Wood stoves are a wonder that can serve a multitude of purposes. Large models can be used to heat up an entire house, while mini wood stoves are perfect for small areas or, if portable, for taking with you on camping trips. After you have established what it is that you want to achieve with that small wood stove, it’s time to read our in-depth guide on the matter and, at the end, check out a list of the best small wood stoves that the market currently has to offer.
Pros & Cons of Small Wood Stoves
The benefits and drawbacks of choosing a small wood stove may be quite different from those of a regular-size one. If you’re not sure whether or not a small wood stove is right for you, consider the following benefits that it can brings to the table:
- They are portable for taking with you on trips, but they can also be good for heating up small spaces inside your home.
- They are more affordable compared to some of the other heating solutions you might have at your disposal.
- Due to their compact size, they are less likely to have high levels of emissions.
- Overall, the cost of the fuel is way lower compared to how much you would pay to fuel up a stove that uses natural gas or oil.
- Also, finding fuel (wood) for your stove is easier.
One night also want to consider the downsides of opting for small wood stove although, in the end, it depends on what you compared these stoves with (some drawbacks might be purely circumstantial):
- If you use a small wood stove, you will have to constantly make sure that you have fuel with you. This means planning ahead, a problem that you wouldn’t have if you were using a stove that’s connected to the home’s gas pipeline, which provides a constant supply of fuel.
- The process of burning wood results in creating ash, which can be flammable and need to be properly and safely disposed of.
- Mini wood stoves are not suitable for heating up large spaces. They might work in the garage and they will provide heat when you’re out camping, but their efficiency in heating larger spaces (and entire homes) is questionable, to say the least.
Before you go out and buy a small wood stove, you might want to keep the following things in mind:
Where you will use the stove is really important. Do you want to heat up a tent or your garage? Will you keep the fire burning overnight? What is the size of the room that you’re trying to heat? Knowing this information uphand is important to help you determine the size of the stove you need.
The capacity of a wood stove translated into how many BTUs it can produce every hour. Stoves with more BTUs can run for longer and produce more heat, but they also mean that the stove will be larger and heavier overall.
If you want a wood stove that has a cooking area, consider how much food you want to prepare using the stove. It’s one thing to choose a stove with the capacity to heat up food for two people and it’s another thing to have one that feeds a family of six.
Are you interested in accessories? Plenty of small wood stoves come with a bunch of accessories, some mandatory and other options. For instance, you can expect a mini wood stove to come with ash scrapers, spark arrestors, and sectional chimney pipes.
Wood Stove Sizes
Naturally, wood stoves are available in a wide range of sizes, so let’s so over some very simple rules that will tell you what size of stove you need depending on what you need the stove for:
- If you’re trying to heat up an area that’s smaller than 500 square feet or if you’re looking for a portable stove that you can take with you outdoors or on trips, when you can easily opt for a small wooden stove.
- If you’re looking to heat up areas that measure between 500 and 1,000 square feet, then you want to choose a medium wood stove.
- Large wood stoves work best in areas between 1,000 and 2,200 square feet.
- If you’re looking for a stove that can heat up areas measuring at least 2,200 square feet, you want to redirect your attention towards extra-large models.
Wood Stove Materials
As you can imagine, wood stoves are made from different kinds of materials, so let’s go over the four most common types and quickly review their characteristics:
Sheet iron stoves
This is quite a common material used to make wood stoves these days. That’s partly because sheet iron can be molded to create different kinds of designs, so there’s the aesthetic reason. Some designs can even have round shapes. Another one of the benefits provided by sheet iron stoves is the fact that the material heats up fast.
Cast iron stoves
These types of stoves are built to last, which is why a lot of people prefer cast iron above all other potential stove materials. It is extremely resistant to heat and never changes its form when exposed to extreme temperatures. However, cast iron takes longer to warm up, but when you’re constantly building a fire inside the stove, you won’t have to worry about the material ever having the chance to cool down. Cast iron can save heat quite efficiently.
Limestone is a natural material, and it can be used to make wood stoves as well. People that prefer limestone stoves do so because of the subtle patterns.
Another natural material that can be used to make wood stoves is soapstone. Not only is it naturally appealing, but it can also trap a lot of heat and gradually release it into the room, preventing heat waste even after the fire inside the stove is out.
Buying a wood stove that isn’t certified or not installing the stove properly can pose a series of threats to both your health as well as to the integrity of the house. The following tips might help you in that sense:
- Don’t be afraid to hire a certified professional to install the stove for you. Granted, this will cost you extra, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Not only does a professional have their way around wood stoves, but they also know the regulations in your area, so you’ll avoid the hassle of having to research all this stuff yourself.
- If you already have a chimney and are planning to install a wood stove, you should first evaluate the chimney. There are professional services that will make the evaluation for you. If the chimney is safe, then you will save money having to buy and install a new one.
- Where you place your stove is also a matter of safety. Again, choosing to hire a professional saves you the trouble of figuring out the right location by yourself. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you need to have proper walls and furniture clearance when choosing the location for a new stove.
- Another important safety tip is to always burn the right type of wood. Never burn wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned the year before. When wood is dry, it will burn a cleaner fire and could also reduce the creosote build-up that causes sparks and poses a fire hazard.
