This is the most important term when it comes to your safety. Clearances refer to how much space your stove needs between it and other parts of your home to operate safely. Your stove's manual will cover clearance requirements, and it's essential to follow those restrictions.
For example, say you buy a wood stove and set it on a combustible carpet. Your manual will tell you to lay down floor protection like a hearth pad. And, it will give you all the measurements for that hearth pad. The pad needs to be "x" inches thick and extends "x" inches on the sides, front, and back so as not to catch your floor on fire.
These measurements are the clearances. If you don't have room for the clearances, your manual will tell you what you can do to reduce the clearance space. Usually, it involves installing some heat shields like sheet metal or a masonry wall. You can check what the clearances are by looking at the manual for the appliance on its item page. For example; this is the manual for the small wood-burning Drolet Pyropak stove (Go to page 4).
Now you know these terms and will be ahead of the game when researching wood stoves or any heating appliance.
Who Makes the Best Small Stoves?
There isn't one small stove that sits as the best of the best. Many manufacturers make excellent small stoves. It's up to you to research and find which stove is perfect for your home. Here are a few places to start.
Empire - With Empire you'll find a line of gas-fueled vent-free and direct vent small stoves. Empire makes these appliances in the traditional iron stove style. These are well-reviewed products that will keep your home warm season after season.
Osburn - When you want a traditional wood-burning small stove Osburn is the company. Their wood-burning stoves meet the EPA emissions standards for fuel-efficiency. The look of a traditional stove is unsurpassed, and Osburn makes some eye-catching units.
Dimplex - If you can't do wood and can't do gas, Dimplex has you covered. Their line of small electric stoves is affordable and comes in a variety of styles. You can go for a traditional iron stove look or something more modern. Dimplex has a "Mini Cube" model that's small enough to take in RVs. They even have a small stove that uses Dimplex's famous Opti-Myst system.
Duluth Forge - Easy to operate and a traditional style to boot, Duluth Forge has great options to choose from. A small Duluth Forge stove gives you "Dual Fuel" technology. With dual fuel, you can use either natural gas or propane without needing a conversion kit. Some of these vent-free units even come with remote control, so turning the heat up is a press of a button.
Buck Stove - Buck Stove gives you options. They make both wood-burning and vent-free small stoves. A Buck Stove small wood-burning unit comes in that beautiful traditional style. Their vent-free stoves come in different colors and offer an optional remote control.
Drolet - Highly reviewed and highly recommended. A Drolet small wood-burning stove is a great little appliance. These stoves meet EPA emissions standards, and Drolet even went as far as to make a portable wood stove for camping.
Where Should I Install My Stove?
Because of their size, small stoves open up the location possibilities. Potential options include alcoves inside a large fireplace opening, the kitchen, an unused corner, or even a small room.
If the space you've got your eye on is super tight, check the clearances. Remember, we mentioned you could find the manual of any stove on the item's webpage. Use the manual to check if you have enough room to heat the area safely.
There are significant differences in installation when it comes to small stoves. And, it all depends on the fuel.
Wood stove installation is the most complex. You have to buy a venting system to remove smoke out of the home. You also have to be wary of clearances and take steps to keep your flammable belongings out of harm's way. This includes a hearth pad or hearth rug if the floor is combustible.
If you want to reduce clearances, you'll need to fashion a heat shield. Creating a heat shield and installing a venting system is best left to an NFI or WETT certified professional.
Gas stoves are more simple to install. Hook your appliance to your gas line, and you're good to go. The headache comes if you need to install a gas line, which again, you should hire a professional to do. Many small gas stoves are vent-free, so they need no venting installation. Some do, and you'll want to follow the same clearance rules and hire a professional.
Electric stoves are easy to install. Plug it in and start heating your room.
Is My Wood Stove Safe?
In a word, yes. If you respect the heat and use your stove appropriately, you should be fine.
For any specific tips about your appliance, read your stove's manual. For general tips, let's go over some necessary do's and don'ts when it comes to staying safe around your small stove.
Each stove has parts of its body that heat up to high levels. Do not touch those parts of your stove when it's on.
When your stove is on and hot, it's best to keep children and pets away. For wood stoves and some gas stoves, don't touch the venting. The heat from your stove is rising out of the firebox through the pipe, making it hot.
Follow all clearance and elevation restrictions. If the manual says to keep "x" part of stove six inches away from combustibles, do as it says. Otherwise, it could start a fire. You may not have all the room in the world, but this is a genuine hazard. It's better to have a small home than a burnt home.
For an electric stove, always unplug it when you're not using it.
Set up some carbon monoxide detectors around your home. Gas and wood fireplaces let off carbon fumes that can be deadly if the house or stove is not vented correctly. CO alarms can save your life.
For safety tips about small wood burning stoves, we have a handy info-graphic.
How Do I Take Care of My Small Stove?
Wood burning stoves are famously long-lasting. Many wood stoves are going strong after 50-plus years. Gas stoves and electric stoves don't have the longevity of wood-burning stoves. Most appliances don't. Gas and electric models can still last a long time, though. They all require some proper care and maintenance.
With a wood stove, the best tips are the simple ones.
Clean out the ash regularly.
Don't burn trash.
Don't overfire. In other words, do not stick too much wood in the firebox.
Gas-fueled stoves can last as long as 20 years; however, wear and tear start to appear after about five years. A knob or igniter may fail and need replacing. The number one reason for a nonfunctioning gas stove is inactivity. Leaving your gas stove sitting for long periods is the worst thing you can do to it. Be sure to fire it on a few times every season to burn off dust and cycle any moving parts.
Electric stoves need regular dusting and component checks. These stoves should last you about a decade. With heavy everyday use, that lifespan could be cut down. Much like gas stoves, you may see a component fail before the whole thing fails. If you have pets or mice in the house, be sure to keep an eye on the wires inside and out. A faulty cable can be a fire hazard.
EPA Information about Wood Burning Stoves
In the late '80s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created emissions guidelines to limit the pollution of wood stoves. The agency updated those guidelines in 2015, and in 2020, they will announce a new standard once more. These new rules reduce the allowed pollution output to 2 grams per hour (g/h).
Today, stove manufacturers are creating new models that have certified emissions of 1 to 4 g/hr. When searching for a small wood burning stove, keep these standards in mind. Find the white EPA label and check those emissions. The lower the g/hr rating, the more efficient the stove. Check and see if the wood stove you're looking at fits the new standard by clicking this link.
How Do Small Stoves Ship?
Stoves will ship through LTL freight. Wood burning stoves and some of the gas models are crated to prevent tipping and damage during transport. Electric stoves and some gas models are lighter, so they're boxed up and put on a pallet.
Shipping companies take precautions when shipping your merchandise, but accidents can happen. When your stove arrives, inspect it for damage. Report any unwanted damage to the manufacturer as soon as possible to comply with warranty deadlines.
By now, you should have an idea of what small stove you want. And, you should have a better understanding of the terminology it takes to shop for the right stove. This article is full of useful info, but maybe it's not enough. That's okay because eFireplaceStore.com has a ton of articles and information for you to explore below. We want to equip you with the know-how to make an informed purchase.
Remember, safety is key! If you'd like to talk to an NFI certified professional one-on-one, feel free to call us at 1-800-203-1642. Our knowledgeable techs will help you find the right solution to heat your home.