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6 Best Small Wood Burning Stoves (Reviews & Buying Guide)
Whether you have a tiny house, camper van, or even a skoolie, the number one thing you need is a small wood burning stove. It can get uncomfortably chilly at night during the warmer months – and downright dangerous during the cold winter months. We reviewed and compared the top small wood burning stoves on the market. We took into account price, size, heat output, and user reviews to find the best of the best.
The Dwarf stove by Tiny Wood Stove is truly a game changer when it comes to heating tiny houses, camper vans, and RVs. The build quality is solid, it’s got tons of features, and there are plenty of models and accessories to choose from.
The Dwarf stove is constructed with thick plate steel and cast iron for maximum durability and heft. It sits on top of four short cast iron legs, but you can upgrade to longer legs or even a fuel storage box if you’d like to store firewood underneath.
The heavy-duty door on the front of the unit has a glass viewing port so you can monitor and enjoy your fire. The spring handle keeps the door latched shut and is a nice throwback to the old pot belly stoves.
The interior of the fire box is lined with thick ceramic fire brick to withstand high temperatures and increase energy efficiency. On the bottom of the fire box is a mechanical riddling grate (controlled with a coal bar) that sifts ash to the ash pan below, making clean-up a breeze.
Located on the sides and back of the stove are mounting holes for heat shields or soapstone slabs, which reflect heat and drastically reduce clearance requirements. If you live in a tiny house or small dwelling, heat shields are great because they allow for a compact installation.
The Dwarf stove is built to burn coal or wood right out of the package – no need for any modifications or inserts. Both fuel types have their advantages, but having a choice between the two is a big plus.
Using tri-burn technology for maximum heating efficiency, the Dwarf stove heats spaces between 200 – 500 sq. ft. With primary, secondary, and tertiary airflow controls, you’re able to adjust the oxygen flow to your fire to dial in the perfect burn.
The Dwarf stove comes in three sizes: the 3kw, 4kw, and 5kw. The 3kw has a ‘Lite’ version, which cuts down on the weight and eliminates some of the features, and the 5kw has a version that comes with a cook stove.
To find out which size stove you need, check out their BTU sizing calculator.
The 3kw Dwarf stove is the smallest stove that Tiny Wood Stove makes. It puts out 10,236 BTUs and is optimal for spaces up to 300 sq. ft, like in a tiny house or retrofit camper van.
It measures 8.5” x 10” x 17” and weighs 75 lbs – small enough to be mounted on a countertop to save space.
The 3kw Lite is the bare-bones version of the 3kw. It’s similar in size and looks to the standard 3kw, but it weighs 20 lbs less and is missing a few features:
- Lightweight ceramic fiber panel interior instead of heavy-duty fire brick
- No rear exhaust option
- Thinner side walls
- Combined airflow control instead of separate control
- Simple fire grate instead of mechanical grate
- No heat shield mounting points
- Incompatible with direct-air
The 3kw Lite is lighter and cheaper, but we recommend the standard 3kw for all the additional features.
Measuring in at 9.5” x 12” x 19.5” and weighing 100 lbs, the 4kw Dwarf stove is slightly bigger and heavier than the 3kw.
It puts out 13,648 BTUs and heats small spaces up to 400 sq. ft. It’s a great option for RVs, tiny houses, skoolies, and small shed workshops.
We recommend a rear-vent installation near the kitchen so that you can use the top of the stove to heat water or cook with.
The 5kw Dwarf stove is the largest in their lineup of small wood burning stoves. It can heat an area up to 500 sq. ft. and put out 17,060 BTUs.
At 150 lbs, it’s twice as heavy as the 3kw and requires a bit of strength to move around. It measures 11” x 14” x 22” and is optimal for floor installations due to its weight.
The large glass window on the door is much bigger than the other models, giving you a great view of the fire.
5kw Cook Stove Combo
The 5kw Dwarf cook stove combo comes with the 5kw wood burning stove and a cooktop oven that can be retrofitted to the top of the stove by way of the top flue exit.
