GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Woodstove recommendations

joenorm | Posted in General Questions on

Looking for recommendations on a good wood stove to heat a 1400 sqft pretty well insulated home. I will also have a mini split heat pump for primary heating.

Looking for something with semi-modern styling, good efficiency and not over-the-top expensive.


GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member


    I've used both of these and found them great.

    My only caution would be to stay away from models that require a catalytic converter. A client installed one in a house I built three years ago and has gone through two already. Not only are they pricey - now they tell him they have discontinued making that model. The twenty year old Regency we have in our house has needed nothing replaced. Not even the gasket.

  2. NateSc | | #2

    I would go with a Blaze King.

    I totally disagree with avoiding catalytic converters. If you burn dry wood they will last for at least 7-10 years, and the replacement cost is justified by the wood savings.

    Secondary combustion is the other option, and is the exact opposite of what you want in a high performance home. It is going to give you a burst of heat that shoots the indoor thermostat to 85, then you'll be waiting until 11 or 12 at night (or saying the hell with it) for the thermostat to drop low enough to endure the jolt of heat again.

    A catalytic stove like the blaze king, despite having an enormous firebox, can have the btu output dialed down to around 11k BTUs, which is like the perfect number in a high performance home. At the lowest setting you will have that heat output for 30 hours.

    At the time I built my house I put in a wood cookstove, which is pretty cool, but after a couple winters I'm willing to concede that the functionality of a cooking oven and large cooktop does not offset the convenience and efficiency of getting 30 hour burn times with even heat output from a single load of wood.

    Visit the forum where you can find a ton of info.

  3. joshdurston | | #3

    I second Blaze King, it's one of the few brands of stoves lets you burn at low rates, is very efficient, and gives burns longer than a day. They are also honest with their marketing materials and claims.
    They have a design that protects the catalyst from damaging high temps and flame impingement. They have a bimetallic thermostat coupled to the stove that controls the inlet air based on temperature. You set a baseline and it adjusts up or down with a lot of control authority.

    Many other brands stick catalysts in to clean them up but don't have a design centered around a cat. They tend to chew up the catalyst and destroy them if they got too hot or soils, or exposed to cold air with out opening the bypass.

    I have a smallish bungalow and can burn my Blaze King (Ashford 30) in dark mode most days without overheating, where there a no flames but the cat eats the smoke with out overheating the house. If I want flames in the evening, I wick it up a notch for an hour two, and the 500lbs of steel buffers the heat nicely to prevent overheating. I load it once a day, and it puts out steady heat for 20-30hrs straight depending on where I set the thermostat. You don't get the massive initial surge like you do with secondary burn stoves, just a steady output until the fuel is gone. As the stove cools off the thermostat opens up keeping the BTU/hr pretty constant.

    My only regret is putting the stove in an outside corner of the house, I should've located it more centrally.
    Like Nathan mentioned is good for wood stove info and advice. There are brand wars but a lot of good info. I would post your project details there before you spend any money. I didn't know Blaze King existed until I visited the forums a couple years ago. But am very happy with my choice.

    I think Pacific Energy makes great stoves if you can tolerate a higher min burn rate. This might mean having to do a bit more of pulse and glide style burning which can be ok if you're around home to tend the fire. My dad has a Pacific Energy stoves and loves strong output and looks. I commute an hour or more 2-3days a week and my wife doesn't like messing with the stove, so it's nice being able to set it and forget so she doesn't have to load or adjust it while I'm gone.

    I have a Mits FH series heatpump for when the stove isn't going in the shoulder seasons.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #4

      Nathan and Josh,

      In light of your experiences I should probably look at them again. The difference in efficiency and emissions didn't seem to justify the extra complexity, but I hadn't factored in the convenience of being able to really damp down the fire and still maintain that efficiency.

      I suppose you could characterize my aversion as being philosophically based. I look at stoves as pieces of the house akin to doors or walls. That is permeant and not needing periodic repair or maintenance . Having a component that needs regular replacement makes them feel more like an appliance. Perhaps I just need to think about them differently.

      1. joshdurston | | #6

        It depends on what you want out of stove too. If it's a primary heater than the something like the Blaze King makes good sense. But if you just want some cozy flames and radiant heat for a couple hours in on cold evenings, than a secondary burn might be the way to go, since it won't overheat things too badly if you only burn it a couple hours at a time.

        Another thing is to look for a stove that has a double wall convective design, this biases the heat output away from overwhelming radiant, and towards heating air via convection. This tends to do a better job at heating other rooms, and not overheating you stove room.

        IMHO, the secondary burn airflow and baffle systems are arguably similar complexity to the the Blaze King's catalyst implementation. Many stoves need periodic gasket replacements. Pacific energy stoves need an occasional new baffle. Blaze king has been all in catalysts since the 80's whereas a lot of other manufactures used them as a crutch (Jotul) and then discarded them ASAP. Jotul makes decent secondary burn stoves, but their cat stoves were to be avoided.
        It's important to view the catalyst as a consumable, it should live for years before needing replacement. BK will give you a free one under warranty in the first 10years if you need one without asking to many questions. The cost of the catalysts ($200-$300) is far outweighed by the savings in wood, and the cleaner emissions. BK stoves are often to closer to 1g/hr versus 2+ g/hr for secondary burn stoves. The lower burn rate means a lower draft, which interns means less infiltration (not as big of a deal if you have a OA combustion air kit).

        Woodstock stoves are highly regarded but a niche manufacturer of soapstone catalyst stoves. If BK wasn't available they would be my next choice.

        Whatever you choose, make sure you go with a insulated chimney or liner, and keep it straight as possible, and inside as much as possible. You want it to be at least about 15' tall to get adequate draft under a wide range of conditions.

  4. JesseTrinque | | #5

    I have really loved the Hearthstone soapstone secondary burn EPA stoves. I've had two of them and loved them both. The soapstone sucks up that burst of heat those above are mentioning and radiates it for hours after the flame has long gone out. They are absolutely a showpiece. The reburn at the secondary tubes is beautiful as well. If the stove is going to be in living space of the house nothing beats a hearthstone in my opinion, both for heat ouput and aesthetically. In my opinion alot of the steel stoves (I've lived with those as well) are ok for a basement but not as nicely suited for a living area or the centerpiece of home like a soapstone stove. After converting from an old non-epa stove I was blown away by our wood savings and comfort level. Not too mention how little creosote and smoke the stove makes. My wife used to go looking for me some nights to find my sitting in front of the woodstove entranced by the secondary burn. lol.

    1. brendanalbano | | #7

      Soapstone stoves are real nice. My parents have a soapstone masonry heater with secondary combustion and all that, and it's certainly fabulous, and it works quite well at heating their home. Leaning against the warm soapstone or sitting on the built in bench is luxurious.

      But I don't think it quite meets Joe Norm's requirements of "not over-the-top expensive" ;) Although I guess that means different things to different people.

      1. JesseTrinque | | #8

        New they are quite pricey. I was able to pick up my both my hearthstones off craigslist sub $1000 needing new $80 glass and $40 worth of ceramic gasket rope and some elbow grease.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |