How Does A Wood Stove Work?
When you start a fire in your wood stove and the temperatures rise, heat is radiated through the top and side walls of the stove. The immediate area is provided with warmth and other parts of the home can enjoy this heat via natural air flow and electric or convection powered fans. Some wood stoves have a convection chamber which draws in cool air, warms it, and then circulates the heated air through the room.
Many homes still rely on heat from traditional wood stoves, and these styles operate differently than certified stoves.
TRADITIONAL WOOD STOVES
Stoves that were manufactured before 1990 are considered “traditional.” A fire is started using wood and kindling, and once the stove heats up, intake vents pull in fresh air to fuel the flames. Large amounts of energy are consumed during this time as moisture burns off the wood in the firebox. The moisture evaporates and exits the stove, along with gases containing tar, charcoal, carbon, and other toxic components released from the burning wood. At 600 degrees F, the gases begin to burn inside the firebox, rather than escape via the chimney. While this process does generate some heat, it isn't until the stove reaches 1000 degrees F that the wood begins to give off a generous amount of warmth.
CERTIFIED WOOD STOVES
Stoves that were manufactured after 1990 have been certified by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Certified wood stoves have advantages over their traditional counterparts:
- more efficient operation
- less pollution
- less fuel required to generate heat
Certified stoves depend on the help from a catalytic combustor to improve their efficiency. This consists of an additional air intake that brings oxygen to the hottest part of the firebox. The harmful gases that are produced from the burning wood are incinerated before they can escape up the chimney. Additionally, as smoke exits the firebox, the catalytic combustor forces these gases to burn at a lower temperature. These two innovative measures help to transform what would be pollution into beneficial heat.
Wood stoves are connected to stove pipes and ventilated either through a flue and chimney, or directly through a wall (direct vent).
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