The Heat Efficiency of Wood Burning Stoves vs. Gas Stoves

Ever wonder about the overall efficiency of a wood burning stove as opposed to a gas stove? There are many differences between the two types of stoves but understanding the distinction in combustion and heating efficiency is the most helpful towards making a decision as to which stove is beneficial for you and your family’s needs.

Combustion vs. Heat Transfer Efficiency

wood burning stove

Combustion Efficiency vs. Heat Transfer Efficiency

First off, defining combustion efficiency and heating transfer efficiency is important to understand the rest of this discussion. Combustion efficiency is the percentage of fuel that is actually turned into heat instead of ash, vapor, steam, etc. This form of efficiency is a measure of the percentage of your fuel expenses it takes to create heat in your stove, while taking into account the amount of waste that is created from this fuel usage.

Heat transfer efficiency is how much of the heat generated actually radiates throughout the rooms in your home. This is essential to take note of because there’s a distinct difference between the fuel creating heat within your stove and that actual heat being expelled throughout your home from the stove. There’s normally a lot more heat created within the stove then is available to heat your home.

Wood Burning Stoves Heating Efficiency

The fuel that generates heat within a wood burning stove is obviously firewood. Wood burning stoves are often less efficient when it comes to an equal balance of fuel to heat release because the outside of these types of stoves don’t typically have an efficient heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is a piece of the equipment on the stove that helps transfer heat from the stove to the rest of the room. Heat exchangers on wood burning stoves don’t have the surface area for the proper extraction and distribution of heat relative to the amount of fuel used to generate the heat. Wood stoves are much more combustion efficient then they are heat transfer efficient.

However, wood stoves still remain efficient heating options because of the fact they are in the area of your home that you want heated. Unlike a wood stove insert or a fireplace, a wood burning stove is often near the center of the room and is exterior from a wall. Therefore, the stove generates heat closer to you and your family. Lastly, wood burning stoves are especially worth purchasing, despite their heat transfer inefficiencies, if you don’t have to pay for the wood to fuel them. If you have access to your own firewood, then the heat transfer inefficiencies aren’t costing you the same downsides as they would if you’re buying firewood.

Gas Stove Heat Efficiency

Gas stoves are powered by gas via the piping in your home, much like a conventional cooking oven. Gas utility services are often more of an expense than firewood to fuel a stove. Yet, the overall combustion and heat transfer efficiency of a gas stove is much higher than that of a wood stove. It all comes down to pricing.

Heat exchangers in gas stoves help prevent escaping heat from your stove and help better distribute it throughout your home. They are typically more viable within a gas stove then in a wood stove, therefore less heat escapes from the stove making a gas stove more efficient in both respects.

Many gas stoves have high levels of insulation and tight fitting door hinges that a wood stove does not. This severely increases the efficiency of a gas stove over a wood stove because they are able to retain higher levels of heat for longer periods of time.

In the end, both gas and wood stoves have high levels of heat and combustion efficiency. Gas stoves are typically more reliable in terms of efficiency then wood stoves, but often at a higher price.

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One Response to The Heat Efficiency of Wood Burning Stoves vs. Gas Stoves

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