Some who buy wood stoves see the fan as an unnecessary purchase. In this section, we're going to elaborate further as to why this is not true. Let's look at the benefits behind the fans and what you should look for when you decide to purchase your fan.
If you have a wood stove, you've no doubt played this game: you want to warm up, so you sit close to the stove, but now you're too hot. You get up to move farther away, but after a while, you become too cold, and you've got to get up, again. Now, you can finally end this annoying back and forth.
With a stove fan, you'll see that heat warms your room instead, and you'll find yourself comfortable in one spot for longer. These fans are designed to circulate the warm air to a greater portion of your home. Without a fan, the heat generated by the stove stagnates immediately around the stove and pools along the ceiling. This not only creates an unbalanced heat gradient, but it also prevents you from taking full advantage of your stove's heating ability.
And, because fans can distribute the heat into your home efficiently, you'll find yourself burning less wood to achieve the same heat levels. These added benefits and fuel savings make a strong argument for equipping your stove with a fan.
Before you spend your hard earned money on a new wood stove blower or fan, there are some things to think about when picking the right one.
Temperature Range — When it comes to self-powering fans, the expected stove temperature is essential when choosing the right model because if it gets too hot, the fan can be damaged. However, if the stove doesn't get hot enough, your fan will not turn on. Stove fans are rated for a range of temperatures. So, you should determine the average surface temperature of your stove before a fan purchase. You can do this using an infrared or magnetic thermometer.
Automatic Control — There are some fans you never have to turn on and off. Those run on heat generated by the stove. We'll talk more about how that works in a minute. And, some fans use an electric motor for power. When searching for the right fan for you, keep in mind whether you want to control it's on/off function, or whether you want it to run on its own.
Noise Control — Fans that run on house voltage tend to produce higher noise levels, while self-powered fans are almost silent. This makes a self-powered fan an appealing option. But, you must also consider that 120-volt fans also move more air than self-powered models.
For many non-conventional wood stove fans, installation is simple. One note here: before consulting this article about how to install your wood stove fan, check the manual that came with your fan for more precise instructions targeting your brand.
Typically, you will set the fan on top of the wood stove in a spot specified by your manual. After placement, let your wood stove heat up. When the base is hot enough, the fan blades will start to spin.
As the stove temperatures climb, the fan blades will increase speed until they reach design speed. If the blades don't spin, that's because the wood stove isn't hot enough. Different fans do have different operating temperatures, so be sure to check the manual for your fans operating temperature.
Stove-specific fans that are powered from a wall outlet will operate a bit differently. Most models include both speed control and what is known as a thermal switch.
The speed control allows the user to switch the fan between the off position and full speed manually. But, the fan will not operate until the stove is hot enough to close the thermal switch. This prevents the fan from blowing cold air while the stove is still warming up. While some owners will contemplate bypassing the thermal switch for faster start up, we advise against this practice. A fan operating on a cold stove can make it difficult for the stove to ever reach operating temperature, making for a low and smoky fire that does not burn efficiently.
CFM — When searching for fans, you'll see things like "175 CFM" or "CFM: 215". So, what does this mean? CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. This is the volume of air the fan can move over a minute of time. If you have a bigger space, you'll need a higher CFM fan. Fans that are rated at 90 CFM or lower will heat rooms approximately 12 x 12 effectively. Fans that are rated between 90 to 120 CFM can heat spaces up to 20 x 20, and fans over 120 CFM can generally create enough circulation to make a difference in the heat distribution over an area greater than 600 square feet. A home with vaulted ceiling or poor air flow will of course not be heated as effectively.
How Are They Powered?
If you're looking at our selection of wood stove fans and wondering how they work, or where the plug is, you're not alone. Some wood stove fans have a unique way of powering themselves. In this section, we will go over what to expect with each type of fan you'll find.
Conventional Wood Stove Fans — As mentioned earlier, these types of fans rely on a wall outlet for power and usually feature speed controls and a thermal switch to control them. They are specific to your model of the stove and will fit into a cutout that is made into the stove body. Once installed into the cutout, the fan will draw cool air from the base of the stove and then force it around the top of the appliance and through an outlet to the room. They typically use a rotary cage to move the air, and while they do require electricity, they tend to be the most effective air movers.
Thermoelectric Power Generator Fans — Also known as TEG fans, these use the heat from the stove to create an electric current. They generate a current through the transfer of heat from the stove to the cold metal on the fan. The fan is made in two sections, with a thermal generator between the two. The disproportionate rates of expansion creates a small amount of voltage, which is then used by the fan motor.
Stirling Engine Fans — These work the same way at TEG fans in that they use the heat of the stove to power them, although how they get the fan blades to move is a little different. Stirling Engines alternate a fixed amount of air between a heated plate touching the stove and a cool plate at the top of the engine. In this gap between the top and the bottom is a piston that moves as the hot air is pushed up and the cool air pushed down. This air is heated and cooled many times a second, resulting in the power to move the fan blades.
Now that you know what to look for in a fan for your particular wood stove, let's go over the brands you should trust, how long your fan should last, and shipping information.
The Best Brands
Caframo — This Canada-based business has been making high-quality fans for more than 50 years. Caframo dedicates themselves to making fans and making them well. You can't go wrong with a Caframo fan.
Warpfive — A British company that started making stove fans in 1994. While that may not seem like a long time, they back up their products with a lifetime guarantee. So, you know your trust is well placed.
VODA — This Chinese company also makes many fireplace accessories. VODA products are popular the world over. So, be sure to take a look at what they have to offer, and see if they make the fan that's the right fit for you.
The lifespan of your fan will depend on a couple of things - how often you use it and how often you care for it. Make sure to refer to the manual and warranty information for tips on how to clean and care for your particular fan to get the maximum lifespan possible.
Conventional Rotary Fan — With proper care and maintenance, a conventional rotary fan will last you anywhere between 10 to 15 years.
Thermoelectric Power Generator Fan — Depending on how heavily you use it, a TEG fan will see you through about 5 to 10 years. In most cases, your TEG fan will go out on you due to a worn out motor. Thankfully though, the motors are low cost and easy to replace.
Stirling Engine Fan — These can last you up to 15 years. When these break on you they aren't as easy to fix as a TEG fan but caring for a Stirling Engine fan is a breeze. Refer to your manual for more information regarding the care for your particular Stirling Engine fan.
Your stove fan will ship to you via parcel. When your fan arrives, inspect the box for damage immediately. If there's anything wrong with your fan, follow the instructions on your warranty.
Wood stove fans are an essential item for any wood stove owner looking to spread the warmth. Not only do they let you get the most out of your wood stove, but they are also easy to operate and maintain. Make a pact with yourself this winter and say, "no more cold spots," and look at our selection of wood stove fans and heat your home efficiently and easily.
Yes any stove can overheat. The max temp on these fans run around 650 degrees. If your stove operates with a surface temp of 650 you are over-firing your unit and more then just the fan will be damaged. Under normal operation your stove should not reach a temp that will damage these fans.
As far as a universal product that may be used with a wood stove, a fan like the Caframo Ecofan AirMax 812 Heat Powered Wood Stove Fan would be my recommendation, but only if the surface temperature of your coal stove does not exceed 650 degrees F while in operation.