Air tight stoves (or anything which is air tight, such as a fireplace or insert), slowly allows air to combine with the wood. This allows the fire to be controlled, and to last for 6 to 8 hours, building up heat inside the firebox. This hot firebox temperature causes the mass of cast iron, steel, or soapstone to soak up the heat, and to radiate or convect the heat into the house.
A fireplace, on the other hand, burns so fast that all the heat goes up the chimney. As it does this, the fireplace forms a “draft,” which pulls the heated air from the house into the fireplace opening and up the chimney as well.
People often choose a stove on how it looks and fits into their decor. It could be made of cast iron, soapstone, or steel. Some stoves can be porcelain coated, so the color of the stove will stay that way forever. Do you want to load the stove from the top, front, or side? How will you remove ashes? What size stove is best for my heating needs? All of these are questions you will be asked to consider when you choose a stove.
Wood heat is the “real thing.” The “stay-clean glass,” with its dancing flames, makes winter nights something to look forward to. You probably are the kind of person or family, who enjoys lighting a wood fire, bringing wood inside, watching your wood pile grow. The soft “purring” out of heat gives you so much pleasure that you are even willing to remove ashes from time to time (not very often in today’s stoves). Burning wood can be a new winter hobby.
Gas hearth products will have flames that will be very realistic, but the flames won’t change. So the flame picture becomes more of a background ambiance, rather than a focal point. But that’s O.K., because the flames ARE beautiful, the heat is extremely controllable (instant on or off, with a variable rate burner), and there is little “fuss” on your part to make the appliance work.
Air tight wood stoves or inserts can often burn on one load of wood for 5 to 9 hours, depending on the size of the wood holding area, and how much air you supply to the wood (the more air, the more burning and delivery of heat, but the burn time is reduced). This allows for food to be cooked, light to be shed, and the temperature of your house to remain nice and cozy, keeping your family out of a shelter.
Gas stoves, inserts, and fireplaces can do the same thing as long as gas comes to your house. Unlike furnaces and cook stoves, these units do not need electricity to light the gas, because each has a standing pilot. The heat from the standing pilot will make a thermocouple produce its own electricity to open and close the valve, and can be run off a millivolt thermostat to keep your area at an even temperature. Gas standing pilot heating appliances are a good investment in self-reliance, because we have never had an electrical power outage where we have lost natural gas to homes.
All wood burning appliances need a chimney, and it must be two feet higher than anything within 10 feet horizontally. This kind of chimney works best when it is inside a house, traveling through the highest roof point, especially if it is a seep roof.
Chimneys 1 and 2 both meet the 10 ft/2 ft rule, but the chimney going through the higher part of the roof is a better design. It is easier to clean, and the exhaust is kept warmer until it exits the house, making the unit more responsive to air changes, and less spillage of smoke in the house. Chimney no. 3 needs to be at least 12 to 15 feet away from the higher roof where chimney no.1 is located, for chimney no. 3 to work properly. If not installed this way, chimney no. 3 may cause down drafting and smoke spillage into the house.
Gas appliances will not need a chimney if the appliance is vent free. These appliances burn so cleanly that only carbon dioxide and water vapor enters the home. Each unit also has an oxygen depletion sensor, so if the oxygen content of the room goes below 18 per cent, the unit will shut off. Even so, the vent free gas units work best in larger areas, and should be used on a part-time basis. Direct vent gas stoves and fireplaces have a closed loop chimney. Part of it expels the exhaust, and the other part brings outside air back to the fire to support it. This kind of chimney can even end on an outside wall behind the appliance.