Living small wood stove

Published on February 16th, 2011 | by ziggy

17

Small Wood-Burning Stoves For Small Homes: A Review

small wood stove

ziggy in front of his small wood stove

Wood stoves are a highly economical way to provide heat for your home if you have access to a woodlot or live in a remote or rural area. To get the most bang for your buck, you should invest in a clean(er)-burning, efficient model. Last year, I spent a fair amount of time researching small, efficient wood-burning stoves for my tiny house, and narrowed it down to two models that I thought were most appropriate.

Here’s what I looked at, and what I eventually decided upon for my small wood stove solution.

Contender 1: The Jøtul F 602 CB

The Jotul 602 has been a popular stove model for years, as it is very small and fairly efficient, with a capacity to heat up to 800 square feet of space. It is EPA-certified and is marketed as “over 75% efficient”, although the EPA’s official document lists it as more like 63% efficient by default, although I suppose careful burning can result in more efficient heat. (This percentage efficiency means that you will basically capture and make use of 63% of the heat of the wood that you burn.) To note, the highest efficiency stoves top off at about 78% default efficiency, but those are usually larger models with catalytic converters that create a secondary burn, an option that is not available in tiny wood stoves.

Anyway, the stats available on the Jotul 602 are as follows:

  • Maximum heat output: 28,000 BTU/hr
  • Heating capacity: Up to 800 sq.ft
  • Max log length: Up to 16″
  • Over 75% efficient
  • Burn time: Up to 5 hours
  • Flue outlet: Top, and rear
  • Flue size: 6″ (w/standard adapter)
  • Weight: 160 lbs.
  • Accessories: Fire screen, Rear heatshield
  • Alcove approved for both the US and Canada
  • Fully functional cookplate
  • 5 year limited warranty

The Jotul is a nice option, but lacks a decent viewing window, and is not lined with firebrick, which helps to hold heat for longer periods of time. Compared to the Morso 1410 (see below), however, it does have a larger surface area for cooking purposes. Also, another plus is that it can take fairly large logs (up to 16″ long) for its size, which means you’ll spend less time cutting wood to length.

Contender 2: Morso 1410 Squirrel

This thing is tiny. On an aesthetic level, I like the Morso 1410 much more than the Jotul. It’s got a nicer viewing window and a great squirrel relief on either side of the stove. One drawback is the short maximum log length: only 12″! That means more cutting. Official Morso 1410 stats read as follows:

  • Maximum Heat (BTU/hr): 30,000
  • Heat Output Range – lab. test (BTU/hr): 9,5862-22,018
  • Test Fuel Load: 5.15 lbs
  • Particulate Emissions: 3.3 grm/hr
  • Log Size: 12″
  • Max. Area Heated: 1000 ft²
  • Firebox Dimensions: 12¼”W x 10¾”D
  • Firebox volume/capacity: 0.736 ft³
  • Gross Weight: 215 lbs

The Morso claims to heat a slightly larger space than the Jotul, and I personally like the square dimensions more than the longer, rectangular nature of the Jotul 602. It also has a slightly lower emissions rate, making for a cleaner burning stove.

I went for the Morso 1410 based on its aesthetics, the dimensions, and its lower emission rate. Both have an MSRP of $1000, so there is no difference in price (unless you can wrangle a better deal locally, which is possible). Plus, Morso uses 80% renewable energy to produce its stove, and 98% recycled cast iron and 100% recycled content packaging. Not bad.

Click here for my full review of the Morso 1410 Squirrel wood stove.

And for a complete list of EPA-certified wood stoves, view this PDF. Useful!



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About the Author

I'm a 26-year-old currently living at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri, an intentional community devoted to sustainable living and culture change. Things you might find me doing here (other than blogging) are building with natural materials, gardening, beekeeping, making cheese, candlemaking, and above all else, living simply. You can read about my on-going natural building projects at: http://www.small-scale.net/yearofmud



  • http://www.mymamasafi.com/ Mary

    Great find-my gas bill these year is too high I will have to buy a wood stove thanks for your honest view

  • http://apartmentsizeappliances.org spices parsley

    Great job u have done here.Your small wood stove solution will be really helpful for tiny house.The Jøtul F 602 CB models efficiency is really impressive. On the other hand The Morso 1410 Squirrel is useful for great squirrel relief on either side of the stove.So it is pleasing to look you express from the heart and your clarity on this significant content can be easily looked. Remarkable post and will look forward to your future update.

  • conmaggot

    Hi,
    I bought a Hampton HI200 fireplace insert two years ago for my living room and an inexpensive free standing stove for the hearth in my basement. The basement stove is a Pleasant Hearth stove from Lowes. I couldn’t be happier with either of them.
    I picked the Hampton for the living room because it looks great. I use it everyday because it works great. My largest gas bill of the winter used to be around $315.00 for February. Last year’s February bill was $30.25 (not a typo, just thirty dollars and twenty five cents).
    The basement hasn’t yet received much use since I’m still remodeling the room. But, I’ve used the stove and I’d buy it again.
    My house is a 1,500 sq ft ranch with a full basement. I’m getting my wood for about $150.00 per cord and I’m burning between two and two-and-a-half cords per year.
    Great investment.

  • Craig Shankster

    Nice blog Ziggy.

    To clarify the notes on efficiency; you quite rightly point out that the EPA defaults to 63% efficiency, this is because there is currently no recognized US standard for measuring efficiency in wood stoves. The efficiencies that most manufacturers quote nowadays have been driven from the recent IRS Stimulus Package; the IRS actually did give some guidance to wood stove manufacturers as to which test method efficiencies should be measured (Lower Heat Value). This essentially is the test method that is widely adopted in Europe.

