How Does a Wood Stove Work in the Basement?

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A wood stoves can be an efficient, cost-effective tool for heating a home. While some homeowners prefer to install wood stoves in living rooms or bedrooms, where they provide ambiance and direct warmth, others install them in basements to heat the entire home in place of a gas or oil furnace. Basement wood stoves can heat large homes when installed and used correctly.

Convection

  • One reason that a wood stove if an effective basement heat source is the principle of convection. This refers to the tendency of warm air to rise and cooler air to sink. As a basement wood stove burns, the heat it produces moves upward to the living space. This makes it a more effective means of heating an entire home than a wood stove in a single first-floor room. For example, a wood stove in the living room will likely heat up the living room itself and any bedrooms above it, but it may do little to heat a kitchen or bathroom elsewhere on the first floor.

Blowers

  • If you want to use a basement wood stove to heat most or all of your home, you may need to install a blower. A basement wood stove can connect to a system of ducts, much like a gas furnace, producing warm air that a fan circulates throughout your home. This process is faster than convection, though it does rely on an electric fan and an existing network of ducts. Combustion blowers are fans that feed oxygen-rich air to the wood stove to produce hotter flames and more heat when outdoor temperatures are very low.

Fuel and Cost

  • The costs of using a basement wood stove as a primary or occasional source of heat vary based on several factors. Your location will determine the cost of wood. Harvesting wood on your own property and curing it over time is the least expensive way to supply fuel, while wood deliveries cost more based on the distance of the lumber source and the type of wood. The cost and availability of natural gas and heating oil also play roles in determining whether a basement wood stove is a money-saving choice.

Safe Installation

  • If you plan to replace an existing basement furnace with a wood stove, your options for selecting an installation location are somewhat limited. However, you must still ensure that your basement wood stove stands on a noncombustible surface. This may mean installing a new type of floor below the wood stove. A basement wood stove must also be installed with a minimum clearance between its walls and the nearest combustible materials, which can include items in storage and finished basement walls. Check with the wood stove manufacturer to determine these clearances and ensure that your basement wood stove doesn't become a source of fire danger.

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