When purchasing a wood-burning stove, there are several important features, including certification from the Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturers sell these stoves through a loophole that classifies them as fireplaces because they burn 11 or more pounds of firewood per hour. They burn dirty, creating a lot of smoke, do not heat well and are inefficient.
Most wood stoves are made of steel or cast iron. While cast iron generally has aesthetic appeal, it is also more expensive. Both types of stoves have the same durability.
As of 2015, most top-end manufacturers produce catalytic wood-burning stoves. However, the catalytic converter must be replaced about once every six years. With the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of these stoves, some manufacturers are switching to an efficient noncatalytic stove design that burns more of the emissions inside the firebox.
With stoves that have a firebox with the long dimension running parallel to the door, users load wood so it can roll against the door. This orientation limits the amount of wood they can safely load into the stove. If the long dimension is perpendicular to the door, logs that roll fall against the walls of the stove and cannot fall out of it.
The size of the area to heat should determine the size of the stove. Homes with large, open floor plans and those with drafts require a larger stove than a small cabin.