Choosing a Wood Burning Stove

wood burning stove

Are wood burning stoves a good choice?

Unlike coal, gas or oil, wood is a renewable resource. Over the course of its life, a tree consumes the same amount of Carbon ( or Carbon Dioxide) as it releases when it is burnt.  Most modern wood burning stoves are over 80% efficient compared to open fires that are usually less than 20% efficient. For this reason alone, choosing a wood burning stove is a good choice.

Do I have to have an existing chimney?

No. I f you don’t have a chimney or it is the wrong place for where you want to place the stove, you can install a Twin wall flue system. This is a ‘clip together’ steel  flue that can go up through the property or out an external wall and up the property.

Wood Burning or Multi-Fuel?

The difference in construction is the use of a raised grate and ashpan in multi-fuel stoves ( Fossil fuels require air from below, hence the grate). Dedicated wood burners can be converted to multi-fuel by most manufacturers, or even retro-fitted in some cases. Wood only is the main choice of customers these days due to it being a renewable source and carbon neutral.

What style of stove do I choose?

There is a host of stoves on the market, usually divided into either traditional or contemporary, although some cross over with an ambiguous design.

Do I need a DEFRA Approved Stove?

If you live in a Smoke Control Area, you would require a stove approved by DEFRA for use in these areas when burning wood or fossil fuels. This is a legal requirement. The majority of British and European stoves all meet this requirement with most going further and having the appliances 2002 ready. 20022 sees the need for stoves to be EcoDesign ready which aims to ensure the appliances burn even cleaner.

Will the stove fit in my chimney breast?

There should be no combustible materials in the chamber recess where the stove is to be sited and there should be minimum air gaps to the sides, rear and above the stove as required by the Manufacturers instructions. This air gap is to allow the heat to enter the room and not stay within the chamber recess. The minimum air gap to non-combustibles is usually 100mm ( 4″) but, again, this would depend on the manufacturers instructions.

What heat output should I be looking for?

Establishing the heat required for the room is important. Stoves have a kW rating rather than BTU rating. Too small and the stove will prove inadequate.  Stoves work best, and cleaner, when burning well as opposed to smouldering. If you apply too much fuel, you would need to dampen the air down which causes an incomplete combustion, creating carbon. nitrous oxide and particulate matter. Bad for the flue – bad for the environment!

For every 14m3 of space, you require 1kW of heat to be comfortable. This is only a rough guideline as other factors such as insulation, stairwells, external walls also have to be taken into consideration.

The nominal output figure quoted by manufacturers is normally not the maximum output available. It just confirms that the stove has been tested and has achieved the rating.

Do I require an air vent?

With properties constructed after 2008 and stoves over 5kW Nominal heat output, you may require an air vent in the room to replace the air leaving by the chimney. Some stoves do have a rear air option to add a direct air kit feed from the outside directly into the stove.

Can I install the stove myself?

Installation should be undertaken by a qualified (HETAS) registered installer. It is possible though to self-install but you would require the Local Building Control Inspector to sign off the installation. (There are a lot of regulations to bear in mind when installing)

How much do Stoves cost?

A more expensive stove can outweigh a cheaper stove in many ways.

  • Aesthetics. The look is important to many people
  • Hinges. Sometimes hidden and better quality on dearer stoves
  • The glass.  Quality and thickness.
  • Thicker steel. Creating a definitive lifetime of operation.
  • Door Operating Mechanisms. Very clear when looking at the stoves.
  • Warranty. Longer warranties issued on better quality stoves.
  • Flame control. Better working air controls for variable heat.
  • Brushed steel.  More expensive than Chrome fittings.