Wood-burning stoves are a popular eco-friendly, efficient heating option. Plus, the crackle of a wood-burning stove and the inviting warmth of the flames adds a touch of rustic charm. The result? A cosy ambience in any living space.

However, with the many options and varieties available, buying the right wood-burning stove for your home can feel overwhelming.

This comprehensive buyer's guide will walk you through everything you need to know. By the end, you should have what you need to make an informed decision.

How does a wood-burning stove work?

Modern wood-burning stoves are highly efficient. They convert most of the fuel into heat. As a result, they not only heat up a room effectively but also reduce energy consumption.

Understanding how a wood-burning stove works can help you choose the right one. Not to mention, it can make you appreciate this timeless heating solution even more. Here are some of the main things to know:

Fuel preparation and loading

  • Selection: Wood-burning stoves use seasoned or kiln-dried logs as fuel. You can dry wet wood or buy ready-to-burn wood (always look out for the Woodsure logo). You should always ensure the wood's moisture content is below 20% for optimal burning.
  • Loading: You place the logs inside the stove's combustion chamber. Then, you can start the fire using kindling and firelighters.

Combustion process

  • Ignition: Once you have ignited the logs, the combustion process begins. You can adjust the stove's air controls to regulate the burning rate.
  • Primary combustion: This stage burns the solid wood, producing heat, gases, and small particles.
  • Secondary combustion: Some advanced stoves have secondary combustion. This means that the gases and particles are burned at a higher temperature. It improves efficiency and reduces emissions.

Air control

  • Primary air control: This regulates the airflow into the combustion chamber. It controls the rate of the primary combustion.
  • Secondary air control: In stoves with secondary combustion, this controls the air to burn gases. It maximises efficiency.

Heat distribution

  • Radiant heat: When lit, the wood-burning stove radiates heat directly into the room from its hot surfaces.
  • Convection heat: Some stoves also use convection. This is where the stove draws in cool air, heats it, and then returns it to the room.

Choosing the right wood-burning stove size

First things first: choosing the correct stove size is crucial for efficient heating. What's more, having the right size stove can make all the difference when it comes to your comfort during chilly winters.

Small stoves

Small wood-burning stoves like the Stovax Stockton 4 or the Ekol Apple Pie are suitable for heating single rooms, small cottages, glamping pods, yurts, and shepherd's huts.

These stoves produce around 3-5kW of heat. This makes them ideal for spaces requiring gentle, consistent warmth.

  • Best for: Bedrooms, conservatories, small houses, or as a secondary heat source.
  • Fuel efficiency: Small stoves are typically very economical, as they use less wood.
  • Installation: Smaller stoves are easier to fit in tighter spaces.

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Medium stoves

Medium-sized wood burners offer enough power to warm larger living spaces. They are a common choice for many UK homes. In general, you can expect these stoves to produce between 5-8kW of heat. Some examples include the popular Portway Arundel, the Woodford Pankhurst Medium, or the Hunter Herald 5.

  • Best for: Living rooms, open-plan living and dining areas, and medium-sized homes.
  • Heating considerations: Medium-sized stoves often heat multiple connected rooms, especially if you position the stove well.
  • Balance: Medium stoves offer a good balance of heat efficiency and heating capacity.

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Large stoves

Live in a large house or want to heat multiple rooms across a big area? Then a large wood-burning stove might be the best choice. These stoves usually produce more than 8kW heat output. Some stoves to consider include the Woodford Dalton, the Esse 705, or the Mendip Churchill 10.

  • Best for: Large open spaces, big family homes, or large homes with high ceilings.
  • Fuel consumption: While larger stoves do use more wood, modern options are designed to be quite efficient.
  • Planning: Carefully consider the logistics. This is because a larger stove may require more complex installation in your home.

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Key size considerations before you buy

  • Insulation: If your home is well-insulated, you may not need as large a stove as you think.
  • Local regulations: Check with your local council to ensure you comply with area-specific regulations, especially in Smoke Control Areas.
  • Professional advice: Consider consulting with a HETAS-certified heating engineer or stove specialist to accurately assess your home's heating requirements.

To get an idea of the best stove size for your unique home, use our stove size calculator here.

Choosing the correct wood-burning stove heat output

Selecting the correct heat output for your wood-burning stove is important. It ensures comfort, efficiency, and proper heating of your living space.

Understanding heat output

What is heat output, exactly?

Heat output is measured in kilowatts (kW). It refers to how much heat a stove can produce. It's the main thing to consider when determining if a wood-burning stove suits the size of the room or area you want to heat.

