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The Wood Heater

Updated on August 16, 2009

While writing on the subject of heaters, it goes without saying that I have to review the wood heater.  Oftentimes thought of as old-fashioned, or something that was useful in the past but has since become obsolete, the wood heater can be a very viable option for heating your home.

Of course, it depends where you live and how easy it would be for you to come by wood, but if you are in an area where wood is fairly readily available you might want to take a look at the wood burning heater.

I have very fond memories of wood heaters.  My dad was a handyman, and he'd often buy old houses, we'd live in them for a number of years while he remodelled them, and then we'd move out into another house.  When I was young some of the houses we moved into actually had wood heaters or a wood stove heater. I still recall my mother quietly cussing the wood stove (no, she didn't usually cuss, she wasn't that type of women, but the wood stove heater brought out the best in her!) It was an old model and it would either smoke or just go out at the most inopportune moments.

Still, the wood heater warmed the kitchen and was a delight to sit in front of when I returned home from school on those cold, dismally bleak winter days.  There would always be a pot of warm soup sitting on top of the wood stove heater, and the kitchen became the most popular place in our house. I think part of it was the warmth generated and also the charm of the wood heater.

Modern wood heaters are a far cry from the older models, the combustion stoves and wood stove heaters.  If you do live in an area where you are able to get wood fairly cheaply, I'd suggest you take a look at this type of heating.

Wood Heaters

Some wood heaters are just that, a wood heater alone.  They don't perform any other functions. You can find some that have more of a fireplace style, others are just a square wooden box with a flue going up.  Often made out of cast iron, they are able to generate a lot of heat. Though a little slow sometimes at getting started, once they are burning they can stay burning all night long if the controls are set right.

You can also find some portable wood heaters available. These are good if you need to move them around from place to place, or just to have as an extra heat source in case of electricity or gas failures or shutdowns.  One thing you have to be careful about is that they are deemed safe to use indoors. You'll find some of these portable wood heaters aren't for use indoors at all, or can't be set on wooden surfaces, so make sure you find out all the details before you invest in a wood burning heater.

Wood Stove Heater

The wood stove heater is a fairly common wood heating appliance.  There are many different varieties of these on sale these days, and they are quite popular additions to the rustic style kitchen.  The newer slow burning, or combustion stoves are much more effective and efficient than older versions of this style of stove.

Some stoves will only have the fire cabinet itself and some hot plates on top of the stove. Others will also include an oven section, which can be used for baking. Again, they can be left on all night if set to burn the wood slowly, meaning that you can wake up to a nice warm kitchen in the morning. These sturdy stoves are often built from a combination of cast iron, steel and stainless steel.  They come complete with thermostat and many of the ovens are glass fronted and self-cleaning.

They do take a bit of time to get used to cooking with them, but these days the heat is regulated well and more stable temperature controls make it easier to use them.

Wood Water Heater

Another option that I have seen with the wood heaters is using them to provide hot water to a home. These are very cost effective when compared to regular hot water heaters, especially electric heaters and are touted as being more energy efficient also. It is also pretty easy to convert your existing hot water heating system over to a wood burning heating system if you like.

The wood water heater has a fire-chamber, ash chamber and the water tank. The insulated fire chamber has an outer covering of stainless steel. This can very easily be hooked up to existing piping with just a few minor changes. If you don't feel confident to make these changes yourself you can always get someone in to help with this conversion.


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    • BobHander profile image

      BobHander 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I agree Agrande, I think we need to investigate other energy sources before it turns into a crisis!

    • agrande profile image

      agrande 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Great information on wood heaters Bob,

      I think heating our homes is going to be the big challenge as we move into the coming energy crisis.