A Complete Guide to Buying The Best Wood Stoves

Many people consider purchasing a wood burning stove for many practical reasons, perhaps the biggest reason is that they’re becoming much cheaper to run than their electrical and gas rivals. Equally, you may have fallen for their traditional appeal that can never be replaced by modern appliances. Regardless of your motivations, it’s important to be aware of what to look for in a good quality wood burner and ensure that you’re not paying too much for too little.

In order to choose the right stove for your home, you need to be equipped with the right information so you can make an informed decision. In the table below, you’ll be able to view some of the best wood stoves available on the market that have a variety of functions to suit the needs of almost any type of living space.

TOP Rated Wood Stove Reviews


  • Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning Stove
  • PRICE : $$
  • HEATS : up to 2,200 square feet
  • BURN TIME : 8 to 10 hours in one fueling
  • BTUs : 77,000
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : 85%
  • US Stove 2000 EPA Certified Wood Stove
  • PRICE : $$
  • HEATS : up to 2,000 square feet
  • BURN TIME : up to 20 hours
  • BTUs: 89,000
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : 86%
  • Hi-Flame FF-905 Shetland Wood Stove
  • PRICE : $$$
  • HEATS : up to 800 square foot
  • BURN TIME : 12-24 hours
  • BTUs: 21,000
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : 90%
  • Vermont Castings 2461 Catalyic Cast Iron Stove
  • PRICE : $$$$
  • HEATS : up to 2,500 square feet
  • BURN TIME : up to 30 hours
  • BTUs: 50,000
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : 75%
  • Napoleon 2200 Timberwolf Stoves Economizer
  • PRICE : $$$
  • HEATS : up to 2,000 square feet
  • BURN TIME : 20-30 hours
  • BTUs: 65,000
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : 86%

What Makes a Good Stove?

There’s no denying that a stove is a very clever piece of engineering and design, so if you don’t know what to look for when shopping for a wood stove, that’s only natural. As with everything, you will find very cheap stoves, as well as high-end stoves that can easily run into the thousands of dollars. The key is to choose a stove somewhere in the middle, that way you know you aren’t sacrificing any important features found in the best wood stoves, and equally, you aren’t wasting money on stoves with lots of extra features you don’t really need.

Here are the most important factors you should assess when looking for the right wood stove:

Material 

To begin, you want to think about the metal that your stove is made from; the two most commonly used metals are cast iron and welded steel. There is zero performance difference between the two, so don’t believe anything that states one will enhance heating more than the other because it’s not true. Ultimately, your final decision will come down to cost and appearance. Cast iron models tend to offer a curvier, more rustic style, that attracts many people to stoves in the first place, while stainless steel stoves are a simpler and less pricey alternative.

In terms of durability, cast stoves have had a reputation of being more resilient due to the ability of damaged parts to be replaced with ease. However, today the manufacturers of steel stoves have realized this and so have ensured that parts that are under intense heat stress are easily replaceable.

In addition, it’s a good idea to look at what material is lining the inside of the stove. This is important because the temperatures inside the stove can reach mind-blowing heights, so if you choose a cheaper material such as thin sheets of steel these have a tendency to quickly disintegrate leaving your stove exposed to heat damage and cracking. The best option is to purchase a stove lined with replaceable firebricks, these are much more resistant to heat and can easily be replaced with little effort.

Combustion Technology 

Another thing to consider is whether you opt catalytic or non-catalytic combustion. This debate has been going on for many years, both are useful, however, performance differences have been well established. Catalytic combustion occurs when the exhaust fumes produced by the fire pass long a catalyst-coated ceramic honeycomb located within the fire, which create a constant and strong heat output. This catalytic component degrades with time and needs to be replaced periodically, it can last more than 6 years, but with poor stove, maintenance can last as little as two years.

As you may have guessed, non-catalytic combustion dos not utilize a catalyst, but instead imparts an environment for combustion to occur within the firebox itself. This environment is fostered by a combination of three things: firebox insulation, a baffle to divert gas flow and pre-heated combustion air let in through tiny holes in the upper part of the firebox.

Which is best catalytic or non-catalytic? It seems that many manufacturers are opting to create more non-catalytic models, however, there are still many catalytic stoves that remain popular. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make as the argument for supreme is not clear cut and both remain much cleaner than older stoves.

Efficiency Rating 

In the 1980’s the U.S EPA ensured that all catalytic wood stoves must adhere to an emission limit of 4.1 grams of smoke per hour and for non-cat stoves of 7.5 g/h.