A stove that is too powerful for the space can lead to overheating and inefficiency. On the other hand, if your stove is not powerful enough for its room, it may struggle to heat it up. This leads to continuous maxed-out operation and potential wear.

Factors influencing heat output

  • Room size: Larger rooms require stoves with higher heat output.
  • Insulation: Well-insulated areas may require less heat. In contrast, poorly insulated spaces may require a wood-burning stove with a higher output.

Calculating the right output

Here's a general guideline to help you calculate the heat output:

  • Measure the room: Calculate the volume of your space in cubic metres (length x width x height).
  • Adjust for insulation: Divide by 14 for well-insulated rooms, 12 if your room has average insulation and 10 for less insulated spaces.
  • Consider other factors: Adjust the figure considering large windows, open plan spaces, or other heating sources.

The resulting figure gives a rough kilowatt requirement for your room. Remember, you can also use our stove size calculator.

Wood-burning stove efficiency and eco-friendliness

Wood-burning stove eco-friendliness and efficiency are important for a greener future. With this in mind, here are some critical eco considerations when buying a stove:

Ecodesign stoves


Ecodesign is a European Union regulation. It aims to reduce emissions and increase the overall efficiency of energy-related products, including stoves. Because of this, all stoves sold in the UK must be Ecodesign compliant.

  • Characteristics: Ecodesign stoves have lower emissions of CO, NOx, organic gaseous compounds, and particulates.
  • Benefits: Higher efficiency, more complete combustion, and improved air quality.
  • Considerations: Look for the 'Ecodesign' label to ensure compliance.

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DEFRA-exempt stoves

DEFRA logo

In the UK, DEFRA exemption (also referred to as DEFRA approval) signifies that a stove is permitted to burn wood in a Smoke Control Area.

Smoke Control Areas are various zones across the UK. They are often cities and towns with restrictions on burning wood under the Clean Air Act 1993

  • Characteristics: DEFRA-approved stoves have passed strict standards for emissions when burning wood.
  • Benefits: You can legally burn wood in urban areas where it is otherwise banned.
  • Considerations: A DEFRA-approved stove is a must-have if you live in a Smoke Control Area and want to burn wood.

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clearSkies certification

ClearSkies ratings

clearSkies is an independent certification mark that ranks stoves based on energy efficiency and emissions.

  • Characteristics: clearSkies ranks wood-burning stoves on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most efficient and least polluting.
  • Benefits: The easy-to-understand ranking helps you make an informed choice.
  • Considerations: Look for a higher clearSkies rating for a more eco-friendly option.

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Other eco-friendly considerations

  • Fuel type: Choosing sustainably sourced wood can further reduce your stove's environmental impact.
  • Insulation: Proper insulation enhances efficiency. This is because more heat will be trapped inside the home.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance ensures the best performance and efficiency.

Wood-burning stove features

Modern wood-burning stoves often have various extra features. They are designed to improve efficiency, reduce maintenance, and enhance the overall experience. Some features to look out for include:

Multi-fuel grate

  • Function: An optional multi-fuel grate allows you to convert the wood-burning stove into a multi-fuel stove.
  • Benefits: You can use your stove to burn smokeless fuel as well as wood.

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Airwash system

  • Function: The airwash system uses airflow to clean the stove's glass.
  • Benefits: Improved visibility of the flames and a more enjoyable aesthetic experience. Plus, with the air cleaning the glass, you won't have to clean it as often.

Cleanburn technology

  • Function: Cleanburn technology introduces pre-heated air into the combustion chamber. It then burns off excess hydrocarbons in the smoke.
  • Benefits: More efficient combustion, reduced smoke emissions, and higher energy efficiency.

Triple-burn technology

  • Function: Triple-burn technology involves three stages of combustion. This ensures that the fuel is burnt more completely. It takes the wood gases, smoke, and particles that usually escape up the flue. Then, it recirculates them into the fire.
  • Benefits: By ensuring that almost all the fuel is combusted, this technology extracts more heat from the wood. In turn, it increases the stoves' efficiency. Plus, more complete combustion results in fewer pollutants being released. This makes stoves with this feature more environmentally friendly.

Secondary air control

  • Function: Introduces air above the fire, igniting unburned gases and particles. It often works together with features like Cleanburn or triple-burn technology.
  • Benefits: Secondary air control boosts the stove's efficiency by igniting otherwise wasted gases. What's more, reducing unburned particles contributes to lower emissions and a cleaner burn. And the ignition of these gases can create more visually stunning flames. This adds to the aesthetic enjoyment of the fire.

