How big (or small) of a stove do I need?


Choosing the right size stove is crucial for efficient heating. For tiny dwellers (less than 500SQFT) space is a premium so finding a stove that will fit in the smallest of spaces can be a challenge. On the flip side you don’t want to under size a stove for your space otherwise it will not provide enough heat. Let’s explore how big (or small) a stove you will need for your space.




Small wood stoves cost a premium. A simple search on craigslist will unearth a list of affordable traditional stoves. You can regularly find a decent used stove for $250. Why pay $1000+ for a tiny wood stove? Why not just use a large traditional stove for your small space?


It’s a legitimate option. Ultimately it comes down to your personal needs. I have seen many non-traditional dwellings (buses, and RV’s) install large traditional wood stoves. While they are affordable and will provide plenty of heat there are certain tradeoffs:


Large & takes up precious space. Traditional stoves are large. Installed with the proper clearances and they can easily gobble up a 4-5’ footprint. For most tiny dwellers a little added cost on the front end pays dividends for the added space!


Heavy and cumbersome. Larger stoves can easily weigh up to 250lbs not including the flue, hearth and other heat shields. For spaces like our Airstream weight is a deciding factor!


Too much heat for tiny spaces. While a traditional stove will easily heat your small space they are made to heat up to 1000-1500 SQFT. With a large stove in a small space it could be a challenge to maintain a comfortable temperature providing too much heat!




A good way to gauge if a potential stove will meet your heating needs is it’s MAX output. This is generally displayed in BTU’s. To figure out the required BTU’s to heat your space you need volume of space, desired temperature change and how efficient your space is. There is a great online tool to calculate approximately the BTU’s requirements for your space: BTU CALCULATOR. For reference here are some common space dimensions and required outputs:


Space Dimensions / Square Footage / BTU Needs

18’ x 7’ x 8’  126sq/ft  10520BTU
20’ x 7’ x 8’  140sq/ft  11440BTU
24’ x 7’ x 8’  168sq/ft  13280BTU
24’ x 24’ x 8’  576sq/ft  26880BTU


For example our Airstream interior dimensions are approximately: 22’ x 7’ x 8’ or 176sqft. Since the insulation is poor has single-pane glass and numerous gaps we need about 10,000btu.




Below are a few popular wood stoves and their output:

LOPI Model 1250 – Standard Wood Stove: 66,800 btu

Jotul F 602 – Small Wood Stove: 28,000 btu

Dwarf 5kw – Small Wood Stove: 20,000 btu

Dwarf 4kw – Tiny Wood Stove: 15,000 btu

Dwarf 3kw – Tiny Wood Stove: 10,000 btu

Salamander Hobbit – Tiny Wood Stove: 14,000 btu

Navigator Sardine – Tiny Wood Stove: 7,500 btu


While you will pay a premium for a small stove a better suited wood burner for your tiny space is worth the investment. Today there are lots of great options for Small Wood Stoves on the market. Over the past few years there are some new players because of the growing demand for small space heat. More options means better prices and a better solution for your specific needs. Now that you have a reference point for what size stove you need lets look at what stoves are available on the market.

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