One of the most common questions we are asked is whether a stove will work when the door is open. The simple answer to this question is yes, the stove will work, but it can be up to 60% less efficient than when the door is closed. The fact is that wood-burning stoves and multifuel stoves are designed for use with the door closed. Why?
Controlling the airflow
The key to maximising the efficiency of wood-burning and multifuel stoves is to control the airflow via the air vents. If you use your stove with the door open then there will be a constant flow of air. You will see the fuel burning, the flames will be more visible than normal and you will feel that instant heat hit. However, the fuel will burn quicker, the stove will be more expensive to run and it will be a lot less efficient.
Even going back to the first stoves, they have always been designed to radiate heat through the metal body of the stove. Once your stove is in full flow, the body will heat up, there will be a constant flow of heat into your room and this can last for hours after the fire has gone out. This is predominantly why the design of the modern day stove remains relatively untouched compared to that of decades ago. This is not an open plan fire, this is a heat capture system which maximises the fuel you use and releases heat of an extended period of time.
Open plan fire
It is also worth noting that a traditional open plan fireplace with a riproaring fire is only between 20% and 30% efficient. This means that up to 70% of the fuel used does not find its way into the room in the shape of heat. The vast majority of the heat escapes up the chimney – compare this to a modern day stove which is typically 70% efficient with some in excess of 80% efficient. So, while an open plan riproaring fire or an open door stove may give you that “heat hit” which takes your breath away and heats the room instantly this is not what stoves were built for.
Lighting your stove
Whether you use paper or kindling to light your stove, it is advisable to keep the door open until the flames catch hold. This ensures that there is maximum airflow to help start the fire although once the flames have caught hold that is the time to shut the door, sit back and wait for that deep seated heat to seep from the body of the stove. A constant flow of wood or other fuel will ensure that your stove burns over a prolonged period of time, retaining all heat within the stove body and then releasing this into the atmosphere.
We often hear from stove owners concerned about the cost of the fuel they are using to heat their rooms. When we point out the way in which wood-burning and multifuel stoves are designed and the need to retain all heat within the stove, they tend to see a significant drop in their fuel bills. Stoves today also have primary, secondary and tertiary fuelburning processes which ensure that all of the gases and fuel left behind from the initial burn are maximised to create as much heat as possible.
If it isn’t broken, why fix it?
At first glance stoves appear to be fairly basic devices which have been relatively untouched for many decades. We hope we have helped you understand why the outer surface may seem untouched although the inner workings are more efficient than you can imagine.