I was recently asked by one of the dear members of this community about my thoughts with regard to woodstoves… as I always seem to write of my admiration of a good fireplace. I thought I might share my response here in a new posting…
You will never get an argument from me with regard to the benefits of having a woodstove. I love them and have had them in every home I’ve ever lived in with the exception of my early childhood home (which was a brick rancher located in suburbia). I love the ability to be able to heat ones own home comfortably with locally gathered and often free fuel.
The last two homes that I’ve built for myself have had both… a woodstove and an open fireplace. They can both be built into the same chimney (with separate flues) and be in located in opposing separate rooms. It’s tough to choose between the two, sort of like having to pick owning a car, or a truck, both are handy at what they do. I think having one of each is worth the effort and expense.
If a person is building their own home and has to choose one or the other I recommend a fireplace. A woodstove can be added to a fireplace (and later removed if desired). A fireplace cannot be added to a woodstove location. When it comes time to sell a home many people want a fireplace, not nearly as many with a woodstove.
Yes indeed, a lot of the heat of a fireplace goes up the chimney. But certainly not all. I have an in-law who believed (through his reading) that fireplaces actually removed heat from a home, so upon one of his visits to my home I cut all the heat off and demonstrated that I can easily heat a couple of rooms in my house with my fireplace and afterwards the warmed masonry continues to give off heat many hours after the fire dies down and the damper has been closed.
But the main reason to have a fireplace in a home isn’t about the heat that it provides. It’s about the experience. I rank sitting by an open fire right up there with watching a sunset, a rainbow, the first snowfall, or a summer lighting storm… maybe even more so. This old world we live in can often be harsh so I gather much needed comfort in watching those flames, stirring those embers, and warming a pot of Brunswick stew. It’s something humans have been doing for a very long time and unfortunately so many today are missing out on.