A Guide to Wood-Burning Stoves
There’s something instinctive about burning wood to create fire. Since the dawn of civilisation, the dancing flames and crackling sound of burning wood have helped us keep safe and warm.
Even though gas and renewable heating sources offer modern alternatives to firewood, more people than ever are currently giving into their firestarter urges by buying a wood-burning stove.
If you’re one of those thinking about investing in a wood-burner, here’s our overview of the main things you need to consider.
Choosing a style of stove for your home
First, you’ll want to ensure your stove matches the interior decor of your home. From classical cast iron to appliances in a variety of colours and attractive finishes, stoves come in a wide array of designs nowadays.
Many people think that wood-burning stoves are only for people with large houses and lots of living space; however, we stock a huge selection of narrow stoves that are perfect for smaller spaces.
What output is appropriate for the room/space you want to heat?
The ideal temperature for health and wellbeing is between 18ºC and 21ºC. To heat a room in this temperature range, you will need approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space (volume).
For example, if the width of your room is 5 metres, the length is 6 metres and the height is 3 metres, the volume will measure 90 cubic metres. This will mean that you’ll need a wood-burning stove with over 6Kw output to heat the room to the temperature desired.
It’s important to note that glazed or non-glazed windows, insulation, the age of your home and a range of other factors will influence heat requirements. However, you can get a rough idea of the heat output needed from your stove by using our KiloWatt Calculator.
How big must the hearth be for a wood-burning stove?
According to the Stove Industry Alliance, when installing a stove in the recess of an open fireplace, the hearth must extend 20 inches in front of the stove and six inches either side. The hearth for a stove that has doors which open out must extend to at least 12 inches from the front of the stove.
What do they burn?
This might sound obvious, but wood-burning stoves burn wood – and nothing else. Under no circumstances should coal or smokeless fuels be set alight in a wood-burner. If you think you might want to burn coal in addition to wood, a multi-fuel stove will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
How much does it cost to source suitable firewood?
For wood-burning stoves to reach their full potential, you need to use the right wood. The general rule to follow when burning wood is drier equals better. Using damp logs with high levels of moisture will reduce your stove’s output and typically creates a lot of smoke.
The price of wood varies from region to region. According to Which? kiln-dried wood is the most expensive and freshly cut logs, which still have a high level of moisture, tend to be the least expensive; however, kiln-dried wood offers the best heat output.
Hardwoods such as oak and ash also take longer to burn than softer woods such as pine and fir, which makes them more economical.
Do you want to boil water and heat a room as well?
Boiler stoves provide hot water and run radiators, either separate to or as part of an existing central heating system. An article by This Is Money reported that many people found burning wood to be more cost-efficient than using electricity for both. This means boiler stoves can help cut the cost of energy bills by reducing your need to use electricity.
Can I use a wood-burning stove in smoke control areas?
Many UK towns and cities are smoke control areas, which means you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning authorised fuels or using appliances that are exempt. The fine for breaking the rules is up to £1,000.
DEFRA approved stoves are appliances that have been independently tested and certified to meet criteria for safe smoke emission levels. This means you can use them safely and legally in the many parts of the UK that are classified smoke control areas.
Do I need a chimney or air vent for a wood-burning stove?
An adequate chimney is essential for wood-burning stoves for two reasons. The first is to carry smoke up and out of the house; and the second is to provide a draft to keep the fire burning. If your chimney can’t provide suitable ventilation for this second part, you might need to install a dedicated air vent before your wood-burning stove works properly.
What is an Airwash system?
Am Airwash system is a highly desirable feature of high-quality wood-burning stoves. It uses a vent to draw cool air into the firebox, which is then heated and pushed across the glass panel in the stove’s door. This ensures the glass panel stays cleaner for longer and you get to enjoy the stove’s beautiful flames to their fullest.
For more information about exactly how an Airwash system works, click here.
Wood-burning stove maintenance and safety tips
Although wood-burning stoves are easy to maintain, there are a several simple steps you can take to keep it safe and in good working order.
For instance, the Stove Industry Alliance recommend hiring a trained professional to sweep your chimney at the beginning and the end of each year’s heating season.
Clearing out your stove’s ash pan and cleaning the glass regularly is also advisable. However, leaving a layer of ash in the grate helps to start and keep a fire burning, so it’s best to check the manufacturer’s manual for specific guidance on how often your stove needs cleaning out.
If you have small children or pets, it’s also a good idea to place a fireguard around the stove. At the same time, installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can help ensure you and your family stay stove safe.
Buying a wood-burning stove
Direct Stoves is one of the UK's leading online retailers of wood-burning stoves. We stock a huge choice of wood-burners from leading brands, including Arada, Charnwood, Esse, Hunter and many more. To make sure you get the stove you want, we offer:
- Free UK delivery– on all products
- Finance options – spread the cost of your wood-burning stove
- Price match promise – find the same stove cheaper elsewhere, we’ll match the price