History of Wood Burning Appliances

by Roger Frost

One of the earliest examples was the fire chamber, where the wood burning fire was enclosed on three sides by masonry walls and covered by an iron plate. And in 1735 French architect Francois Cuvillis designed a masonry construction with several fire holes covered over by perforated iron plates, known as a stew stove.

Read more: Know Your Wood-Burning Stoves - Popular Mechanics

EPA "Environment protection agency" was the catalyst that dictated the newer generation high technology stove. The EPA mandated that all new stoves must emit only very minimal pollutants to the environment. To overcome the health hazard from the pollutants from the smoke, EPA set particle emission standards to which the stove had to meet, similar to the automobile industry, that the manufacturers had to meet in order to legally sell their wood stoves.

In the process of eliminating the particles from the smoke, manufactures learned that the simplest way was to eliminate the particles was to design a secondary burn system in the stove, which simply burned more of the gases and particles that are in the smoke. Two major effects happened. One, the particles were burned to such low amount that the stoves were safe for the environment, second, since the smoke was ignited and burned the stove became even more efficient. Now Efficiency levels jumped from the old stoves of approximately 30% to the new high technology stove of approx 60 to 65%. Now the consumer gets more heat into the home with less fuel. Thereby reducing the fuel cost to heat the home.

Towards the end of the 18th century the design was improved and stoves began to gain a deserved reputation for heat efficiency, and even eventual US President Benjamin Franklin had a go and developed his own unique cast iron stoves with much improved efficiency in 1744.

When comparing cast iron to the masonry material used to build the open fireplace, the masonry material usually was located out side the home, and the bricks and stones required a longer period of time to heat up then a lot of the heat was then radiated out to the atmosphere, second with an open fireplace there is no way to control the air, consequently the room air and the fireplace heat was allowed to rush up the chimney, where as the Franklin wood stove had doors with controllable vent that restricted the excess air from escaping up the chimney. Doing a much superior job of heating the home. This stove was the first major improvement of our home heating heat source. Now the fire's combustion air was more controllable producing a more efficient wood stove.

Have your wood stove inspected or installed by a WETT Certified Professional. This will ensure safe installation and a WETT inspection will most likely be required by your home insurance company prior to issuing policy.

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