The interior of the oven is lined with stainless steel and has an 8” x 11” baking area. It has built-in rails that hold a wire rack and a metal pan – perfect for steaming vegetables or baking a dish.
Just like the stove, you can cook on top of the oven’s surface. It also has a large glass window on the door to monitor your baked goods.
Another great feature of the Dwarf stove is that you have the option of venting from the top or back of the unit.
If you’re in a very small space, then it would be a good idea to vent from the top and use heat shields to reduce your clearance distance.
If you have some room to spare then we suggest venting from the back, as this allows you to cook on top of the stove with a cast iron skillet, pot, or tea kettle.
If you’ve never installed a wood stove before and are unsure of the process, then you can buy a Dwarf stove installation kit for a tiny house, bus, or tent. It has great instructions and comes with just about everything you need.
Because every installation is different, you may need to purchase an additional single-wall and/or double-wall vent pipe to get your chimney high enough above the roof.
|✅ 3 separate airflow controls||❌ Sells out frequently|
|✅ 5 models to choose from|
|✅ Lots of accessories|
|✅ Durable construction|
|✅ Top & rear venting options|
|✅ Large cooktop area|
|✅ 5 year limited warranty|
Heating Area: 300 sq. ft. (3kw) | 400 sq. ft. (4kw) | 500 sq. ft. (5kw)
BTU: 10,236 (3kw) | 13,648 (4kw) | 17,060 (5kw)
Dimensions: 8.5” x 10” x 17” | 9.5” x 12” x 19.5” | 11” x 14” x 22”
Weight: 75 lbs (3kw) | 100 lbs (4kw) | 150 lbs (5kw)
Flue Outlet: 4” (3kw) | 4” (4kw) | 5” (5kw)
The Dickinson Newport solid fuel cabin heater is a popular wood stove in the boating community because it’s bulkhead-mountable (wall-mountable) and takes up very little space.
The Dickinson Newport is constructed with stainless steel and has bronze-tone trim. It has a unique design where the fire box is suspended inside of a stainless steel shroud, leaving the shroud relatively cool compared to the inner fire box.
Instead of viewing the fire through a glass window, the grated door has a smaller sliding door that opens and closes.
To get to the fire box, the door hinges from the bottom and opens vertically. The fire box can get very hot, so be sure to wear gloves when adding fuel.
Underneath the fire box is a large ash pan. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the ash pan, seeing as how the Dickinson Newport is such a small wood stove.
The Newport cabin heater puts out around 8,000 BTUs and can heat an area up to 225 sq. ft. It’s meant for heating very small spaces like boats, camper vans, and tiny houses.
It can burn wood, coal, and other solid fuels like charcoal briquettes or presto logs. If you’re using wood, you’ll have to split it fairly short due to the small fire box.
Built into the removable ash pan is the sliding damper. It’s a simple design but it allows enough air into the combustion chamber to fuel the fire.
The Dickinson Newport can be mounted to the floor or the wall, the most common of which is the wall because it takes up so little space and only needs 2″ of rear clearance. The wall mounting brackets are included with the stove.
Once it’s mounted, you’ll need to vent it vertically from the top using 3″ flue pipes and a barometric damper. According to the Dickinson Newport’s manual, the barometric damper MUST be installed to help regulate the draft.
Dickinson Marine doesn’t sell a flue installation kit for the Newport, so we put one together for you:
|✅ Wall-mountable||❌ Small viewing window|
|✅ Very small||❌ Damper is the only air control|
|✅ Large ash pan|
|✅ Modern stainless steel design|
|✅ Burns wood, coal, and presto logs|
Heating Area: 225 sq. ft.
BTU: 8,000 BTU
Dimensions: 10″ x 7.88″ x 14.7″
Weight: 15 lbs
Flue Outlet: 3″
The Winnerwell Nomad wood stove is a great option for anyone on a budget. It’s small, portable, and comes with a flue system.
