Wood Stoves for Vans
Whether you're living in your van full-time living or recreational camping, there's nothing quite like a real wood fire to make a van feel like home.
But not every stove is appropriate for a van installation. Household sized wood stoves are simply too large to use in a van without overheating the space. And some small stoves are just too tiny to be practical for serious heating. Take the time to find the perfect stove for your space and lifestyle, and you'll spend countless evenings enjoying the warm glow of a real wood fire in your home on wheels.
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What is the best wood stove for my van?
Whether you're recreational camping or full-timing, the right size wood stove for your van is the first step to enjoying years of cozy evenings by the fire.
Traditional household stoves are simply too large for a van conversion. If your stove is too large, it will be nearly impossible to fit it in such as small space, or use it without turning your space into an oven. Choking down a too-large stove can also produce dangerous amounts of creosote, which can cause a chimney fire if not properly managed.
On the other hand, some mini stoves are just too small for serious heating. A properly sized stove can provide longer overnight burns, plenty of heat for even the coldest Winter days, and can even help manage the humidity in your van.
The 3kW size of wood stove is a good fit for most van conversions, but our wood stove BTU Calculator for small structures is a great place to start. To choose the right stove for your needs, consider how you plan to use your stove, and what features and accessories are important to you. Do you want the option to use your stove for cooking as well as heating? Do you want a large fire viewing window, efficient airtight controls, or a direct air kit? Do you want options to customize the look of your stove, like an enamel door or wood storage stand?
The Dwarf 3kW
Our smallest stove, the Dwarf 3kW, is a great option for van builds. The compact size is perfect for fitting in tight spaces. The tall firebox, airtight controls, and secondary burn technology give the Dwarf 3kW stove the longest burn time in the 3kW size. With three separate air controls, it's easy to control the burn rate of a Dwarf 3kW stove. Enjoy cozy nights watching the fire through the large window while you warm a kettle on the cooktop.
The Dwarf 3kW Standard is a full-featured stove designed for serious heating. We've packed in all the same features and options as our larger stoves, just in a smaller package.
The Dwarf 3kW LITE
Dwarf 3kW LITE is a great option for small spaces where weight is a concern. The LITE version is the same size and output as our full-featured Dwarf 3kW, but with simpler controls and weighing 20 lbs less. If you plan to use the top exit and burn wood only, and don't need the direct air option, the Dwarf 3kW LITE is a great choice for your van build.
Read the complete Dwarf 3kW LITE versus Dwarf 3kW Standard product comparison here.
The Dwarf 4kW
The Dwarf 4kW is our medium sized small stove. A 4kW stove is too big for most vans, but if you're planning to travel in extreme cold in an extra-long wheelbase van or large truck camper, you might need the extra BTUs. With more features and options than many full-sized stoves, the Dwarf 4kW is a great choice for serious heating in a small space, unmatched ambiance, and lots of options to customize the look of your stove.
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How to install a wood stove in a van
When installing a wood stove in your van, planning ahead for a safe and functional installation is a must! Small, mobile spaces present unique challenges for wood stove installs. Using proper materials, good flue design, and adequate safety clearances will ensure a safe and reliable installation for years to come.
Building Your Flue System
The flue system is the "engine" of the wood stove. Without the flue creating draft, a wood stove will not burn properly. Consult our flue design resources for detailed information on good flue design principles.
Proper materials are critical for a safe wood stove installation. Only use solid fuel rated stovepipe and chimney pipe for installing a wood stove. Pellet pipe and B-vent are not rated to withstand the high temperatures produced by a wood stove.
Start with one of our RV/Bus Installation kit matching your stove's flue size, then add extra pipe as needed to fit your space, and create a detachable chimney. Run your space through our flue system builder for a complete list of parts for your project, or contact us for help from a human.
We strongly recommend using a roof exit for a van installation. The flue system is the "engine" of the stove, and since vans are relatively short structures, small differences in design can make a big difference in function. Roof exits are also cheaper to install, and much easier to manage in a structure that moves. If a wall exit is truly the only option, a tiny house wall exit kit can be adapted to fit a van, provided there is sufficient vertical height to create good draft.
Installing Your Stove
Your wood stove will generally need to sit on a fireproof hearth that protects the floor below from heat radiating from the stove, and from embers falling out of the door. A hearth is usually made of some combination of tile, stone, metal, or cement board. Consult the Dwarf Manual for specific requirements on hearth design.
Wood stoves get very hot during operation, so they require a significant amount of air space between the stove and surrounding combustible materials. Most van installations use heat shields to reduce the required clearances by up to 2/3.
Consider elevating your stove off the floor with a wood storage stand, or installing it on top of a custom cabinet or counter. Raising the firebox off the ground can make stoking and viewing the fire more comfortable, and often looks more visually appealing.
Dwarf Stoves are designed to bolt down to the hearth, whether you use the standard legs, tall legs, or the wood storage stand. If you are elevating your stove off the floor, be sure the surface your stove sits on is substantial enough to hold the stove in place during travel.
It's unusual for a van to be so airtight that a separate air supply is needed for the stove to function. However, if you want to avoid cold drafts in your rig, consider adding a dedicated fresh air supply with the direct air kit. Providing the stove with its own air supply will prevent it from pulling in cold air through leaky window and door seals.
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Why work with Tiny Wood Stove?
Tiny Living Community
We're tiny living people like you, working to live intentionally and to support others doing the same. We care about your journey, and can relate to the challenges you're running into along the way. Read more about us.
Converting a van into a home is not an easy project! But you're not alone. Whether you're using our products or not, we'll offer whatever help we can to help make your tiny living dreams a reality. Contact us to chat about your project, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 208-352-3417.
The Right Materials
We carry wood stoves and solid fuel rated flue parts that are specifically designed for small stoves. We're familiar with the unique challenges of building and modifying vans, and we carry specialized parts to support compact and mobile installs.
If you need something we don't carry, we'll tell you where to find it. And if you need help with an unusual or creative design, we're here to help with that, too.