Tuesday, January 25

A Guide to Wood Burning Stove Heat Shields

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If you’re looking to install a wood burning stove in your home, then you may have heard that you also need to install a heat shield. But do you actually need one? And, if so, what types of heat shield are available? Keep reading and Direct Stoves will provide you with the answers to these questions and more in our guide to wood burning stove heat shields.

What is a wood burning stove heat shield?

First off, let’s define exactly what we mean when we talk about stove heat shields.

Well, as their name suggests, heat shields are panels made from heat-resistant materials such as vitreous enamel, which are designed to protect (and enhance) the wall behind a stove.

Heat shields which are manufactured from conductive materials such as vitreous enamel also serve the purpose of reflecting and directing heat back into the room.

Why do you need to use heat shields with wood burning stoves? 

Okay, so now you know what a heat shield is. But, why do you need to use a heat shield with a wood burning stove? There are several reasons which we’ve detailed below.

Stove and flue temperatures

This may seem like a rather obvious point, but if you’ve not used a stove before, you may not realise quite how hot both the stove and its flue pipe can get.

Under standard conditions a stove flue pipe can reach between 150 and 200 degrees centigrade. But, they have been known to get much hotter – particularly if the stove’s fire is burning fiercely.

Because of these high temperatures, it’s vital that your stove and its flue pipe are situated far enough away from combustible materials.

It’s this risk of combustion which is the main reason why you’ll potentially need to install a heat shield.

Which brings us on to our next point…

Pyrolysis

The reason stove fitters (and building regulators in general) are so concerned about combustion is because of something called pyrolysis.

When combustible materials are sat too close to a heat source such as a stove, they will deteriorate on a molecular level as they repeatedly heat up and cool down over time. 

As this process, pyrolysis, continues over time it can cause the autoignition temperature of the material to drop. 

So, a material that you previously thought was okay (because it had been near your stove for months or years), can suddenly burst into flames.

As such, pyrolysis is a real concern for stove safety; especially if you have combustible materials situated near your stove. 

Pyrolysis is dangerous as it isn’t always visible. 

Sometimes you’ll see materials near your stove discolouring or charring – in which case you know they need to be protected from the heat. But, for example, pyrolysis can occur on the inside of a wall, catching fire from the inside without warning.

So, it’s vital that you protect any combustible materials or surfaces near your stove.

Combustible materials are defined as any material that isn’t A1 fire-rated. An A1 fire-rated material will absolutely not catch fire under any circumstances, and won’t fall apart if placed directly into a fire. Brick and stone are examples of A1 fire-rated materials.

Installation of a wood burner heat shield

When there is insufficient clearance between the stove and combustible surfaces/materials

The primary instance in which you’ll need to use a heat shield, is if you’re installing a stove in a confined space.

The Fire Protection Association recommends that common radiant-style stoves should be placed at least 900mm (36 inches) away from any combustible surfaces.

If you are unable to place your stove with at least a 900mm clearance between it and other surfaces, then you’ll need to install a heat shield. Situated between the stove and the exposed surface, a heat shield will reduce the required distance for safety.

So, what are the clearances that can be achieved with a heat shield? 

According to the relevant British Standard, BS 8303:2018, the ‘distance from the appliance rear to the outer surface of the shield’ must be ‘at least 95mm and at least 90mm from the side of the appliance to the outer surface of the shield (if near to an adjacent wall)’.

Stove safety and installation

At this point, you may be wondering about stove safety in general. But, you needn’t worry.

A huge amount of work, research and study goes into stove safety each year. The regulations that are set out here are tried and tested, so as long as you follow them, your stove will be as safe as another other type of home heating appliance.

If you have any doubts about installing a stove, we would always recommend using a HETAS-qualified professional.

Guide – for more information on finding a qualified stove installer, read our complete guide.

What heat output can a stove heat shield withstand? 

It’s important to note that if your stove has a nominal heat output not exceeding 7kW, as referenced on the CE data plate or in the manufacturers installation instructions, then you can use it in conjunction with a heat shield.

If your stove has a nominal heat output of more than 7kW, then a heat shield will not be sufficient to protect nearby combustible materials and surfaces.

What can be used as a heat shield?

Heat shields can be made from a number of different materials. These include brick, stone, tile or vitreous enamel.

What’s important to bear in mind, however, is that the heat shield is fitted with an air gap between it and the wall surface behind it. If there is not a sufficient air gap in place, even materials such as brick, tile, stone or metal will not provide proper heat insulation.

Here at Direct Stoves, we favour the use of vitreous enamel heat shields. This is because vitreous enamel is non-combustible, heat resistant up to 650ºC and is an excellent conductor of heat. 