It’s not the highest quality stove on the market, but it’s impressive what Winnerwell was able to do with the Nomad at such a low price point.
The Winnerwell Nomad wood stove is made with welded 304 stainless steel, which is resistant to rust and corrosion. It’s shaped like a rectangle and has a small viewing window on the door.
Winnerwell makes a variant for each size model, called the ‘View’, which has a large glass window on one of the sides instead of a solid stainless steel wall. With the View model, you’re able to better monitor your fire.
Like most small wood burning stoves, you can also cook on it. The cooktop is made with 1/8″ thick stainless steel and features a removable section for open fire roasting.
Attached to the cooktop are foldable warming racks, which keep your cooked food warm while preparing another pan.
Aside from the low price, the most impressive thing about the Nomad stove is its portability.
The legs fold up and nest into each other, creating a flat surface that sits level on the ground. Once the legs are folded up, the warming shelves on top can fold upwards and double as a carrying handle.
Finally, the flue pieces break down and fit into the stove. You can pick up and move the Nomad in a matter of minutes!
The Winnerwell Nomad is not intended for coal – it’s meant for wood only. Dry, seasoned wood will burn best.
When you’re ready to start a fire, it’s important to use the fire box grate that comes with your stove. It rests on integrated rails a couple of inches from the bottom of the fire box and allows air to come in underneath the fire.
To let the air in, there’s an airflow control on the front of the door beneath the viewing window. It has notches on the front and can be opened incrementally to let in different amounts of air.
Unfortunately, Winnerwell does not list the BTU output or heating area anywhere on their website. If we had to guess based on the firebox size, the heating area would look something like this:
- Nomad Small – 200 sq. ft.
- Nomad Medium – 300 sq. ft.
- Nomad Large – 400 sq. ft.
The Winnerwell Nomad wood stove comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large. Each size has a standard model and a ‘view’ model, which has an additional window on the side.
As of this writing, many of the Nomad stoves are sold out. We’ve linked all of the available models below.
The Winnerwell Nomad wood stove is technically considered a tent stove, but many people install them in their camper vans and tiny homes. If you decide to install it inside, be sure to place it on a non-combustible hearth and leave a clearance of at least 18″ on all sides.
One thing we love about the Nomad wood stove is that it comes with a flue system. There’s no need to shell out hundreds of dollars extra for flue pipes.
Granted, they aren’t top of the line flue pipes and they come in some odd sizes (2.1″, 2.5″, and 3.5″), but they’re fine for recreational use.
The kit comes with a spark arrestor, damper pipe, and four sections of 14″ straight flue pipe, for a total height of 90″ off the ground with the spark arrestor installed. You may need to order some extra parts for a more customized installation, but you can find the right size flue parts at their Amazon store.
As for venting options, the only way to run the flue is out of the top. That isn’t an issue though, because the stove is long enough to not interfere with the cooking area. You still have plenty of room to cook food.
As of this writing, many of the Nomad accessories are sold out. We’ve linked the available stove accessories below:
|✅ Comes with flue system||❌ Geared towards camping|
|✅ Portable||❌ Sells out frequently|
|✅ Lots of cooking accessories|
|✅ Comes in various sizes|
Heating Area: N/A
Dimensions: 12.6″ x 6″ x 6″ | 15″ x 8″ x 8″ | 18″ x 9.8″ x 9.8″
Weight: 14.1 lbs (Small) | 20 lbs (Medium) | 34 lbs (Large)
Flue Outlet: 2.1″ (Small) | 2.5″ (Medium) | 3.5″ (Large)
The Grizzly and Cub Cubic Mini Wood Stoves are perhaps the most popular small wood burning stoves on the market. They’re good in very small spaces, they’re relatively affordable, and they have a stylish modern look.