How to Install a Wood Stove
Note that there is a difference between a wood stove designed to heat up a room or the entire house, and the small portable wood stoves which are mainly designed for occasional outdoor use. The second type can be put together according to the manufacturer’s instructions and it should be pretty easy since they have sectional designs.
Installing a large wood stove, on the other hand, is a completely different story. If you want to know how to install one, here are the steps to keep in mind:
- You will first have to determine where the stove will be located. If you want to purchase a stove to heat up a large portion of the house, it’s best if you choose a location somewhere on the first floor, since that’s where you spend most of your day. If the room is insulated, then you will enjoy heat for longer. Remember when you pick a spot that you will need to make a chimney, so choose a location where you can actually build one. Also, take into account the fact that the stove will radiate heat to nearby objects and furniture which could get damaged because of the high temperatures, so make sure that stove has enough clearance.
- Opt for a wood stove with proper certifications. If you live in the US, the stove needs to have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- You might be required to talk to your local officials before installing a wood stove because it needs to comply with safety regulations. In some cases, you might be required to get a building permit for installing a stove.
- Every wood stove requires being placed on top of a non-combustible floor pad, which can be made from something like concrete, ceramic tiles, bricks, etc. These pads are essential for proper stove use and they prevent sparks and embers from lighting everything on fire.
- You will also need a heat shield located on the walls that surround the stove. These are typically made from metal sheets and can easily be installed over the walls.
- When this is all taken care of, you can place the stove into position. Take note that most wood stoves are made from metal and can be incredibly heavy, so you might want to call for help when you need to move this thing around.
- The next step is making sure you install the chimney. Chimneys are designed to carry sediments and smoke out of the house, so it’s very important that they be properly installed. These chimneys can either be a part of your home’s construction or be separately installed together with the stove. Make sure that the chimney is properly insulated and made from fire-resistant materials.
If you choose to install the wood stove yourself, you might want to consider asking certified professionals to inspect it. You need to be sure that the stove isn’t a threat to your home and everything is in place and meets the safety regulations needed to make sure you don’t burn the house down or worse, end up with carbon monoxide intoxication. In fact, it is always best to hire a professional right from the start, as they know how to properly install a wood stove.
Best Small Wood Stoves
We start off our series of short reviews in style, with a mini wood stove that’s perfect for those of you that love the occasional spontaneous camping trip during the weekend. Measuring a mere 15.75 x 9.85 x 9.85 inches, this little gem is made from durable carbon steel and comes with features that will be loved by people who like to cook and stay warm whilst outdoors. It comes with a flat top that offers a pretty generous cooking surface. It includes a stainless steel grill, a removable hotplate cover, and two shelves, one located on each side of the store.
The stove door comes with a temperate glass window so you can see the roaring fire and always be able to tell when you need to add more wood. It has secondary ventilation that makes sure you get clean combustion every time you use the stove. You can adjust the height of the stove, depending on what you need at the moment. The legs can be collapsed for easier transportation and storage. There are grates in the firebox that make it easy for you to remove ash even if the wood is still burning, but it also allows for proper wood ventilation as well.
There are quite a few things that you are going to love about this portable military small wood stove. While it doesn’t have the fanciest design, it is created in such a way as to allow you to place all the removable parts inside the stove, making it easier to carry it around since everything occupies less space. In the package, you will receive for interlocking pipe sections, and also the removable legs. You will also get a bunch of tools that allow you to remove the ashes without getting your hands dirty.
The evacuation pipe comes with a cap so that you can use the stove even under a tent or patio. The top grate comes with double hinges and it can also be used as a carrying handle. The front and rear air regulators are also worth mentioning, just like the spark arrestor. The grate that’s located on the top of the stove can be folded outwards, allowing to dry some accessories over the stove.
Our next suggestion is a heavy-duty cast iron small stove that burns wood, much to the delight of everyone looking for a small and portable unit. It measures only 33 x 22.2 x 25.8 inches, so it’s pretty easy to just throw it in the trunk of the car and take it with you on your camping trips or maybe just to a friend’s house for an optimal night in the yard.
The handle has a two-piece design to make sure that it stays cool to the touch, even if the stove has been burning for hours on end. The inside of the stove can fit wood logs that measure up to 19 inches in length. There is also a small cooking surface on the top, in case you’re out camping and want to heat up some water or canned soup.
Our last suggestion is another gem of a mini wood stove, with a portable construction, and made from quality carbon steel. It measures only 11.4 x 7.95 x 8.66 inches, so it has a pretty compact size and should be easy to move around whenever needed, with the possibility of taking it on trips as well. What’s even more important to note is that every part of this stove is detachable, so you can arrange the parts in such a way that they occupy as little space as possible.
The sectional design includes six pipe pieces. The height of the stove can be adjusted, so if you ever want to use it inside a large tent, you now have this possibility. The package includes more than just those six pipe sections and the stove: it also has four collapsible legs, a tray for the ashes, two side shelves, two side shelf brackets, and fire poker. Be careful when you assemble it though, there are sharp edges that could injure you.
When you’re choosing a small wood stove, you want to make sure that you take a look at the features that are important for you. These may include portability, ease of installing/taking apart, ease of storage, weight, dimensions, potential cooking space, etc. If you want a small wooden stove to heat up your home, you also want to consider house-related information, like the room layout, the number of doors and windows, the insulation, or the ceiling height.