Multi-Fuel Stove Buying Guide
Are you looking for a reliable, stylish stove that can burn different fuels? You might like a multi-fuel stove. However, with so many options available, selecting the right one can be challenging. Fortunately, you've come to the right place! This buying guide will walk you through all the crucial aspects, so you can pick the perfect multi-fuel stove for your home.
Looking for a stove that burns wood only? Try our Wood-Burning Stove Buying Guide instead.
What is a multi-fuel stove?
In contrast to traditional wood-burning stoves, multi-fuel stoves are a versatile heating option that gives you the freedom to choose between different solid fuel types. Because of this, many see them as a more convenient option.
How does a multi-fuel stove work?
A multi-fuel stove works the same way as a wood burner, with one crucial difference. These appliances burn multiple fuel types, such as smokeless coal and wood. Here's a detailed look at the workings of a multi-fuel stove:
Fuel loading and ignition
Unlike the flat surface of a wood burner's firebox, a multi-fuel stove typically comes with a grate. This allows various fuel types to be used safely and efficiently. The fuel is loaded into the firebox, where you ignite it using kindling or firelighters.
Air circulation and combustion
Once the fuel is ignited, proper air circulation is essential for efficient combustion.
- Primary air: Enters below the grate and fuels solid fuel combustion.
- Secondary air: Enters above the fuel, helping to burn off volatile gases (especially when burning wood).
- Tertiary air: Some modern multi-fuel stoves feature tertiary air inlets. These enhance the combustion efficiency even further.
Multi-fuel stoves are equipped with air controls. These allow you to adjust the airflows to control the burn rate.
Grate and ash pan design
Most multi-fuel stoves have a grate and ash pan. This helps in the efficient burning of smokeless coal or other mineral fuels. Ash falls through the grate into the pan, ensuring the ash build-up does not interrupt airflow.
The fuel burning in the firebox generates heat, which the stove distributes into the room. This is done either through radiation, where the hot surface of the stove heats up the room, or by convection, where the stove draws in cold air from the room, heats it, and directs it back out into the space.
Modern multi-fuel stoves are designed to minimise emissions, regardless of your chosen fuel. Efficient combustion and using secondary and tertiary air supplies help reduce the output of harmful substances, keeping your home clean, healthy, and warm.
Why buy a multi-fuel stove?
Choosing a multi-fuel stove is a decision that comes with various benefits. Let's explore some of the main reasons why you might choose a multi-fuel stove rather than a standard wood burner:
Firstly, multi-fuel stoves are more flexible with the ability to burn wood, smokeless coal, and other solid fuels. This can be especially useful if certain fuels become expensive or hard to get in your area.
As we all know, economic and environmental factors can affect the prices of various products, including fuel. A multi-fuel stove frees you from being tied to a single fuel source, making it easier to adapt to changing circumstances.
Secondly, modern multi-fuel stoves are a highly efficient choice. They are designed to achieve optimal combustion. As a result, this means you'll get more heat output for the same amount of fuel.
What's more, by choosing to burn eco-friendly fuels like smokeless fuel or sustainably sourced wood, your multi-fuel stove can help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Cost-effective home heating
Finally, the flexibility to switch between different fuels can help you save even more money on heating your home, especially if you can source affordable, local fuel options. Depending on the size of stove you choose, you can use your multi-fuel stove to heat your entire home or supplement your central heating. This has serious potential to reduce your overall heating costs.
What size multi-fuel stove do you need?
Choosing the correct size multi-fuel stove is crucial in the buying process. It impacts your stove's heating efficiency and your living space's overall functionality and aesthetics. Here's how to choose the right stove size:
Multi-fuel stove output ratings
Multi-fuel stoves are rated by their maximum heat output in kilowatts (kW). A common rule of thumb is that you'll need 1kW for every 14 cubic metres of space. You can use our stove size calculator, but if you're interested in the maths, here's how it works:
- Measure the room: Firstly, determine the room's length, width, and height in metres.
- Calculate the requirement: Next, divide the total cubic metres by 14 for a well-insulated room, 12 for a room with average insulation, and 10 if the room has poor or no insulation. The result is the approximate kW output you'll need.
- Example: If a room is 7m long, 4m wide, and 2.5m high, the volume is 70 cubic metres. Dividing by 14 gives you a requirement of 5kW for that room. If the room has poor insulation and you divide by 10, you'll need a multi-fuel stove with an output of 7kW.
Understanding your heating needs
For average-sized rooms, a multi-fuel stove with average output, usually around 5-6kW, will usually suffice. Some examples include the Portway Arundel Multifuel, the Woodford Didsbury 5, and the Woodford Lowry.
Bear in mind that some multi-fuel stoves have different heat outputs depending on the type of fuel you burn.
- Insulation and windows: If the room is poorly insulated or has many windows, you will likely need a multi-fuel stove with a higher kW rating.
- Open-plan spaces: If you plan to use the multi-fuel stove to heat an open-plan area, you may need to consider additional factors or have a professional assess the room.
