Convection vs Radiation – how it can affect your purchase

It has been a little while since we got technical so we’re due a blog post discussing convection and radiation stoves. We’re going to look into how a stove warms a room up, and why it effects your buying decision when you are looking for a stove.

Heat-transmittance-means convection radiation

Your stove will warm you through one of two ways: convection or radiation. The best way to explain this is to go back to your physics lessons from school.


jotul20c3320multifuel20cassette convection
The Jotul C33 multifuel cassette stove uses convection to warm the room.

Convection occurs when hot air rises, cools and drops down only to be warmed up again as it is drawn closer to the heat source to fill the gap left by the rising air. Convection stoves warm the air and pushes it into the room whilst drawing in cooler air from the bottom.


Radiation (we’re not talking about nuclear radiation) occurs directly from the electromagnetic waves from the heat source. These waves carry the energy away from the heat source. A clear example of this is the sun, warming us through heat radiation.

So what has this got to do with your stove, and how you go about choosing it? A convection stove will warm your room evenly and then start to warm nearby rooms, as it gradually replaces the cooler air with warmer air. Convection stoves often have a layer of cladding around the body of the stove that gathers the heat and pushes it forward, out into the room. This makes convection stoves a great option if you are putting a stove within a fireplace, and also if you need to put it closer to combustibles. The exterior of the convection stove is kept cool enough to be put close to a combustible, such as a wood panelling.

aarrow-ecoburn-7-plus-defra-multifuel-stove-black convection radiant
The Aarrow Ecoburn 7 Plus DEFRA multifuel stove is a radiant stove

Radiant stoves offer a more localised degree of heating. The waves of radiation get blocked by walls and objects, so whilst those objects get warmer, the space behind them will not.

These factors are worth noting when choosing your stove. A radiant stove is not best suited for being put into an enclosed space, like a fireplace, as it will put out heat front, back, sides, bottom and top. Fire bricks can work to drive the heat out into the room but typically you’ll find you don’t get the full benefit. Radiation stoves work their best when they are freestanding in a room.

If you find that you can’t make your mind up or need advice please contact our skilled team for advice – we’d be happy to help.

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