A vitreous enamel heat shield will not only protect nearby materials from combustion, but will radiate heat back into your room, increasing energy efficiency.

Vitreous enamel is also available in a wide range of colours, patterns and textures which means you can easily buy a heat shield that’ll match the rest of your home’s decor.

How to install a log burner heat shield

How high does a heat shield need to be?

In addition to being made from a sufficiently heat-resistant material, it’s also important that your heat shield is of the correct height. 

Get this wrong and your stove installation will not only be in violation of UK Building Regulations, but you’ll be risking any combustible materials behind the stove undergoing pyrolysis.

According to BS 8303:2018, Installation of domestic heating and cooking appliances burning solid mineral fuels, the heat shield should protrude at least 300mm above the top surface of the stove.

How wide does a heat shield need to be?

A heat shield that is compliant with the UK Building Regulations will extend to the edge of the hearth horizontally.

As such, when you’re selecting a heat shield you should have first measured the width of both your stove and your hearth.

How should heat shields be installed?

As we noted earlier, the way in which a heat shield is installed is vitally important. 

If you don’t install a heat shield correctly, then it won’t be able to do its job.

In order for your stove heat shield to be compliant with the Building Regulations, it must be installed in the following way:

  • It must be affixed to the wall using non-combustible fixings, with an air gap of at least 25mm between the heat shield and the wall.
  • The heat shield must be open at both the top and the bottom to allow the flow of cool air between the shield and the wall.

How to fit a wood burner heat shield

Do I need to use a heat shield if I am installing a stove in a fireplace? 

No. Provided that you are installing your stove into a proper fireplace that features a hearth, chimney cavity and a firebox, then you don’t need to install a heat shield.

Heat shields are predominantly used in situations where you are installing a stove as a freestanding appliance with no pre-existing fireplace or similar structure in place.

The best wood burning stove heat shields

Now that we’ve looked at all of the requirements and features of heat shields, let’s take a look at what options are available to you. 

Here at Direct Stoves we stock Vlaze heat shields. Manufactured by Charnwood, Vlaze heat shields are near universally acknowledged as the best, highest-quality stove heat shields on the market. 

Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favourite Vlaze stove heat shields.

Vlaze Solid Colour Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Solid Colour Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Solid Colour Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

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This vitreous enamel heat shield features a dual skin that provides thermal protection as well as an effective convection system that distributes heat back into the room.

Using Vlaze’s included rail-mounted system, this heat shield is simple and straightforward to install and is available in three sizes:

  • 800mm x 1200mm.
  • 800mm x 1800mm.
  • 1100mm x 1800mm.

This Vlaze heat shield is also available in a range of beautiful, solid colours including solid white, solid black, solid basalt and solid off white.

Vlaze Embossed Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Embossed Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Embossed Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

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This version of the Vlaze heat shield is finished with an embossed glaze which gives it a distinct and immediately identifiable appearance.

Like the other Vlaze heat shields listed here, this model features a dual skin which provides excellent thermal protection and a convection system that radiates heat back into the room, improving the efficiency of your stove.

A wide range of beautiful, deep colours are available including:

  • Embossed White.
  • Embossed Black.
  • Embossed Basalt.
  • Embossed Off White.
  • Embossed Oyster.
  • Embossed Indigo.
  • Embossed Duck Egg.
  • Embossed Ochre.

As with the other Vlaze heat shields listed here, this model is available in a range of different sizes.

Vlaze Crackle Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Crackle Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

Vlaze Crackle Glaze Vitreous Enamel Wall Mounted Heat Shield

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Select a heat shield that has a finish with a difference. The Vlaze Crackle Glaze heat shield will certainly stand out and help make your stove the focal point of your living room.

The crackle glaze provides a ‘crazing’ effect across the entirety of the panel, providing a sense of depth that’s missing from the solid colour alternatives. 

Like Vlaze’s other heat shields, this model features a dual skin for thermal protection and heat radiation performance. It also features Vlaze’s easy to install rail-mounted system.

Colours available include:

  • Crackle White.
  • Crackle Black.
  • Crackle Basalt.
  • Crackle Off White.
  • Crackle Oyster.
  • Crackle Indigo.
  • Crackle Duck Egg.
  • Crackle Ochre.

A range of sizes are also available to help you pick the perfect heat shield for your home stove setup.

Direct Stoves: stoves, accessories and more

We hope you’ve found our guide to heat shields helpful! If you’re looking to install a stove in your home, and want to be extra safe, then we’d highly recommend investing in a quality heat shield.

So, whether you’re looking for a heat shield, or a whole host of other stove accessories, you’ll find them here at Direct Stoves.

Shop heat shields at Direct Stoves today

For more stove and accessory buying advice, read the Direct Stoves blog

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