Keep warm this winter with an EPA certified, high efficiency wood burning stove. We take a close look at some of the best on the market.
A wood burning stove can look charming in any property and give a homely feel that other heating systems and products cannot compete with. They take us back to the basics of civilization, after all, wood has been the source of our fires for centuries.
Imagine the feeling of being wrapped up next to a real fire in your living area - as you steam your face with the evaporation of a creamy hot chocolate and catch up on your favorite movies. Or, create the perfect romantic ambiance with dancing flames as the background entertainment to a homemade dish.
Choosing to get a wood burning stove has many benefits. As wood is a renewable energy source, it doesn’t contribute to global warming. It’s good for the planet but also good for your bank balance.
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Using a wood burning heater is much cheaper than constantly-rising electricity and gas prices. Not to forget that a wood burning stove isn't going to stop working like your boiler in the middle of a winter evening. And, cutting up your own wood is a great way to get some exercise and get a reward for your hard work.
As you’re here, there is a good chance you’re already considering buying a wood burning stove. Or maybe, you have already decided you want one but don’t know which one to get. Well, we’re glad both types of wood-burning-stove enthusiasts have come along. We have four excellent options to show you. Keep on reading to find the most efficient wood burning stove to suit your needs!
And remember to keep going to the end of the buyer guide because we have made all the confusing terminology easy to understand and have the best recommendations of wood to use in your stove - so you save even more dollars and your precious time!
The Top Models Compared
Take a quick look at how the high efficiency wood burning stoves compare in the table below. We discuss each on more detail in the following reviews.
OUR TOP PICK
- 77,000 BTUs
- 3.6 gram P1 EPA certification
- Smooth heat blower
- 5 year warranty
- EPA approved for mobile homes
- 89,000 BTUs
- Takes 21-inch logs
- 1 year warranty
- 4.22 gram EPA certification
- 68,000 BTUs
- 5 year warranty
- Great value
Drolet Escape 1800
- Phase 2 EPA certification
- 75,000 BTUs
- 90 day return policy
EPA Certified Wood Stove Reviews
Read about the most efficient wood burning stoves in more detail now as we review each model.
1. Pleasant Hearth *** Our Top Pick ***
Let's get the fire started with this exceptional wood burning stove from Pleasant Hearth. This company is well known for manufacturing fire-related products. From efficient wood burning stoves to fire pits and accessories, they're the boy scouts of the business. They have plenty of experience making quality burners so you’re in good hands.
You can pick this model up in a choice of sizes from small, medium to large. Here, we will be focusing on the large model. It’s important to state this first as the operational specifications can be different depending on the size of the stove. If you want one of the smaller options then make sure you check out the details of the specific size you go for.
This wood burning stove has a classic look that will fit well into historic builds, log cabins or even sleek and smart modern houses. It has a brick lined firebox and a front-loading cast iron door to guarantee it will last a long time. This little powerhouse isn't going to falter any time soon.
The awesome chrome handles coupled with the glass window make this product like your buddy who works hard with his hands but scrubs up well when needed. The window is very convenient and lets you check up on the fire as the evening progresses. If you need to rearrange the wood or add more, simply get to work using the easy-access door and load her up.
This design has been made to cater to areas of 2,200 square feet and generates BTUs in the region of 77,000 units per hour. What are we talking about? What that actually means is answered in our buyer guide section towards the end of this post. Go check it out – we’ll wait right here for you! Or, if you like to do things in order, check it out at the end. To give you a basic answer now, the higher the BTUs the hotter the stove.
Another specification you need to be aware of – and is also fully explained at the end – is that this model is EPA certified up to phase one. This is due to it having a 3.6-gram smoke emission per hour. As intuition will tell you, and all you need to know, for now, is that the lower the smoke emission the better. Thus, this is a high efficiency wood stove!
There are other key features we haven't got around to yet. The product has a convenient push-and-pull draft control to enable regulated burn time and heat output, making it even more efficient. The performance is matched with convenience even further as the wood burning stove has an ash drawer. This draw makes maintain the stove even easier and stops you from having to do your best Santa impression to get it clean. Simply slide out the draw and gather up the ash with less fuss and mess. Or, grab your ash vacuum and clean it up in super quick time.
Want more from this USA-made wood stove? Well, it has a smooth and quiet blower for impeccable heat distribution and comes with an instructional DVD, instead of a confusing manual that we all ignore. It also comes with a staggering five-year warranty! Pleasant Hearth recommends cord firewood for optimal performance.