The high-efficiency models definitely make a difference with everyday use. For example, newer models are typically one-third more efficient than the old stoves of previous decades. That means less money spent on firewood, cutting, preparing and even cleaning your stove. This means that the EPA rules have worked for both stove users and the environment, which is a great advantage.

EPA certified stoves are over 60 percent efficient and many can offer around 80 percent of the fuel’s potential heat to the property. This is much better than poor, uncertified models that are often in the 40% range and less. High-efficiency stoves are not always a good thing either, for instance, those offering an 80% efficiency rating can lead to a low exhaust temperature causing a feeble draft and possibly even water damage in your chimney due to condensation. For more information about the exact wood stove models that meet the EPA qualifications check out this guide.

Heating Capacity 

Manufacturers tend to provide a number of square feet of space the unit will heat. You will find many that give a substantial scope such as 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. These figures are unclear since, in reality, it would depend on which area of the U.S the stove would be used, for instance, the climate in middle America is much different than the west coast of the U.S. Additionally, new homes will be better insulated and so will retain heat much longer and more efficiently than an old built home.

In reality, taking into account all of these factors, stoves are available in small, medium and large. As a consequence, the size of the firebox can have a real impact on the amount of heat produced. So a suggestion may be as follows:

  • Small stoves – small wood stoves typically have a firebox of around 2 cubic feet and are adequate for heating a large living space or cabin.
  • Medium stoves – these typically have a firebox of around 2 and 3 cubic feet and are adequate for heating medium sized properties.
  • Large stoves – these typically have a firebox of around 3 cubic feet and can be used to heat larger homes or open planned living areas.

Heat Output 

The majority of stove manufacturers detail the peak heat output in British Thermal Units (BTU’s) and this commonly ranges from 20,000 to 90,000 BTU’s. However, this is quite deceptive since using your stove at peak heat output i.e. your fire on high constantly can lead to major damage to your stove. In addition, the average sized property needs only around 5,000 to 20,000 BTUs per hour of continuous heating power to keep it adequately heated, even through the cold months.

Furthermore, these numbers can be quite deceptive as non-catalytic have a propensity to generate a higher rate of heat, but this does not mean it will be consistent over a 12-hour wood burning cycle. As a result, these figures can not be depended upon since there is no standard.

Other Factors 

Stove Fans – Next, you want to look for a wood burner with a blower, this is an expense you don’t want to spare as if you purchase a stove without one the heat can be lost up the chimney. Additionally, with a blower, you know that the heat produced is being nicely distributed throughout your living room, which is the goal of any fire source.

Why Choose a Wood Burning Stove in the First Place?

Like the majority of people, you’re probably well aware of the ever-growing costs of energy; the truth is that heating your home using electrical or gas fireplaces and radiators are expensive, in fact, it’s the average working person’s biggest expenditure. The problem is getting worse every year too and since many energy companies haven’t stopped hiking their prices up annually, there’s no reason to suggest that it’s going to stop or slow down anytime soon.

That’s where wood burners or log burners can provide you with a new and innovative solution to this common financial burden. Wood burners have become increasingly popular in recent years for many practical reasons. Firstly, you no longer have to rely on gas and electrical suppliers and corporations running your life, as with a well-made and modern wood burner you are truly in control of your heating and therefore your energy bills.

Is Using a Stove Cheaper than Gas?

The short and simple answer to this question is yes. Using wood to heat your home is cheaper than gas and electric, however, there’s another fundamental reason why a stove can work out being cheaper to run than a gas fireplace and that’s due to the way people tend to use wood burning stoves.

For example, if you own an electrical or gas fire on your property, then you are very likely to switch it on and not really consider the amount of gas or electricity you are using. However, with a stove, you become more aware of the amount of energy you’re using as you can physically see the logs or wood pellets being consumed. This simple visual awareness can make you become more mindful of your energy consumption and whether or not you are using too much, helping you to easily monitor your heating bill with constant care and attention.

Additionally, I think we can all agree that a wood burner in the lounge can look amazing on a cold winter’s night. You and your family sat around burning wood can be an enchanting experience in its own right.  The look of burning wood also makes a stunning visual, and the crackling wood can be soothing too.


Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning Stove

Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning StoveIf you are looking to heat up a fairly large area, then this wood burner has been designed to heat up to a huge 2,200 square foot meaning it produced adequate heating for a fairly large area.

