We love wood burning stoves. They provide the perfect ambiance and nostalgia. But a wood stove makes sense for a number of other reasons too. It can provide sustainable energy and independence from unreliable power sources, as well act as be a backup heat source in emergencies. Wood burning is old technology, but it hasn’t been replaced—only further developed.
A modern wood burning stove can come in many sizes, from a single-room unit to one able to heat a two-story home. Efficiency can vary, so you’ll need to look into the ratings. When estimating your needs, remember to consider both window exposure and the insulation’s quality.
A wood stove is an important investment; however, from my own experience, I know you can easily misspend if you’re not careful. To help sort through the options, let’s go over important features of these venerable stoves before reviewing some of the best currently on the market.
Choosing a Modern Wood Burning Stove
Like most commercial claims, a manufacturer’s estimates of heat coverage are a bit imaginative. The ratings sometimes assume every input is perfect and the coverage area is in a draft-free vacuum state. So, when considering the coverage of a modern wood burning stove, go for a little more than you think you’ll need.
Here are some other things to look for when shopping for a wood stove:
EPA Compliance: Be aware that new EPA standards have limited the allowed discharge of particulates, which is translating into a higher burn rate for many stoves. It may be possible to make modifications to slow the burn, but it isn’t recommended.
Single- or Double-Walled: Older wood stoves were most often single-walled, and these models can get very hot on the outside while burning. Modern double-walled units are much cooler to the touch when in operation, which can be safer in some environments. These models do require a blower to circulate the interior’s heated air, so you must have an electrical outlet available.
Noise: Who knew a wood stove could make too much noise? It’s man’s intervention: the fan. This can be a problem for some owners. Users of single-walled stoves can leave off the optional blower and buy their own (silent) fans to disburse the heat. Double-walled buyers with sensitive ears should do careful research before buying.
Installation Type: One final important factor is how a modern wood burning stove is mounted: by direct exhaust pipe connections, or as an insert into an existing fireplace. Either connection is secure, but professional installation is recommended for inexperienced owners. (I listen to these recommendations: there’s too much that can go wrong.)
Top 7 Best Wood Burning Stoves
Here are the 7 best wood burning stoves:
|Wood Burning Stove Model||Heat Output (BTU)||Dimensions||Weight||Price|
|Vogelzang TR001 Defender Wood Stove|
|68,000 BTUs||21 x 23.5 x 28||224 lbs|
|Pleasant Hearth Medium Wood Stove||65,000 BTUs||25 x 29.5 x 38||310 lbs|
|US Stove Company 1269E Small Wood Stove||54,000 BTUs||30.5 x 25.8 x 21.5||120 lbs|
|Pleasant Hearth Large Wood Stove||77,000 BTUs||28.5 x 30 x 37||310 lbs|
|Vogelzang TR004 Colonial Wood Stove||69,600 BTUs||33.5 x 24.5 x 26.5||265 lbs|
|Ashley AC2000 Medium Wood Stove||89,000 BTUs||27.5 x 31.5 x 31.5||450 lbs|
|US Stove Company 2469E Logwood Stove||94,000 BTUs||35.8 x 28.3 x 26||172 lbs|
- Double-walled stove with impressive heating
- 68,000 BTUs heats up to 1200 sq. ft.
- Adjustable Legs
- Rugged 3/16″ plate steel construction
The Vogelzang Defender is a clean, attractive stove that punches a bit above its weight in heat delivery. It’s not large, but it has some nice features that make it worth a look.
The double-wall design keeps the outside cool as it pumps out 68,000 BTUs to heat up to 1200 sq. ft. The walls are made of 3/16-inch heavy gauge reinforced steel, and the interior is lined with firebrick. The stove has adjustable legs, and the exterior has a charcoal-black finish with pewter trim for a classic look.
The double-wall construction means you’ll need a blower to get the heat flowing—one is included. The iron door has a large clear ceramic window to view the fire. The interior can handle logs up to 18 inches long, slightly less than more cabin-focused stoves.
While you are able to burn up to 8 hours without refueling, according to the maker, the reality seems about half that. In part, this is caused by changes in the stove to meet new EPA regulations.
However, Vogelzang has some highly efficient stoves, and the Defender benefits from their design experience. Many users do see a reduction in wood use, as compared to old models.
This is a future-oriented stove that exceeds current EPA regs, and meets the next rulings about to become law. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for heavy duty performance fitted with the latest green technology.
- Medium EPA-Approved High-Efficiency
- Up to 65,000 BTUs; heats up to 1,800 sq. ft
- Variable-speed Blower (optional)
- Ceramic Glass Window and Ash Drawer
The attractive Pleasant Hearth medium wood burning stove features insulating bricks to conserve and direct heat. It’s EPA certified with an 82% efficiency rating.
It’s also a bit heavy at at 310 lbs, just so you know.