The body of the Cubic Mini Wood Stove is constructed with thick, durable steel. The gold-tone trim on the door, legs, and gallery rail stands out against the matte black steel, complementing it nicely.
The door has a very large viewing window and the spring handle latches tightly to create an airtight seal.
The firebox uses 1/8” thick steel plates and is lined with vermiculite fire brick to retain heat. However, one major design flaw with the Cubic Mini Wood Stove is the lack of an ash pan. You’ll need to clean out the ash after a few fires, which is both messy and tedious.
The ornamental gallery rail on top of the small wood stove looks nice and can be easily removed if you’d like to cook on it. Unfortunately, because of the flue exit and lack of surface area on top, there isn’t much room to do any sort of serious cooking. Even a medium-size pan would be too big. An egg pan, small pot, or tea kettle would still work, however.
The Cubic Mini Wood Stove burns coal, wood, and pressed fire logs. Wood is often cheaper to obtain but may require more work. Keep in mind that wherever you get your wood from, you’ll need to split it into pieces of 6” or less to ensure that it fits.
To maintain and control the fire, it has primary and secondary airflow controls, both of which are controlled by spring handles located near the bottom. It does not have tertiary control, nor is there any option to upgrade.
Depending on which model you get, it can heat spaces between 200 – 300 sq. ft. Their BTU output claims for the Cub (14,000 BTU) and Grizzly (18,000) BTU are most likely overstated, as that amount of heat output shouldn’t be possible with such a small fire box.
Cubic Mini Wood Stoves come in two models: the Cub (CB-1008) and the Grizzly (CB-1210). They’re both very small wood stoves and almost identical in design, but the differences are in their size and heat output.
Each model has two colors to choose from – black and gold.
With a maximum heating area of 200 sq. ft., the Cub is the smallest wood burning stove Cubic makes. It measures 10.5” x 11” x 12” and weighs only 25 lbs. It’s perfect for camper vans, travel trailers, and small boats.
It’s hard to believe that a stove no larger than a cubic foot can heat a small living space, but it gets the job done.
Because the Cubic Mini Wood Stove is so small and lightweight, it’s very easy to install and you won’t need two people to lift it in place.
The only venting option you have is from the top of the stove – there’s no rear vent option. We’re not sure why they chose to exclude this, but it could have solved the cooking problem by allowing for a larger cooking area.
Because it’s such a small stove, they decided to use a 3″ flue instead of the standard 4″ (or even 5″). Cubic Mini Wood Stoves does not recommend venting through a side wall because it would require two elbow pieces – one at the top of the stove and one on the exterior.
We don’t recommend it, but if you still want to wall-vent your Cub or Grizzly then you’ll have a hard time finding the necessary pieces. Cubic Mini Wood Stoves does not sell any 45º or 90º elbows, but you can find them at Tiny Wood Stove.
If you’re planning a vertical flue installation then you shouldn’t have any issues. Remember to keep your clearance distances in mind when choosing a location.
Cubic Mini Wood Stoves also sells heat shielded floor mounts and wall mounts if you’re in a very small space. See our accessories list below.
|✅ Very small||❌ No rear vent option|
|✅ Comes in gold or black||❌ Small cooktop area|
|✅ Affordable||❌ No ash pan|
|✅ Burns coal, wood, and pressed fire logs|
|✅ Wall mounts and floor mounts available|
Heating Area: 200 sq. ft. (Cub) | 300 sq. ft. (Grizzly)
BTU: 14,000 BTU (Cub) * | 18,000 BTU (Grizzly) *
Dimensions: 10.5″ x 11″ x 12″ (Cub) | 12″ x 13″ x 15″ (Grizzly)
Weight: 25lbs (Cub) | 39 lbs (Grizzly)
Flue Outlet: 3″ (Cub) | 3″ (Grizzly)
* This claim is made by the company. Given the size of the fire box, we don’t see how this heat output is possible.
