Wood Burning Stoves:
A room type stove appliance is the one without the boiler, meaning it is just a room heater. But when you spend your money you want the most efficient not just the prettiest. So your appliance will have primary air intakes at the bottom for starting the fire, and secondary air intakes at the top for burning the gasses when the stove gets up to temperature. The top vent for secondary air is usually combined with the “door air wash system” on some models. If the stove on offer hasn’t got these then do not buy it. Try to read up on wood stoves before you go to the showroom otherwise you could get sold anything. When you buy your stove get a magnetic Stovax Stove/Flue thermometer….very essential and the shop may throw it in for free as part of the deal….well you have got to try!!
How To Operate A Wood Burning Stove:
As usual follow the stove manufacturers instructions and I accept no liability for anything that goes wrong if you follow the instructions below which are at your own risk only …… But this is how I do it and it works very well for me.
To operate a stove efficiently you need to know what temperatures are being achieved so you will need a stove flue thermometer.
The bottom vents on a wood stove are usually the primary air vents which allow air into the stove from beneath the fire base to feed the fire oxygen and draw the fire.
The top vents on a wood stove are usually secondary air vents which feed oxygen to the hot gases of the fire so these gases can burn and also some act as a way of keeping the glass panel clean from soot.
The hot gases given off from wood burning is just what is commonly known as smoke which is basically unburnt fuel.
Your timber must be completely dry and of a good burnable size about 3″- 4″ in diameter, no bigger and preferably mixed in with smaller thinner pieces.
Fit a “Flue Thermometer” at recommended height on your flue.
Using A Wood Burning Stove Warning 1:- With a new stove smaller lower temperature fires are recommended first to allow your stove to settle down so always follow the shops or the manufacturer’s instructions on using your stove.
Using A Wood Burning Stove Warning 2:- It is very important when you have your air vents open to lite the fire or to give it a boost that you do not wander off and forget about this operation because the temperature could rise to dangerous levels which could result in a chimney fire or other damage.
Put a layer of rolled up newspaper across the bottom of the burning area of your appliance (or a good sized fire lighter). Then in a criss cross pattern put your kindling starter fuel (thin strips of wood or twigs) on top of the newspaper/firelighter and put this thin kindling several layers thick. Then put at least one full layer of heavier chunks or split logs on top but do not fill the fire burning area completely, just fill so the burning area is no more than half full.
Now lite the rolled up paper/ fire lighter and shut the door, and fully open the primary air vents (bottom air vents) and have the secondary air vents (top air vents) open at about one third of the way. When the temperature of your flue thermometer has reached around 400F then you close the primary air vents (bottom air vents) completely and also close your secondary air vents (top air vents) so that they are only open with a slight gap of 1mm – 2mm and you should be able to hear the air being sucked in through these vents. Your stove thermometer should drop down to between 300F- 400F and that is the perfect temperature when in operation. If the temperature drops below 300F it will require more fuel, or if it has enough fuel and the fire is beginning to die, you just need your secondary air vents (top air vents) open a tiny bit more. After getting the stove up to temperature the bottom vents (primary air vents) should be closed completely and only ever used occasionally to give the burning fuel a boost if for any reason the temperature has gone well down from 300F but when the appliance is well and truly hot then the inside temperature should ensure the fuel to burn correctly.
When the bottom of your stove has a bed of glowing embers and the flames are dancing on top of your fuel logs, then you will have achieved gasification temperature and your stove settings are correct. At these temperatures you will be producing very little if any smoke which means that your fuel is being burnt fairly efficiently and quite cleanly.
When you notice the temperature start to fall below the 300F mark on the thermometer, then this is the time to add more wood but a little each time so your temperature stays in the ideal range which should be clearly marked on your thermometer.
Your stove burning at the correct flue temperature range of 300F to 400F will burn very efficiently and cleanly, so much so that it is instantly noticeable as the glass door will be clean and also the inside of your stove which will not have many black sooty residues inside but more grey ash. Your chimney will also be cleaner with again very little black tar type soot which is usually produced when fires aren’t burning efficiently.
Back to the top Wood Stove With Boiler:
If you have purchased a stove with a boiler then all of the above will still apply in its use and how the appliance operates, but the warm up time will be longer because the stove is surrounded by cold water and the appliance is going to require more fuel and need it more frequently because the heat generated is being taken away by the hot water system. When purchasing a boiler type stove go for the latest designs by reputable manufacturers who are usually all foreign as theirs will no doubt be of a higher specification and the most efficient usually to meet their stringent air quality regulations in the main countries where they are sold.
The latest boiler type of stove will have better more efficient ways of collecting heat from the fire and transferring it into the water in the boiler. The boiler may be at the top of the stove or even in the flue and the inside of the stove may be lined with ceramic material to increase the stoves internal temperatures to increase the efficiency of the burning fuel.
These latest boilers will claim to be 80% + efficient. Look for these claims in the documentation, do not always believe the salesman without double checking the boilers efficiency ratings.
A latest super efficient stove type boiler costing 2000.00 euro for example will most likely repay the extra costs in a short time over one costing half that price with the savings on fuel.
Also boilers that claim to heat say 10 radiators may actually be able to do that quite well, but you will be sitting in front of it with your skin melting from your body and the thing roaring like a blast furnace. An over exaggeration but the drawback with boiler type stoves is that they are also situated in rooms as room heaters and to achieve the heat required for all the radiators they will need to produce this heat in the room, which means it can get quite uncomfortable. Be realistic, if you want to heat many radiators then you are going to need a large stove which will require lots of fuel which will also require a large room to be situated in. There is no magic formula and if you require lots of heat then you are going to have to burn lots of fuel. The secret is burning and transferring that fuel efficiently in to your water, so you will need the most efficient type of boiler type stove system.
Whether you just buy a stove or a stove with boiler avoid unknown cheap makes they could cost you more in the long run, and read up on them first before you go to view them so you will have a good idea of what to look for.Flue/Chimney:
Your flue/chimney is an important part of your heating system. It must be preferably insulated because the hot waste gases leaving your stove need not to cool too much otherwise they will leave deposits on the inside walls of your flue which will require cleaning.
Most chimneys were built for open fires to a design which goes back to when people first had fires inside their homes. A modern flue would be stainless steel and insulated so it remains hot/warm all the way up and is the correct diameter for the stove it is attached to. Some chimneys may be 10″ plus in diameter where the stoves specifications may be much less.
A purposely made flue liner can be inserted inside your chimney if the chimney size is too large to overcome any problems and it can be packed out with insulation also.