Convection Stoves vs. Radiant Stoves

Woodburning stoves have long been a popular choice for heating homes and creating a cosy ambiance. When exploring the world of woodburning stoves, two primary types stand out: convection stoves and radiant stoves. While both serve the purpose of heating spaces effectively, they operate in different ways and offer distinct benefits. In this post, we will delve into the differences between convection and radiant woodburning stoves, highlighting their unique advantages and suggesting ideal locations for each type. We are going to focus on freestanding stoves and will do a follow up piece in the future on the importance of convection with built-in and inset fires.

woodwarm phoenix eco 4
Radiant Stove - Woodwarm Phoenix Firewren 4
woodwarm phoenix eco 4 convector
Convection Stove - Woodwarm Phoenix Firewren 4

I. Woodburning Convection Stoves:

Convection woodburning stoves are designed to circulate warm air throughout the room. They operate on the principle of convection, utilizing natural air movement to distribute heat. Convection occurs when hot air rises, cools and drops down only to be warmed up again as it is drawn closer to the heat source to fill the gap left by the rising air. Convection stoves warm the air and pushes it into the room whilst drawing in cooler air from the bottom.

Typically these convection stoves feature an inner firebox and outer body panels with an air gap between them. At the bottom of the outer panels there is typically a gap to allow air to enter this cavity, where it rises due to the heat produced from the fire before being expelled higher up out of another gap either on the top plate or where the sides and top of the stove meet.

Here are some key benefits of woodburning convection stoves:
  1. Heat Distribution: Convection stoves excel at evenly distributing heat, making them ideal for larger spaces or open floor plans. The circulation of warm air ensures consistent warmth throughout the room.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Convection stoves are also an ideal choice in fireplace openings can be more efficient than a radiant stove as the heat produced is pushed forward into the room, rather than radiating from all sides.
  3. Reduced Clearances: Convection stoves often have lower clearance requirements since they release heat through their surface, rather than relying solely on radiation. This makes them a popular choice in timber frame buildings or in locations where the stove needs to be close to combustible materials such as plasterboard.
austroflamm uno xtra convection outlets
Austroflamm Convection Air Outlets
opus calypso stove corner
Opus Calypso Convection Stove
Recommended Locations for Convection Stoves:
  • Corners: With many freestanding contemporary stoves having convection sides or panels, it makes them an excellent choice to position into the corner of a room, especially if the walls are timber frame and plasterboard, as convection stoves typically have very low distances to combustible materials – perfect for placing into the corner of a room.
  • Fireplace Chambers: While it is true that convection stoves tend to be taller and more contemporary there are smaller more compact convection stoves available that can be installed into a fireplaces allowing for all that heat to be pushed forward into the room.
  • Long Rooms: Convection stoves do a great job of propelling warm air, therefore placing one at the end of a narrow room can be an excellent way of heating that space.

II. Woodburning Radiant Stoves:

Radiant stoves emit heat through direct radiation. Radiation occurs directly from the electromagnetic waves from the heat source. These waves carry the energy away from the heat source. A clear example of this is the sun, warming us through heat radiation. They operate by radiating heat in all directions, primarily warming objects and people in their proximity. The heat waves get blocked by walls and objects, so whilst those objects get warmer, the space behind them will not.
Let's explore the advantages of radiant woodburning stoves:
  1. Cosy Warmth: Radiant stoves offer a radiant heat experience, producing a gentle, comforting warmth that is highly appreciated during colder seasons.
  2. Quick Heating: These stoves heat up rapidly due to their design, allowing you to enjoy the warmth soon after lighting the fire.
  3. Size & Style: Radiant stoves are typically more traditional in their style and therefore smaller and more compact compared to their convection counterparts.
Rocal Ronde Central Pedestal Stove
Rocal Ronde Central
stovax stockton 11 inglenook
Rocal D10 with its doors open
Recommended Locations for Radiant Stoves:
  • Open Floor Plans: Radiant stoves are an excellent choice for homes with open floor plans where the stove will be positioned more centrally in the room, as they can effectively radiate the heat throughout the entire space.
  • Smaller Rooms: Radiant stoves are well-suited for smaller rooms, where a localized heat source is sufficient. They are a popular choice for bedrooms, creating a comfortable sleeping environment during chilly nights.
  • Inglenook Fireplaces: So, if you have a large inglenook style fireplace, this is perfect for placing a large radiant stove as the heat will radiant off all sides which in a large fireplace allows that heat to fill the room.
When deciding between convection and radiant woodburning stoves, understanding their unique features and benefits is crucial. Convection stoves excel in propelling their heat and maintaining closer distances to combustible materials. On the other hand, radiant stoves emit a comforting warmth that is perfect for open plan rooms, however they tend to be more traditional in style which often places them into a fireplace setting. By considering the specific requirements of your space, you can choose the type of woodburning stove that best suits your needs, ensuring both efficient heating and a delightful aesthetic experience.

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