What makes CC so effective and how does it work?

Traditional Wood-Burning Fireplace

Older wood stoves rely on a relatively inefficient burning process to generate heat. Once you start the fire using paper, kindling and wood, the stove begins to heat up. Fresh air enters the stove through intake vents to help fuel the fire. A large amount of energy at this point is consumed burning off moisture present in the wood used in the stove. This moisture vaporizes and escapes up the chimney. As the wood continues to burn, it release gases containing volatile organic compounds, tar, charcoal and carbon, which also escape up the chimney.

When the stove reaches 315°C, these gases start to burn rather than escaping through the chimney, which generates some heat. It isn’t until the stove reaches around 540°C that the now-charcoal wood begins to burn and generate a substantial amount of heat. 

The traditional fire

  • has to be fed frequently
  • when it finally goes out, there remains quite a lot of ash to be removed.
  • It is often quite a pain to clean these fireplaces, with unburnt wood or coal that has to be removed along with the ash and the grate and hearth need to be brushed and cleaned out after every fire.

Certified Closed Combustion Wood or Pellet Stoves

Closed Combustion stoves offer greater efficiency than old stoves, which means less pollution and more heat using less wood. These stoves rely on either a secondary combustion process or a catalytic combuster to maximize efficiency.

Secondary combustion stoves feature a second air intake that introduces air into the hottest part of the firebox. This air helps burn off the gases that normally escape up the chimney, thereby generating more heat than if these gases were allowed to escape. Catalytic wood stoves feature a catalytic device similar to those found in a car. As smoke exits the fire box, it passes through the catalytic combuster, which forces the gases to burn at a lower temperature than they otherwise would. Both of these technologies transform gases that would otherwise contribute to air pollution into additional heat for the home.

Most of these fireplaces have a sophisticated secondary combustion system that burns any remaining fuel or combustible gases for a second time in a separate chamber to the primary burner. Some are combined with forced-air systems to further increase the heat output. This means that it actually burns only one-third of the fuel to provide the same heat output as an open fire while giving off hardly any smoke, soot or residue.

Because the heat is contained within the fireplace, the air is taken in from outside the house, and then recirculated within the stove, the heat is in a way turned back on itself (called refraction) causing much higher combustion temperatures, transferring the heat into the room instead of escaping up the chimney. 


Heating the Home

As a wood stove heats up, it radiates heat through the walls and top of the stove. This radiant heat warms the immediate area and can be carried into other parts of the home via the home’s natural air flow. Electric or convection-powered fans can help circulate this heat to warm a larger area. Some wood stoves combine radiant and convection heat into a single device using a convection chamber, which wraps around the firebox. This convection chamber draws cool air in, then warms it before circulating it back through the room.

Air Quality Concerns

Even the most efficient wood stoves contribute to air pollution. Wood smoke consists of 80 percent to 90 percent fine particulate matter. Breathing these particles can result in decreased lung function, nose and throat irritation, irregular heart beat and other health conditions. To help combat the effects of wood smoke, manufacturers adhere to strict standards governing the emissions of wood stoves. At Fires and Braais we only sell closed combustion wood and pellet burners that have a proven track record, have been tested thoroughly and meet air pollution regulations set in the EU and Britain.

Modern wood stoves offer the warmth and beauty of a roaring fire without the vast inefficiency and pollution associated with the traditional wood-burning fireplace.

Why certified is the only way to go

Certification is conducted by a few high tech labs in Europe and the USA. Certification ensures that the engineering and manufacture of your home appliance confirms to stringent safety and quality standards. Without this certification you may be introducing a fire hazard to your family home. The worst case scenario with this is that you put your home and more importantly your family and your life at risk. Uncertified, “unbranded” fireplaces are often made in the East where regulations are not in place. We have seen this first hand where poor quality and overused casts end up producing stoves that leak heat (dangerous), leak smoke (dangerous and unpleasant) and just don’t work.

We HIGHLY recommend ensuring you purchase a stove that is provided with a warranty and industry certifications.

Leave a Reply