- Avoid oversizing: A multi-fuel stove that is too large for the space it's heating can lead to inefficiency and overheating. On the other hand, if your multi-fuel stove is too small, it may not provide sufficient warmth.
Multi-fuel stove physical size considerations
You should choose a multi-fuel stove that fits well within the room without overwhelming the space or appearing too small. Check the dimensions of the stove before you buy it and ensure it will work well within the intended area.
Additionally, it's crucial to be aware of clearances. Check the manufacturer's guidelines for necessary clearances around the stove, often called distance to combustibles. This outlines the space you must leave clear from flammable materials, such as walls, furniture, curtains, or separate log storage.
Compatibility with existing infrastructure
Ensure the multi-fuel stove's flue outlet fits your existing chimney or flue system. You must have one professionally installed if you do not have a current flue system or chimney. You can fit a twin-wall flue system for a multi-fuel stove in a home without a chimney.
Choosing the right multi-fuel stove style for you
Just like wood-burning only stoves, multi-fuel stoves aren't purely functional. They also contribute to the aesthetics of your home. They're available in various styles and can match your décor, whether you like traditional, modern, or something in between.
Traditional multi-fuel stoves
Traditional multi-fuel stoves like the Gallery Classic 5 Compact, the Stovax Stockton 3, and the Go Eco Excel Wide have a design that echoes the past. They often feature cast iron construction, a timeless appearance, and ornate details.
Best for: Country cottages, rustic cabins, or homes with a classic Victorian or Georgian style.
Contemporary multi-fuel stoves
Multi-fuel stoves with a contemporary design, such as the Morso 4412, the Mendip Woodland Large, or the Serenity 50FS, are known for their minimalist aesthetic and clean lines. They often incorporate materials like steel and glass.
Best for: Modern, urban settings or any interior where you want a chic, up-to-date look.
Inset multi-fuel stoves
Best for: Rooms where you want the stove to blend seamlessly with the architecture, whether modern or traditional. They are also ideal for smaller rooms where space is at a premium.
Cylindrical multi-fuel stoves
Cylindrical multi-fuel stoves like the ACR Solis or the Opus Harmony have a slim, rounded shape. They're ideal for placing outside a chimney opening on a 12mm hearth, becoming a striking focal point in a room. They are available in various designs, suitable for different interior styles.
Best for: Rooms without a functioning chimney or rooms with a modern, contemporary edge.
Log store multi-fuel stoves
Multi-fuel stoves with a log store like the ACR Malvern Log Store, the Mendip Woodland Log Store, or the Cast Tec Horizon 5 Log Store come equipped with storage space underneath the stove for storing logs and other fuel.
Best for: Smaller rooms without a lot of storage options or if you want to store your logs close to the fire without it becoming a hazard.
Multi-fuel stove colour and finish options
The colour and finish of your multi-fuel stove can significantly impact your home's overall aesthetic. Choosing the right combination can help your stove blend seamlessly with your existing décor or become a standout feature in the room, depending on your preferences. Some typical colour and finish options include:
- Classic black: The traditional matte black finish offers a timeless appeal that works well in various settings, from rustic to modern. What's more, black is a versatile colour that will stay relevant and easily coordinate with most interior colour schemes.
- Bold colours: For those looking to make a bold statement, some multi-fuel stoves come in vibrant colour options like red, blue, or green. Some examples include the Charnwood Arc 5, the Arada Holborn 5, and the Saltfire ST2.
- Metallic finishes: Metallic finishes like bronze or chrome, such as with the Charnwood Island Two BLU, give a contemporary, industrial look to your multi-fuel stove. Plus, the reflective surface can brighten up the room and add a sense of space.
- Enamel coating: Enamel coatings give the stove a smooth, glossy finish. They are available in various colours, including white, cream, black, or bold hues. These surfaces are easy to clean and maintain, so you can expect them to retain their appearance over time.
- Cast iron: The textured surface of cast iron provides a traditional, rugged appearance to your multi-fuel stove. What's more, cast iron can develop a natural patina over time, adding character and authenticity.
The features to look out for
Modern multi-fuel stoves come packed with various advanced features designed to boost efficiency, reduce emissions, and add convenience to your heating experience. Some key features to look out for include:
An airwash system uses a specially designed flow of air to keep the glass front of your multi-fuel stove clean.
Benefits: This feature prevents soot and deposits from forming and building up on the glass. As a result, this reduces manual cleaning time and effort and enhances the stove's visual appeal by giving you a better view of the flames.
Cleanburn technology is designed to enable a more complete combustion process. So, it minimises smoke and other emissions.
Benefits: By utilising more fuel each time you use your multi-fuel stove, this feature helps to make it more energy-efficient, saving you both fuel and money.
Triple burn technology
Triple burn technology divides the combustion process into three stages. As a result, the fuel is burned more thoroughly.
Benefits: A multi-fuel stove with triple burn technology has lower emissions and higher efficiency. This is because even the gases released during burning are combusted.
