Is a Wood Burning Stove a Fireplace?

Is a wood burning stove a fireplace? Is a fireplace a wood burning stove?

Wait… is there even a difference?

The short answer is yes! Fireplaces are single structures, and wood burning stoves are made of multiple components.

Below we’ll look at some of the other differences between fireplaces and wood stoves and the benefits of each.

Is a Wood Burning Stove a Fireplace: Key Differences

A fireplace is a section of the wall cut out to provide a location for a fire to provide a heat source within a home. A wood burning stove is a metal box designed to contain a fire within. Stoves usually expel their waste gases via a stovepipe, whereas fireplaces get rid of these gasses via a chimney.

Another difference is that a fireplace is generally a single structure, built into a room and building whereas stoves are made of multiple components that are put together and can be dismantled and moved is necessary.

Today, stoves are generally more popular with homeowners because they’re a more efficient heating option. Less heat is lost to the walls, or the outside, meaning more heat is sent into your room of choice.

Although fireplaces can be made more efficient with a glass door, they are still not as efficient as stoves.

Wood Burning Stoves Explained

In layman terms, a wood-burning stove is a firebox.

It’s a metallic box in which you put wood and ignition (such as newspaper or junk mail) inside, light the fire and close the door. The black metal of the stove reflects heat to stop it from escaping and thus the heat radiates out of the body and glass door and into your room.

It’s also easier to regulate the temperature of a wood burning stove as this functionality has been built into the design. Using valves, the owner can decide to make the flames hotter by adding more oxygen or cooler by taking oxygen away.

Fireplaces Explained

Usually, fireplaces are built into the house and include the traditional fireplace opening and connected chimney.

In many older homes a fireplace was built and positioned to heat as much of the house as possible, as in many cases it was the only main heat source available. These older, more traditional fireplaces would generally be “open fires”, meaning there is no door, guard or shield between the room and the fire.

This open fire style results in very inefficient fires, as the majority of the heat and energy created escapes without actually properly heating the room. There’s also a greater risk of being exposed to harmful gasses, depending on what is being burnt.

Nowadays, many modern fireplaces come with glass doors fitted to increase inefficiencies and decrease the release of harmful gasses.

Are Wood Burning Stoves Better than Fireplaces?

Despite the improvements in fireplaces, wood burning stoves are still superior.

Compared to a fireplace, a wood burning stove allows you to generate 3 times as much heat, with one-third the amount of wood. In fact, some stoves are up to 85% efficient.

Part of this is due to the user’s control of the amount of oxygen in the fire, as mentioned above.

By the nature of its design, a fireplace will be less efficient and less easily controlled. The size and width of a traditional brick chimney will mean oxygen levels will be unregulated, and this size also contributes to the loss of heat out of the home.

Why Modern Wood Burning Stoves are Better than Older Models

Today, wood burning stoves are even better than they were in the past. Let’s look at some benefits of modern wood burning stoves over both fireplaces and older stove models.

Firstly, from an environmental standpoint, new eco-design stoves have 80% fewer emissions than stoves made even 10 years ago and 90% fewer emissions than an open fire.

You can also buy renewable fuel, which emits just 0.008kg of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt-hour of heat.

And, thanks to the invention of boiler stoves, you can use the heat from your stove to heat a vat of water, which circulates around your home to keep everyone warm, wherever they are in the house. This way, you can heat your entire home, instead of just a single room, without using significantly more energy to create said heat.

Thanks to modern innovations, you can still have all the benefits of a wood burning stove without worrying about your carbon footprint.

Benefits of a Fireplace

Even with all of that in mind, we understand that some people may still opt for a fireplace instead of a wood burning stove. And that’s perfectly understandable.

If you want efficiency, a stove is better.

But, if you want a certain aesthetic or design, then a fireplace will be better.

Some homes aren’t heated with fire at all. They are heated using a typical boiler or electric immersion heater but the home still contains a fireplace for special occasions or simple interior design appeal.

Choosing between a fireplace and wood burning stove can be a difficult decision for any homeowner, mainly because it’s a decision and investment you’ll live with for years if not decades.

However, as you’ll have read above, wood burning stoves are by far the more efficient option when it comes to performance and fuel cost savings. Choosing a fireplace can add a different character and aesthetic to a room, so it depends on your own performance preference.

We hope this helps, and for everything else home heating stick with