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Choose The Right Stove — Fall 2009 | Out Here Magazine

The wrong one could leave you sweltering in the winter


By Carol Davis
Brought to you by USSC


With rising heating bills and tighter budgets, many Americans are turning to alternative heat stoves for winter warmth.


"They're very economical, easy to install, and they cut the heating bills substantially," says Rodger Castleberry, VP of Sales and Marketing for United States Stove in South Pittsburg, Tenn.


But choosing which stove to buy is like clothes shopping; one size decidedly does not fit all.


The wrong stove, like the wrong jacket, creates discomfort. But more importantly, it can create danger.


Before choosing a heating stove, determine where it will go, Castleberry says. Then, determine the size of the area to be heated.


Remember that stoves are designed to warm a specific area, as opposed to an entire house.

"We consider stoves as zone heaters; as a supplement," says Paul Williams, United States Stove's National Sales Manager.

So you want to choose a stove that will heat a particular area — and that might not mean purchasing the largest one.

"Our stoves will heat from 700 sq. ft. to 2,000 sq. ft. The trick is how to move that heat around the home. If the stove is too large for the area required, consider adding a reversible ceiling fan in the stove room," says Castleberry.

"Purchasing a too-large stove for a small area is a common buying error, and one which leads to problems," Castleberry says.

"If you buy a big stove, the tendency is to underfire it so it doesn't run you out of the room," Castleberry says. "But feeding it less fuel and throttling it down produces creosote."

Creosote, the natural by-product of burning wood, coats the inside of pipes and chimney liners. It tends to build up faster if fires burn too low — which is often the case with oversized stoves. If chimneys and pipes are not regularly inspected and cleaned, creosote buildup can cause a chimney fire.

Then there's deciding what kind of stove to buy: Wood? Pellet? Multi-fuel? Coal?

Your access to each of these fuels — Is there timber on your land? Do you live near coal country? — will help determine your choice.

Pellet stoves, which burn pellets made from sawdust, have been a popular choice. A 40-pound bag of pellets will heat for an entire day and it creates much less ash than wood.

"It's less maintenance, and it's just easier with a pellet appliance than a wood appliance," Castleberry says.

Because pellets occasionally have been unavailable late in the season, Castleberry advises considering a Multi-Fuel stove — one that burns several fuels in addition to wood pellets, such as corn, soybeans, other large grains, Ag-waste pellets and cherry pits. An example is United States Stove's American Harvest stove (6041) and furnace (6500), which burn all these fuels.

Pellet stoves, however, require electricity to run the pellet feeder, fans, and controls.

"If the power goes out, it won't work," Williams says. "In that case, wood stoves are the cure-all."

If you have a mobile home, be sure to seek out a stove designed specifically for additional regulations required of mobile homeowners. "Look for a model that is mobile home-approved," Castleberry says. "Not all stoves meet that designation."

United States Stove's 2015 wood-burning model, which can heat up to 1,800 square feet, meets all state and federal requirements.

Finally, whatever kind of stove you decide on, don't wait until temperatures are falling. "Start looking now and make your purchase while stoves are in stock and before late fall," he advises.

"That leaves plenty of time and good weather to get it installed," he says. "You don't want to cut a hole in your roof in December."

Carol Davis is editor of Out Here.