At 65,000 BTUs, this stove is optimistically rated to heat up to 1,800 sq. ft. It probably heats closer to 1,200 sq. ft. for dependable warmth. And though the efficiency is good, it is offset by a rather high burn rate.
The firebrick-lined interior is functional, and the exterior is appealing. Unfortunately the stove doesn’t keep its fire longer than about 4 or 5 hours—the burn rate is too high, even on the lowest setting. You’ll have to restart it on cold mornings.
Some users leave the variable speed blower off because it’s a bit noisy. Some claim it doesn’t do much anyway. But the clear front window provides an amazing view if you like blazing fires. The exterior is attractive and solidly made, and the convenient Ash Door at the bottom (a removable brick) makes it easy to maintain.
As with any wood stove, expect a learning curve on how best to load it and maintain the fire. The fan is too noisy to some people, but you can replace it with your own.
Pro Tip: When first lighting the stove, burn outside or in a well ventilated area. Expect a few hours of unpleasant smokiness before the stove becomes seasoned.
Pleasant Hearth is made in the USA and has a 5-Year Warranty. It’s easy for an experienced hand to assemble and install: it connects with the exhaust, so measure the pipe well before buying.
It’s heavy, and you’ll have some smokey tendencies to deal with, but overall this EPA-favored medium stove performs well and offers appealing and authentic home style.
- 54,000 BTUs; heats up to 900 sq. ft.
- Safety Handles
- Cast iron legs & rustic styling
This is a rugged cast iron wood burning stove made to heat up to 900 sq. ft. Lightweight at just 120 pounds, it makes a nice cabin stove and has some valuable old-fashioned features like safety handles and hotplates on top.
The stove can emit 54,000 BTUs when loaded and going, and the heat output is impressive. It can keep a cabin warm in sub-zero temps. The EPA-approved system allows a fast burn rate, which makes it good for emissions but hard on conserving wood. Because of this rapid burn rate, you can’t leave the fire too long by itself.
The US Stove Company’s design is classic American, the material is heavy-duty cast iron–though, it’s made in China. The firebox takes logs up to 23 inches long, a convenient size for cabin living. Its rugged construction makes the stove suitable for garages and other semi-rough spaces.
It also smokes up a storm for some people: it driven some users crazy, judging by feedback. The seasoning process should be done outside, but it if smokes unduly after that, you might have to do some fiddling. Pro Tip: The top layer of insulation material can block the flow or venting … the stove may draw better if you push it back or level it.
The simple, nostalgic stove features some Arts & Crafts detailing. The convenient and energy-efficient hotplates are a nice cabin extra, as is the classic front shelf.
This is a modern stove for rugged conditions… it gets even nicer if you solve the smokiness problem, but a fortunate draft can work wonders if you’re not up for DIY engineering. This cast iron wood stove holds up in rough conditions, making it a good candidate for the wild outback, or your garage.
- Large EPA-Approved High-Efficiency Stove
- Up to 77,000 BTUs; heats up to 2,200 sq. ft
- Variable-speed Blower (optional to purchase)
- Ceramic Glass Window and Ash Drawer
This stove is a step up in size from the previous Pleasant Hearth model, and it adds an air wash feature to help keep the front viewing window clean.
The 77,000 BTUs are rated to heat up to 2,200 sq. ft, which makes this unit suitable for many single-family homes. The stove’s EPA certification indicates emissions of 3.6 grams/hr, a number that already meets the new legal requirements being enacted in 2020.
You can buy the optional variable-speed blower for more efficient heat distribution, but as we noted, some users complain of noise. Pro Tip: You can buy your own quiet fan instead: you’re only moving the heat from the stove, the air flow isn’t integral to the burn quality.
Another quick tip comes from customer feedback. While the stove’s maker doesn’t make claims, the top of the stove warms sufficiently to use for modest heating.
There is a convenient Ash Drawer, and the exterior style is attractive and decorative. The ceramic glass window has an added air wash system to help keep it clean.
The heat can be uneven, but most customers are satisfied. It isn’t a complicated stove; it’s relatively easy to setup and operate. You load it up and let it burn down, and do it again, for as long as you don’t want to be cold.
This is a large modern wood burning stove without complications that does a good, EPA-compliant job of heating a home-sized space. It looks nice, too.
- Robust EPA-approved Fireplace Insert Stove
- 69,600 BTUs heats up to 1800 sq. ft.
- Air Wash window cleaning
- Reinforced plate steel construction
The Vogelzang Colonial uses an existing chimney for its exhaust, and installs in the open hearth of a fireplace. It has a few quirks to discuss, but it’s a nice looking stove, and much more energy-efficient than a drafty chimney.
The BTUs are listed as 68,000 with a capacity to heat up to 1,800 sq. ft. It’s lined with firebrick and constructed with heavy gauge steel, and has a cast iron door with a surrounding hearth for a classic look.
