Old-fashioned wood stoves offer plenty of heat but also introduce into the air dangerous particulates and other substances that threaten air quality and the environment. Modern stoves use unique technologies to burn a massive proportion of waste and smoke gases, making them not only more efficient but also more eco-friendly. Catalytic and non-catalytic stoves differ in how they treat these waste gases to stop them from ever making it out of the cooker.
How Catalytic Stoves Work
Catalytic stoves contain a catalyst like those utilized to control smog in an auto. The catalyst is a ceramic honeycomb coated with platinum another metal. As smoke passes through the holes in the catalyst, it reduces the temperature where the smoke combusts in 1100 degrees F to between 500 and 550 degrees F. This forces the smoke to burn, which drives the temperature of the catalyst even greater. Eventually the catalyst itself gives off heat, reducing or eliminating the need for a fire inside the stove to create heat.
Non-Catalytic Stove Function
Non-catalytic stoves do not contain a catalyst but can still burn waste gases to help clean the atmosphere. They rely on a huge baffle to lengthen the course of gas circulation, which naturally raises the temperature of the smoke to allow it to combust. These cookers also inject preheated air to the cooker to help stimulate the smoke more quickly than it might otherwise burn. Several feature heavy layers of insulation to allow the temperature inside the stove to stay high, which further helps to burn waste gasoline.
Catalytic Pros and Cons
Catalytic stoves offer better efficiency, normally, than non-catalytic cookers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives catalytic stoves a default efficacy rating of 72 percent, versus 63 percent for non-catalytic stoves. This added efficiency is a result of how the catalyst itself grows so hot during operation that you are able to enjoy heat with minimal if any flame. This reduces the amount of wood necessary, increases burn time and reduces creosote buildup. The primary disadvantage to this technology is that catalytic stoves are trickier to operate and require additional knowledge and experience. Without proper operation, you not only drop efficiency but also cause buildup and clogs in the catalysts, which means you have to replace it sooner, at a price of $75 to $160 in 2014, according to the EPA.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Stoves
Traditional wood stoves that don’t use catalysts are generally easier to work with, and don’t ask that you monitor the temperature or shut the baffle at just the perfect time as with a catalytic stove. They’re also more prevalent, meaning you are likely to find more models and options to select from. The biggest drawback to classic wood stoves lies in the fact that they can’t hold a fire provided that a catalytic stove, meaning less convenience, reduced efficacy, more wood to cut or buy, and greater potential for creosote buildup.