Do I Need A Wood Stove Fan? What’s The Benefit To Me?
The short answer is, it depends. If you rely on your wood stove as your primary means of home heating, then yes, a wood stove fan will absolutely make your heating solution more efficient and effective. By now, you’re aware of the single biggest shortcoming that wood stoves have when it comes to heating. They’re very good at heating the area immediately around the stove itself, and not so good at heating the rest of the room.
That’s where the stove fan comes in! It gently and quietly circulates the warm air around the fan into the rest of the room, evening out the temperature and making the whole room more comfortable.
That Sounds Great! How Does A Wood Stove Fan Work, Exactly?
The first thing you’ll notice when you start looking at stove fans is the fact that they don’t have power cords or space for batteries, so you might be wondering how they get power. That’s actually one of the most interesting things about stove fans, and a critical point in answering the question of how they work.
Broadly speaking, stove fans fall into two categories. Those powered by TEG (Thermoelectric Power Generator) and those powered by Stirling Engines. In both cases, they rely on the heat of the stove itself to provide power to the unit, which is a big part of why they’re so effective and such good additions!
So, Which Stove Fan Is Right For Me?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to answer that question, although you can narrow the field of choices by looking at two variables:
First – how much clearance do you have between the top of your stove fan and the opening it’s in? Using that height value, you can zero in on stove fans that will fit into the space you’ve got.
Second – how big is the room where your wood stove fan is sitting? The bigger the space, the more air-moving power you’ll need. The air-moving potential of a fan is listed in cubic feet per minute (CFM). We’ve got a handy comparison chart where you can see how the various stove fans stack up next to each other. You can access that information HERE.
Assessing your needs against those two variables, and factoring in your budget will help you narrow the field and ultimately make the perfect stove fan selection for your home.
How Do I Know If/When My Stove Is Getting Too Hot?
This question often arises There are actually a couple of ways to tell. The first is by paying close attention to the behavior of your stove fan. Almost all stove fans made have an automatic shutoff feature built-in. When the temperature begins to approach their maximum operating threshold, you’ll see the blades shift position slightly, eventually leading to a shutdown so as not to exceed maximum operating temperature. If you see this behavior, you’ll want to adjust the position of your fan.
The other, much more precise option, is to invest a few dollars in a stove thermometer. These are external devices you can place on the stove to give you an exact read of the temperature, and are highly recommended if you’re going to invest in a stove fan.
Again, position is key. You’ll want to attach your thermometer to the stove flue pipe in order to get the most accurate temperature reading possible.
Do Stove Fans Come With Warranties?
They do! In most (but not all) cases, you’ll find that the average warranty length is about two years. There is some variance from one company to the next, and sometimes, from one model to the next. The best way to get a good overview of the warranties offered is to check out or Stove Fan Comparison page, HERE.
What Kind of Maintenance Do Stove Fans Require?
There’s actually not much in the way of maintenance that you’ll ever need to do. Even low-end stove fans are robustly designed, and should provide you with years of reliable service. Even better, if you have a fan that uses a TEG module for its power, should it ever go bad or wear out, those are sold separately, and you can buy that component and replace it. Taken together with their robust nature, this means your investment will be quietly helping to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your wood burning stove for years to come.
The only two things you’ll really need to do are these: If you live in an area with a lot of dust, you’ll need to periodically wipe the fan down with a detergent-free cloth, and you’ll probably also want to keep the box that your stove fan came in, in case you move or need to store it during the summer months. This is because the box is specifically designed to cradle the fan blades, and they’re the real stars of the show!
What About The Noise Level?
This is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. The lower-end stove fans tend to be somewhat louder than the more expensive models, but even the noisiest of these fans are shockingly quiet – unless you’re in the direct path of the air current, or literally sitting right next to the fan, odds are that you won’t even be aware that it’s running. It’s definitely not loud enough to interfere with any conversations you’ll be having in the room.
I Have A Gas Stove, Not A Wood Burning One – Can I Still Use A Stove Fan?
The good news here, is yes! The only thing that a stove fan needs in order to function is a hot, flat stove top surface. Whether your stove uses wood, or gas, or anything else as fuel, if it’s got a hot, flat top surface, then you’ve got a viable place to mount your stove fan!
What About Using A Wood Stove Fan With A Fireplace Insert?
You absolutely can use a stove fan with a fireplace insert, but here, proper placement is more important than ever. The fan needs to be able to draw cooler air from behind if it’s going to operate (assuming you’re using a fan with a TEG module), because it needs the temperature differential to create power to spin the blades.