The stove must be in a fireplace or other containment space that can handle the heat it generates—you can’t use this in place of a free-standing unit. It may cover a smaller area than stated, unless you’re in a place not subject to severe cold weather.
The firebox is a bit small and handles only up to 18 inches, so you’ll have to reload pretty often in really cold weather. Seasoned wood is pretty much required for good performance, as with most new stoves that conform to the EPAs’ coming crackdown on burning wood wrong.
The clear ceramic door is quite large, and almost recaptures the charm of a glowing fireplace. Overall the Colonial is attractive and well-built, and works well as a fireplace insert. It is newer on the market than most on the list, and has already made a name as a good citizen by EPA standards.
- Stylish Medium Stove
- 89,000 BTUs heats up to 2000 sq. ft.
- Dual Blower system
- Large Ceramic Glass window
- Mobile Home Approved
This Ashley stove certainly looks the picture, and it does put out good heat. It’s not quite as premium as its price would indicate, but it handles the job and includes some nice features. It’s also approved for mobile homes, and for sale in Canada, too.
Some might say the original Ashley brand energy is gone, having sold out years ago. Today the U.S. Stove Company produces a stylish line of adequate stoves under the brand of Ashley Hearth Products. Its standout feature is the brand’s look of modernity with rustic styling; it’s nicely finished in a metal-fleck black finish.
There is more here than just looks: the stove can radiate 89,000 BTUs with a claimed heat range of up to 2,000 sq. ft. The metal is cast iron with a 6-inch flue, and the firebox has a pull-out ash pan for convenient cleaning. It can handle logs up to 21 inches—not bad.
The dual blower system is more complication than some want in a cast iron wood burning stove, but it handles smoke and distributes adequately.
One important factor is its high EPA compliance and industry acceptance. Unusually the Ashley cast iron wood burning stove is approved for use in mobile homes, and in both Washington state and Canada: two areas at the forefront of concern about wood burning pollution.
For all its style and beautiful name, there are some downsides. The way the company has responded to EPA regulations allows too much air in—without a way to regulate it—that properly seasoned wood burns up quickly. This shortens the time between loading and uses up fuel at a faster pace.
The customer service is about as usual when buying from a consolidated multinational corporation farming out a famous name. I’d keep my receipt.
This Ashley cast iron stove is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a decorative high-powered stove for a mobile home or have a lot of extra firewood you’d like to burn. Otherwise, you might consider that it’s a famous name that puts out a lot of heat and isn’t as dainty as it looks.
- Logwood Wood Burning Stove
- 94,000 BTUs rated to 1,800 sq. ft.
- Solid Cooktop Surface
- Two-piece Safety Handle
- Rustic style with Cast Iron Legs
This sturdy logwood cabin stove is a bit generic, but it puts out the heat and has some nice features. It’s made by the US Stove Company and is EPA-compliant.
The 94,000 BTUs it generates is the point of this stove, and it keeps a large garage or isolated cabin warm in cold weather without complaints. Well … there may be complaints, because it requires assembly and it smokes a bit if you don’t get it just right.
It isn’t an entirely cast iron wood burning stove, either, but the legs are: the rest of it the manufacturer would rather not say, or at least, doesn’t.
The generous firebox accepts up to 27-inch logs like a real cabin stove should, and has the classic stove hotplates, too. Hotplates are becoming a rare feature on wood stoves, but they conserve energy so well you’d think the EPA would demand them.
This basic model from the US Stove Company is one to check out if you need a lot of heat. It’s great for a cabin, garage, or an uninsulated older home. It takes logwood conveniently and provides useful old-fashioned hotplates, too.
Wood burning stoves have continued to develop since they were the big game in town, and there are many modern options available. Some of the most common and popular extras are variable speed fans, ash drawers, and front ceramic windows for viewing the fire. Custom and bespoke wood stoves like the ones by Stoves N Fitting UK are also becoming more popular. While a pricier option, having a custom built stove ensures something unique that stands out.
Many of the newest EPA-compliant stoves are still adjusting to the new requirements and may have growing pains. Innovation continues to improve both efficiency and fuel conservation, so it’s important to do research before buying.
You’ll have to decide what features are suitable for your stove use, whether you’re looking for a rough campsite heat machine or an attractive home unit. One final tip is about what comes after you buy, about which wood to use.
The new EPA regulations coming into effect in 2020, like the ones recently enacted, are mandating construction that favors seasoned wood. Greener wood releases more particulates … but it also burns slower and gives off less BTUs. Newer stoves perform best with seasoned wood. To save money, buy your wood at least a year ahead of burning, and protect it from the weather.
The best may be yet to come for wood burning stoves, but some are quite good already. With a little shopping around you can find the right stove, and enjoy the advantages which have made them popular for so many generations.