*** As of this writing, it appears that the Hobbit stove is not available to US customers. We reached out to Salamander Stoves but have not heard back. ***
The Hobbit wood stove (also known as the ‘Salamander’ in the US) is a popular small wood burning stove designed and manufactured in the UK by Salamander Stoves, a small family-owned business.
Each cast iron stove is handmade in their workshop and hand-finished according to each customer’s color and design choice.
The Hobbit stove is unique in that it offers a wide range of color choices to choose from. You can mix and match any color on this list for the stove body, fire box door, ash pan door, and airflow wheel, allowing you to seamlessly match your home’s décor and style.
No other stove manufacturer offers this much color customization – and we’re not sure why. It’s easily the Hobbit’s biggest selling point.
If you don’t need any fancy colors, then you can choose their standard unpainted black at no additional cost.
The entire stove is constructed with heavy cast iron and is built to last. It comes with silver-tone fittings but you can upgrade to brass-tone fittings at checkout. You can also add coal bars, a gallery rail, a stainless steel cooktop, and more.
The fire box door has a large glass viewing window and tightly latches shut. Beneath that is a smaller latched door that houses the ash pan, which makes for an easy clean-up process. There’s even a spill tray underneath to catch any ashes that may fall when you pull the ash pan out.
Lastly, the entire stove sits on four cast iron legs that provide clearance from the floor. If you’d like to store firewood underneath the Hobbit stove, then you can purchase a storage stand. It adds a bit of height to the stove and leaves plenty of room for fuel.
Out of the box, the Hobbit stove is set up to burn wood only, but it can burn coal with the use of coal bars.
To control the fire, it uses primary and secondary air. It does not have a separate tertiary control.
The primary airflow is controlled by the small cast iron wheel located on the front of the ash pan door. The secondary airflow is located at the back of the stove near the top. It’s controlled manually and doubles as an air wash for the glass.
You can also riddle the grate with the included multi-tool, which allows more air through the embers and is a great way to stoke the fire.
As for heat output, the Hobbit stove produces 13,648 BTUs and can heat up to a 400 sq. ft. area, which is roughly the size of a two-car garage.
The only other model of the Hobbit wood stove is the Hobbit SE. It’s nearly identical to the standard model but it’s DEFRA-approved for smoke-controlled areas in the UK.
The Hobbit stove can be vented from the top for a tighter installation or out the back, leaving the top of the stove free and clear to cook on.
Like most small wood stoves, the installation process is pretty straightforward. It uses a 4″ flue and requires a non-combustible hearth to sit on. You can even buy an installation kit to make the process as easy as possible.
For a step-by-step guide, check out the installation video below:
|✅ Color customization for every stove piece||❌ Not available to US customers|
|✅ Handmade in the UK by a family-owned business||❌ No separate tertiary airflow control|
|✅ Cast iron construction|
|✅ Rear vent option|
|✅ Plenty of room to cook on|
Heating Area: 400 sq. ft.
BTU: 13,648 BTU
Dimensions: 10.7″ x 18.1″ x 11.9″
Weight: 110 lbs
Flue Outlet: 4″
The Kimberly wood stove has a price tag of nearly $4,000 – the most expensive on our list. It’s a nice-looking wood stove, but is it worth the high price?
If you’re going for more of a modern look, then the Kimberly wood stove checks that box. It’s constructed with stainless steel and has a unique cylindrical shape.
It measures 10″ x 10″ x 25.5″ and weighs just 56 lbs. It’s not the lightest or smallest wood stove on our list, but it has a fairly low profile and doesn’t take up too much real estate.
Unfortunately, the viewing window on the door leaves much to be desired. Not only is it small, but they decided to put their logo right in the center. Instead of enjoying the glow of the fire, you’re stuck looking at the letter ‘K’.
The Kimberly wood stove makes some unbelievable claims about being able to heat a 1,500 sq. ft. space. That’s the size of a house! Heating an area that big would require around 40,000 BTUs.
