If you are considering buying a stove, you may have already been faced with the choice between a wood burning stove and a multi fuel stove. In this guide, we will help you understand the differences between the two and help you decide which one is best for your home...

What is a Multifuel Stove?

A multi fuel stove, like its name suggests, is designed to allow you to burn more solid fuels than just wood. Not all fuels burn in the same way, which is why traditional log burners cannot be fuelled with coal. Multi fuel stoves, meanwhile, are set up to be versatile enough to handle most types of solid fuel.

Related: Introduction to Multi Fuel Stoves

What Fuel Can I Burn in a Multifuel Stove?

Multi fuel stoves are capable of burning logs, coal and smokeless fuel, such as anthracite coal and peat or turf briquettes. However, be sure to only burn one type of fuel at a time. Burning wood and coal together for too long can result in fumes that could damage your stove.

Take a look at this table below for a quick overview of what you can burn in a multi fuel stove and log burner. For more information, read our guide to solid fuels.

Multi Fuel Stove Wood Burner
Logs Yes Yes
Wood Briquettes Yes Yes
Coal Yes No
Smokeless Fuel Yes No
Peat / Turf Yes No
Wood Pellets Yes - but you will need a pellet basket first


It is worth taking the time to consider which type of fuel you will likely be using before deciding whether to buy a multi fuel stove. Coal, for instance, cannot be burnt in smoke control areas, plus it is dirtier and more expensive than wood.

If you do burn coal in a permitted area, you may require your chimney to be swept more often. This is because of the heavier amount of emissions coal gives off. As part of the Clean Air Strategy, coal may also become subject to tighter regulations, so you may not be able to rely on it in the future.

You can read more about what the clean air strategy means for stoves here.

What is the Difference Between a Wood Burning Stove and a Multifuel Stove?

The difference between a wood burning stove and a multi fuel stove is mostly based on the grate. As different solid fuels have different requirements for burning, the grate and air flow has to be adjustable. Coal also burns a lot hotter than wood, so you could damage your log burner if you use it incorrectly.

With a traditional log burning stove, air circulates from the top. This is because wood burns best on a bed of ash while drawing in air from above. Coal, meanwhile, burns best when air circulates from below. To be able to accommodate coal burning, multi fuel stoves feature a riddling grate that allows ash to fall through onto a pan below. This can be emptied while the fire is burning to prevent a build up of ash that will stop the air circulating.

You can find out more about the difference between wood burning stoves and multi fuel stoves here.

How to Use Multifuel Stove Air Controls

A lot of stoves also feature primary, secondary and even tertiary air vents. In a log burning stove, this air supply system is used mainly for starting the fire, keeping the glass clean and improving efficiency. In a multi fuel stove, they can also help you adapt to burning different fuels.

Here is a quick breakdown of what they do:

  • Primary air - This comes from the bottom of the stove. For wood burning stoves, this is usually closed off once the fire is burning. For multi fuel stoves, it can be controlled to allow more air to circulate under the grate when burning coal.
  • Secondary air - also known as Airwash, the secondary air flow comes from the top of the stove. It is usually pre-heated before entering the stove to stop ash and dirt sticking to the stove glass. It also helps burning wood draw in air from above. In a multi fuel stove it can be closed off when burning coal.
  • Tertiary air - You may see some stoves mention a tertiary air supply. This comes through the back of the stove. It ignites any particles exiting the stove for added efficiency and cleaner burning.

With a multi fuel stove, you will need to know how to adapt the air supply for whichever fuel you have used. As a general rule, you will need to open all vents to get a fire going. Then, adjust the top or bottom vent accordingly when the flames are sufficient.

See our guide to lighting your stove for the first time for more.

What Multi Fuel Stove Should I Buy?

There are a few things to consider before you decide which stove to buy, such as:

  • Do you live in a Smoke Control Area?
  • What type of fuel do you have access to?
  • How much you will spend on running and maintaining your stove?

If you live in a Smoke Control Area, you can still have a multi fuel stove. However, you will not be able to burn coal in it and it must be a DEFRA approved multi fuel stove. For further efficiency, you can also buy EcoDesign multi fuel stoves. In one of these, you will still be able to burn all forms of wood, smokeless fuel and peat or turf briquettes. If you live outside a Smoke Control Area and burn coal, be aware that it is more expensive.  You will also need to get the chimney swept more often, which will add to the running cost.

Nevertheless, coal or other smokeless fuel may be the most convenient fuel for you to use. Wood for your log burner needs to be dry and seasoned, so make sure it is available near you. If not, a multi fuel stove will be the option for you. However, if you know for certain that you will only be burning logs on your stove, you might be better off buying a wood burning stove. While it is good to have the versatility, wood burners are set up to burn logs as easily and efficiently as possible, so will serve you better.

Take a look at our full range of multi fuel stoves today. If you have any more questions, give our friendly sales team a call on 0161 376 4191!

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Looking for more help with buying your stove? Check out these posts on our blog

9 Exceptional Multi Fuel and Wood Burning Stoves for Small Spaces | 8 Amazing Budget Log Burners | Coloured Wood Burning Stoves Buying Guide