a woman warming her hands by a wood stove

Wood Stove

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/2/2021

Thomas Vitali

Is there anything more inviting than the image of a roaring hot fire inside a cast iron wood burning stove on a chilly winter evening? Often considered an inexpensive and direct form of radiant heat, these fiery furnaces can sometimes double as a cooking surface. It’s no wonder the idea of installing a small wood stove has become so popular, but is it actually a good idea?


The term wood stove, also known as a wood burning stove or a wood burner, refers to a wood burning furnace apparatus that is meant to supply heat, typically indoors but sometimes outdoors as well. An indoor wood burning stove installation consists of a closable metal firebox (i.e. a cast iron or stainless steel insert), a firebrick lining, and air controls known as dampers to control the air supply and temperature. A wood stove fan is sometimes placed on top to help distribute heat, while some stove tops also include designated spaces for cooking surfaces. Wood burning stoves generally need to be ventilated through a stove pipe or chimney with a flue to allow gases and smoke to escape while retaining the most amount of heat possible.

What Are Some Of The Main Problems With Wood Stoves?

Many homeowners, especially in colder climates, would love a high performance wood stove to help heat their residence or cottage. Modern day versions come in a variety of designs, styles, and materials, as well as with increased safety features and automated performance functions. Still, having one installed as a heating source is often considered more dangerous and inefficient than some other options:

  • Newer wood stoves are designed to be much safer than older models, with updated safety features to help prevent heat loss and damage. However, older or improperly working models can not only be dangerous if not updated and maintained, they are often deemed illegal in most areas.
  • Some of the best wood stoves today are designed to maximize efficiency. However, there is always the potential for excessive heat loss unless the airflow is monitored and adjusted accordingly. Owning and operating one requires constant attention and should be done with both performance and safety in mind.