What Size Of Wood Burning Stove Do I Need?

When thinking about buying a burner, either for the first time or as a new upgrade, one of the most common questions we hear asked is “What size of wood burning stove do I need?”

It can be challenging to figure out which is best, especially if you’re a first time buyer. 

But, size is actually nowhere near as crucial as KW output.

Today, we’ll look at whether size even matters and how to find the right-sized wood burning stove for you.

What Size Of Wood Burning Stove Do I Need?

Size v Power in Stoves

Like a lot of things in life, size can matter. However, that’s not to say that size is the only important factor, nor is it to say that bigger is always better despite what we’re sometimes lead to believe. 

But, when installing a wood burning stove, getting the size right can be the difference between a well-heated room and a well… the opposite. And despite all the aesthetic benefits of a stove, first and foremost it’s about heat. 

Small stoves are easier to understand because obviously it’s essential to make sure that your burner isn’t too small. If the stove is tiny, chances are it won’t be able to generate enough heat to cover the entire room. This becomes a bigger consideration the bigger the room is, but we’ll get to that…

Moving on to bigger stoves, where there are a few more factors to consider. The main benefit of a larger stove is its potential to generate huge amounts of heat, but it isn’t just as cut and dry as that (pardon the on-purpose pun).

The first problem with big stoves is that they can take longer to warm up. Not great for when you’re cold now. Secondly, they are known to produce more smoke due to excess ash. And if you don’t like cleaning your stove, a big one also offers more problems. Finally, and probably most obviously, they take up more room. Wood burning stoves are supposed to be homely and cosy – not huge tanks dominating your living space and cramping your style.

Wood Burning Stove Size Pros and Cons:

Small Stoves:

  • Pro: Space efficient
  • Pro: Easier to clean and maintain
  • Pro: Generally less costly
  • Con: Less heat output (especially in older models)

Larger Stoves:

  • Pro: More heat output (in general, but not always)
  • Con: Demands more space
  • Con: More cleaning and maintenance 
  • Con: Generally more expensive

With all of the above in mind, size can clearly be a factor, but what really matters is KW output- KiloWatt Output. This is how many KiloWatts of Energy your burner puts into the room and we’ll dive into that below. 

Wood Burning Stove Size Guide

How to Figure Out the Required KW Output for your Stove 

There is a simple way to figure out what size (or should we say power) of wood burning stove you need.

The equation is Width × Height × Length ÷ 14 = KW output.

If you haven’t thought about math class since high school, let’s break it down step-by-step below. 

The first step is to calculate how many cubic meters your room is. This is the room in which the new stove will be installed, and the way to do this is to measure the width, height, and length. The best way to do this is to use a standard tape measure – and just remember to measure in meters.

When you multiply these three numbers, you get the size of your room in cubic meters.

Next, divide that number by 14. The resulting number tells you how many KWs will be required to warm up the room sufficiently.

Now before you move on, just remember that although 14 is an average, this might not be the best number for your specific room.

If your room is poorly insulated – perhaps because it’s an older house or potentially poorly built, divide the cubic meters by 10.

And if you live in a well-insulated house, potentially a newer build, then divide it by 25.

14 is the most common figure and should give you a good steer on the power required if you’re planning to heat a relatively standard living space. Once you’ve figured out how many KWs your room needs, it’s time to look for a stove that gives the correct KW output.

Wood Burning Stove KW Outputs:

  • Small stoves: 4-6KW
  • Medium Stoves: 7-9KW
  • Large stoves: 10-15KW.

Picking the Right Size of Stove for You

When picking the right size of stove for your own home, remember that the correlation between the size of the stove and KW output is not always directly connected. Some smaller stoves have a higher KW output than some larger ones.

For example, newer stoves tend to release more heat per cubic cm than older stoves. And the per cubic cm power of each stove will also vary from brand to brand. If you want as much KW output in as small a burner as possible, you may need to shop up in terms of brand and quality available.

You will also need to think about how much room you want your new stove to take up. Big stoves can dominate a room, in a bad way, by making it cramped and uncomfortably warm. Smaller stoves can look nice but offer little in terms of impact and heat. 

As always, the best thing to do is shop around. Look at different brands, consider your budget, measure your room more than once, and take everything into consideration before making your decision. 

What works for you might not be great in another person’s home. 

To finish, although there will inevitably be exceptions, the general rule of thumb is that bigger wood burning stoves tend to have a higher KW although just remember that KW output is always far more important than size.

And that’s your guide on how to find the perfect size for your wood burning stove.

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