Can A Wood Burning Stove Heat An Entire House?

With an increasing focus on the use of renewable energy sources, it can be tempting to consider using a wood burning stove to heat your entire house. But is this actually feasible?

You might be able to use a wood burning stove to heat an entire home. But you need to make sure it’s in a good position and set up correctly. It might also be worth thinking about getting a stove boiler.

Can a Wood Burning Stove Heat an Entire House?

Stove Vs Open Fire: Which Is More Efficient?

The first thing to reminder is that if you want a wood fire to heat your whole house, you’re going to have to use a wood burning stove. An open fire just won’t provide enough quality heat. 

In many older homes, you might see an open fire rather than a stove. However, even in houses with open fires, these are primarily used to heat one specific room or area, or are simply more decorative than anything else.

Whenever you use a traditional open fire for its heat, some of that heat will be lost into the walls, open space, areas of draught etc. So you will want something as efficient as possible – which means as much heat as possible circulates throughout the house.

Wood burning stoves are approximately 70-80% efficient, whereas open fires are merely 10% efficient. This means a possible waste of up to 90% of the heat created! 

The reason a stove is more energy efficient is because the waste gasses (from burning) become trapped within the stove box, and added to your home heat instead of escaping through the chimney.

Picking The Right Stove

Now that we’ve finalised that you’ll be using a stove, choosing the correct model and installing in the optimal location is vital if you want your wood burning stove to heat up an entire house as best possible.

If you want a stove powerful enough to heat your entire home, choosing the right one can be critical. 

Some wood burning stoves are built more for aesthetics than performance, so be careful to properly research the brand, quality of materials, energy output and so on. 

Generally speaking, modern stoves tend to excel over older models as they are better insulated and feature newer energy efficient technologies. 

You should also carefully consider the size of stove. A stove that’s too small will most likely struggle with your heating demands, but bigger stoves don’t always simply equal more heat. You can find out more about size choices here. 

Where To Put The Stove?

Once you’ve chosen your model, it’s all about picking the right location. For most homes this will be the main living area, or a snug cosy space, but you may want to consider all other options for maximum heat circulation through the entire house. 

Firstly, pick the right room. This might sound like common sense but you can make the wrong choice here. Ideally the room should be on the bottom floor, in the middle of your house where possible. You probably remember from elementary or high school that fire rises. Placing your stove on the top floor of your home will mean any rooms below will get little, if any, heat. Likewise if you heat one isolated corner of your house. 

And to prevent this heat from escaping through the walls, installing your stove as centrally as possible within any room will make a big difference.

If you can’t install your new stove in a central position, but you’re lucky enough to have a house with an old open fire space, put it there. Your home was originally built to have that fire as its primary heat source. The structure will already be in place for heat to spread around the house in a natural way. 

Finally, if you can, make sure to have vents and fans in place so the heat can get from the burner to the home. Make sure every room you want to be heated has a vent that connects to the fire to encourage the heat to spread naturally throughout your home. 

Setting Up Your Wood Burning Stove

From this point forward, it’s all about the quality of fire you build and burn

Some people make the mistake of just throwing random logs on here and there. But this is not effective, and the fire will not burn as efficiently and hot as possible. 

The first thing to decide is what type of wood you’re going to use. Make sure it has 20% or less moisture. Otherwise, the heat that would go into heating your home is just going to go into evaporating the water from damp wood. Not ideal!

The best kinds of wood to use include Oak, Birch, Ash, and Hazel.

Before you put any logs on there, you will want a bed of ash, about ½ an inch thick, at the bottom of the stove. This will provide insulation.

Next, use about 4 logs to create a crosshatch (#) symbol. In the centre, you should add a stick of fire lighter. Around this shape, add a good amount of kindling. Then light the fire lighter in the centre.

Once all of that is on fire, place in a large log on top and as centrally as possible without getting burned. This will act as your primary fuel source as the fire grows and develops. 

You might also find it helpful to close air vents, so the heat stays where it’s supposed to, instead of escaping through the vents.

Using A Wood Burning Stove Boiler

These days, most homes are heated by boilers rather than wood-burning stoves.

But, for some people, these don’t have to be two separate things.

You can purchase a stove boiler or buy a boiler attachment for your stove if you already own a good quality burner.

Instead of heat going directly from your stove to the rooms, the stove will heat up a vat of water, which will travel throughout the house via a network of pipes, much like other forms of home heating. 

It should be said. Whilst this method can heat up your home, it will double the wood required to do so. This might not be a problem if you’re using a stove to heat up your entire house anyway, but it’s worth remembering. 

And there you have it. We hope this helps during your planning or research stage. For some, an entire home can be heated via one stove but for others it’s simply not possible. 

When you consider all the possible variables, from the size and structure of the house, to the age, build quality and floor plan, you can see how much it can differ and change. 

For everything else home heating, stick with