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Help & Advice

Wood Burning Stoves

The best wood burning stoves will not only offer a great solution for heating your home, but can add character too.

Wood burning stoves are increasingly popular with homeowners due to the comfort they provide and the characterful focal point they can bring to a home. 

Today’s wood burning stoves are highly efficient and reduce reliance on fossil fuels for domestic heating. Great for heating a single space, wood burning stoves can also work well with other low carbon heating solutions, like heat pumps. 

But opting for a wood burning stove requires careful thought. You will need to consider the rules regarding log burning stoves where you live, as well as the type of property you live in before you get into the nitty gritty of the type and size of wood burning stove you want, the fuel supply, the maintenance requirements and the all-important costs.

Should I Get a Log Burning Stove?

This is the crucial first step before you purchase a log burning stove. There are several factors which will influence whether or not a log burning stove is the right choice for you and your home, so it pays to do your homework.

Where Do You Live?

If you live in a town or city, do check to see if you’re within a Smoke Control Area; you can find out by contacting your local authority or visiting its website. If you do find yourself in one, then you’ll only be able to burn DEFRA-approved smokeless fuel (such as anthracite) — wood certainly is not one.

Alternatively, if you do want to burn wood or non-exempt fuels, you’ll need to specify a DEFRA-exempt stove; there’s a list available here, but you’ll find that most manufacturers and suppliers are quick to mark out models with this stamp of approval.

What Kind of House Do You Live In?

Stoves need air for combustion to take place. In order to obtain a sufficient air supply, the air within the room needs to be replenished.

In older, draughty homes, and particularly those with large rooms, this doesn’t tend to be an issue. However, in modern, well-insulated, airtight self built homes, this is not the case.

The situation is further complicated by mechanical ventilation systems. Room-sealed stoves with a direct air supply (which basically means the air is taken from outside the house, not inside) have an important application here.

If you do have an airtight home, look out for models which provide all the air the stove needs externally — some only provide the primary air source, with air still drawn from the room.

Are You Prepared for the Upkeep?

Finally, there are some small tasks associated with owning a log burner — for example, fetching in dry logs, and in the case of multi-fuel stoves, you’ll need to clean out the ask pan. It’s not for everyone; a gas or electric log burner might be an alternative for those who like the look without the maintenance.

Do You Have a Ready Supply of Fuel Nearby for Your Log Burning Stove?

Before setting your heart on a log burning stove, it’s essential to establish whether you have a supply of firewood readily and locally available.

You may choose to plan for the year ahead and purchase logs to season (air dry) yourself, which will happily bring cost benefits, but you will require a log store, preferably one close to the house, to do so.Advertisement

If you’re unable to pin down a good, reliable supplier or are short on space to season and/or store wood, then a multifuel stove could be a good idea; they give the option of burning solid fuels such as smokeless anthracite, briquettes, as well as wood.

What Type of Log Burning Stove Should I Get?

Once you’ve assessed that a log burning stove is right for your home, you need to consider what type of stove to get. There are several different types available and they differ in the way in which they heat the space. 

Radiant Stoves

As the name suggests, these log burning stoves radiate heat through the glass and stove body, providing a focal point to cosy up to (they’re still perhaps popular because they most resemble open fires in this way). 

This type of stove is safest when installed within a chimney breast or inglenook, and soapstone is sometimes used to clad the top and sides; this stone absorbs, stores and slowly radiates heat.

Convection Stoves

A convection stove, features an outer shell or additional side panels which clad the combustion chamber — the heat is transferred to the air caught within this outer shell and is, in turn, distributed around the room.

They’re a better option for freestanding stoves – as the sides don’t get so hot – and good in open plan spaces where they’re likely to be used as a secondary heating.

Multi-Fuel Stoves

There’s a key difference between the ways in which different fuels are burnt; while wood burns best on a bed of ash with air circulating above, conversely, solid fuels require air circulating below. Multifuel stoves are designed for both tasks, although some log burning stoves can be specified with a removable grate for the purpose of burning solid fuels.

What Size Log Burning Stove Do I Need?

Establishing the heat output (which is measured in kW) required in the room is something to consider early on. Too small, and the stove will be inadequate for purpose. It’s perhaps tempting to opt for a stove with a considerably larger output than required, ‘just in case’.

However, stoves work best when operating at high temperature, achieving close to their heat output — with too large a stove, you could find yourself constantly cutting the air supply and dampening the fire right down (which in turn impacts on efficiency) to cool off. So, it’s important to get it right.

For every 14m³ of space, approximately 1kW is required to achieve a comfortable temperature. So to estimate the heat output required, divide the room in cubic metres (length x width x height) by 14.

This calculation provides only a rough estimate however, as factors such as the level of insulation, wall construction, the number of window or door openings, and features such as open stairwells have a bearing. It’s therefore a good idea to have a HETAS installer undertake a survey to ensure you specify the right model.

Does a Log Burning Stove Need to Comply With the Building Regulations?

For your log burning stove to comply with the Building Regulations you will need to choose fireplace materials suitable for the type of stove you are fitting. The regulations surrounding log burners can be found within Document J.

That is why we offer to come out for FREE and guide you on whether your wood burning stove should it be DEFRA, Kilowatt size, actual size that will fit and answer any other queries you have.

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