We are looking at buying a woodburning stove and do not know the pros
and cons of cast iron versus steel construction. Is one more efficient
than the other/ cost more than the other etc? We would be grateful for
your opinions and experiences.
Jonny & Lynn
What's your budget? The real difference between steel and cast iron is
that an expensive steel one is like a cheap steel one, but perhaps more
elegant, whereas an expensive cast iron one is very good but a cheap
cast iron one may simply not last very long. If you're looking to not
spend too much, go for steel.
There's a lot of difference between good and bad woodstoves, but not so
much between iron and steel necessarily. Look for general quality of
fittings, good design and good baffles (important if you want efficiency
If it's portable, then steel is lighter, less prone to damage, and
easier to repair if it is damaged. Steel stoves are basically
indestructible - they just get repaired like brooms do, with new heads
and handles as needed. As a general rule, you can't weld broken cast
Iron is typically heavier for a given capacity, which improves the
warmth keeping overnight after it has gone out. If you care about this
though, consider brick surrounds or tiled stoves.
You may also get an efficient baffle design into a small steel stove,
where a comparable iron stove is baffleless - this makes a difference if
you're trying to heat a boat or caravan and actually live in it.
Speaking as a stove maker, then it's steel every time for me. I can do
more interesting things with it and the raw material is cheaper. As a
user though, then so long as it's not a Machine Mart crappy, then iron
stoves are fine.
We had cast iron Morso Squirrel. Very nice stove but needed parts
fairly often - burnt out baffle plate and cracked fire bricks.
Now have sheet steel "Firebug" from http://www.dowlingstoves.com which
is not quite as airtight and perfectly controllable but seems much
tougher and perhaps indestructible. Also burns sawdust quite well due
to pyramid shape - the heap slumps slightly allowing air and burning to
occur over the outside of the heap, whereas a square shaped heap will
spread outwards and snuff itself out, if that makes sense.
Also look carefully at ventilation options. Mineral fuel (Coal etc)
tend to need air from underneath, wood from on top. We went for a cast
iron Dunsley Highlander for 'occasional use' alongside oil CH a few
years ago - it's been great!
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