So You Want To Burn Wood - Four Things To Consider Before Getting A Wood Burning Stove

Posted on: 18 February 2015


Idyllic images of happy families sitting around the woodstove may prompt you to think installing one will solve all your problems. While there are no guarantees that a new source of heat in your home will transform unruly teens to endearing creatures who long to sit beside the fire and read, it may bring you warmth and comfort like you've never experienced before. Many people claim the heat from burning wood is more comforting because it provides a constant source of heat that radiates throughout the room. Before you make your decision, this article will discuss several things you should consider before converting you heating system to a wood burning stove.

Size of Heating Area

A wood burning stove provides ambient heat to the living area of your home. When placed in the living room or family room, it can create a cozy environment for families to gather and socialize. It also creates an inviting area for guests, as the gentle heat promotes relaxation and induces a feeling of hominess. However, the heat from a wood stove isn't likely to heat multiple rooms or multi-story homes. You will need a wood furnace with ductwork to accomplish heating an entire home with wood. You may also be able to distribute the heat by using a heat exchanger and strategically placing fans in doorways to circulate the heated air. Consider the size of the area you wish to heat and consult and a heating expert to determine the right stove for you before making a decision to purchase a wood burning stove for your home.

Availability of Wood

If you live in a rural area, buying wood, or cutting your own wood, may not be an issue. Those in more urban areas, however, need to consider the availability of wood and the cost of delivery. When exploring the cost of wood, make sure you ask the length of the wood. If you have the ability to cut and split the wood yourself, purchasing tree length wood is the least expensive option. However, if you expect your wood to be cut and split and ready for burning when it arrives at your door, count on paying a premium price for the wood.

Green vs Dry Wood

Many suppliers for firewood deliver seasoned (dry) wood that is ready for burning, but be careful. Some deliver green wood instead. Green wood is freshly cut and has not been seasoned. This wood cannot be burned safely or efficiently until it has been stacked and allowed to dry. While green wood is typically less expensive, you will need to cut, split and stack the wood outside during the summer to let it season before you can burn it. Many purchase (or cut) green wood in the early summer and let it season until heating season arrives. This involves more work and generally involves stacking the wood twice. It can be seasoned inside a shed, if you can open the windows and doors and allow for good air circulation.

Storage Space

Wood takes room to store and is best stored under cover, especially if you live in a region that gets a lot of snow in the winter. That means you need a shed or garage large enough to store the winter's wood. A cord of stacked split firewood takes up a space four feet wide, four feet high and eight feet long. Multiple that number by the number of cords of wood you burn in the winter to determine the space you will need for storing your firewood. You may burn between three and six (or more) cords of wood per winter, depending on where you live and the size of your home. Six cords of wood stacked four feet high will cover an area 24 feet wide and eight feet long. Three cords of wood will cover half of this space.

While burning wood is more labor intensive for you, it may save you money, especially if you do the cutting, splitting and stacking yourself. Many think the comfort and coziness of a wood fire outweigh the amount of labor required. Once you've considered these factors and the overall cost of wood burning stoves, you'll be able to make an informed decision about purchasing one for your home.