old farm house was chilly and the drafts inescapable. We love our woodstove, and it does save us money, even though we buy every bit of wood we burn.
    p.s. Birch bark makes an excellent firestarter. We also found some firestarters made with wood shavings and wax by disabled workers that will get a fire going every time!

    1. If you can get your friends with electric clothes-driers to save all their lint for you, lint is a FANTASTIC fire-starter.

  12. Problem is….since the “shortage” of LP last year, alot of folks are switching to pellets or wood. I am seeing MUCH higher prices for firewood this this as compared to last. Many wood sellers are either sold out or will be sold out before the first snowflake falls here in Wisconsin…….or charging big $$$ for what they have. Wood as a heat source USED to be cheap…but the more folks burning wood, the higher the price of fuel will go.

    1. Yep. My friend, Tami, said sawdust prices have gone way up, too, because the pellet makers are buying up all the scrap wood. The only way it still stays cheap is if you have your own wood.

  13. Great article!

    I’ve been living off grid for around eight years and wood is my fuel source for cooking and heating. If i harvest trees I tend to do it in Winter as the tree sap has retreated to the roots and they will season a bit quicker, but deadwood is my preferred source.

    Another problem with pine is the build up in the chimney which could cause a fire.. scary and dangerous!

    My stove both provides heat for cooking and also heats the entire (4 room) cabin, it’s a ‘Russian stove’ one fill in the morning will provide heat for the entire day… a chimney system that routes through my living room (also my bedroom in winter) gives ample heat and is nice to sit on in the evenings (even been known to lie down and have a doze from time to time 🙂 ) It’s also great for starting seeds before sprig finally arrives.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts, glad to have found your site!

    1. Mike – I have a masonry stove here, too, but didn’t know enough to have more built in seating added when we built it. Still, the surround is wide enough for a bench, and works for seed starting.

      Welcome to the site!

      1. I’m living in Latvia now, most of the old farmhouses (well all the farmhouses are old LOL) have woodburning ‘Russian’ stoves, so we are lucky, they were built by the experts 🙂 The one thing I love about them is that I can now cook the recipes that say ‘simmer for four or five hours’ and not have to worry about the bills at the end of the month 🙂

        1. lol – gotta love that! Ours was only the second masonry stove the masons had installed – ever. No one puts them in around here. Our was a kit from TempCast in Canada, and over time, the joints have opened and burn efficiency has gone down. We finally found someone who I believe can help, and at the end of the heating season he’s going to come back and try to seal all the leaks so we have tight combustion again. Right now with the air leaks, the fires are sootier than they should be.

          I’ve often wondered about the old country living. My family is all of Eastern European descent – farm stock for generations.

          1. Living out here is fantastic, all the farms are small family run subsistence farms (well a few have been bought up by Danish and Swedish and have been turned over to the modern techniques). Going into the local hamlet or village you will always see little old ladies selling their extra produce or even animals. I’m living a simple life and using the old skills to run the farm (no machinery, it’s me and the animals that do the work) relearning forgotten crafts and skills…..loving every day. and, no, I’ll never return the the UK, Latvia is my home. 🙂

          2. Working on restoring some of that here. We live on Old Settlers Road, and someday I want to be an old settler. 😉 Hoping that we can turn this place into a multi-generational farm again, but it’ll have to be a little different than it was in the old days. Always a challenge, mixing old and new, but I know we need both to keep the boys interested.

    2. If you season pine under cover for at least one or better two years, it will burn fine and not creosote up a flue any faster than hardwood. In Sweden (where I visit relatives) they burn nothing but pine and fir, and they do fine– they simply season their wood very well. It might be worth buying a battery -operated moisture-meter if you want to be scientific about how dry your wood is. Also, if you keep it in your pocket and you are buying “seasoned” cordwood and the seller tells you it is seasoned, you can whip out your meter and test a few sticks to see if he’s telling the truth. 🙂

  14. Two books that I live by….the one that started it all for me ( a long time ago when i was 17 – a looooooong time ago) John Seymours The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency and one of his other books, The Forgotten Arts. Also there was a British TV series River Cottage a guy who downsized and lived off the land, was going to do it for a year, ended up with multiple TV series following his life, still doing it 17 yrs later. and more recently, campaigns, there is Also River Cottage Australia, some can be found on YouTube or as DVD sets if you don’t like torrent downloads ( 😉 ). Also check out Tudor Monastry Farm, three Archeologists who spend a year living the life (they do other farming in the ages series, they are all on YouTube.

  15. Another benefit of wood heat is that it is carbon neutral. Rotting trees in a woods release exactly the same amount of carbon as burning wood does.