Catalytic converter

  • Function: A stove with a catalytic converter has even lower particulate emissions than a stove with Cleanburn or triple-burn technology.
  • Benefits: It provides a super-clean burn and superior eco-friendliness.

Wood-burning stove styles and aesthetics

A wood-burning stove isn't just a source of warmth. It's also a statement piece that can really impact the look and feel of your space. With various styles available, you can find a stove that perfectly complements your home's décor.

Traditionally styled stoves:

Traditionally styled wood-burning stoves like the Stovax Stockton 5,  the Hunter Herald 5, or the Henley Cambridge 5 evoke a classic, timeless appeal.

  • Characteristics: Often made of cast iron or a combination of cast iron and stainless steel. They sometimes feature ornate details and designs.
  • Best for: Period homes, country cottages, or spaces where a rustic charm is desired.
  • Colours: Typically available in black or dark grey, often with enamelled finishes. However, they may include touches of brass or gold.

Contemporary stoves:

Are you looking for a sleek, modern option? Contemporary stoves like the Burley Icarus 9605, the Mi Fires Grisedale, or the Portway Arundel XL offer minimalist elegance.

  • Characteristics: Clean lines, large glass windows, and innovative shapes. Plus, they are often manufactured from solid steel.
  • Best for: Modern homes or interiors with a minimalist design.
  • Colours: Available in various finishes, including black, white, and bold accent colours.

Coloured wood-burning stoves

Wood-burning stoves are usually black. But coloured wood-burning stoves offer a contemporary and unique look. What's more, they are a great way to move beyond the conventional style and experiment with colours that suit your personal taste.

Classic black or grey

These timeless colours are the traditional choices for wood-burning stoves.

  • Best for: Creating a classic, understated appearance that suits almost any interior.
  • Considerations: Black hides soot and marks well. Because of this, it's practical and stylish.

Earthy tones

Think rich browns, warm terracotta, or soft creams. The Charnwood C-4 BLU in Brown, Almond, or the Charnwood Bembridge are excellent examples.

  • Best for: Rustic, farmhouse-style homes or rooms with a natural, earthy palette.
  • Considerations: Lighter earthy tones, like creams, might get dirtier faster. This means they could require more maintenance.

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Bold and bright colours

From vibrant reds to cool blues, bold stoves like the Chesneys Beaumont 4 in Atlantic Blue or the Carron 5kW in Red Enamel are genuine statement pieces.

  • Best for: Modern homes with bold interiors or to add a pop of colour to a neutral space.
  • Considerations: While visually stunning, bold colours might limit future redecorating options.

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Pastel shades

Soft and subtle hues like pastel greens, pinks, or blues can provide a unique look. If you like this style, check out the Carron 5kW in Sage Green.

  • Best for: Shabby chic or Scandi-inspired interiors where softer tones are the star of the show.
  • Considerations: While these shades offer a calming, understated elegance, they may require more care to maintain appearance.

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Metallic finishes

Options like copper, gold, or brushed silver – like on the Charnwood C-5 BLU in Gunmetal or Bronze – can add a touch of luxury.

  • Best for: Spaces where you want a touch of glamour or an industrial edge.
  • Considerations: Metallic finishes can reflect light. This might affect the room's overall lighting atmosphere.

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Considerations when choosing a wood-burning stove colour

  • Room palette: Consider the existing colour scheme. This will help you ensure the stove colour complements or thoughtfully contrasts it.
  • Longevity: Consider whether the colour will still appeal in several years. A stove is a big investment, so you want to make sure you like yours for years to come.
  • Availability: Not all models and brands may be available in every colour.
  • Maintenance: Lighter or unconventional colours might show dirt and soot more efficiently. This could mean more frequent cleaning.

Choosing the right wood-burning stove shape

The shape of your wood-burning stove doesn't just impact its looks. It can also influence the functionality and fit within your space. Two common shapes are traditional (rectangular) or cylindrical.

Cylindrical stoves

  • Appearance: Cylindrical stoves like the Woodford Charlton or the Westfire Uniq 26 are modern and sleek. They have a rounded design that can be a striking focal point.
  • Space consideration: Their slim, vertical design often makes cylindrical stoves an excellent choice for rooms with limited space. Plus, they are usually installed free-standing rather than within a chimney opening. This makes them great choices for a twin-wall flue installation.
  • Viewing experience: Many cylindrical stoves feature large or wrap-around glass panels. This feature offers an expansive view of the flames.