    Small stoves especially the Morso 1410 are of course perfect for heating small living spaces, and of course the upside to burning small fuel is that it seasons (dries) quicker and it is also much lighter to carry when going from the log pile to the stove :)

    I love my Morso!!

  • http://www.yellowbluedesigns.com Jessica Janes

    What a wonderfully compact heat source. It is so easy to go with gas, but with a little planning (and research), this can be a great alternative. Nice.

  • Bob Briggs

    i live in NW Arkansas, in the Ozarks. Thx for the review. i live near and volunteer at a buddhist meditation retreat center, and we are looking for small wood stoves to outfit our small (under 300 sq ft), solitary retreat cabins. ideally, plate stoves that will be able to withstand abuse from city dwellers not used to wood stoves. nothing is so disappointing as an over-fired, warped cast iron stove. so far, have found no suitable small plate stoves. the cast iron ones are sure beautiful and elegant. one unit you should consider rating is “the Hobbit” made by Salamander Stoves in the U.K. They make a smaller unit called the “the Pipsqueak” rated as too small to be practical. Both are intended for heating small spaces such as yurts, tents, gypsy wagons, and canal houseboats. the ideal wood stove for our application of heating small space would have a long cylinder or rectangular firebox, horizontally mounted, to burn logs like a cigarette (similar to the Jotul F602, but smaller cross-sectional area). can’t find any unit like that, anywhere. another small European stove that takes 14″ lengths of wood (hesitate to use the word “log”) is the Charnwood Country 4 (as in 4 KW hours, equivalent to 13,648 BTU). By comparison, the Jotul F602 is rated at 1 KWh min, 6 KWh nominal, and 8.5 KWh max). so the Country 4 is still probably too much stove for our small cabins. I have yet to find a US distributor, there is a distributer listed in Quebec. Anyone speak Quebequois?

    • http://awakening-forest-hermitage.blogspot.com/ Ayya Sobhana

      I am writing from another Buddhist meditation camp, on Sonoma Coast of Northern California. We have two Sardine stoves and one Morso Squirrel. I also used a Jotul F602 back in WV. Also we have a couple of small Empire vented propane heaters. Just now I am looking at an infrared heater which could go with a small solar panel. http://www.redwellheating.com/home/benefits/about-infrared.html . Don’t get ultra cheap stoves. Your donors should be glad to invest in good infrastructure which will last a long time.
      So far, I like the Sardine best. The sardine is very easy to use, starts up like a racehorse and makes plenty of heat for a 10 x 12 cabin. It’s a bother to cut firewood so small, but tiny logs are easy to split, and our visitors can clip their own wood with a big lopper. Marine Stove company was v-e-r-y s-l-o-w in delivery.
      We are not cold enough to use the Squirrel continuously, and it tends to be tricky to start up without smoking.

    • http://kennyandestherstinyhouse.blogspot.com/ Esther Fredrickson

      We bought a Hobbit stove for our tiny house build. It looks like a great little stove, but I would warn anyone interested in Salamander Stoves, Navigator Stoves, or Shipmates, that the 4″ wood stove and insulated chimney pipe you need to install it safely is EXTREMELY difficult to find, and quite expensive. Some people try to install them with pellet stove pipe which is NOT THE SAME THING.

      That being said, we bought 5′ of Selkirk 4″ diameter insulated chimney that was damaged by FedEx during shipping. We listed it on Ebay recently. Its probably still usable if you don’t mind the dings. We paid over $350 for it, so you’ll be getting quite a deal.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Selkirk-High-Temp-Model-HT-4-Insulated-Chimney-/151026956435?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2329e87893

  • Mark Holmes

    Just wanted to throw in a second thumbs up for The Hobbit stove from Salamander. We just installed one in our 33′ 5th wheel trailer and have been VERY happy with the stoves performance. It will heat the entire trailer (which isn’t very well insulated) to a toasty 75+ degrees even when it’s below freezing outside. Also aesthetically it’s quite beautiful, with custom paint options available for very little extra money. The stove was delivered in 5 days from England to our doorstep in the California mountains for less than 550 British Pounds. Really worth taking a look.

    • Liz

      I was looking into the Hobbit, as well, for my vintage camper. Since there are no distributors in the US, I must take shipping into account with the price of the stove. May I ask what the total cost was? And what was it’s clearance requirements? Thank you!

    • CJ Pearson

      I too would like an guessimate on what The Hobbit would cost w/ Delv.? The Sardine seems too small(&no glass), & the Morso Squirrel is the other I’m looking at. I looking for flat againist the wall, rather coming out into the room, like the j. In another 800 sq ft house I had the smallest Dutchwest wood/coal stove.

    • tyler

      What dealer did you purchase this from?

  • Tammy

    Found a conversion chart online. Looks like delivered, the hobbit would cost $710. That’s a huge savings over the morso squirrel. Think I will order a hobbit for my tiny house on wheels. Just trying to decide where to get the accesories. I am clueless about this stuff.

    • http://kennyandestherstinyhouse.blogspot.com/ Esther Fredrickson

      Tammy,
      See my reply a few posts up. We just put some chimney up on Ebay. We found that the the stove pipe and chimney almost doubled the cost of the stove. I’d also be happy to give you some advice on installation and parts.
      Esther

      • Tammy

        Just got back here and saw your post, Ester. Wish I had seen it earlier. Do you still have the chimney? Yes, I need installation help also!

  • allan

    i only need a fire to warm up my bungalow as i have a combination boiler to do my water, it there a wood burner that will serve my purpose and how much will one cost and of course do you supply such an item

    • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      We just write about these things, Allan… thanks for stopping by.

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