  16. I love heating with my wood stove. It’s our only heat source and there is just something cozy about it. I only live on half and acre so I watch for people on craigslist asking people to come and take their trees that fell down or that they cut down so I always get my wood for free. Plus I burn the creosote logs once a month to take care of the build up.

  17. I just love one size fits all articles. Item 1 turned me away from this article. The woods mentioned do not grow in Alaska. Here we have Birch, Aspen, Cottonwood, Spruce and hemlock.

    1. Note – There is a link to additional information on the BTU content of dozens of different types of potential firewood trees. To list every possible hardwood tree choice would be an article in and of itself. (Which is why I linked the post.) I’ll make this more obvious in the article.

  18. We are considering a wood stove. Why? We have twelve acres of trees that need thinning. More importantly, our propane furnace has an electric ignition and fuel regulator. If we get a good storm, that furnace will be as useful as a swimming pool in January. A back up plan is smart when you live way out in the country and help is a long time coming.

  19. the article is good and blunt about yhe need to put in yhe work with a wood stove. the one thing that i did not see is that everyonr should purchase an EPA certified woid stove. if yhd stove is a cheap chinese stove that is not certified then the stove will smoke when burned. Smoke leads to creasote. An EPA certifird wood stove burns that smoke and produces 30 to 50% more heat from each piece of wood. so you need less wood to heat yhe same space. no one is getting any younger so less wood usage is a good thing. also anyone yhinking of burning woid should look at Woodheat.org for tips from preparing wood to burning it better. its a good place to be reminded of all of the stuff that we forgot about burning wood

  20. I run a flat top “woodie” great to put lidded pots of water on for slow boils for coffee , dishwashing ,shaving etc Free ..!! Ialso always run a magnetic thermometer ‘250 C’ — 500 F’ good burn temp soon attained with dry wood.. Lucky I’m a tree an (arborist) so have a good choice of wood but say to any one ,you can burn any wood if it dry ‘, for fun I say I can even burn water !! he he. lastly I would (wood?) suggest. Giving your local tree man a call for timber as if like me its great to dispose of locally & a little bit of gas & beer money easy covers it ( Gotta cut it tho!)part of the fun tho eh?? Gareth UK.

    1. As long as the local tree guy doesn’t use all the wood or stock family and friends. 🙂 We have some fellows who do clearing nearby, and they are great for wood chips, but use the trees themselves.

  21. I have been thinking about getting an outdoor wood furnace. It is good to think about how I should have somewhere to store the wood. Right now I wouldn’t have anywhere that would keep the wood dry.

    1. You must MAKE a place for your dry wood before you get a wood-stove.
      Place it where you can walk to it conveniently in winter, as carrying cord wood to the house is part of your wood stove “experience”.
      You will have to make or buy a wood store. / wood-shed, / lean-to / log store –(google all these and price compare) You can buy them online, and I think they make DIY kits. Earlier in this blog woodpiles were discussed.

  22. How far away from a wood stove should you keep a computer, monitors and a TV? Having trouble finding the answer?

    1. Hi Debbi.

      It varies, because the temps around stoves vary.

      If it’s too hot for you to sit in the spot where you’d like to place the electronics, then it’s probably too hot for the electronics as well. Computers, especially, generate a lot of heat (thus the cooling fans). Placing a computer in an uncomfortably warm location will shorten the life of the device.

      Try sitting in the spot with the stove going and see how you feel, and adjust as needed.

  23. One thing you didn’t touch upon, the size of the wood to give max. heat. When my husband stocks the stove he uses the largest piece of wood he can fit into the stove. That is ok if all you want is to burn a log.BUT I use small and medium ( together ) for heat. He says that is wasteful because one very large piece burns longer
    ( Doesn’t give much heat ). How big around should the wood be to burn for max. heat ? Who knows, I may be wrong !!!

    1. The btus contained in wood per unit volume does not change based on the size of the wood chunks. If you have the same amount of wood, in bigger or smaller pieces, it will contain the same number of btus.

      What can change is how fast those btus are produced.

      Small to medium pieces of wood will burn more quickly, putting out more btus in a shorter amount of time.

      Larger pieces of wood burn more slowly, spreading the btu production over a longer period of time.

      If you want more heat, faster, smaller pieces are the way to go – but you will burn more wood to keep producing heat at that higher level of output.

      If you want to make the wood last longer and don’t mind a little less heat, then bigger pieces are the better choice.

      With our masonry stove, we burn very small diameter pieces – very hot and very fast. Then we close down the fresh air feed and the chimney, and the heat of the fire is trapped in the masonry of the stove. The masonry stays warm for over 24 hours, radiating the heat to the room, but it’s hottest during and immediately after the burn.

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