A wood burning or multi-fuel stove can be a great focal point in your living room, creating a real cosy atmosphere. Here is our guide to buying a log burner or multi-fuel stove.
What type of fuel do you want to burn?
Wood is a carbon-neutral fuel, as the carbon it gives off 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. Costs can fluctuate and it is always best to contact your local suppliers to find out their prices. Buying in larger bulk will always prove cost effective. The Governments 2020 initiative is aimed at reducing emissions from the power sector and encouraging investment in low-carbon technologies such as wood and this could have an effect on fossil fuels costs.
How much space do you have to store fuel?
When buying a log burner or multi-fuel stove, 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 roughly need about three to four cubic metres of space. It will need to be a dry area that is easily accessible for deliveries and the fuel should be raised off the floor. If you do decide to get a log burner, keep in mind that the cheapest way to buy fuel is to get fresh logs that are still moist and dry them yourself to use the following autumn. This means you’ll need around two years worth of space.
Do you have a reliable fuel supply close to your home?
There are a number of websites that list local fuel suppliers, or you could check what free fuel there is near you – such as a nearby factory that would be happy for you to take items being thrown out. Often your local showrooms can direct you to suppliers of all fuels.
Do you want to heat one room in the house or the whole property?
Stoves are generally used to heat one room, but you can purchase boiler stoves which can attach to the central heating system to heat other parts of the house. These are often referred to as ‘wet systems’. The majority of our customers find that a ‘dry’ stove can heat most of the house to an ambient temperature, especially if leaving doors open whilst the stove gets to temperature.
Do you live in a smoke controlled area?
Most towns and cities are now smoke controlled areas, meaning you will have to get a DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) approved stove to burn wood or solid fuels such as coal or coke. If you don’t want to buy a DEFRA approved stove, you can instead burn smokeless fuels, such as anthracite, on a multi-fuel stove, but you won’t be able to burn wood. Check the DEFRA website HERE to find out more, including an approved list of smokeless fuels. For residents in Leeds, you can check HERE. The majority of manufacturers’ now produce many stoves which are DEFRA Approved, particularly the 5kW market.
How often will you be home, able to light the fire and clean the ash away?
Keep in mind that stoves can take a little time to light and multi-fuel stoves need the ash cleaned out every time you start the fire. However, you can get stoves that will light automatically, usually pellet stoves, although these are more expensive. Some multi-fuel stoves can be run on ‘slumber’ overnight, but wood burning stoves cannot. Wood burning stoves actually should be left with an ash bed to reduce the amount of air within the stove chamber to get a longer burn time. With wood the fire burns from the top, you do not need to have any air circulating from underneath the wood. Do not over fill the stove with wood, it will not burn any hotter with more logs on as at least 50% of the space in the stove needs to be empty to allow proper combustion of the gases generated from heating the wood up. It is also worth noting that you will need to get the chimney swept at least once, (depending on type of fuel used), a year and pellet stoves will need to be serviced once a year as well.
Will you be able to comply with building regulations?
All stove installations must meet UK building regulations. For example, there are specifications around how the flue is fitted, the flue diameter, the size of the hearth or the distance of the stove from combustible materials. These can all affect the type of stove you can have, so make sure you speak to an installer before buying. If you live in a listed building, this may also affect your options. Your local showroom should be able to offer good advice on the building regulations if you have any concerns.
In the UK, building regulations state that new heating appliances must meet a minimum efficiency rating. This is currently 65% for a stove, and 67% for one that incorporates a boiler (wet system). The higher the percentage, the more efficient it will be, and therefore the less fuel you’ll need to heat your home. At the moment, most stoves have an efficiency rating of between 60% and 87%, and boilers between 80% and 90%. However, new EU laws coming into force in 2022 mean that stoves will need to be at least 80% efficient. Although this isn’t a legal requirement until 2022, the trade body the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) is working with manufacturers to produce stoves that meet this criteria from now. These stoves will be labelled Ecodesign Ready. Most 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 – cleaning the glass door and making these types of stove more efficient. Talk to your local retailer for more advice.
Buying a stove
Always make sure you are buying a log burner or multifuel 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.
Generally, 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. As a rough guide, multiply the height, width and length of the room in metres, then divide this by 14. You’ll get a gauge of what size stove you need in kW. However, we recommend that you only use this as a guide, and don’t buy a stove online based on this alone. Every home and installation is different, and there are a number of other factors that affect what stove you need – from the size of your home to what chimney you have. We therefore advise you to get a HETAS approved installer and/or retailer to do a survey on your home before buying. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some stove dealers will only install when you purchase from them!