Rectangular stoves

  • Appearance: Traditionally shaped stoves like the Henley Burnbright and the ACR Woodpecker WP4 have a more rectangular, robust appearance. They're available in various styles, from simple and modern to more ornate, detailed designs.
  • Space considerations: These stoves can be installed free-standing with a twin-wall flue system. However, they are also a top choice for those with an existing chimney and fireplace to fit the stove.
  • Viewing experience: The viewing glass in traditionally shaped stoves comes in a wide range of sizes, from a standard size to widescreen stoves like the Arada M Series Cast or the Woolly Mammoth 5 Widescreen. You can also get panoramic (three-sided) glass designs like the ACR Neo 3F.

Factors to consider when selecting a stove shape

  • Room design: Match the shape of the stove with the interior design and architecture of your home.
  • Functionality needs: Consider if the shape will influence important factors like heating efficiency, maintenance ease, or viewing preferences.
  • Space availability: Think about the available space and how different shapes might fit, especially if you have limited room to accommodate a stove.
  • Personal taste: Choose what appeals to you visually and emotionally, as the stove will be a central feature in your home.

Log store wood-burning stoves

Log-store stoves like the Henley Elcombe, the Morso 7443 and the ACR Woodpecker WP4LS are popular for their functionality and good looks. These stoves incorporate built-in storage space for logs, making them a heating solution and a feature that adds functionality and character to your room.

Convenient storage solution

  • Integrated design: Log store stoves include a designated area within the stove structure to safely store logs, making it a convenient storage solution.
  • Accessibility: Logs stored right below or beside the stove allow easy and quick access.
  • Space efficiency: Integrating the log storage with the stove eliminates the need for separate storage space.

Aesthetic appeal

  • Visual harmony: The combination of stove and log storage creates a unified look, often enhancing the room's design.
  • Customisation: Many log store stoves come in different styles, allowing you to easily match the look with your interior décor.

Functional benefits

  • Drying logs: Storing logs close to the stove (safely, in the log store) can help to dry out any residual moisture, thereby improving combustion efficiency when it comes to burning them.
  • Stability: The design of log store stoves often adds strength to the stove's structure, providing a robust base.

Considerations when choosing a log store stove

  • Size: The size of the log store should align with your burning habits and the room layout, ensuring a perfect fit for your space.
  • Material: Consider the material of the log store section, ensuring it complements the overall stove and is durable.
  • Compliance: Check that the stove and log store design comply with local building and safety regulations.

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Inset wood-burning stoves

Inset stoves like the Morso 5660 and the Westfire Uniq 32, also known as built-in or insert stoves, offer a unique and space-efficient option for those looking to integrate a wood-burning stove into their home's existing structure.

What are inset stoves?

Inset stoves fit into fireplaces or walls, unlike free-standing stoves. They sit flush with the wall, creating a sleek and streamlined look. Inset stoves are available in modern and traditional styles, offering a choice that fits various home aesthetics.

Benefits of inset stoves

  • Space-saving: By fitting into the wall, inset stoves free up floor space, making them an ideal choice for smaller rooms or those seeking an uncluttered look. Note: A hearth is still required on the floor beneath the inset stove. You can use a smaller, 12mm hearth for a minimalistic look.
  • Enhanced aesthetics: The flush fitting provides a seamless experience and can improve the room's visual appeal.
  • Efficient heating: Many inset stoves are designed with advanced heating technology, ensuring efficient heat distribution.
  • Flexibility: Inset stoves can be positioned at eye level, allowing for versatile design arrangements and an enhanced viewing experience of the flames.

What to consider when choosing an inset stove

  • Compatibility: Check the dimensions and design to ensure the stove fits your existing opening or the intended wall space.
  • Ventilation: Adequate ventilation and a suitable flue system must be in place or planned for installation.
  • Maintenance accessibility: Consider how easy it will be to access the stove for regular cleaning and maintenance.

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Installation and ventilation

Wood-burning stove installation in progess

Correct installation and ventilation ensure safe operation. Here's a detailed breakdown of what you will need to consider:

Professional wood-burning stove installation

Choosing a certified professional for installation is a must. Here's why:

  • Compliance with UK regulations: Professionals understand the building regulations that govern the installation of wood-burning stoves and can ensure that your stove is compliant.
  • Safety: A certified installer will ensure the stove is fitted with all the necessary safety precautions, subsequently reducing the risk of accidents.
  • Efficiency: Proper installation guarantees that your stove will work efficiently, thus providing optimal heating and fuel consumption.