As we need to compare the four models we have here, we’re going to do it with logic. We will be comparing the four models and pitting them up against each other in four aspects. We will compare them on the square feet they are designed to heat, their BTU generation, their EPA score and any noteworthy features.
This one comes out on top regarding the amount square feet it can heat. At 2,200 square feet, it shades a win over two of the models on our list and runs rings around the other. It is the second highest producer of BTUs and has an EPA rating that can only be beaten by one other model. Other aspects that this one outshines its competitors in is its warranty and manual. A five-year warranty and DVD instructions are insanely good perks for customers of the Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning Stove.
This would be a solid investment for anyone looking for a durable wood stove to go the distance. Compared to the others, it remains good value for money. It is priced in the middle of the norm compared to the others and can compete with all of them relatively well in most areas.
Our Final Thoughts: One of the most efficient wood burners out there. A really solid stove that looks awesome too. This is the one that we'd choose over all others.
2. US Stove Company
The second model of our EPA certified wood stoves under review is this beauty from the US Stove Company. It is predominantly made with steel, heavy-duty cast iron and is firebrick lined to heat up this Christmas and the many winters to come without problems. These are pretty standard details within the wood-stove manufacturing circles because these materials are proven to be the best to use when making a quality wood stove to last a long time.
One way this one differs to the previous model is in its aesthetics. Although the shape of the product is nothing new to timeless wood burner admirers, this one is not that black matte color we’ve come to expect – but a grey one. Do you like it more?
This is a mid-sized stove with one of the most elegant glass doors you will find on a wood burning stove. The glass door remains clean due to a built-in air-washing feature; you can always see the state of the fire or just admire the dancing flames on a chilly December evening. Inside the product, you can fit 21-inch long logs to make it bun for longer and so you don't have to babysit your wood stove or spend time refuelling it, like some of the lesser-awesome models on the market.
Other features that should certainly not go unnoticed when weighing up your options are the ash drawer and blower that operates at 100-cubic feet each minute. The former lets you clean your US Stove Company stove easily and without dirtying your Sunday bests, while the blower ensures the heat gets spread around your home evenly and most importantly - efficiently. What was that? How much of your home can it heat? Good question…
It’s designed to keep an area of 2,000 square feet nice and warm. This is achieved with an impressive 89,000 BTUs rating. There is no need to get the big jumpers out with this efficient wood stove.
While we only want to show you EPA-certified models, this one has confusing certification. This is the only model in our top four that is EPA recognized to be used in mobile homes, but at the same time, it has not got a certification for smoke emissions. This model caters to a whole other market in mobile homeowners, but the rest of you may be skeptical. Yet, it’s going to turn a lot of campers into happy campers and it also comes with an ash pan.
Placing this one next to the rest is a real mixed bag. It competes with the best by heating up areas up to 2,000 square feet and massively outshines the rest by dialing up the heat with a whopping 89,000 BTUs. Yet, it doesn't have an EPA score meaning all that power may just be making your home's air a little smokier. It does, however, have an EPA certification for mobile homes which is a unique perk and will appeal to a niche market.
The US Stove Company model is very similarly priced to the first model we looked at. It may be more powerful than that model but if you don’t own a mobile home it might not be the healthiest choice. For this reason, we also don’t think this is the best value for money.
Our Final Thoughts: Anyone looking for a wood stove to put in their mobile home should go find their plastic because this is an EPA-approved model for you! Other people may want to get something a little less smoky.
3. Vogelzang Defender
The next high efficiency wood stove we will be reviewing in our buyer guide is the Canadian-born Vogelzang Defender. It’s very different to what we have already seen for a couple of reasons. Yet, one way it doesn’t differ from the pack is in its materials and design. It’s still a reliable and sturdy build made up of reinforced plate steel, cast iron, firebrick lining and a heat-resistant ceramic window. Of course, the window is again included to give a pleasing view of the twirling flames and as a practical way to keep an eye on the status of the fire.
It differs a little on its size as this is a smaller option. It has been made to keep the cold at bay in areas of 1,200 square feet. Naturally, this is much smaller than the previous three but is kind of expected due to its smaller stature and its hosting of smaller 18-inches logs. Being a smaller model doesn’t detract from its efficiency. It’s still capable of producing 68,000 BTUs and will burn for hours without the need to add more wood. That means there is more time to relax with a beverage in front of the TV and less time worrying about the fire burning out.
