Traditionally people think of two types of wood stoves: catalytic and non-catalytic. But today, there are also hybrid stoves and automated stoves. These two new categories offer great economic and environmental benefits. All four types are discussed below in detail.

Non-catalytic Stoves

These stoves make up 80% of stoves on the market. Older stoves produced before the mid-80’s tend to be very inefficient and emit large amount of pollution into the environment. Newer, EPA stoves have a technology referred to as secondary combustion. These have been the stove of choice since the development of the secondary combustion technology in which secondary combustion air is introduced in order to burn off wood gases before they escape into the environment. While much more efficient and cleaner than older stoves, they tend to burn through fuel more quickly than catalytic or hybrid stoves. Only the larger fireboxes, usually 2.5 cubic feet and larger, can consistently hold a fire overnight or through the day without reloading. However, they are easier to use than catalytic stoves. Efficiencies tend to range between 65% and 75% using the higher heating values (HHV).

Catalytic Stoves

These stoves tend to be more expensive, but are capable of holding a fire longer and use less wood than non-catalytic stoves. They tend to be 75%- 83% efficient (HHV) and are often favored by people who live in colder climates or want to use their stove as their primary or sole heat source. Catalysts last much longer than the ones in stoves in the 1980s. This is an important note. Early catalyst stoves did not last very long having a reputation for their catalysts failing after only a season or two. Newer catalyst stoves catalysts can upwards of 10 years. They also produce less smoke than non-catalyst stoves.

Hybrid Stoves

As the name would indicate, these stoves use both non-catalytic and catalytic technology to achieve maximum efficiency and cleanliness. At least three manufacturers make them now and they can offer the best of both technologies. They typically are more expensive than stoves with other technologies, however, they have efficiencies in the range of most catalyst stoves and their catalyst last even longer as they are not doing the bulk of the work. They also run cleaner than catalyst stoves when the catalyst is not engaged.

Automated Stoves

Some automated (or ‘smart’) stoves use sensors and computer chips to adjust airflow, others are single burn rate stoves that use bi-metallic dampers. In both cases, these stoves allow the consumer to “load and leave”, allowing the stove to maximize efficiency and emissions reductions on its own. Automated stoves are an emerging class that is more well-known in Europe and just starting to enter the US market. Many of these stoves already meet the stringent 2020 EPA emission standards of <2.0 grams an hour. as you imagine, these stoves typically cost more than most other wood stoves on the>

At the Wood Stove & Fireplace Shop, we carry Secondary Combustion, Catalytic, Hybrid and Automated stoves from the best stove manufacturers in the world. If you’re in the market for a wood stove or insert, I suggest you come in and let our expert staff help you choose the one that is right for you.


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