For comparison, the fire box is similar in size to the fire box of the Dwarf 4kw or the Hobbit wood stove, both of which can heat up to 400 sq. ft. and put out 13,648 BTUs.
Is it possible for the Kimberly wood stove to produce around three times the amount of heat as its top competitors? That’s what they claim, but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
They also advertise an 8 hour burn time, but when you read the fine print they mention how the species of wood, moisture content, chimney length, and use of sawdust logs all affect the burn time.
While all of that is true, most people buy wood stoves to burn wood, not sawdust logs. A more accurate burn time with real wood and normal conditions would have been nice to see.
As for airflow, the primary and secondary controls have been combined in the form of a damper near the bottom. There is no tertiary control. For such a high price tag, we were expecting to see three dedicated airflow sources.
Above the fire box is a secondary combustion chamber that burns excess wood gases before exhausting it through the flue. This makes for a cleaner burn with much less smoke, and they claim it’s where most of the stove’s heat comes from.
With the Kimberly wood stove, you can save money on installation by using double-wall stainless steel lined all-fuel pellet venting (with Class A pass-through) instead of chimney venting.
We were unable to find any pre-made venting kits from their site, but they do sell the parts individually. If you don’t know what parts you need then you can give them a call and they can help you create a custom venting kit.
The flue exits through the rear of the stove, leaving the top area available to cook on. We would have preferred the option to vent from the top as well, but with such low clearance requirements (6″), it’s not that big of an issue.
Here is the founder of the Kimberly wood stove showing you how to install one of his stoves.
|✅ Modern design||❌ Very expensive|
|✅ Low clearance distance||❌ Heat output claims don’t seem realistic|
|✅ Secondary combustion chamber above fire box||❌ Fire box window is obstructed by their logo|
|✅ EPA certified||❌ The only airflow control is a damper|
Heating Area: 1,500 sq. ft. *
Dimensions: 10″ x 10″ x 25.5″
Weight: 56 lbs
Flue Outlet: 3″
* This claim is made by the company. Given the size of the fire box, we don’t see how this heat output is possible.
|Tiny Wood Stove Dwarf||Dickinson Newport Cabin Heater||Winnerwell Nomad Wood Stove||Cubic Mini Wood Stove||The Hobbit Wood Stove||Kimberly Wood Stove|
|Price||$ $ $||$ $||$||$ $||$ $ $||$ $ $ $ $|
|Size (L x W x H)||3kw|
9.5”x12 x 9.5”
|Weight||3kw: 75 lbs|
4kw: 100 lbs
5kw: 150 lbs
|15 lbs||Small: 14.1 lbs|
Medium: 20 lbs
Large: 34 lbs
|Cub: 25 lbs|
Grizzly: 39 lbs
|110 lbs||56 lbs|
|Material||Steel & Cast Iron||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Steel||Cast Iron||Stainless Steel|
|Fuel Type||Wood & Coal||Wood & Coal||Wood||Wood & Coal||Wood & Coal||Wood|
|Heating Area||3kw: 300 sq. ft.|
4kw: 400 sq. ft.
5kw: 500 sq. ft.
|225 sq. ft.||N/A||Cub |
200 sq. ft.
300 sq. ft.
|400 sq. ft.||1,500 sq. ft. *|
|Max BTU||3kw: 10,236 BTU|
4kw: 13,648 BTU
5kw: 17,060 BTU
14,000 BTU *
18,000 BTU *
|13,648 BTU||40,000 BTU|
|Airflow Controls||Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary||Primary||Primary||Primary & Secondary||Primary & Secondary||Primary & Secondary (Combined)|
|Flue Outlet Diameter||3kw: 4”|
|Flue Outlet Location||Top & Rear||Top||Top||Top||Top & Rear||Rear|
|Flue Kit||Sold Separately||None||Included||Sold Separately||Sold Separately||Sold Separately|
|Clearance Requirements||Sides: 16”|
|Warranty||5 Year Limited|
|1 Year Warranty||Limited Lifetime Warranty (Defects)||90 Day Limited|
|5 Year Warranty||5 Year Warranty|
|Certification||None||None||None||None||DEFRA (SE Model)||EPA/CSA & UL|
* This claim is made by the company. Given the size of the fire box, we don’t see how this heat output is possible.
