When we first purchased our wood burning stove, we were hesitant about buying a wood burning stove fan. We weren’t that clear on whether they would make that much difference to the temperature in our room. Queue me doing a lot of research (because I’m a geek) into the pros and cons of wood burning stove fans.
What follows if the results of my research, but spoiler alert we went ahead and got to wood burning stove fans because they are actually quite awesome!
In this article I’ll quickly delve into to how wood burning stove fans work, and their advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully by the end of the article you’ll be convinced of the need to have one of these awesome devices for your wood-burning stove! Full disclosure, I am not a paid shill by the stove fan industry! That said, I may get a small commission if you click on any of the links below and purchase a stove fan. Don’t worry – this is at no extra cost to you.
How wood burning stove fans work (quick guide)
Ok so first thing’s first, how do wood burning stove fans actually work?
The quick answer to this question is that wood burning stoves fans convert the heat from your stove into a small amount of electricity that powers a motor attached to a fan. This fan then blows the hot air around a wood burning stove out into your room, meaning that you are much more likely to feel the benefits of your wood burning stove.
Now, the complicated answer on how it actually generates the small amount of electricity is perhaps something for a much more scientific website. However, for those are interested (like I was) it involves something called a peltier device (or thermoelectric module).
As you can see, this is a very simple looking device which does one thing really well. If you apply a current to it, then one side gets hot, and the other side gets really cold.
You’ll often find these devices in things like computers, and coolers, anything where extreme cooling is needed.
The awesome thing about these things is that they can be reverse engineered. If you apply heat to the underside and make sure that this heat is conducted away quick enough on the top side, then it create something called the thermal difference. And it is this thermal difference that generates a positive charge.
You won’t see anything amazing here in terms of voltage, but if you apply the sort of heat that’s generated from a wood burning stove then you get enough to power a tiny motor.
And this is how wood burning stove fans work!
Why you should get a wood burning stove fan
Now, if you read the start of my article you’ll know that I think wood burning stoves are pretty fantastic so here are some of my top reasons why you should consider buying a wood burning stove fan. In other words, here are the positives of wood burning stove fans.
They make a big difference in how your room feels
First and foremost, wood-burning stove fans make it big difference in terms of how warm your room feels.
Because it blows the hot air that gathers around your wood-burning stove out into the room, you’ll see an immediate benefit in terms of a greater feeling of warmth.
Having air in constant circulation around your wood burning stove also means that there’s going to be greater circulation of the air in your room.
This is in turn helps to to circulate hot and cold air around your room much more efficiently. Over time this leads to higher temperatures around your room rather than just around your wood burning stove.
They are near silent and barely noticeable
One of the concerns I had when purchasing wood-burning stove fan, was that we would end up with a noisy device that rattledon top of the wood burner.
Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Wood-burning stove fans do generate a little bit of noise, but it’s really not that noticeable. It’s a bit like the sound that computer makes when it first starts up up, only much quieter. In other words, wood burning stove fans do not generate a lot of noise.
They are also really discreet and once you’ve had them on top of your stove for a few days your barely noticed them. This is primarily because all stove fans pretty much come painted the exact same colour as most wood burning stoves, so they blend in well.
They are free to run
I think the fact that wood burning stoves don’t cost anything to run is perhaps one of their coolest features.
Because they use the heat generated from your wood burning stove to operate, they basically make use of waste/excess energy from your stove.
In that way, they are completely off grid.
This means it just as a wood burning stove is a great alternative source of heat in a power cut, your wood-burning stove fan will also operate no matter what’s happening in the world – zombie apocalypse be dammed.
Convinced? Well here’s a link to the mini fan that I use, and I think is awesome!
Disadvantages of a wood burning stove fan (or why you might not get one)
So it wouldn’t be a balanced article unless I gave some cons to wood-burning stove fans. Safe to say, these drawbacks didn’t really apply to me, but they may apply to some people depending on their situation so the might be worth considering.
They may not be as effective as other methods
Let’s face it, wood-burning stove fans are quite small and and when they’re in operation they don’t pump out a great deal of force.
As a result if you’ve got other means of circulating air within your room, then you may find that they are much more effective than your stove top fan.
For example if you have a ceiling fan and you set it to blow hot air downwards, you are much more likely to see better temperature difference than if you just relied on a wood burning stove fan.
Now, electrical fans obviously cost money to operate which is a drawback in themselves, and some can be quite noisy (especially plug-in ones).
But that said, for the cost a decent wood-burning stove fan you can probably afford to operate your ceiling fan or a desktop fan for many winters to come.
They get hot, very hot
As might be expected from a hunk of metal that sits on top of your wood-burning stove, stove-top fans can get very, very hot quite quickly
Now this isn’t a drawback necessarily, but it’s something to keep in mind. Once your fan is spinning you can’t really change the direction that it’s blowing in without risking a burn!
Now this is perhaps the minor point, but it does sometimes get a bit annoying when your wood-burning fan is in full operation and it’s not blowing in the direction you want. I guess it’s also a hazard if you have small children or pets, but probably no more so than the wood burner itself!
They gather dust like a fiend
For me, this is perhaps one of the most annoying things about owning a stove fan. They just seem to be a dust magnet. Much like the stoves themselves – one of the few disadvantages of owning a wood burning stove.
Now that’s probably to be expected given they are literally sucking up and blowing out air indoors, and you might think that this is a small issue, but trust me it gets old fast.
Because they sit on top of your wood-burning stove, which itself is a focal point for the room, you do need to keep on top of dusting if you want to keep your wood-burning stove looking good.
The fact that wood burning stove fans gather dust so quickly means that you’ll be dusting much more the normal. This does suck and there’s no way around it, but … ain’t nobody got time for that.
They can break/stop working
This is perhaps the biggest drawback of owning a wood burning stove fan.
The fan sist on metal boxes that run consistently about 250-300° C (or even hotter). As a result, if you go for a cheap stove fan, you’ll find that over time the fan will just stop working. Basically, it becomes another thing you need think about when maintaining your wood burning stove.
This is most likely going to be down to the peltier plate breaking as a result of overheating.
If you’re convinced you need a wood burning stove fan (you should be) I think it’s best to spring for a more pricey option. Cheaper models of fans are more likely to skimp on the amount of cooling fins on the fan. So you go for a cheap model, I think it’s a safe bet to say that it will carry the risk that the peltier plate won’t last as long.
Now, don’t worry if your peltier plate does stop working on your top of the range fan. It’s a really simple fix to install a new one, as this video shows.
So, are wood burning fans worth it?
In my opinion, absolutely yes. If you don’t have another means of forcing air to circulate in your room (e.g. a ceiling fan) then definitely get yourself a stove fan. You’ll notice the difference straight away in terms of heat output from your stove.
I’m a big… fan.