Radiant Wood Stoves: The construction of radiant wood stoves involves a single layer of iron, sheet metal or welded steel. This layer of metal is thick and has the ability to absorb much of the heat produced by the stove. The heat is radiated off of the interior metal surface and circulates as a result of convection currents.
Many radiant wood-burning stove models have heat resident glass windows -- so you can still watch the fire.
Circulating Wood Stoves: Similar in appearance to radiant wood-burning stove models, circulating wood-burning stoves have a double-walled interior construction that consists of an inner chamber designed with cast iron or welded steel metal. Fire bricks are stacked between the inner and outer chambers.
This design prevents the exterior of the unit from becoming overly hot, reducing the risk of burn injuries. Circulating wood-burning stoves are therefore a better choice in homes with small children and pets. The German company Vogelzang is the largest manufacturer in the world and produces many different styles of circulating wood-burning stoves.
Combustion Stoves: Combustion wood-burning stoves operate much like a traditional fireplace. With these stove models the doors can be left open while you enjoy the fire. The classic Ben Franklin stove is a prime example of this method.
The fire within a combustion wood-burning stove burns hotter because of the extra air flow. One major drawback of these types of wood-burning stoves is that a lot of the heat which is produced is lost through the flue pipe.
Catalytic Converter: Catalytic converters designed for wood-burning stoves contain a ceramic honey-comb coated with a metal such as platinum or palladium, which performs the main job of the catalyst by allowing hydrocarbons to burn at lower temperatures.
As a result of burning hydrocarbons that would normally escape out of the flue, a stove can be 10 to 25 percent more efficient. And when wood burns more completely, the resulting smoke is cleaner and causes less creosote buildup in the chimney.
Catalytic converters do need to be replaced about every three to six years.
Baffles: Baffles are designed to recirculate unburned hydrocarbon gases over the flames of the fire to ignite them. This is called a secondary burning process.
To do this, however, it is necessary to get the stove up to a sufficient temperature -- typically between 400 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a lever located on the baffle that must be flipped to start the process of recirculating the hydrocarbon gases.
Unlike a catalytic converter a baffle does not need to be changed regularly.
Temperature Control Regulators: With the heat provided from the wood-burning stove being circulated throughout the home it is important to have a temperature control regulator installed within the unit. These fixtures monitor the output of heat that is circulated through the air ducts of the home. This prevents the home from becoming too warm.