Should You Purchase An Interior Or Exterior Wood Burning Stove?

Construction & Contractors Articles

Few things are cozier than spending a cold winter evening curled up in front of a radiating wood stove. However, there is now a movement toward the use of exterior wood burning stoves, rather than those that are housed inside your home. Read on to learn some of the specific advantages and disadvantages of both interior and exterior wood stoves, which may help you make a decision on the right type of stove for your lifestyle.

Interior wood stoves

These stoves are fueled by firewood and require a chimney or exhaust piping to help keep your home smoke- and soot-free. Most interior wood stoves are radiant -- meaning that the heat radiates out from the stove, rather than being channeled into ventilation pipes and pumped throughout the house. 

  • Advantages

The primary advantage of an interior wood stove is that once you've purchased and installed the stove, you have very few ongoing heat expenses. If you have access to a free or cheap source of slow-burning firewood, you may find that your heating bills drop to near zero.

Another advantage of a wood stove is that it can double as an oven. You can use the surface of the stove to boil water for tea or even cook food. Foil-wrapped baked potatoes can be quickly baked in the fire (but be careful when removing!) as can foil-wrapped packets of chopped veggies.

  • Disadvantages

Because these stoves are radiant and can heat only the surrounding area, they make it more difficult to heat a larger house or a house with multiple rooms. You may find yourself needing backup heat sources, such as an electric or kerosene space heater, to heat bathrooms or smaller spaces that are far away from the stove.

The interior wood stoves designed and sold today are very safe  -- however, the use of these stoves still carries a stigma with the insurance industry. You may find that your homeowner's insurance rates rise once you disclose the presence of an interior wood stove in your home.

Exterior wood stoves

These stoves are more similar to a natural gas or propane heater than traditional interior wood burning stoves. An exterior wood stove funnels heat from the outside into an interior pipe, where it is then diffused throughout every room of your home. 

  • Advantages

If your home is already equipped with a central heating and air conditioning system (HVAC), the conversion process to an exterior wood burning stove is fairly easy. Once the stove is placed (it can range from 3 feet to 300 feet or more from your home) and the insulated piping run to your HVAC unit, you're ready to start burning.

Unlike an interior wood stove, an exterior wood stove poses no additional fire risk and should not cause your homeowner's insurance rates to rise. These stoves also provide more consistent heat than interior wood stoves and can be used to heat large homes and even pools and hot tubs at a fairly low cost.  

  • Disadvantages

Unlike an interior wood stove, an exterior wood stove still relies on your home's electric system to run the motor and fan -- so during a power outage, you may find yourself without heat. If you live in an area prone to ice storms or long stretches of time without power, you'll probably want a backup generator (or an interior wood stove) to help keep your home warm and your pipes from freezing.

These stoves can also be relatively costly to install, although they'll often pay for themselves within a few years through diminished utility bills. Instead of paying for gas or electric heat, you pay only the minimal cost of running the electric blower and fan.

Depending upon the type of wood you select and the size of the house you'll be heating, you may find yourself refilling the stove one or more times per day. If you choose a slow-burning wood and keep your heat turned low, you may be able to minimize the number of times per day you'll need to add more wood -- however, you'll also need to be careful not to let the fire go out, as it can be difficult to restart.


16 December 2014

Building our Guest House Was a Great Decision

For years, my wife and I debated on what we wanted to do with all of the spare land in the back of our house. We were lucky enough to buy a house on an extra-large lot for a great deal, but the land was "going to waste" for quite a while. One day, we finally decided to have a guest house built on it, and now that the house is finished, we wish we had built it long ago. We are now renting it out for some extra income, and it is helping us save for retirement. I have always been fascinated by construction, so I enjoyed watching the professionals build the guest house and learned a lot during the process. I decided to fill some free time by blogging about the experience and sharing some construction info I learned during the process. Come back soon!