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Ventilation system

The ventilation system's primary purpose is to safely guide smoke and fumes out of your home. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Flue liner: Lining an existing chimney with a stainless-steel flue liner can create an adequate flue for the stove.
  • Twin-wall insulated flue: A twin-wall flue is the ideal solution in homes without a chimney.
  • Chimney requirements: If you are using an existing chimney, it must be inspected and possibly upgraded to meet current building requirements.
  • Air supply: Many modern UK homes have airtight insulation. That being the case, a sufficient air supply to the stove is vital for proper combustion. An air brick or direct air supply kit might be required.

Stove placement

  • Distance from combustibles: There must be a safe distance between the stove and any combustible materials like curtains, furniture, or walls. Each stove has its own requirements.
  • Hearth requirements: Stoves should be placed on a non-combustible hearth.
  • Accessibility: Position your stove in a location that allows easy access for cleaning, maintenance, and loading wood.

Ongoing maintenance

  • Regular sweeping: Chimneys and flues should be swept regularly by a certified chimney sweep. How often you'll need to have this done will depend on the type of wood used and how often the stove is in operation.
  • Ventilation inspection: Regular checks on the ventilation system ensure that everything is working correctly and that there are no blockages or wear.

Buying your wood-burning stove: What else will you need?

Flexible chimney flue liner

After choosing your stove, consider other essential items. Along with the stove, various accessories and add-ons can enhance your experience and ensure a smooth installation and operation. Here's a breakdown of what you might need:

Fitting kit

A fitting kit is one of the vital accessories you'll need when purchasing a wood-burning stove. This kit is designed to provide all the essentials for installing your stove correctly and safely. The kit includes:

Stove pipe

  • Purpose: This pipe connects the stove to the chimney or flue system, allowing smoke and gases to be safely vented outside.
  • Benefits: The stove pipe is designed to fit the specific model of stove you have chosen, ensuring a secure connection. What's more, the matching finish complements the stove's appearance, maintaining a cohesive look.

Registration plate

  • Purpose: The registration plate is necessary to seal the chimney opening from your room. As a result, this prevents debris, dirt, and soot from coming down the chimney. Plus, it helps to prevent draughts. Standard size is supplied with most stoves; all you need to do is cut the plate to fit your chimney opening.
  • Benefits: A register plate will keep unwanted materials from the stove and room. What's more, it helps contain the heat within the space by reducing draughts.

 Stove glove

  • Purpose: A specially designed glove to stoke the fire and add wood without risking personal injury.
  • Benefits: Protects your hands from burns and other injuries, allowing for safe and comfortable handling of hot stove parts and firewood.

Flue liner pack

You may want to purchase an optional flue liner pack with your stove, which includes everything your installer will need to safely fit the stove in your home. The flue liner pack consists of the following:

Flue liner

  • Purpose: A flexible flue liner is placed within the chimney, directing smoke and gases to the outside. It ensures the stove performs as expected and reduces the risk of a chimney fire when correctly maintained. It is cut to the required length and matched to the outlet size of the stove for a perfect fit.
  • Benefits: A flue liner made from high-quality stainless steel, like the DURA FLUE flexible flue liner, is made from layers of high-quality stainless steel and designed for long-lasting performance.

Flue adaptor

  • Purpose: This connects the stove pipe to the flexible flue liner, creating a secure link between the stove and the chimney.
  • Benefits: Ensures a seamless connection tailored to the specific stove and flue design. Plus, it helps prevent leaks while safely guiding smoke and gases out of your home.

Pot hanger rain cap

  • Purpose: This accessory supports the flue liner from the chimney's top while acting as a bird guard and rain cap.
  • Benefits: The pot hanger rain cap helps to maintain the overall integrity of the chimney and flue system. Plus, it's multi-functional, supporting the liner while keeping unwelcome debris, rain, or birds out of your chimney.

Shop wood-burning stoves at Direct Stoves today

Browse our huge range of wood-burning stoves for every home here.

We offer free delivery to the UK mainland, no-hassle 14-day returns, and a range of finance options.

Installation packages are also available through our trusted partner Direct Heating Services.

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If you have any questions, we're always here to help. Call us today on 0161 516 3549 or email [email protected]. You can also visit our showrooms in Cheadle, Stockport and Bromsgrove.