On a cold, wintry night there's nothing better than snuggling by the fireplace with people you love. The only thing that could ruin the moment is having a wood stove or wood fireplace that isn't operating at its full potential. No one wants to get up every 30 minutes and refuel their wood stove. In this article, we are going to discuss what a burn time is and what you can do to maximize yours so you can stay snuggling as long as possible.
What is a fireplace burn time?
For the sake of clarity, we need to say that this article will only be discussing wood stoves and EPA-certified fireplaces. Decorative, open-faced wood burning fireplaces are not made to burn for long periods of time between refueling, nor does the manufacturer offer a rated burn time for them. Therefore, you will never find one with a "burn time" listed in its product description. When a manufacturer lists the burn time of a wood stove they are referring to the time the stove is expected to maintain a fire with a single load of wood.
A burn time of say, 8 hours, does not mean a stove can only be used for 8 hours in a 24 hour period. Though, some people may misunderstand it & think that. All wood stoves are capable of burning from coals to embers and then having another log added to reignite the fire. Though, the original length of time, without the additional log, is what a manufacturer will list on a wood fireplace or stove as its "burn time".
Why is it important to understand burn times?
It's important to understand burn times for a few reasons. One, you need to know what you are looking for when you are shopping for a new fireplace. If you don't have easy access to seasoned firewood and can't fill a wood stove fully every time you burn, you can't expect it to reach its full burn time potential. Also, you have to know if you have an insulated chimney chase and well-insulated house. These things will also affect your burn time. It's a good rule of thumb to expect from a fireplace only what it claims to offer. Simple idea, right?
Though, people can get upset when they buy a stove based on looks without looking at burn time and BTUs and get a wood stove that performs with less power than they expected. You can't expect a stove that maxes out around 6 hours of burn time to regularly burn for 10+ hours. Even though in some situations where the home is well insulated a wood stove could exceed the expected burn time, you should never buy a stove based on that possibility. Buy it based on what it was made to do and if it exceeds that then you'll never be disappointed.
How to get the most out of your wood stove
One important thing to note about burn times is it does not only include the time where a flame is visible in a fire. Burn times include the moment the main fuel log is lit through the time the embers are glowing in the fire. When the flames have died down, the heat will obviously die down with it too. So, you need to understand that about burn times to keep correct expectations like we discussed earlier.
While you can't force a fireplace to burn as long as you want, adjusting certain settings can help maximize the length of time you get heat out of a load of wood. First, look at your manual to see what type and how much wood you can load into your wood stove or fireplace. Each stove will be different. If you don't load enough, you won't reach the max load time. If you load too much, you can overfire your stove and potentially ruin it. See this article for more information about that.
Max burn times are achieved with the correct type of wood, loaded to its capacity, and set to the lowest air setting. The lower the setting the less oxygen will be pulled in for combustion and the less heat will be created. Low settings are ideal when you want to burn all night long or if your house has reached a comfortable temperature.
High air settings will pull in more oxygen, cause combustion to happen more quickly, and generate more heat. This may be ideal when you are first starting up your stove & have a very chilly room. High air settings may also be unavoidable in homes that are poorly insulated or in a very cold climate. You may have to get used to shorter burn times in these places where you need the wood stove running at max capacity just to keep the room warm.
If you operate a fireplace on the highest air setting, be aware that it can cut the burn time from 1/3 up to 1/2 of its listed burn time. So, as you are shopping for a new wood stove or fireplace, keep your climate, home insulation and use for the stove in mind to make sure you buy one that will meet all your needs. That's about it for this article. I hope you filled your brain with all sorts of useful tidbits that will keep you burning safely and effectively many nights in the future. If you have questions, please feel free to call us at 800.203.1642 or read through our library of articles here.