What to look for in a wood burning stove
DO YOU WANT TO HEAT ONE ROOM, OR THE WHOLE HOUSE?
Stoves are generally used to heat one room, but you can attach it to the central heating system to heat other parts of the house.
DO YOU LIVE IN A SMOKE CONTROL AREA?
A lot of towns and cities are smoke controlled areas, meaning you will have to get a Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) approved stove to burn wood. Check the Defra website to find out more, including an approved list of smokeless fuels. More and more stoves are now DEFRA Approved as standard so there is a wide range to choose from!
HOW OFTEN WILL I NEED TO CLEAN IT?
Keep in mind that when burning wood, it prefers to burn on a bed of it’s own ash so when cleaning we advise never to completely clean out the firebox. When burning other fuels, such as coal or anthracite then you will need to riddle the grate before burning as those fuels prefer an airflow from beneath. It’s also worth noting that you will need to get the chimney swept at least once, preferably twice, a year and pellet stoves will need to be serviced once a year as well.
WHAT TYPE OF FUEL DO YOU WANT TO BURN?
Wood is a carbon-neutral fuel, as the carbon it gives off while burning is counteracted by the carbon it takes in while growing. Coal, on the other hand, is far less eco-friendly. But your choice about which fuel to burn may depend on what supply you have locally.
HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU HAVE TO STORE FUEL?
You’ll need plenty of room to store fuel, especially if you will be burning logs – based on the average amount people use per year, you need about three to four cubic metres of space. It will need to be a dry area that is easily accessible for deliveries. If you do decide to get a wood burner, keep in mind that it is essential to buy seasoned logs, this means they have had a full season to dry out after cutting. Even better if they are kiln dried. An alternative option is to get fresh logs that are still moist and dry them (season) yourself to use the next autumn. This means you’ll need around two year’s worth of space for already seasoned logs and the following years logs.
We have a video on how to store your logs here!
WILL IT COMPLY WITH BUILDING REGULATIONS?
All stoves must meet UK building regulations. For example, there are specifications around how the flue is fitted, the size of the hearth or the distance of the stove from combustibles. These can all affect the type of stove you can have, so make sure you speak to us before buying. If you live in a listed building, this may affect your options.
In the UK, building regulations state that new heating appliances must meet a minimum efficiency rating. This is 65% for a stove, and 67% for one that incorporates a boiler. The higher the percentage, the more efficient it will be, and therefore the less fuel you’ll need to heat your home. Most stoves have an efficiency rating of between 60% and 85%, and boilers between 80% and 90%. When compared with an open fire, which has about 32% efficiency, and a gas fire at around 20% to 50% efficiency, solid fuel stoves are a good option. Some stoves also come with cleanburn or cleanheat technology, which essentially means that air is introduced to the stove, helping to burn off more of the smoke and gasses. This makes these types of stove more efficient.
Buying a stove
Always make sure you buy a stove with the CE mark so you’re assured that it meets the right European safety and efficiency standards for stoves in the UK.
A key part of choosing the right stove for your home is getting the right size and heat output, which is measured in kilowatts (kW) and ranges from 3kW to over 15kW. If you get a stove that has too high an output for your home, you may end up having the windows open all the time to cool it down – or running the stove at a lower temperature, which will create more tar and smoke and be less efficient. The size you need can be affected by: The size of the room (you’ll need to measure the height, width and length) The layout of the room and your home (for example, if the room you want the stove in is open plan) The size of the windows and whether you have double glazing If the room has insulation of any kind, such as wall or cavity insulation The age of the property. Approximately speaking, to make your room 21°C when it’s 1°C outside, you will need 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space. Find out what size of stove you need with our online calculator here!