Getting optimum output out of a wood stove depends on many factors. A right type of wood, quality and size of wood, arrangement of wood in the stove, a right amount of air flow etc. It needs a blend of experience and expertise to be sure that a wood stove is efficiently burning the wood and providing maximum heat. At the same time, it is necessary to know if the wood stove is functioning safely. Measurement of temperature of the flue gases or the temperature of stove itself can help the user to make sure that the wood stove is effective and safe. Wood stove thermometers help to measure this temperature.
From experience, it has been concluded that the wood stove operates effectively and safely between the temperatures of 300 °F to 500 °F. Lower temperatures can cause creosote in the chimney or in the wood stove. These unburned charcoal particles later burn at places in the path of flue gases when the temperatures rise causing fires and heat spots. A higher temperature is obviously dangerous and can also cause fires and other safety hazards. Moreover, it reduces life of a wood stove. Wood stove thermometers give accurate temperature readings of wood stove fire. Thus, a person knows if it needs more fuel or more oxygen or if it’s time for maintenance and cleaning.
There are basically four types of wood stove thermometers:
- 0.1 Magnetic Stove Pipe Thermometers
- 0.2 Magnetic Stove Top Thermometers
- 0.3 Insertion Probe Thermometers
- 0.4 Catalytic Thermometers
- 1 Magnetic Thermometers
- 2 Probe Thermometers
- 3 Summary
Magnetic Stove Pipe Thermometers
Magnetic stove pipe thermometers are magnetically attached on the stove pipe and measure the surface temperature of the pipe. They are placed at a distance of 15”-18” from the top of stove for correct measurement and are best suited for single wall type pipes. The double wall pipe has insulation in between the two pipes and therefore, this thermometer shall indicate incorrect readings.
Magnetic Stove Top Thermometers
These thermometers are kept on top of wood stove or even at the front or on side walls. A magnet fixes the thermometer to the stove. The stove top thermometers are calibrated to give actual stove temperatures. These thermometers can be used when one has a pipe with two walls and insulation in between. These do not need any installation and hence are very easy to use.
Insertion Probe Thermometers
These thermometers have a metallic probe. The probe is inserted into a ¼” hole drilled through the pipe at a distance of 18” from stove top and goes at the centre of the pipe. The probe directly reads temperature of the flue gases and thus the dials are calibrated accordingly. Probe type thermometers are very accurate but need proper installation. These thermometers are best suited for double wall type stoves but can also be used for single wall pipes.
Catalytic thermometers are specifically calibrated for catalytic combustor wood stoves. They can be probe type or magnetic. They have indication if the catalyst is hot enough, if the damper needs to be opened or closed and if the catalyst needs replacement.
Below are some the thermometers available on amazon.
GalaFire Wood Stove Thermometer
This magnetic thermometer is a pipe type thermometer recommended to be used on single wall stove pipe. This has a white pointer which makes it easy to read. The indication of creosote and high temperature as well as best working temperature helps to adjust the flame. The product is relatively cheap.
According to one reviewer, the pointer moves along with the magnet. Which means that, when the magnet is attached to the stove, the pointer stays where it is, if the dial is rotated. So, there is a chance that one shall have wrong readings if the dial is rotated.
Midwest Hearth Wood Stove Thermometer
This is a stove top type thermometer. It has Porcelain Enamel finish which gives it a rich look and thus compliments the Wood Stoves. This has colour indication for creosote, best temperature and overheating, which helps operate the wood stove properly. It is higher on the cost side compared to similar types. The construction is sturdy. The pointer is small and might make it difficult to read.
Condar FlueGard Thermometer
This is a must have equipment if one has double wall type stove pipe. The thermometer has 4” stem that can measure temperatures up to 1700 °F. The best position to install the thermometer as recommended by the manufacturer is at a distance of 18” from stove top. It has both Fahrenheit and Celsius scales. The probe is thoughtfully constructed with right materials that can make it corrosion resistant, durable and agile for quick measurements. The dial has colours for low, optimum and high temperature. The reviews of this product on Amazon are good. This device is rather expensive, but seems to be value for money.
Condar’s Catalytic Probe Thermometer
These are specially designed and calibrated for Consolidated Dutchwest or catalytic combustor stoves. These can measure flue gas temperature immediately behind a combustor. The thermometer registers accurate readings up to 2000 °Fahrenheit and can be retrofitted to most catalytic stoves to comply with EPA monitoring regulations. The readings indicate when to switch off bypass and when to reduce fire. It also signals if catalyst needs replacement. The probe construction is similar to Condar’s FlueGard thermometer.
The best choice of a Wood Stove Thermometer mainly depends upon the type of wood stove and type of stove pipe. For double wall type pipe, best choice would be a probe type thermometer. For single wall type pipe, one can go for magnetic pipe type thermometer. Stove top thermometer seems to be a versatile one which can be used independent of pipe construction. If one wants to avoid hassle of installing the probe type thermometer, he/she can go for stove top thermometer. The catalytic thermometers are specially designed and calibrated for catalytic stoves.
Thus, anyone looking to buy a wood stove thermometer must be first aware of the type of stove he/she is having and the construction of wood pipe. Selection of a wrong thermometer will defeat the purpose of thermometer and might even prove to be dangerous.