Pyroclassic Wood Burners: New Zealand’s Most Efficient Wood Stove?

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We have a Pyroclassic IV wood burner in our home. 

It’s an older version that was in the house when we bought it, and I’m not sure what year it was put in. If I had to guess I would say sometime in the late 90s – early 00s.

Despite being quite old, it still runs well and heats our home for 6 – 8 months a year. I burn mostly gum, macrocarpa, and pine that I get from our land and we burn it well-seasoned.

When the fire is cranking, it can really turn the house into an oven, which is how we like it!

Pyro Fires

pyro fires review
Our Pyroclassic IV

Overall I really like our Pyroclassic Fire.

If we decide to renovate our current home (which needs doing!), rather than selling it and moving, I would happily install a new Pyro Classic.

The fire has a unique design that’s unlike most (or all) other wood burners you see in New Zealand. 

Their website states:

The Pyro Classic wood fire was developed by scientists at the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR). They were tasked with creating the ultimate solution for burning wood in the most environmentally conscious way.

After nearly a decade of design and research, the Pyroclassic was born!

Here’s a picture of one of the new versions – it looks essentially the same as ours, it’s just clean, unused, a nicer color, and much more Instagrammable!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alex Fulton Creative Design (@helloalexfulton)


It has a deep firebox which I really like.

It means I don’t need to cut my firewood down too short – I can keep it quite long. It also means the wood lasts longer on the fire before I need to load more on it.

Because of the length, it also has a large top surface area that can be used for cooking, something we make use of, especially as we have semi-regular power outages.

I have a stovetop kettle that I regularly boil water with on the fire, and we often use it for boiling a stock pot through the day. 

But it’s what’s inside that is really special.

It has a 45 kg ‘Heat Sustainer’ – a cylindrical ceramic firebox described as a “formidable thermal mass capable of absorbing and storing an abundance of heat.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Fire And Saw (@fireandsaw)

It is said to “store more heat than any other conventional wood fire through a slow and even released of its heat over an extended period,” and that’s certainly been my experience.

It reminds me a bit of a night storage heater that we had growing up. It stores up a lot of heat in the ceramic mass and releases it for hours after the fire has burned out.

The new versions are said to get 12-hour burn times, something that I don’t quite get with mine. If I push all the embers to the back of my fire before I go to bed, they’re still alive and waiting for wood in the morning. 

When the embers are all out, the burner remains hot for many more hours, releasing heat from that thermal mass firebox.

At night I still have to put the heat pump or our Noirot panel heater on overnight to keep things extra toasty, but we’re in a very cold part of the country!

The Pyroclassic cylindrical firebox design is also said to burn wood more efficiently:

Circular encapsulated flames allow for a more complete burn and extraction of fuel from your wood.

And the ceramic cylinder is “indestructive to heat beyond what burning wood can achieve.”

Pyroclassic Pros

pyro fan wood stove
I use a wood stove fan to push the heat through the house

I’ve already shared a few things I like about it:

  • The long firebox allows for long pieces of wood
  • Long burn times, plus it continues to heat after the fire is out
  • Large top plate area for cooking and heating water, etc.

It puts out a lot of heat, up to 15kW or 50,000 BTUs, and is suitable for heating homes with an area of 100 – 200 square meters.

There is no blower or fan as with many other log burners. Instead, this fire is all about radiant heat. I use a wood burner fan to help push the heat out through the house and don’t mind that there’s no internal fan.

Because of the design of the firebox, and basically, the whole thing, once you light the fire it takes a wee while to start pumping out the heat.

It might take half an hour to really start making a difference, for example. You have to wait for it to heat the ceramic before it starts radiating out. Because of this it sometimes feels ineffective, but once it’s going, it really gets hot – hotter than alternative burners, I think.

Another benefit is that it can be set up to heat the household water with a wetback, which ours has (as you’ll learn more about in the next section). It is quite effective and through the winter we don’t need to use electricity to heat our hot water cylinder.

Lastly, I think the look of the Pyroclassic is really nice – especially the new ones!

Because it’s a bit unusual people always ask about it when visiting and want to know more. And when ordering you can choose from 100 custom colors!

Pyroclassic Cons

pyroclassic burst wetback
When the wetback burst – I noticed water coming out from under the fire

In the 4 or 5 years we’re been using the Pyroclassic IV, we have had to replace quite a few parts.

The image above is from when the wetback water heater burst during the first few days of the first government imprisonment (aka lockdown) in 2020. It wasn’t the ideal time to have it happen.

Thankfully I was able to find help and we capped the water pipes until I could order a new wetback – which cost $500!

I was able to install it myself, otherwise, it probably wouldn’t have been worth replacing, not to mention the drama of trying to get tradespeople out during total lockdown.

Other things I’ve had to replace include the glass, retainers, gasket, and screws. The glass broke, which was my fault for trying to close the door with a piece of wood sticking out, but the glass retainers and screws were worn out and no longer functioning well.

I think all that cost over $100.

And then the wooden door handle also needs to be replaced every 2 or 3 years at a cost of about $30. I don’t know if that’s because I run the fire quite hot and often, or if it’s just kinda a bad design.

The wood handle is nice, it just deteriorates quickly.

Perhaps a new Pyroclassic burner wouldn’t have quite so many things needing to be replaced, or perhaps it’s normal for these types of appliances.

Besides this, our chimney is very difficult to clean, possibly because it wasn’t installed 100% correctly.

I have to open up the fire as pictured above, which involves:

  • Removing the sides
  • Lifting the flue, at the same time as…
  • Lifting the incredibly heavy top plate

And then I put a trap in under the flue to catch the soot, ash, creosote, etc. as I put the brush down from above. I usually have to go up and down a few times to empty the tray as I go or it overflows.

I believe you’re supposed to be able to simply lift the flue up out the burner and put a tray under there rather than taking off the whole top, but for whatever reason, mine doesn’t work.

It was riveted together for one thing, but I drilled them out, and I still can’t get the flue to lift high enough for it to pop out of the collar.

All this to say, it’s hard to sweep the chimney!

I have to set aside a good hour at least, and it’s a far, far messier job than I’ve had with other log burners.

I’m sure that with a new Pyro Fire model this would no longer be an issue because it really is a horrible job.

My last complaint is that the support/customer service is so-so – sometimes you get a reply, and sometimes you don’t!

Pyroclassic Mini

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Heidi Horton (@athomewiththehortons_)


 The Pyroclassic Mini (or Pyro Mini) is the same thing, just smaller.

It’s not a whole lot cheaper than the full-sized version (about $500), but you wouldn’t want to put a full-sized version in a tiny house!

The Mini is suitable for spaces under 140 square meters and weighs a lot less at 100 kgs compared to 140 kgs for the Pyro Classic.

It’s a small-ish wood burner that claims to “reduce your heating costs” and give you a “healthier home” by fighting coldness leading to dampness.

It can also be run with a wetback, has a decent-sized cooktop area suitable for two pans, and has primary and secondary air controls.

Definitely a cool burner for small homes in New Zealand!

Small Wood Burners NZ

So while I do have a few complaints about our Pyroclassic Wood Burner, I still really like it.

The most important things are that it heats the house well, doesn’t chew through the firewood, is multifunction (can be used for heating water and food as well), and looks good (at least, the new ones do)!

It doesn’t have a blower, but that can be resolved with a fan, and if the new ones make it easier to clean the chimney then I can recommend them.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions down below!

Next up, check out the Australian made Nectre Wood Ovens – I would love one of these.

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