What should I be asking when I’m looking for a wood burning stove.

Buying a stove is easy but there’s a massive amount of choice in size, shape, colour, Kw output, traditional or contemporary design. So where do you start?

1. What size Kw output do I need? Depending on the age of the property, the number of windows in the room and the insulation of the house generally these can vary dramatically. It’s important to have a visit from an experienced installer to determine the correct output. Do not buy a stove with too large an output you will never be able to use it without wearing shorts and tee shirt!  Over 5 Kw output requires an air vent within the room. Not a big job but may be problematic with a listed building for example. All new builds will require a vent.

Guide to buying a wood burner

2. What is the output range of the stove?  Most stoves just give a nominal figure which is usually less than the maximum and simply determines whether a vent is required. Some manufacturers give an output range which is more useful. Heat output at the end of the day is determined by the number of logs that can be fitted safely in to the firebox. The greater the number the higher the heat output, simple.

3. So what about the efficiency of the stove. An open fire is about 15% efficient. 85% of the heat goes up the chimney. So for every £1 spent on wood you get 15p worth of heat. A typical log burner is around 80% efficient, a far better equation. Think of this in how much wood you need to buy, stack and load.

4. Is the size of the firebox important? This is the space where the logs sit. Will it take a reasonable size log without having to order smaller logs which are more costly or will you have to cut them up?

5. Do I want a single or double door? Single doors are easier to open & use with a larger glass area but double doors can look more traditional.

6. Will your stove fit in the fireplace recess? Each stove can be different; it needs to be checked with the manufacturer’s handbook.   What is the required gaps around it to flammable and non flammable materials? Has your fireplace been lined with plasterboard, not unusual, which is considered a flammable material and will probably have to be removed?

7. Is the stove CE approved? Most good quality stoves are, many cheaper ones may not be. All the stoves we install are.

wood burners buyers guide

8. Why do I need to line my chimney? A stove works most efficiently when fitted with a flue as close as possible to that stated by the manufacturer. Hot air rises, if it cools it will slow or start sinking. It doesn’t rise well in a cold chimney, tar can be deposited and condensation caused, both of which can damage your property. If the smoke slows too much the stove will burn poorly and smoke can leak from the doors when adding fuel and even exit the through the air intakes leaving dangerous gasses in the room.

9. What is a DEFRA Exempt stove? If you live in a Smoke Control Area, or want a super clean burning stove, you need to choose a DEFRA Exempt stove if you want to burn wood, that’s the law and you can be fined if you don’t comply. DEFRA Exempt stoves are designed so that they cannot be fully shut down. Shutting down the air vents so that there’s little or no air entering the stove leads to slumbering which causes incomplete combustion and is polluting for the environment and leaves heavy deposits on the liner. Not a good thing. To work efficiently stoves need to be burning with a flame. We supply and fit DEFRA exempt wood burners.

log burner buying guide