One of the features that will have you nodding in appreciation is the door on this stove. It is a cam-lock-type design with a rustic-looking hatch which secures exceptionally well. To top it off, a blower has been included to add to its efficiency rating and make the whole area benefit from the wood stove’s heat evenly.
These are nice features but they're not the most innovative and convenient feature we still have to tell you about. This burner has adjustable legs to make installing it and fitting it into your home much easier and with guaranteed less domestic arguments. Okay, we can't guarantee that… Please note, this model may seem like a great option for mobile homes due to its size but it is not suited for such uses.
Let's talk about safety and standards. This, as mentioned, is a product from the land of most delicious donuts and fierce grizzlies. It has passed Canadian inspections and holds certification for ULC-S627 and UL Standard 1482-1998. It’s also an EPA-certified wood stove to phase one of their regulations rollout. It will emit 4.22 grams of smoke per hour.
In terms of performance, the Vogelzang Defender simply cannot keep up. It’s a lap behind in terms of coverage by catering to just 1,200 square feet – and it produces less heat with 68,000 BTUs per hour. It has also just scraped an EPA certification. Where it’s more appealing than the rest is in its innovative feature. The adjustable legs aren’t found on the other three models and may swing the balance for some wood stove shoppers.
This model is the cheapest on our buyer guide. It’s not just cheaper but it’s a lot cheaper! It may be beaten in most areas by the models above, but it does win a few nods of approval for being EPA certified. It will still keep smaller areas cozy and warm, so for that reason, it will be exceptional value for money for some homeowners.
Our Final Thoughts: Smaller homeowners or those on a budget should check the Vogelzang Defender out a little more. A 5-year warranty and competitive price tag mean it offers excellent value.
4. Drolet Escape 1800
The next efficient wood stove that we’re going to take a look at is the Drolet Escape 1800. The wood stove is designed and made over in Canada. It's a great mash-up of cool aesthetics, performance and convenience to complete an envious wood burner.
The stove is another black design that we have become accustomed to with classical wood stoves. These timeless designs fit well in lots of different properties. They become a seamless part of the current décor in an older building or add a quirky and central feature in more modern homes. It’s made even more awesome with the inclusion of a ceramic glass front. Naturally, this high-temperature resisting material has a functional use by letting owners check up on their logs, but it makes the whole design more inviting and even gives off some light on a dark winter night.
Other design features include air vents placed on top of the product for safety and an optional blower to have the option of enhancing the wood stove’s ability to distribute its heats. We highly recommend this to make sure the stove remains efficient. Just like the Pleasant Hearth model, this one also makes cleaning and maintaining it effortless with the inclusion of an ash drawer. Simply get it clean without ruining your clothes.
The Drolet team have managed to create one of the most emission efficient stoves regarding certification. This model will only emit 1.54-grams of smoke each hour, which makes it EPA stage two certified! More on that towards the end of our post but welcome to one of the safest models currently in circulation.
This is one of the most efficient wood stoves currently on the market. The firebox is 2.4 cubic feet in size, meaning it houses logs up to 20-inches long. You will be guaranteed reliable and steady heat with this model as it generates around 75,000 BTUs each hour for up to eight hours of burning. This means homes with a surface area of 2,100 square feet will always be kept toasty warm. An extra benefit is that if you’re not warming to the product within 90 days, you can send it back for a full refund. Fair? More than fair!
This is the top model in the eyes of EPA experts. At an outstanding smoke emission of just 1.54-grams per hour, this model will still pass EPA inspections come 2020 when their second phase begins. It also competes with the others well by producing 75,000 BTU and by covering 2,100 square feet of any property.
This is a real competitor when looking at performance and features, but when it comes to value for money, it doesn’t pack the same heavy punch. It’s the most expensive on our list – but it’s significantly more expensive than the rest. This is likely to do with its unbeatable EPA-certified smoke emissions. After all, it may just offer the best efficiency of all them all.
Our Final Thoughts: When it comes to atmospheric health and quality, you cannot beat this quality wood burning stove. Get it while it’s hot!
The quality of these EPA certified wood stoves makes picking a favorite and choosing the best a difficult task.
The Pleasant Hearth Wood Burning Stove wins our award for the best product on our buyer guide. It might not have the best EPA certification on our post, but it covers the biggest surface area and competes in all the other departments, including in its EPA rating. It also has an astounding five-year warranty!
