There is no truer warmth than that given off by a stove. With the exception of a fireplace, stoves are a favorite way to heat a room or a home, or – in the case where whole-home heat is already in place – add an incomparable sense of comfort and coziness to a room. The wide range of fuel sources available in today’s stoves ensures that consumers can find one that best suits their home and meets their needs. Configuration options are plentiful as well, so no matter what the dimensions of the room or venting limitations, there are stoves found here that can fit the bill.
Fireplaces and fireplace inserts are great, but not every home can accommodate them. Nor are they for everyone. Far from “the next best thing,” stoves are equals with fireplaces in terms of what they can do to heat a room and add ambiance. It’s just a different way of achieving it. Some might also say safer and easier to clean, too.
There are many stoves on the market, so it’s helpful to narrow down the options by examining limitations, needs and expectations.
Limiting factors begin with the issue of venting. Wood-burning stoves require ventilation to the outdoors. Pellet stoves have the same requirements, so it’s a good idea to evaluate one’s current ventilation situation and determine if a stove requiring ventilation can assimilate easily into the current scenario or if new/altered ventilation will be necessary. The need for ventilation will play a large role in the placement of the stove. Typically you’ll want a direct route to the outdoors, with as few bends in the ventilation as possible.
Vent-free stoves eliminate the above considerations. As the name would suggest, these stoves do not require ventilation, and therefor placement options begin to open up. It’s still important to remember that vent-free stoves are still heat sources, and as such there will always be some guidelines to follow regarding their safe placement. It’s best to refer to manufacturer instructions in this regard.
With the ventilation decision made, it’s time to look at fuel sources. Stoves can run on wood, pellets (a form of wood), electric and gas. It’s hard to label one as superior over any others, as this decision can come down to personal preference as well as local market costs. Traditional wood-burning stoves carry with them the authenticity of a real-wood fire and all those associated qualities – the look, smell and sounds. But they also require regular cleaning and maintenance, not to mention the feeding of the fire. Pellets, too, have a bit of labor associated with their operation, although proponents will argue it is significantly less work than traditional log stoves. If operating costs are a concern, be sure to investigate the price of the various fuels in your area to determine which fuel type would be most cost-effective and factor that into the final decision.