If you’re the proud owner of a wood burner, you might be wondering if you need a log burner fan?
Installing a log burner fan is a fantastic way to help maximise your stove’s performance and the effectiveness of heating a space it’s in.
This blog post will tell you all about wood burner fans, how they work and how they can benefit your appliance.
So, read on for more information!
What is a stove fan?
A stove top fan is a device that is placed on the upper surface of a log burner. It helps to circulate the warm air being emitted from the log burner out into the room to make it warm and cosy.
Stove fans can come in a variety of designs and generally have either 2, 3, 4 or 5 blades to help circulate the air more evenly.
Just like the stoves themselves, a wood burner fan tends to be made from a type of metal, such as steel or aluminium.
Do log burner fans work? Are they worth it?
You’ve more than likely paid a sizeable chunk of money for your log burner, so you’ll be wanting to make the absolute most out of it.
The short answer is yes, wood burners fans do work and are worth the small purchase price.
A woodburner fan is a great way to increase the effectiveness of the heat your log burning stove produces, and squeeze out all of that efficiency that you feel via heat.
Log burners usually emit heat via infrared radiation and via convection.
Here the heat rises up to the ceiling first, before making its way around the room. Although this works, you do get cold spots and uneven heat distribution.
Wood burner fans are worth it because they push some of that hot air straight out into the middle of the room rather than up and around.
By circulating warm air around the room, a log burner fan helps to distribute the heat more evenly, making your home more comfortable. They’re particularly effective in smaller rooms.
Also even more pertinently, an increase in heat efficiency can really help to reduce your heating bills over the winter when your log burner will be working hard.
How do stove fans work?
These little fans are well worth the small cost, but how does a log burner fan work?
This is quite ingenious so listen in!
A stove fan works by thermoelectricity. However, it requires no external electrical connection or batteries, just heat.
The fan doesn’t generate any heat, but moves the hot air produced by your stove around the room.
When your stove is on, you’ll know that the outside gets very hot. With a stove top fan, the heat is conducted from the surface to the fan base.
As the heat travels up the base, it makes its way to the peltier device, which converts the heat energy into electrical energy. On this thermoelectric plate, it’s the difference in temperature from one side to the other that creates an electrical current.
It’s thought most fans produce about 3 volts of energy. This electrical energy powers a little fan motor (which you can see in the picture above), which then makes the blades spin.
As the blades spin, hot air is pushed out into the room (if you remember back to school science, this is known as convection heat).
This incredible mechanism all depends on the heat being generated from the log burner.
Some stove fans can start working from around 50oC. Most will operate most effectively between 80 and 250oC.
The fan will automatically stop working as your stove cools down.
Where to place a log burner fan?
Where to place the log burner fan is an important question.
I originally thought the fan would go in the middle of the stove to create a good balance for everything – this is wrong!
Your stove fan should be placed to one side of your stove top and towards the back i.e. either side of your flue and not in front of the flue or near the edge. Where the flue enters the stove is the hottest part, which makes it an unsuitable place to position your fan.
You can find a bit more info on fan position from this helpful Valiant page.
The two best spots for your wood burner fan are:
- The back left side of the stove
- The back right side of the stove
Do place a stove fan:
- One side of the flue
- Towards the back of the stove
Don’t place a stove fan:
- In front of the flue
- Near the edge of your stove
Benefits of a stove fan – are log burner fans any good?
There are numerous benefits of a wood burner fan and making the small investment to get one.
The first question many ask is – are log burner fans any good?
The answer is yes, stove top fans are worth it, especially if you are trying to heat a contained room and not a huge open plan space.
A basic wood burner fan that comes in and around the £30 mark can push out air at a rate of 80 to 125 cubic feet per minute. This is the CFM rating.
However, the better stove top fans have an airflow rating of over 350 cubic feet per minute.
- Improve heat efficiency
- Warm up a space more effectively
- More even heat distribution
- Fairly cheap to buy
- Relaxing to look at
- Good designs
The great thing is that a fan will work on all different types of stoves, including wood burners, multifuel stoves, large stoves and small stoves. You can even use a fan on a second hand log burner to help improve it’s efficiency and effectiveness.
There’s no doubt from this that log burner fans are worth it.
Disadvantages to a wood burner fan?
Although they are a simple product with not too much to them, there are a couple of disadvantages to log burner fans.
The main disadvantage to me is the safety element.
Stove top fans are made out of metal and they get very hot when the fire is on.
You won’t be (or at least shouldn’t be) moving your fan when the burner is on, but it could be a hazard for any young children and pets, such as inquisitive dogs. The same of course goes for the log burner itself, which gets super hot.
When the stove gets hot, the blades of the fan will be spinning pretty fast. Hot, spinning blades made from metal could potentially be a hazard for the unassuming hands of children and noses of dogs.
Some fans will last years whereas others might last a winter. The main reason why stove fans stop working is due to the small electrical motor giving up.
If you’re savvy enough to know how to replace this motor, you’ll have a fan that’s as good as new.
Different types of log burner fans
There are a few different types of log burner fans on the market. Each has its own benefits and CFM rating, depending on the design and how it’s made.
All will ultimately work in the same way though as described above, using the heat from the stove to power the kinetic movement.
Difference between stove top fans will include:
- Number of blades
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) airflow rating
- Magnetic base or not
How many blades should a stove fan have?
You can get some slightly weird and wonderful designs but the major difference from one fan to the next is how many blades it has.
You can get stove top stoves with 2, 3, 4 and 5 blades.
I think the most common number of blades on the market is 4.
However, there is not set number as to how many blades a stove fan should have.
Do woodburner fans work on radiators or agas?
A good idea and certainly one worth exploring – will a wood burner fan work on other objects that heat up, such as a radiator or even an aga?
Let’s tackle a radiator first.
No, it’s unlikely that a log burner fan will work on a radiator. The reason is the temperature of a radiator doesn’t get hot enough.
Some of the better fans will start to operate from 50oC. At this temperature, the blades will just begin to turn, but without any real power. Through sticking a thermometer onto a radiator turned on to the maximum, it just about hit 50oC.
A stove can get up to temperatures of 150-250oC though – sometimes even 300oC. At the higher end the fan will be turning powerfully due to the bigger heat difference on the peltier thermoelectric plate in the mini generator of the fan.
A household radiator gets nowhere near these temperatures, so a fan wouldn’t be effective.
Agas can get hotter, but again they’re not going to get up to the same temperatures as a wood burning stove. The fan may be turning slowly, but it’s not going to be pushing much air around.
Should I buy a stove fan?
If you want to distribute the warm air more effectively throughout your room, then yes buy a log burner fan. It will be a worthwhile buy.
For just a small cost, a fan will make the most out of your log burner investment by increasing its effectiveness and through wasting less heat.
This type of efficiency may help you save on fuel costs over the long term – if you feel warmer through the use of the stove fan, you’ll put less wood on your log burner!
One of my favourite places to look for stove top fans is on Ebay.
- 15 Best Ecodesign Log Burners
- 15 Best Multifuel Ecodesign Stoves
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Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.