Choosing a New Stove – Cats vs. Non-Cats

With spring approaching and the burning season winding down, some folks are already starting to plan for next year. They’re looking for firewood, making improvements, and searching for a new stove. If you find yourself in this latter category, or are just new to the wood burning world, there are a couple things to keep in mind when researching that big purchase of a new appliance. Welcome to EPA approved stoves!

The EPA has set standards regarding particulate emission which wood stoves must meet. This has forced manufacturers to build stoves which burn very cleanly – little to no smoke being emitted from the chimney. The unintended consequence of these standards has been a dramatic increase in the efficiency of the stove and the amount of heat you get out of your firewood. EPA stoves are much more efficient than their non-EPA counterparts, one average about 33%. That’s significant!

Basically you’ll find two different technologies which enable the modern stove to achieve this efficiency – catalytic and non-catalytic stoves. A catalytic stove simply is a stove which contains a catalytic combustor. The unburned bits left from the burning of the wood react with a chemical coated honeycomb device which lowers the ignition temperature of the smoke and causes it to burn. This enables what’s called “secondary burn” and gives some added efficiency to the stove as well as makes the exhaust much cleaner. Cat stoves tend to produce medium heat for a very loooooong time. They usually achieve longer burns.

A non-catalytic stove uses insulation and baffling to achieve the same effect. Smoke from the burning of the firewood is directed along the top of the firebox by a baffle. The smoke is heated by the fire below and hot fresh air is injected into the mix causing the superheated smoke to ignite, thus achieving your secondary burn. Non-cat stoves tend to be most efficient when burned with hotter, shorter fires. They will heat up your house quickly but usually do not achieve the burn times a cat stove will.

Between the two, which is more efficient is really a wash. A cat stove will initially be more efficient than a non-cat but because the catalytic combustors need to be replaced every several years, efficiency will wane with time.

So which should you choose? Well, it depends. Figure out the your heating needs and go from there. Rather than go nuts over the difference between cats and non-cats, look more at the quality of the stove and manufacturer. There are great stoves in both categories.

First Thing

John RantaJohn Ranta
17:01 22 Mar 24
They arrived on time, worked quickly and showed me the results. Prfessional throughout. jr
william greenwilliam green
23:21 14 Mar 24
Really helped me out can't say enough good things highly recommend!!!! The young man that came to my home was very knowledgeable and friendly great attitude all around answered all my questions and left me stress free best of all left no mess.🤙🏻🤙🏻
Michael Dell'OrtoMichael Dell'Orto
18:39 14 Mar 24
Jaime ConleyJaime Conley
17:13 14 Mar 24
Sarah GilliattSarah Gilliatt
01:46 13 Mar 24
A very thorough and careful job done! Thank you.
Larry CookLarry Cook
15:11 07 Mar 24
I wanted to give 5 stars but they are very busy which meant I had a good wait for both the inspection/cleaning, then for a quote on repairs and then for the repairs. Their prices seemed a little high to me but I have nothing to compare with as they were highly recommended by someone I trust and other companies had plenty of negatives reviews which kept me from getting additional quotes. I am happy with the work and they promptly returned to fix a mistake that had been made. Chris the inspector, Jennifer in the office, and Alex and his repair crew were all pleasant and took the time to answer all of my questions. Alex and his crew even took their shoes off (it was winter) before entering my house without even being asked! So if you are not in a rush and want to ensure you chimney is as safe as possible then I think you'll be happy with Black Moose.
Rebecca DeFuscoRebecca DeFusco
22:35 21 Feb 24
After a recent sweep of our chimney, it was discovered that our flue tiles were cracked. Black Moose techs were hard working, detail oriented and professional! Nice jobs guys! See you next year for my cleaning!
Karen CKaren C
14:52 14 Feb 24
Excellent I highly recommend Black Moose Chimney and Stove; Kelly and Liam are awesome, they did a great job. Extremely professional, arrived early, went through everything with a fine tooth comb ensuring pellet stove was thoroughly cleaned. They also were respectful of my home, conscientious and cleaned up after themselves. Made sure stove worked prior to leaving and told me to call promptly if anything came up afterward. Will definitely use them again.
Denise ClarkDenise Clark
16:32 31 Jan 24
We've had Black Moose clean our chimney for a number of years.But recently, we had an emergency situation at our home involving our chimney & oil furnace flue, which was caked full of soot from a malfunctioning furnace. They came & cleaned out both flues in no time, even going up on the roof with snow on it! They cleaned up after their work in the interior rooms where the oil furnace and the woodstove are located. Great work. Reasonable prices. Very nice people. You can't go wrong with Black Moose.
Joe GJoe G
18:30 24 Jan 24
Goods: The technicians know their business, very efficient in cleaning/inspection along with cleaning up after the 'dirty work'.Others: Communications could be more effective. Despite early coordination about scope of work (multiple flues within same chimney) the estimate provided did not reflect this and the final invoice was significantly more than the estimate provided.Quote for follow-on chimney relining was significantly more than that offered by other companies in the area (and far more than neighbors experienced for similar work accomplished by other companies)