The most popular wood heating option today, by far, is the wood stove. It can be a flexible, economical and efficient option, they can be located almost anywhere there is enough space and where the chimney can be properly routed.
The perfect installation would have a wood stove centrally located on the main floor living area of a home and the flue pipe running straight up through the roof. This installation often has the maximum degree of comfort, best performance and least amount of maintenance.
The wood stove design is defined as a space heater, intended to heat a space directly, this is unlike a central heat furnace which supplies heat to various parts of the home via duct-work. With modern homes which conserve energy so well, it is very possible and practical to heat an average-size home with a single wood burning space heater located in the main living area.
A couple of things to keep in mind if you plan to heat with wood. The first is to locate the stove in an area of the home where the family will spend a lot or most of the time. Secondly there should ideally be an easy way for heat to flow from this room to other parts of the home. Often times these two conditions are easily met if thought out in advance.
Selecting the best location for your wood stove is the single most important decision in the entire installation. Keep in mind that part of the home will be the warmest, and generally is the main floor area near the kitchen, living and dining rooms; and where families spends a lot of their time. This allows the eating and relaxing areas to be comfortable. In most homes the basement is not an ideal location for the installation if you would like an effective space heater. Although the warm air will rise, in many homes it will be a very slow process and may not produce intended or desired results. When in the basement, you will see that area overheated in an attempt to keep the living area warm enough. If the basement is unfinished this is an even poorer choice.
Now there are some homes where there are a lot of small rooms and heat does not flow well from one to the other, in these homes it may be difficult to heat with a single space heater. A large heater will overheat one area, and provide inadequate results in the rest.
It is important to have correct stove sizing, placement and even the number of stove(s). A large stove will be operating with low smoldering fires to avoid overheating the room, and an undersized stove may be damaged by over-firing in an attempt to get enough heat.
It is also worthwhile to get an efficient stove design, while they may cost more they will save considerable amounts of wood, and if you are buying the wood you may pay for the difference in the first winter. On average EPA certified stoves are about one-third more efficient than older stoves and sometimes more. I have seen some modern stoves that actually used only around 25% of the wood used by the stove it replaced! Now that is an exception and don’t count on that in your home as each situation is different. Also the new stoves are far less polluting, with average advanced stoves sending around 90 percent less particulate matter and smoke up the chimney than the older stoves. With a new stove, once the fire is ignited, you will not be able to see any visible smoke from the chimney. The neighbors will not ever complain about the smell or thick smoke in the air. Generally speaking the newer stoves provide a far more convenient and pleasurable wood burning experience. Most of the new stoves also have a glass panel in the door and use air-wash system to keep the door clear. This not only allows you to monitor the fire, but to sit and watch the flicker of flame. Keep in mind that when you have 90 percent less smoke, then you also have less creosote, therefore the likelihood of a chimney fire is reduced when operated properly, and secondly the flue will need less cleaning. Having said that if you use the stove as a primary heat source, it is still important to have a clean and inspection performed annually and is in fact law under the Ontario Fire Code. If you did have a fire caused by wood stove, your insurance company could well ask for evidence of the last cleaning and inspection or they could refuse to pay damages.