Types of Wood Heaters

Explore which type is most suitable for you

Types of Wood Heaters

Free standing convection heaters

Free standing convection heaters are designed with air cavities around the outside of the firebox and then a decorative outer casing. Heat is distributed by convective currents, with cooler air being drawn in to rise between the firebox and the outer casing, keeping the outside of the unit relatively cool. 

Convection heaters transfer about two-thirds of their heat output by convection and about one-third by radiation. 

Convection wood heaters generally provide a fairly even heat throughout a room and because their exterior surfaces are lower in temperature than radiant models, they are less likely to cause burns from direct contact. A fireguard is still recommended.

Types of Wood Heaters Free Standing Radiant Heater

Free standing radiant heaters

Free standing radiant heaters transfer about two-thirds of their heat output by radiation and about one-third by convection. They have very hot surface temperatures and heat by sending their heat out in all directions. The surface of objects such as walls, floors, ceilings, furniture and people that face the wood heater, are warmed directly by the radiated heat.

Radiant wood heaters warm quickly so if you sit close to them you can feel the heat even if the whole room hasn’t yet warmed up.

Fan forced heaters

Fan forced heaters are usually a convection style heater with a 2 or 3 speed blower fitted to increase the speed of the normal convection process and are ideal for larger homes where air movement is a priority

Inbuilt heaters

Inbuilt heaters are designed to be in contact with or built into a heat sensitive structure within a building. 

These types of appliances must be tested in a laboratory in accordance with AS/NZS 2918 to ensure their compliance with safety requirements.

Insert heaters

Insert heaters are specifically designed for installation within a masonry fireplace. Inserts are commonly used to convert open brick fireplaces, which are usually unable to produce sufficient heat.

This type of conversion ensures that most of the heat is delivered to the room instead of being trapped in the masonry structure, or wasted via the chimney. Older installations allowed the emissions to exit directly into the chimney cavity.

AS/NZS 2918 now requires a stainless steel flue be installed from the flue collar of the appliance to the top of the chimney greatly improving performance.

The evolution of fireplace insert designs together with improved installation has enhanced performance to the extent that today’s fireplace inserts are almost as efficient as freestanding units.


Pellet Heaters

Pellet heaters are heaters that burn compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat for residential and sometimes industrial spaces. 

By slowly feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn-pot area, they create a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments.

Exempt or excluded appliances:

There are a few different types of domestic solid fuel burning appliances that are excluded from AS/NZS 4012 and AS/NZS 4013. Note that this does not make them excluded from the installation standard AS/NZS 2918.

Types of appliances excluded from the Australian Standards AS/NZS 4012 and AS/NZS 4013 are:

  • Central heating appliances – which is an appliance intended for space heating by means of transferring heat to the living area by ducted hot air, or hot water.
  • Cooking appliances – which is an appliance that incorporates at least one cooking hot plate and an oven with a volume of not less than 28 litres.
  • Appliances intended solely for water heating, or to distribute warm air via ducting to locations remote from the appliance, eg. wood fired furnace.
  • Appliances that when tested on the High burn rate have a maximum carbon dioxide output of less than 5% by volume, eg. open fire places which don’t have doors.

How a wood heater works

Wood Heaters provide heat in one or a combination of the following ways. There are no clear performance differences between steel construction, a painted or enamelled finish, however, there are important differences in heat delivery.

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