The model which is the best value for money came out as a tie. We also think the Pleasant Hearth model is good value along with the Vogelzang model. They are both great purchases for people with different needs. If you have a large home then choose the former but if you are only looking to just heat a room or two then the latter is all you need – for an exceptionally cheaper price.
That means we did leave the US Stove Company model out. This one is a bit of an anomaly for both awards. Even though we don’t think it deserves either top spot, if there was a mobile home wood stove award, we would definitely award it that! We also left out the Drolet stove. Despite its phenomenal smoke-emission rating, it gets beaten in too many other areas by the Pleasant Hearth stove and is way too expensive to even be considered for the value for money title.
Recommended Reading: Looking for something a bit smaller? We have a great resource on smaller wood stoves too.
If you’re not an expert of fire appliances, the different terms and measurements used above could have given you a headache. Looking at all this EPA chatter and BTUs talk may have you reaching for a second jumper rather than a wood stove. But, before you head upstairs to the closet, how about looking at our simple explanations for both terms, below. It’s actually really simple and will help you make a smart wood burning stove choice. We’ll also answer the common question of what wood is best to use in a wood burning stove.
What Are EPA Emission Standards?
Thankfully, manufacturers of wood burning stoves today are a clever bunch. The way they are designed and their functions and features make them much safer than they used to be. Before, wood stoves were not the safest and not the healthiest inclusions to homes. They would give off lots of smoke which would fill our lungs. In actual fact, some of the older models could emit between 15 and 30 grams of smoke each hour.
Since 1998, these stoves have been under scrutiny and must pass Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards to be sold on the US market. The next step was to make these stoves produce less smoke, so, with thanks to clever engineers and designers, a new smoke emission regulation was implemented. Currently, an EMA certification is awarded to wood stoves that produce 4.5-grams and less of smoke each hour during use.
However, things are going to get even safer and healthier. The new regulations to emit 4.5 grams or less of smoke is just the beginning. This standard is now known as phase one. Phase two will be implemented in May of 2020. The second phase will require wood stoves to emit equal to or less than 2.0 grams of smoke during each hour of use.
In summary, the less smoke emitted each hour the better and healthier the wood burner is.
So what are the benefits of getting an EPA certified wood stove?
- They save money, energy and your time.
- They're up to 50% more efficient.
- They produce much lower smoke/particle pollution. This includes things like methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon.
- You can use as much as 1/3 less wood to produce the same heat.
How Can I Know My Wood Stove Is Definitely EPA Certified?
To check if your model is exactly as advertised and that it does in fact have an EPA certification, there is somewhere you can check. If you already own a wood stove and want to check that one, look on the product for a white label with an EPA certification. Alternatively, you can find a complete list of wood stoves that are certified online.
Recommended Article: Ever wondered what all the fuss with pellet stoves is? Find out in our guide.
So, That’s EPA Covered. But, What About Those BTUs?
In our product reviews, we frequently mentioned the BTUs generated by each wood stove. But, what on earth do we mean? It’s really simple.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. Simply, it’s a measurement of heat. More specifically, it is the level of heat needed to increase the temperature by one-degree Fahrenheit of one pound of water. It is a well-known measurement in the United States for those working with heat and fire. When discussing a wood burner stove, the higher the BTU rating means the more heat the wood stove is capable of generating. We promised you it would be simple!
What is the Best Wood for a Wood Burning Stove?
The first real question you need to consider is, do you choose a hardwood or a softwood. Actually, that's a trick question because one is far better than the other in terms of efficiency.
You should never use softwood in your wood burning stove because it will burn away in double the speed that a hardwood will. If you want a wood stove for efficient use then hardwood is the way to go. It will burn much slower to keep you warm for longer – and you won't have to keep refuelling your stove.
The second big trick question is are you going to use dry wood? The answer is yes! Wood that isn't dry will waste energy trying to get the moisture out. You can dry out your wood yourself which does take up to two years. If this is your tactic then aim for less than 20-percent of moisture in your wood. Or, you could just buy dry wood from a supplier. If given the option, choose from:
- Horse Chestnut
Thanks for sticking around for our EPA certified stove buyer guide. We have seen some outstanding models and undoubtedly four of the best currently on the digital shelves. We hope to see you back with us soon to take a look at more cool, convenient and unique products.
Make sure and keep your stove in good working order with an ash vacuum cleaner. Don't miss our awesome resource!
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