Wood stoves are a good way to lower your energy bill as they serve as a supplementary source of heat to the artificial heating system. A wood stove fan comes into question precisely because of this reason as the primary function of such a fan is to ensure the even distribution of the heat generated from the stove to keep the place warm and comfy during chilling winters.
One of the first things that one may notice about a wood stove fan is that it is not attached to any sort of power cable but the blades are actually powdered with heat. So, how does it work, and does it even really work? Let us find out.
What is a wood stove fan?
A wood stove fan, like the name suggested, sits atop a wood stove, fuel-burning stove, or pellet stove and its sole function is to dissipate heated air from the stove into the room. These fans are made of metal and typically contain three or four blades that do not need electricity to run.
Wood stove fans use heat directly from the surface of a wood stove to power the blades. They are not essential parts of a wood stove and can be purchased separately. The dissipation of the heat using the air from the fan increases the efficiency of the stove and distributes the heat to larger distances within a confined space and in a shorter time as well.
Stove fans are typically safe to use and quite effective too. That being said, it will be a wise move to be aware of the features of a wood stove fan and also the pros and cons that come along with it.
- Good supplementary source of heat for rooms that are on the smaller end of the size scale.
- Typically quiet when running.
- Can be used for longer durations, such as during the night without using electricity at all. Thus it is a great way to conserve energy as well as reduce energy bills in winter.
- Works best with older models of wood stoves which by default cannot warm up the room fast enough.
- Helps the heat to be evenly distributed throughout the room. Without a wood stove fan, the heat would just rise upwards and stay trapped there.
- In rooms that are larger than average, the heat will not be as evenly distributed due to the sheer size of the room and the side of the stove will be warmer than the other side. This will result in hot and cold spots inside the room.
- It may make a whirring sound at times and also a screeching noise if the joints are not properly oiled and/or have caught rust.
- The blades are usually uncovered in wood stove fans and this makes the fan a safety hazard for houses that have unsuspecting little children and pets who may touch the running blade out of curiosity and hurt themselves.
- Is not suitable to be used with many newer models of wood stoves.
Do wood stove fans really work?
The short answer is, yes. Wood stove fans do work and quite well at that. To be fair, with the way prices of energy are increasing by the day, wood stove fans are getting more popular each year to combat the same.
Wood stoves by themselves are an alternative way to keep your home warm without using any electricity and act as a smaller version of a fireplace. The fan simply makes it more efficient by helping the heat to be distributed to a larger area inside the room.
Wood stove fans are the most efficient but consumers do complain of overheating or uneven heating and noisy fan blades at times. Since the fan in question is quite small, when it is used in larger rooms, the heating may get uneven and the warmth concentrated in one area of the room.
This can be solved by installing a blower system but that is usually very expensive and unless the weather is constantly cold throughout the year, the investment is not worth it.
How do wood stove fans work?
As already mentioned, a wood stove fan does not need electricity. As the stove is turned on and gradually heats up, the air is sucked from the back of the fan and forced out from the front, but there is more to it.
A wood stove fan uses the warm air from the stove to turn the blades. This is achieved with the help of a Peltier device. Peltier device utilizes the Peltier effect to generate electricity.
The heat that is generated fuels the motor and that, in turn makes the blades work. The prerequisite in a wood stove fan is using it in a room that is not hot before or has a temperature that can be called cool.
When the stove starts working and warm air is generated inside the cool room, the Peltier device generates electricity as the fan comes in contact with the hot surface of the stove. The heat that is transferred to the fan by conduction, provides the temperature difference between the base of the fan and above the Peltier device.
This opposing temperature creates an electrical surge of current which is subsequently transferred to the blades using connecting wires and the blades start to run.
The running blades create circulating air and since the source of this is the heating stove underneath, the air that comes out is warm which spreads throughout the room in a short time.
Are wood stove fans efficient?
Yes, wood stove fans are quite efficient when it comes to distributing the heat from a stove.
Some factors however determine the rate of this efficiency. One for instance is the size of the room. The larger the room, the less efficient a wood stove fan will be. “Why”, you ask? Well, the reason is simple. A wood stove in itself is not a very large device and the heat radiating off of it usually stays concentrated in one spot instead of spreading through the room.
The problem is the fan is also quite small usually and thus the warm air generated from it cannot travel to the parts of the room that are on the side from where the fan is located. This becomes a problem if the room in question is also large.
Another problem with wood stove fans is that, because it needs the difference in temperature for the blades to start rolling, if the existing temperature in the room is not satisfactorily cool, the fan won’t start.
That said, if we look at this from the context of energy efficiency, then a wood stove fan is indeed the best thing ever. This is because it saves you from having to use forms of artificial heating that will require the consumption of electricity. Also, a wood stove heats up to a large extent and with a fan on top of it, the heating of the stove surface will actually be less since a part of the heat is going into powering the fan.
When should you use a stove fan?
See, it is true that wood stove fans will supplement your heating system and save you some digits on the energy bill. But it will be naive to make you believe that a small wood stove and wood stove fan can meet the complete heating requirements for a home in the neck of deep winter.
Thus, a wood stove fan only comes into question when you already have artificial heating in place and just need to increase the efficiency of the stove with some extra comfort then you should go for a wood stove fan.
Are wood stove fans worth it?
Whether a wood stove fan is worth it or not depends completely on your situation.
Say you live in a small studio apartment and the heat from the wood stove keeps moving upwards and getting concentrated near the ceiling. In such a case, you can invest in a wood stove fan for the even distribution of heat inside the studio.
The thing is if you want a source of heat that will not consume energy and can be used as a temporary heating device, then go for it.
After all is said and done a wood stove fan is definitely worth it given it highly improves the performance of a wood stove. But do not depend upon it to be your only heating mechanism. At best, it can be a secondary one.
So, it can be seen that wood stove fans should be treated as alternatives to artificial heating. But if you are investing in a wood stove, it is wise to also get a wood stove fan as otherwise, you may not even be able to feel the heat radiating off from the stove unless you go quite close to it.
Keeping in mind the safety concerns it has due to its uncovered metal blades, these fans are still a worthwhile investment and can come in quite handy if used properly.