Small Wood Burning Stove Buying Guide
Advantages Of A Small Wood Burning Stove
When it comes to heating a tiny house, camper van, or RV, there are two options to choose from: wood burning stoves or propane heaters.
Propane heaters do have their advantages, like being easy to maintain and fuel, but wood stoves are much cozier. They’re a bit more work, but we think they’re worth it. Here are a few reasons why:
- Fuel Price – Wood is very easy to obtain at a low cost. If you live out in the country, you’ll often see signs for ‘Free Wood’ on the side of the road. You can also check Craigslist or your local Facebook groups. Propane prices, on the other hand, often fluctuate and are dependent upon international markets and external events.
- Ambiance – There’s something about a real wood fire that’s just so calming and relaxing. For thousands of years, our ancestors sat around their fires while they cooked food and told stories. It was a source of comfort and safety for them. Having real wood fires inside our homes is probably the closest we’ll get to that feeling.
- Aroma – Depending on which types of wood you burn, you’ll get a different aroma. Hickory gives off that classic campfire smell, apple and cherry wood are much sweeter, and pine releases a crisp, fresh aroma redolent of Christmas. Burning aromatic wood is a much more pleasant experience than the smell of propane.
- Looks – Whether it’s an old pot belly stove or a modern wood stove, it will undoubtedly be the focal point of any room. During the colder months, you’re going to be spending a lot of time huddled around the fire. Wouldn’t you rather look at a cast iron wood stove on a brick hearth, producing real flames, instead of a ventless gas heater?
Best Places To Use A Small Wood Burning Stove
- Tiny House – Tiny homes have exploded in popularity over the past few years – and for good reason. It’s an affordable, minimalistic way of living. A small wood burning stove that’s capable of heating up to 400 sq. ft. is a good place to start.
- Campervan – Conversion vans are a little trickier to heat because they’re so small. Your best bet is to mount the Dickinson Newport to the wall to save as much space as possible.
- Skoolie – School bus conversions are similar to campervans in that they’re mobile, but they tend to have more space. Any of the larger wood stoves on our list should work for medium or full-size skoolies.
- RV – The Dwarf 5kw is large enough to heat an RV, and the optional cooktop oven is a great way to make those small RV kitchens just a tad bigger when cooking dinner.
- Cabin – Most cabins have a rustic look, so a cast iron stove like the Hobbit or the Dwarf would fit in nicely. They look great on a brick hearth in the corner of the room.
- Tent – When you’re out camping, you’ll want a quick and portable tent stove to bring with you. The Winnerwell Nomad is a cheap and effective stove that comes with everything you need.
- Boat – Any of the smaller wood stoves on our list would work well on a boat, but boat owners love the Dickinson Newport because it’s bulkhead-mountable and stays out of the way.
How Does A Small Wood Burning Stove Work?
First, wood is burned inside the fire box. The fire box is almost always made of cast iron or steel and is typically lined with fire brick to protect the integrity of the stove from high temperatures.
Then, the fire heats the metal stove, which radiates heat throughout the room. Because there is no ductwork to distribute the heat, the area with the wood burning stove will always be warmer. Heat-powered stove fans are a great way to spread heat to other areas of the room.
To control the burn rate of the fire for better efficiency, airflow controls on the stove are used. Depending on your stove and flue system, you may have any combination of the following:
- Primary airflow control
- Secondary airflow control
- Tertiary airflow control
- Stove damper
- Flue damper
The video below shows where the primary, secondary, and tertiary airflow controls are on a Dwarf stove and how it affects the fire. Keep in mind that not all stoves have three airflow controls.
