Narrowboats are a unique and charming way to live on Britain's canal network. With their cosy interiors and slow pace of travel, they offer an idyllic escape from modern life. Many narrow boat owners embrace the traditional way of life on the canals and like the idea of heating their boats with a wood-burning stove. But is it possible to install a solid fuel stove on a narrowboat? And if so, what considerations should you keep in mind? In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about fitting a wood burner on a narrow boat.

The first thing to check is whether a solid-fuel stove is allowed on your waterway. For boats on canals and rivers managed by the Canal & River Trust, solid fuel stoves are permitted, provided they meet specific requirements. The fundamental rules are:

When selecting a stove, the main factors are size, output and efficiency.

Popular narrowboat stove sizes range from 4 kW up to 8 kW. Top-loading stoves take up minimal floor space. Stoves with back boilers can heat radiators as well as provide hot water. Opt for a Defra-approved smoke-exempt model, which burns cleanly for use in smoke control zones.

The location needs careful thought, especially on smaller boats. The stove needs an adequate air supply, safe clearances from combustibles and a suitable through-deck flue position.

Most boaters prefer to install stoves in the main living area. Positioning it towards the bow helps heat travel throughout the boat. Locating closer to the stern risks overheating the back cabin.

Make sure there is suitable clearance above and around the stove. Allow access to clean inside the stove and maintain the flue.

Limit proximity to furniture or soft furnishings, which can be damaged by radiant heat. Opt for a more central placement and use a stove pipe shield.

Flue requirements are critical for safe stove operation. The chimney route must:

Ideally, the flue should take the most direct vertical route through the boat's steel roof. Elbow bends, and horizontal runs reduce efficiency. Insulate any flue sections inside living areas.

Flue bends allow adjustable angles if the stove can't align directly under a roof penetration. Make sure joints are properly sealed.

Use stove-rated fire cement and high-temperature sealant. The flue exit must include a rain cap to prevent water ingress.

Lack of air supply is dangerous and can cause fumes or smoke to escape. All stoves require dedicated vents to supply combustion air.

Openable windows do not provide guaranteed ventilation. External air supplies are needed, even in well-sealed modern boats.

Despite the installation considerations, wood burners bring many benefits:

For many boaters, the advantages of solid fuel heat outweigh any installation hassles.

However, there are some downsides to consider, too:

While manageable for most, these factors still require adjustment from onboard gas or diesel systems.

The critical stages for safely and successfully installing your stove are:

Consider space, clearances, airflow, and flue route. Plan any furniture changes to accommodate the stove.

This specialist job creates the flue hole through the steel roof. Avoiding roof joists and braces is tricky.

A twin wall flue system runs from the stove up through the roof. Seal connections with a locking band or fire cement and high-temperature silicone.

The non-combustible hearth protects the deck from hot embers. Allow 300mm clearance at the front of the stove.

With clearances met, physically install the stove, attach it to the flue and seal the deck collar.

Cut and install dedicated air vents for the stove.

Heat the stove gradually to cure the seals. Check the flue draught and vent function.

Follow all operating guidelines. Allow the stove to acclimatise before firing intensively.

Choosing the right stove is crucial when fitting out a narrowboat. The small interior spaces require a stove with compact dimensions yet ample heating output. It also needs to cope with the damp conditions and potential movement of life afloat. Here, we review some of the best stove options for heating your narrowboat efficiently and safely.

Go Eco Adventurer 5 Glamping Stove

If you want more than just heating from your narrowboat stove, the Go Eco Adventurer 5 Glamping Stove with Oven is a great option. As well as pumping out up to 4.5kW of warmth and a marine hearth suitable for a narrow boat, it features a sizeable oven.

This allows you to bake fresh bread, roast meat joints or cook up anything else you fancy aboard your floating home. You can really embrace off-grid self-sufficiency with this dual-fuel stove. Just install it safely with adequate ventilation for the powerful output.

Morso 1412 Squirrel

For a classic, high-quality narrowboat stove, the Morso 1412 Squirrel Multifuel Stove ticks all the boxes. Morso is renowned for its premium Danish engineering and craftsmanship. The modest 5kW output suits heating smaller boat interiors.

The traditional Squirrel design, with its gently curved corners and cast-iron construction, will enhance traditional-style boat interiors. It also offers fuel flexibility by burning wood and solid smokeless fuels. A long-lasting, reliable, yet compact stove from a respected brand.

Ekol Baked Apple Pie

If you want your stove to be a focal point of your interior design scheme, look at the Ekol Baked Apple Pie Ecodesign Wood Stove. This quirky stove will undoubtedly attract attention, with nine different colour choices and a range of customisable options to make it truly your own.

Don't let its cute exterior fool you, though. Inside is a highly efficient 5kW wood-burning firebox and oven, ideally suited for heating a narrowboat and cooking up a storm. It meets stringent Ecodesign environmental regulations, too, keeping its real-world emissions low.

So, if you want a stove that stands out from the crowd and is a talking point with guests, cook up some warmth with the Baked Apple Pie.

Installing a solid fuel stove on a narrowboat is achievable, provided you select the suitable model and location for your boat. Pay close attention to flue and ventilation requirements during installation. Adapting your interior layout may be needed to provide safe clearances. While requiring more maintenance than gas or diesel, a wood-burning stove adds comfort, charm, and self-sufficiency to life afloat. Just be sure to follow all safety advice and enjoy the warming glow.

We hope this guide has helped give you a better understanding of choosing the right stove for a narrowboat installation. The compact space and marine environment make selecting the perfect model even more critical.

The great news is that at Direct Stoves, we offer an extensive range of high-quality, efficient stoves perfect for heating narrow boats. Whether you prefer a classic Morso, an efficient new Ecodesign model or a quirky statement stove, you will find your ideal boat stove in our collection.

Plus, with free delivery to the UK mainland, 14-day no-hassle returns, and a range of finance options, heating your narrowboat has never been easier.

Our team includes experts on solid fuel stoves who can advise you on selecting the right stove for your boat. Contact us today to discuss finding your dream narrowboat stove and for more installation information. Email [email protected], call 0161 376 4191, or visit our showrooms.