A coal stove is a type of heating appliance that has seen use throughout much of mankind’s history. A typical coal stove (also known as a coal burning stove) works by burning coal in an enclosed chamber, which subsequently generates heat. Although stoves that burn other kinds of fuel are available, for a large period of time coal stoves were the most widely used method of heating, and indeed are still in use today, although their usage is diminishing as more modern methods of heating are gaining in popularity. Coal stoves are generally fuelled by coal, as their name would suggest, but they are capable of burning wood as well. Due to the high temperature at which coal burns, they must be extremely sturdy in their construction, and while a coal stove can burn wood, a wood stove cannot burn coal and to attempt to do so would be extremely dangerous.
Inset Coal Stoves
Coal stoves, like most other kind of stoves, are available in two main varieties: inset and free-standing. Inset free-standing coal-burning stoves are usually fitted with a large, windowed door on the front of the chamber, and are designed to be fitted in properties where there is already an existing fireplace and chimney. This is because any kind of heating appliance that relies on combustion to generate heat will also generate large amounts of smoke and other gases as by-products of the combustion process. These by-products are toxic and damaging to interior surfaces and materials, making it imperative that they are safely directed outside.
Free Standing Coal Stoves
Free standing coal stoves, on the other hand, do not require an existing fireplace or flue as they come fitted with their own vent system. The benefit of this type of stove is that it can be fitted into most buildings. The chambers of free-standing coal stoves tend to be larger than the inset varieties, meaning they can hold more fuel and thus burn longer before needing to be attended to.
Hopper Fed Coal Stoves
A third variety of coal burning stove that is available is the gravity type coal stove, otherwise known as the hopper fed coal stove. These coal burning stoves use a hopper to feed the coal into the stove, taking advantage of the power of gravity. When the lowest layer of coal in the chamber has burned away, a new layer takes its place. The hopper must be kept full to ensure the stove will continue to burn, but for some this is preferable than manually inserting coal into the chamber itself. It is also the best option for those who want a consistent and even temperature for long periods of time.
Coal stoves have seen a decline in popularity with the introduction of multi-fuel stoves and other heating appliances that use renewable fuel sources, but they are still a viable option for those with access to ample supplies of coal. Modern coal stoves do operate in a more environmentally friendly manner than the coal stoves of old, using a type of coal called anthracite that produces less smoke and harmful by-products.