Like the catalytic converters found in cars, this feature in multi-fuel stoves helps break harmful gases down into less toxic substances before they are released into the atmosphere.
Benefits: A multi-fuel stove with a catalytic converter has an even lower environmental impact.
This feature does just what it says on the tin – it's a grate you can remove to switch between fuels or clean out the stove.
Benefits: Easier cleaning and multi-fuel stove maintenance.
Making sure your multi-fuel stove is eco-friendly
Eco-friendliness is an important consideration to make when it comes to choosing a multi-fuel stove for your home. Look out for the following:
Ecodesign is a European standard that sets minimum efficiency and environmental performance requirements for energy-related products, including multi-fuel stoves. In the UK, all multi-fuel stoves sold must be Ecodesign compliant by law.
Compliance with Ecodesign means the stove is designed to reduce emissions of harmful particulates, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants. These multi-fuel stoves focus on maximising efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and energy costs. Look out for the 'Ecodesign' label.
DEFRA exemption (or DEFRA approval) is specific to the UK. It allows the use of certain stoves in Smoke Control Areas. These areas are often urban areas throughout the UK, where burning wood is prohibited under the Clean Air Act of 1993.
Without a DEFRA-approved multi-fuel stove, you will only be legally permitted to burn approved smokeless fuels in your stove if you live in a Smoke Control Area. On the other hand, if your multi-fuel stove is DEFRA approved, you can legally use it to burn wood and other fuels.
DEFRA-approved stoves have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they meet specific smoke emission criteria. Choosing a DEFRA-approved multi-fuel stove ensures compliance and contributes to cleaner air.
clearSkies is an independent certification mark for rating multi-fuel stoves on their energy efficiency and emissions. It provides a clear, straightforward guide for buyers.
This certification rates multi-fuel stoves on a scale from 1 to 5, with clearSkies 5 being the most environmentally friendly. A multi-fuel stove with this label surpasses even the strict Ecodesign requirements.
Installing your multi-fuel stove
Installing a multi-fuel stove is a complex process requiring careful planning, adherence to regulations, and professional assistance.
Hiring a HETAS-certified installer ensures they set up your multi-fuel stove safely and efficiently, meeting all required standards. Plus, professional installation often comes with warranties or guarantees on the work, providing added peace of mind.
Chimney and flue considerations
If you have an existing chimney, you must have it inspected, swept, and possibly lined to ensure it meets the requirements for your stove.
If your home does not have a functional chimney, you must have a twin-wall flue system installed.
You must install a proper hearth made of non-combustible materials such as slate or tile to protect the floor underneath the stove. The hearth dimension requirements vary depending on the multi-fuel stove you choose and whether you install it in a fireplace opening or freestanding.
Proper ventilation is necessary to ensure adequate air supply for combustion, mainly if you live in a newer, well-insulated home. You may need to install additional air vents to ensure safe and efficient operation. Some multi-fuel stoves come supplied with direct air kits.
Buying your multi-fuel stove: What else do you need?
Now you've chosen the perfect multi-fuel stove for your home – but what else should you order with it? Here's a breakdown:
You will need a fitting kit to ensure a safe and proper installation when installing your stove. When you purchase a stove from Direct Stoves, you can get a fitting kit included. The kit includes:
- Stove pipe: This serves as the connector between the stove and the chimney or flue system. The diameter aligns with the outset of the stove.
- Register plate: This accessory seals the chimney opening from the room. It prevents soot, dust, dirt, and debris from falling down the chimney. What's more, it helps to prevent draughts from coming down the chimney, contributing to energy efficiency.
- Stove glove: The fitting kit includes a single heat-resistant stove glove, designed for safety when stoking the fire and adding fuel.
Flue liner pack
A flue liner pack is an optional extra designed to provide everything you need to install your stove. Here's what's included:
- Flue adaptor: This serves as the connecting piece between the stove pipe and the flexible flue liners. It ensures a secure, seamless connection.
- Flexible flue liner: Direct Stove fitting kits include a DURA FLUE flexible flue liner made of 316 Grade stainless steel. This provides a durable, resilient conduit for smoke and gases. Be sure to select the diameter that corresponds with the outlet size of the stove. You can find this information in the product specifications.
- Pot hanger rain cap: This component supports the flue liner from the top of the chimney. Plus, it acts as both a bird guard and a rain cap.
Carbon monoxide detector
You must set up a carbon monoxide detector when using a multi-fuel stove. This device detects unsafe levels of CO within your home, alerting you to the presence of this odourless, colourless gas.
Find the right multi-fuel stove for you at Direct Stoves
No matter what multi-fuel stove meets your needs best, we have a massive selection for everybody. Browse multi-fuel stoves here.
Getting your multi-fuel stove has never been easier, with free delivery to the UK mainland, no-hassle 14-day returns, and various finance options to help you spread the cost. Plus, we offer installation packages through our trusted partners, Direct Heating Services.
Need more information before you buy?
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