wood burning stoves at Plumbworld

Wood Burning Stove Buying Guide

When it comes to heating your home or favourite room, not everyone wants a radiator. What about a cosy, classic wood-burning stove?

Whether you’re buying your first stove or replacing an older model, there’s a lot to consider when looking to fit a wood-burner. From environmental impacts to cost and aesthetics, there are a lot of matters that should go into your decision.

That’s why Plumbworld is here to help with an all-you-need-to-know guide for wood-burning stoves. We’ll discuss what they are, why they’re popular, where you can fit them as well as any regulations you have to meet to install a wood-burner.

Read on to find out more about wood-burning stoves to make sure you buy the perfect one for your home…

What are wood-burning stoves?

Mendip Ashcott Standard Black Wood Burning Stove 4.7kW Eco Design & DEFRA Approved

As the name suggests, wood-burning stoves primarily use wood for fuel and are a fantastic investment for your home.

If used to replace an open fire, they could reduce your home’s carbon footprint by as much as 14%. Wood-burning stoves are generally made from a hard-wearing all-metal construction, most commonly steel or cast iron. This, obviously, ensures that they stand up to the heat produced by your fuel. 

Read more: Wood Burning Stove Maintenance Tips

You’ll find that the main components of wood-burning stoves are the burn chamber and the flue - aka the chimney. A wood-burning stove can help to create a lovely focal point in the living room, and logs burning will really help to create a traditional feel. There’s a romanticism to burning wood, especially through winter and the festive season.

Which size stove is best?

Mendip Christon 750 Freestanding with Logstore Wood Burning Stove 8.7kW Eco & DEFRA

For a comfortable and relaxed room temperature, you need to ensure that you have the right size stove for your room - like radiators. 

If you install a stove that is too large for your room, you will find yourself getting uncomfortable very quickly. You need approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres that you have in a room.

Tip: To calculate this, measure the length, width and height of your room and then multiply those figures together.

Different factors, such as the size of the windows, the number of outside walls and whether you have double glazing windows may also fluctuate the heat requirement. It’s best to seek a professional to ensure you have the correct measurements.

Where can a stove be fitted?

Aduro 1-1 Black Freestanding Wood Burning Stove 6kW Eco Design - 132-50215

You may be surprised to hear but a stove can be installed in just about any room of the house. Many stoves are freestanding, so you can choose where to position to make the most of the heat. 

Tip: Ideally, you should install your stove either, against a wall, in an existing fireplace or in the centre of the room, flued through the ceiling. 

You can also get inset stoves which are to be fitted flush to the wall, between a dividing wall or an old fireplace opening. To ensure your stove is fitted correctly, we do suggest that you contact an adviser to ensure a safe and secure installation.

How are wood-burning stoves different from multi-fuel stoves?

Mendip Ashcott Standard Ivory Wood Burning Stove 4.7kW Eco Design & DEFRA Approved

When you’re looking to buy a wood-burning stove, you’ll likely come across multi-fuel stoves - another popular heating option.

But how do they differ?

What are multi-fuel stoves?

Multi-fuel stoves burn wood, smokeless fuel and coal. The design of these stoves has been optimised over the years to accept a large number of fuel types, burning them as efficiently as possible.

As the name suggests, wood-burning stoves are designed to solely burn wood logs rather than other types of fuel. That’s it, nice and simple.

Wood-burning stoves feature a flat base on which to place and then burn the logs. This is where the ash collects. While you may want to clear this away, keeping some ash on the base - called floor - of the wood burner actually aids in combustion, unlike multi-fuel stoves.

Different woods burn in different ways. However, some should be avoided altogether due to not providing enough heat when burning or causing sap from the wood to clog your flue. You should always make sure the wood is well-seasoned so that it’s dried out to burn.

Westfire Uniq 23 Pedestal 1 Wood Burning Stove 6kW DEFRA Approved

Handy point: living in a smoke-controlled area won’t stop you from buying a wood-burning stove. You will need to purchase a DEFRA-approved stove which is permitted for use in these areas.

Multi-fuel stoves, as the name suggests, can burn more than just wood. We’ve already mentioned smokeless fuel and coal, but they can also burn peat or turf briquettes and anthracite.

Point: you can only use smokeless fuel for a multi-fuel stove if you live in a smoke-controlled area. Like wood burners, if you also want to burn wood, you’ll need to purchase a DEFRA-approved multi-fuel stove.

Besides the fuel, the inside of a multi-fuel stove is different from a wood burner. They feature a riddling grate that sits above the floor of the stove. This aids airflow to help combustion of smokeless fuels specifically. The riddling grate allows for ash to then be collected in an ash pan to be cleaned out after use. This allows air to flow freely around the stove.

Are wood-burning stoves eco-friendly?

Westfire Uniq 21 Standard 800mm Wood Burning Stove 5kW

You may think, or have read, that by burning wood you’re harming the environment and emitting greenhouse gases.

This isn’t strictly true.

Wood burners are actually considered carbon neutral. This means that the carbon dioxide released by burning wood is equal to the amount a tree absorbs while it’s growing. This is only the case so long as you buy your wood from a supplier that promises to replace trees that have been cut down.

From 2022, a new Europe-wide program to improve air quality and lower emissions will become mandatory for all stoves. However, you can buy eco-friendly stoves right now. Called EcoDesign stoves, this is one of the best ways to burn wood cleanly and efficiently. An EcoDesign stove can produce 90% fewer emissions than an open fire, and 80% less than a 10-year-old stove.

What is the cost of a wood-burning stove?

Henley Cedarwood 615 Landscape Black Inset Wood Burning Stove 4.7kW Eco & DEFRA - ST220

Wood-burning stoves, like all home heating options, can vary in their cost based on size, manufacturer etc before we get to installation.

A standard wood-burning stove can cost anything between £300 and £4000, with the higher end reserved for designer stoves. Which? magazine revealed that 29% of their polled stove owners spent between £1000 - 1,999, to give you an idea of national spending.

Of course, there are a number of popular, each with their own price tag. In reality, the cost of a stove all hinges on your individual circumstances. It’s a mixture of interior design flair and your own dimensions.

What can affect the cost of a stove?

Like all things we buy, there is a huge variety of prices within each type of stove. However, features also make a difference to the final cost. Naturally, if you pay more, you get more features. Factors that can increase the cost of a stove may include: 

  • If it's larger than average or has a bigger window 
  • Is slimline 
  • It has a log store built into the stove 
  • Is a corner stove 
  • It can be inset into the wall so you can see the flame from more angles 
  • It’s more of a design feature

What can affect the cost of installing a wood-burning stove?

Westfire Uniq Inset 32 Narrow Frame Wood Burning Stove 5.9kW DEFRA Approved

Installation is a complicated process, and most estimates will automatically include a number of “givens” within the fee. These may include all the necessary authorisations, labour costs, and building materials.

An installation quote will likely account for two workers, strong flue pipes, a stainless steel liner, a register plate to seal off the chimney opening, chimney cowl, a Carbon Monoxide detector, and HETAS registration.

What is HETAS?

HETAS is the national organisation working for consumer safety and the wider public interest in the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible use of biomass and other solid fuels.

There are a number of factors that affect installation costs, and these will all depend on your home. Installation of a wood burner may cost more if: 

  • You need to have your chimney relined because gases could escape
  • Your chimney needs work on it
  • You don’t have a chimney, so will need a flue created
  • A vent needs to be fitted in the room where your stove will be positioned

This can all bump the installation above £2,000, so it’s best to get multiple cost quotes.

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