Stove Size & Heat Output
The biggest factor in determining a wood stove’s heat output is the size of the fire box. There are other ways of making a wood burning fire more efficient, like using heat reclaimers and burning the correct type of wood, but the most important feature is the fire box and how much wood it can hold.
That’s why you have to be skeptical when you take a look at our comparison chart and see a couple of stove manufacturers making some unbelievable claims about their stove’s BTU output, despite the small fire box size.
With the proper instructions, installing a small wood burning stove is pretty straightforward. Any stove you purchase will come with installation instructions, but here is a short overview so you know what to expect:
- Location – Before installing your stove, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide where you want to install it. Some wood stoves are small enough that they can be wall-mounted or installed on a countertop. Others are a bit larger and are great for a corner installation on the floor.
- Clearances – Once you have a spot picked out, you’ll need to consult your manual (or our comparison chart) to find out how close the stove can be to combustible walls. If you’d like a tighter fit closer to the walls, then heat shields are an option. Some stove manufacturers have custom heat shields designed to fit their stoves, but you can always make your own to save money.
- Hearth – Unless you have a non-combustible floor, you’ll most likely need to purchase a pre-fab hearth or build one yourself. Some popular hearth materials are glass, granite, brick, and tile.
- Flue System – Next, you’ll need to decide how you want to run the flue pipes to the outside. Vertical runs through the ceiling are the most common, but you may also be able to vent it through a wall. Luckily, most manufacturers sell installation kits for their wood stoves. For those that don’t, you’ll need to buy the parts yourself. Pay close attention to the diameter of your stove’s flue pipe when ordering parts.
Here’s what a typical small wood stove installation looks like:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I burn wood in a small pot belly coal stove?
Wood will burn just fine in a cast iron pot belly stove, but it does not meet EPA standards. Technically speaking, coal burns cleaner than wood.
Modern wood stoves are designed to delay the smoke’s exit from the stove to make for cleaner exhaust. If you’re worried about pollution from burning wood in a pot belly stove, you can install a catalytic combustor in the exhaust pipe.
The 1869 Railroad Potbelly Stove has that classic look and it’s the smallest pot belly stove we could find.
Do they still make the 800 sq. ft. Hi-Flame Shetland extra small wood burning stove?
Unfortunately, the HF905U and FF905 models by Hi-Flame are no longer in production.
How much room do I need around my wood stove?
Every stove has different clearance requirements, but the general rule is at least 16″ away from combustible walls. Be sure to consult your stove’s manual for a precise distance.
If you’d like to cut down the clearance requirements for a more compact installation, then using heat shields is a great option. They’re typically made of metal or soapstone and surround the rear and sides of the stove, reflecting heat towards the center of the room.
Why does my stove burn wood so fast?
Wood stoves burn through wood too fast when too much air is getting to the fire. Your stove will have airflow controls or a damper on the flue pipe. Make adjustments to these to better control your fire’s burn rate.
Is it safe to leave my wood stove on at night?
It’s safer to extinguish your fire at night if you won’t be monitoring it. That being said, it’s fairly common to leave your wood burning stove on at night, especially during the winter months with freezing temperatures. Just make sure the stove door is closed and you check in on it occasionally.
Are wood burning stoves legal in the UK?
Wood burning stoves are legal to own in the UK. However, if you live in a smoke-controlled area, you will need to purchase a DEFRA-approved wood stove like the Hobbit SE.
We hope that this review was helpful in finding the best small wood burning stove. As you can see, there are several great stoves to choose from.
The best overall is the Tiny Wood Stove Dwarf. It has three separate airflow controls, top and rear venting options, and a ton of accessories to choose from.
The next best thing is the Dickinson Newport solid fuel heater. It’s extremely small, wall-mountable, and has a large ash pan for easy cleaning.
The best bang for your buck is the Winnerwell Nomad wood stove. It’s portable, comes with a flue system, and is very affordable.
Thanks for reading and stay warm out there!