Wood Stove Corner

What BTU Means to You

A BTU, otherwise known as a British Thermal Unit, is the measurement of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.  BTUs are the standard measurement used to determine the amount of energy that a fuel has as well as the output of any heat generating source such as wood stoves, fireplaces, fireplace heater systems, barbeques, patio heaters and other household heating devices.

All combustible materials have an individual BTU rating.  Just to give you an idea, per pound; dry wood has about 7,000 BTUs while charcoal has about 9,000 BTUs and propane about 15,000 BTUs.

All wood stoves have a rating to communicate their maximum BTUs per hour; this is the maximum heat output when the system is running optimally.  This rating tells you approximately how much heat system is capable of generating and approximately how much wood (or other fuel) you will be burning.  For example, if a wood stove has a heat output of 25,000 BTUs that simply means that the stove puts out 25,000 BTUs in one hour and that you’ll be using about 3.5 pounds of wood to generate that heat (or BTUs divided by the fuels combustible BTU rating: in this case wood which is 7,000 BTUs). 
When shopping for wood stoves (or any product that measures heat using BTUs) remember that even the most inexpensive wood stoves can produce thousands of BTUs.  These numbers should primarily be used to compare the heat output between systems and to decide how much you'll need to produce the desired results in a room.  Larger and more expensive systems will generally provide significantly higher BTUs than a smaller system. Remember that while the BTU rating doesn’t tell you exactly how much heat it will produce, it does give you a general idea of its potential heat output and how much wood you’ll be burning.