safe woodstove

enmankJune 19, 2008

We are looking at the Ashley Circulator woodstove because of safety and price range. We have a child, almost 4 years old, and I am scared to death of her running into the stove and burning her face, body, etc. However, we need to get a secondary heat source because of oil prices. Putting it in the basement is not an option. The Ashley Circulator is the right price and seems to be the safest as far as my kid bombing through the house like a maniac, hitting it, and walking away without serious burns. But it is not only UGLY, but I have seen negative points about it made, like it is not EPA certified. I honestly know nothing about woodstoves except that my dad used to bake potatoes in his! Does anyone know of any other stoves (in the same price range, and/or nicer looking)that would be "safe" if someone touched it....or ran into it?

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If I understand correctly, wood stoves heat by getting hot and radiating heat into the room. Therefore, the only way you'll get heat out of such a stove is if it gets hot -- too hot to touch. When I was a little boy, I burned myself badly on such a stove. That was over 60 years ago, and I still remember it clearly. It is, unfortunately, a risk that cannot be eliminated. But you can probably minimize it by placing the stove in a corner where your child is less likely to run into it. Another option is to install some kind of railing or fender around the stove that will serve as a kind of barrier.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 8:26PM
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Haus proud is right about the fact that any woodstove is going to present a certain amount of danger because they do get hot. Even the soapstone stoves (which are expensive) get hot and while we may be able to "bounce" a finger off a hot stove and one of our cats landed on it and leapt immediately off it with no serious consequences, major contact will result in burns.

Several of my friends have young children (in your kid's age range) and woodstoves, and they have had no tragedies. Kids are a lot smarter than we often give them credit for and the fear of fire and excessive heat is innate. My friends have made a special point of teaching their kids about the stove, allowing them to see how the fire is lit, managed, and how the stove becomes hotter as the fire burns inside it.

I was surprised when one of the younger ones came over to me, took my hand, and led me away from the stove, saying, "careful, HOT!". I think your child would be able to "get" that lesson, too.

Start by getting a stove that you understand, installing it properly, and learning how to operate it safely. Make sure you have all the requisite safety equipment; fire extinguisher, covered metal ash bucket, the proper tools (pokers, shovels, tongs, oven mitts, etc.). Set up the stove area carefully, keeping fire making materials and furniture a safe distance from the stove. I believe you will have little trouble teaching your little one about the stove IF you learn and practice good safety skills around your stove.

I hope you keep us posted on this because I feel certain there will be many more questions in a similar vein in the coming months. I don't see the price of oil, propane, or natural gas coming down anytime soon!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 9:05AM
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Enmank the Ashley might be safer to touch but that EPA exemption means that whatever safety you might gain from being able to touch it momentarily is lost from the high creosote production potential and lower efficiency,(higher wood consumption).

For about the same money and heat output you could get an Englander 13-NC from Home Depot or a local hardware store, (they don't have dealerships like other stove manufacturers). Most steel stoves like this one will have hot tops, front and glass but the sides have an air channel for heat circulation and are not as hot.

There really aren't any wood-fired heaters safe to touch with the exception of a masonry heater and those would be well out of the price range you're looking at. You can always get a hearth gate and that might help.

How big is the area you are trying to heat and what does your chimney look like, assuming you have one?

Here is a link that might be useful: Englander wood stove

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 10:40PM
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