Additionally, it burns for as long as 8 to 10 hours per fuelling, making it an efficient and hassle free option, since let us be honest, who wants to continually spend time refuelling throughout the day? As well as saving time, this also helps you to save on a number of wood pellets or logs you use.

Another great plus about “Pleasant Hearth” stoves is that they are made in the USA and include a 5-year warranty, offering you peace of mind and of course the added security of it being located in the USA. So, there’s no dealing with overseas companies or sellers, which can often lead to troublesome experiences with returns and shipping costs.

Another great bonus is that these stoves are EPA certified, meaning they won’t release the toxic emissions observed in older models.


Other Features: 

  • EPA certified, Non-catalytic and omni tested wood burning stove
  • Includes variable speed blower, allowing you to modulate the amount of heat produced
  • Heating capacity up to 77,000 btu’s with seasonal cord wood

US Stove 2000 EPA-Certified Wood Stove

US Stove 2000 EPA Certified Wood StoveThis contemporary wood burning stove offers a crisp design and heat for up to 2,000 square feet, making it more than adequate to heat the average sized home.

In addition to the stunning design, there is a magnificent arched glass door with a built-in “air wash” feature which helps to keep the glass stain and ash free for longer.

This stove comes with a roomy firebox below. The firebox comes in extra handy as it means you save time having to refuel the stove while increasing the burn time too.

It is also EPA Certified, meaning it releases fewer emissions than other models, and so is able to be safely used in mobile homes as well. Finally, the US Stove comes equipped with a quiet, efficient 100-cubic-feet-per-minute blower, meaning the heat produced will be nicely distributed throughout your living space.


Other Features: 

  • Includes Ash Drawer for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Includes blower to distribute heat into your living space
  • Air-wash feature that helps keep the glass door clean

Drolet High-Efficiency Wood Stove

Drolet High-Efficiency Wood StoveThe last burner in our list is the high-efficiency option, which does come with a slightly higher price tag, but in all honesty will be a long term investment helping you to save more money and time as a result.

Being able to heat up to 2400 sq. ft., this stove offers a very sturdy, robust and modern design that not only stands out from the rest due to its solid appearance but also its high efficiency. In fact, this stove boasts a whopping 80% efficiency rating, meaning it offers a slow burn and high heat output, helping you save you time and money – it can run for up to 45 hours! Ideal for those long winter days. 

Another brilliant feature of this stainless steel stove by Drolet stove are the replaceable firebricks lining the interior of the stove, these are much more heat resistant than cheaper steel alternatives that have a reputation for disintegrating within a few months and leading to cracks. In our opinion the Drolet is the best wood stove, offering efficiency and quality for a very reasonable price.


Other Features: 

  • Exclusive combex technology provides perfectly balanced pressure for more effective heating
  • Keeps running even with door open
  • Stainless steel heat exchanger on top of firebox

 BEST WOOD STOVE COMPARISON TABLE 

PRODUCTPRICEHEATS UPTOBTUsBURN TIMEEFFICIENY RATINGDIMENSIONS 
Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning Stove$$up to 2200 square feet77,0008 to 10 hours in one fueling85%24 x 26 x 25.8
US Stove 2000 EPA Certified Wood Stove$$up to 2000 square feet89,000up to 20 hours86%21.5 x 33.5 x 20
Hi-Flame FF-905 Shetland Wood Stove$$$800 square feet21,00012-24 hours90%25 x 23 x 37
Vermont Castings 2461 Catalyic Cast Iron Stove$$$$up to 2,500 square feet50,000up to 30 hours75%25 x 30 x 35
Napoleon 2200 Timberwolf Stoves Economizer$$$2000 square feet65,00020-30 hours86%26.2 x 24.2 x 30.5

Final Words

A final thing to think about is the design, there tends to be a common trend with the more money you spend the higher quality the design, with bay windows and wrought iron detailing being two factors that often bump up the price. Not only can wood burner designs be pleasing to the eye, but better-designed stoves, typically sold by the most respected brands tend to have better quality fittings and last much longer than their cheaper counterparts.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, but remember that heating your family is almost as important as eating, so I would always recommend spending a little bit more to secure a good quality stove and ensure a warmer home for years to come.

It’s important to note that although wood stoves can look beautiful and certainly keep your property well-heated, they are not as efficient, or as hassle-free as pellet stove heating. Therefore, if you want the style of a traditional wood burning stove, but don’t feel you have the time or patience to maintain one, then a pellet stove may be a better choice.