Wood heater reviews and recommendations

We would like one with a built in fan. The main room we have to heat is 5.2 x 11.2. Like to keep in overnight too. Any lemons out there to avoid?

I can’t help with specific recommendations but some general hints.

  • The efficiency varies much, some old inefficient models are still on the market, especially second hand
  • Pollution from wood fires is quite dangerous, especially the invisible fine particulates, make sure sure yours doesn’t leak. Even small leaks are an acute risk to those with impaired breathing, eg asthmatics, and to everybody in the long term because you will be ingesting it 24hrs a day for months of the year.
  • Durability is variable, some with iron fire plates can burn out quite soon
  • Be sure that you are ready to clean it out, dispose of ashes, buy and store wood, etc. It is far from flick a switch.
  • Be sure it can be installed where those at risk, eg children, can be kept away, where there is room away from walls and where installing the flue will operate safely, efficiently and not cost an arm and a leg. Flue kits are often an on cost as well as their installation.
  • You will need council approval.

After much research we decided against one as our valley is subject to temperature inversions on still winter nights and we would be sitting in (and breathing) a cloud of our own making.

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Thanks for taking the time to reply. Interesting points.
We have a woodheater in the rental (while building) and both our kids have one so we are aware of the fors and against and realise the work involved…but still have decided to have one. Also have council approval.
I was wanting recommendations on actual brands and probably didn’t make that clear in the question.
Thanks again

Some useful links for you:

List of certified wood heaters plus some other useful info:

Selecting, installing and operating a wood heater:
http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/woodsmoke/woodguide.pdf

I’ve just installed a Scandia ‘Heat and Cook’[1], but getting council approval is proving difficult. If I’d waited until I could get it, winter may have been over!

The problem is that Scandia class it as a wood stove, rather than a heater, which apparently means it is not tested to AS/NZS4013, which covers emissions and efficiency (all their other models comply). The user manual, which Scandia has suggested I send to the council, is not at all helpful, as it continually refers to the Heat and Cook as a wood heater. I’ve pointed this out to Scandia and asked them for a written statement to say it is a stove and not a heater, but have not received such as yet.

[1] I installed it myself, despite Scandia claiming it must be installed by a certified installer, otherwise warranty not valid and insurance may be an issue. I have cleared it with my house and contents insurer.

I made sure all specified clearances for heater and flue were exceeded by a reasonable margin.

Certifiedwoodheaters.com.au say that having it installed by a certified installer is recommended (ie not compulsory), and as a builder of many things, sheds, telescopes, solar panel trackers and my own house, for me the installation was trivial, and saved us hundreds of dollars.

The Heat and Cook has been working very well as a heater over July and August, but the oven has a couple of problems. One is the temperature gauge- the needle rubs on its backing plate, so wont go back below ~70C when it is cold, and often needs a tap or 2 on the glass to make it read correctly at other times. The 2nd problem is the temperature gradient within the oven- it gets much hotter on top than in the lower sections. That’s not a problem for pizzas, pies and other foods with a low vertical extent, but it isn’t very good for bread in a thin bread tin. Using a cast Iron camp oven helps immensely, by conducting a lot of heat from the top space to the bottom of the bread, for more even cooking.

One other option which I have considered is to remove the thermometer and run a small metal fan on a shaft through the thermometer hole. Just a low voltage DC motor run from a rechargeable battery would be sufficient to turn it into a fan-forced oven, which much more even heat distribution.

Regarding warping and burning out of oven components, this one has removeable side plates (spares are available), and I don’t empty out the ash entirely, but only remove enough ash to maintain a ~25mm thick layer on the bottom, along with coals from the last burn, in order to help protect the bottom from too much heat.

We wont be needing to buy wood, as we have plenty of wood on the property, not least the large branches cut down by Essential Energy where the trees grow near their HV power lines down the front.

You can no longer install old heaters that do not comply with the new efficiency and emissions standards, making a lot of old heaters that are for sale, actually worthless.

From the Certifiedwoodheaters link above:

Wood Heater Regulations in Australia

All solid-fuel heaters must comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4013 for emissions. Since being introduced by industry representatives in 1992, these standards have changed the way wood heaters are tested so they’re better for the environment. It is illegal for anyone to sell wood heaters that do not comply with these standards.

The current emission limit for all new wood heaters sold in Australia is 2.5 grams of particulate emissions per kilo of wood burnt. All certified wood heaters must have an efficiency requirement of 55%.

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“You can no longer install old heaters that do not comply with the new efficiency and emissions standards, making a lot of old heaters that are for sale, actually worthless.”

Quite so but people buy them. In rural areas many don’t care about regulations. Around here there are dwellings that are just converted sheds (or even 100 year-old timber dairies) where the whole thing is illegal not just the heater. You will see real estate advertisements for rural property with “two bedroom shed with plumbing” thrown in - all quite unapproved. The Council takes no action.

I didn’t want to make any assumptions about the OP.

Thanks for the link. Interesting and useful chart. Sorry to hear about the trouble with yours. Annoying when something is new.

Thanks Syncretic. Yes same around here, many old heaters getting sold secondhand. It’s a new build so we re after a new one.

I’m very impressed with the Osburn 2200 (Bay Window) model, and their website/manual has useful information re operation, wood use etc. I’m assuming you will be installing a freestanding model - in order to maximise the heat output with the heat radiated from the flue? I have had experience with Nectre in the past, and had good results with them too. If I was buying again, from new, I would look for a) excellent re-burn of gases & b) guaranteed spare parts/service for decades to come. Wood heaters are a big ticket item, but still need to have regular servicing, baffle replacements etc to comply with AS.

Thank you. I’ll look into it. The one in our rental is a Nectre and v impressed, but no fan.
Just had a quick look. V good reviews and like the bay window look. Thanks

@jndkelsey Try this link on Whirlpool forums it may give you some options . One of my friends in rural Victoria has the brand Jindarra Model Tilga . Is really happy with it .

http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2631456

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@jndkelsey Another option might be to look at a Pellet fire/heater . See link below .

http://www.pivotstove.com.au/kb/pellet-fire-information-sheet

https://www.barbequesgalore.com.au/heating/indoor-wood-heaters/wood-pellet

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I am in favour of banning wood fires. They are a serious risk to everybody’s health, to those who operate them and your entire neighbourhood. They also contribute to global warming through carbon emissions.

When domestic solar power with power storage through the use of home batteries is much cheaper to purchase, set up and run, should spell the end of wood fire heaters. Good riddance to all of them they are a complete menace to fresh, healthy, breathable air. I hope they are completely banned as soon as possible.

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Thanks. Vax2000 We are on acreage so have plenty of wood.

Looking into solar too but that’s very confusing and at the moment expensive to set up.

We bought an Aranbe (220 model from memory as I’m not at home at the moment). This is an insert that was fitted into a large 70’s HeatForm open fire. The unit has a 3-speed fan. We’re really happy with it. The lounge room where the heater is installed would be roughly the same size as the room you’ve mentioned. We also use a ceiling fan in reverse during the Winter when we use the fire.
They have free-standing units as well. We chose this model because it has a claimed 600g/kg particulate emission.

Soory that was supposed to be .06g/kg

Bad day!! - 0.6g/kg
Apologies

Thanks Mark3. It is a low emission. Does yours do an overnight burn?

We don’t normally fill it with enough wood to burn overnight as it rarely gets below about 3 or 4 degrees where we live (Blackwood SA). However we have loaded it up when going out and it will still be going 4-5 hours later. There are usually hot coals in the morning so I’d guess it would last all night if needed.

Thanks. I look up stats for this fire