What Do Stove Fans Actually Do?

If you rely on a wood stove to heat your home, then one shortcoming you’ll discover very quickly is that while the wood stove is excellent at heating the area immediately around the stove, it’s a lot less effective at heating the rest of the room.

Unfortunately, this leaves you with “hot spots” and “cold spots.”  Sitting next to the wood stove is no good, because it’s uncomfortably warm, and moving away from it is also no good, because it’s too cold.  That’s where the stove fan comes in.  By gently and quietly circulating the air in the room, it helps to even out the temperature and makes the wood stove better and more effective at its job.

Do Stove Fans Really Work?

In a word, yes!  Even though they’re quite small, they move a surprising amount of air (measured in cubic feet per minute—CFM).  Remember though, the stove fan will do nothing to increase the overall temperature in whatever room it’s in, it simply moves the air around to even the temperature out, which has the effect of making most of the room feel warmer.Heat distribution around a wood stove

How Do They Work?

The first thing you’ll notice when you take your new stove fan out of the box is that it has no power supply and no place for batteries.  That’s because it doesn’t need them.  Stove fans are powered in one of two ways.  The vast majority of them use a technology called TEG, which stands for Thermoelectric  Generator.  These fans are powered by the TEG module temperature differential.

Some fans are powered via a Stirling Engine.  Stirling engines are “external combustion engines,” and they get their “fuel” from the heat produced by the stove.

Which Stove Fan Is Right For Me?

There’s no quick and easy answer to that question.  Ultimately, it comes down to two factors:  How much space do you have above your stove?  The amount of clearance you have there is going to limit or expand your options.  Second:  How big is the room where your wood stove is located?  The bigger the room, the more air-moving capacity you’ll need.  Air moving capacity is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Fan dimensions and air-moving capacity are both listed on our Stove Fan Comparison Page.

Is My Stove Getting Too Hot?

It might be, yes.  Fortunately, there’s an easy way to find out.  Our recommendation is that you add a stove top thermometer to ensure safe, consistent operation.  The particulars will vary from one model to the next, but in general, you’ll find that most stove fans operate between a band of 65C/150F and 345C/650F.

Anything cooler than this, and your fan probably won’t function at all.  Anything hotter, and most fans are designed to slow down, and eventually shut off in order to protect themselves from permanent damage.  Stove top thermometers are relatively inexpensive and will take all the guesswork out of the equation.

Okay, I purchased a stove thermometer – where do I install it?

The goal is to get the most accurate reading possible of how much heat your wood stove is producing. If you want to control your stove operation then the most accurate reading will be on the stove flue pipe.  Attach your thermometer approximately 15 inch above the stove top. To control your stove fan operation the thermometer needs to be placed next to fan.

The best placement of the stove thermometer

My Stove Fan Is Acting Weird and Running Slow – What Now?Try to avoid placing the stove fan in front of the flue pipe

The first thing you’ll want to check is to see if your fan is optimally placed.  This takes at least a bit of experimentation, but for best results, your stove fan should be positioned in such a way that cool air will be drawn over the cooling fins, in order to create a temperature differentiation in TEG-powered models.

Regardless of how your fan is powered, one of the worst places to put it is directly in front of the stove pipe.

How Much Noise Do Stove Fans Make?

A lot of people like the idea of stove fans, but worry that it will be impossible to have a conversation over the because they’ll be so loud.  Actually, those concerns are misplaced.  Even low-end, inexpensively made stove fans tend to be fairly quiet, although this is a case where you get what you pay for.  The high-end stove fans on the market today are all exceptionally quiet, and well worth the extra money spent.  In many cases, they’re so quiet you won’t even realize they’re running unless you’re sitting right next to them, or directly in the path of the air current!

I’ve Got A Gas Stove.  Can I Still Use A Stove Fan?

Absolutely.  The key thing to remember is that a stove fan will work with ANY type of stove, provided one ingredient is in place.  The stove in question needs to have a flat, metal stove top on it, because this is where stove fans get mounted, using the heat from the stove top to provide power for the fan blades.

If you’ve got a stove, regardless of type, and it has a hot, flat surface that reaches temperatures of at least 65C/150F, then you can use a low temperature stove fan!

What About Warranties And Replacement Parts?

Every major stove fan manufacturer offers a good warranty.  On average, you can expect to find warranties that last for about two years, although there is some variance from one company to the next.  For specifics, check out our Stove Fan Comparison Page.

As to replacement parts – yes!  Those are absolutely available for sale, which means that your stove fan, properly cared for and maintained, can give you years of faithful service.  Given the availability of replacement parts, its useful life can be extended indefinitely.

Speaking of Maintenance, What Kind Of Maintenance Will My Stove Fan Need?

Actually, there’s not much in the way of maintenance that’s required.  The fans are generally well-designed and robust, and designed to operate with little maintenance.  Having said that, there are two things you’ll want to do:

Depending on the level of dust in your home, periodically wipe it down with a detergent free cloth.  Also, save the box your fan came in.  That way, should you ever have to store or move it, you’ll be able to do so in a box that’s specifically designed to accommodate the fan blades.  Other than that, there’s little else in the way of maintenance that’s needed.