Will a woodstove heat our cottage?

Wood burning stove

We are looking for a heat source for our winterized cottage, about 1,800 sq. ft. Will a good woodstove work?
—Patrick Richard

Maybe. The layout of your cottage will play a large role—woodstoves are most effective at heating the whole cottage when it has an open plan layout, instead of many small rooms—but a stove’s heating ability also depends on a few other factors: how well-insulated and energy-efficient the cottage is, how cold the outside temperatures get, and even what species of wood you burn (maple, for example, produces more heat than poplar). But, yes, it is possible to use a woodstove as your core source of heat. You’ll want to put the stove in the main living area, where you spend most of your time in the winter. And you need some way to allow the heat to flow to the rest of the cottage. One option is to use well-placed fans.

Consult a wood heat retailer to make sure you get the right sized stove; probably, in your case, you’ll need one rated for 1,000 to 2,000 sq. ft., and up to 70,000 BTUs. Anything smaller is more suitable for a smaller space, or three-season use only. And an excessively large stove will just overheat the main living area. That’s wasteful, not to mention uncomfortable.