Friday, June 24

How to Heat Your Home Without a Gas Boiler: A Guide to Back Boiler Stoves

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Are you sick and tired of rising gas bills? Are you looking for an alternative, eco-friendly way to heat your home? Then a back boiler stove could be the answer. Keep reading and Direct Stoves will tell you everything you need to know about back boiler stoves and how they can heat your home.

What is a back boiler stove? 

Okay, let’s start with the most obvious and pressing question. What exactly is a back boiler stove? 

As the name suggests a back boiler stove is a stove with a back boiler attached. 

But, let’s drill down a little further. 

What is a stove?

What is a stove? Here at Direct Stoves we define a stove as an appliance which consists of a solid metal firebox with a metal door which can be opened or closed to add fuel. The firebox will normally have air vents or other controls and will also have a stove pipe – the route by which smoke and other combustibles vent away from the fire and out of your home.

A stove will typically use seasoned wood or small logs as a fuel – however it is also possible to buy multifuel stoves which can use other forms of fuel such as sawdust bricks, coal and other solid fuels. 

What is a back boiler? 

A back boiler on the other hand is a water-filled heat exchanger which is fitted at the rear of the burning chamber of a stove. 

The back boiler will generally have a hot water output at the top – which feeds your home’s central heating system, and a cold water feed at the bottom – where cool water from your system is fed in to be heated up. 

So, put a stove and a back boiler together and you end up with a back boiler stove (also sometimes referred to as wetback stoves)!

Note – back boilers and stoves can be bought separately and then retrofitted together, however the overall efficiency of this type of setup is generally not great. Instead, it’s much better to buy a back boiler stove which has been built as a single unit in a factory.

What are back boiler stoves used for? 

This may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but not everyone is familiar with the capabilities of back boiler stoves.

Did you know that you can heat radiators using a wood burning stove?

Depending on what type of back boiler stove you buy, you can use it to generate hot water for your radiators (and the higher the heat output of the stove, the more radiators you can heat up).

Some back boiler stoves can also be used to generate hot water for domestic use in your home e.g. for your hot water taps, bathing etc.

Back boiler stoves and thermal stores

Back boiler stoves can also be joined to thermal stores. A thermal store means you can use multiple different heating appliances to generate hot water. So, for example, if you didn’t want to go totally ‘off grid’, you could fit a thermal store in your home and have both a back boiler stove and a gas boiler. 

This setup is also great if you think there will be times that you need hot water when your stove isn’t lit.

Tip – a thermal store will also allow you to connect other renewable heating sources (such as a solar water heating system) to your home heating system.

What are the benefits of back boiler stoves? 

Back boiler stoves offer a range of benefits to homeowners. Firstly, they provide you with an alternative way of heating your home that is independent of the main UK gas and electricity networks. 

With rising prices and potential levies being applied to gas for domestic heating, a back boiler stove could turn out to be a wise investment!

Of course, aside from that, back boiler stoves also have the following benefits:

  • A back boiler stove will provide substantial carbon dioxide savings, particularly when compared to fossil-fuelled heating appliances such as gas or oil-fired home boilers.
  • The ongoing running costs of a wood-fired back boiler stove can be significantly cheaper than alternatives such as oil or LPG heating systems.
  • It’s possible to be completely self-sufficient  – provided you have access to an ongoing supply of firewood.
  • You’ll be able to heat your home even if there is a power cut or other forms of disruption to the mains energy supplies.

If you’re looking to become more sustainable and independent then a back boiler stove could well be the perfect way of heating your home.

Having said that, back boiler stoves are certainly not for everyone.

How to use a back boiler stove to heat your home

The disadvantages of back boiler stoves

Whilst we are big fans of back boiler stoves here at Direct Stoves, in the interests of balance, and to help you decide whether a back boiler stove is right for you, we’ve listed some of the drawbacks of these appliances below:

  • Back boiler stoves cannot be programmed – so you can’t set timers for your heating to come at certain times of day, like you can with gas boilers for example (however, there are some models of back boiler stove that include thermostats).
  • You will have to manually feed the stove with logs/wood. If the fire goes out then you’ll no longer be generating heat for your radiators (unless you have a thermal store).
  • You’ll need somewhere to store your firewood. This isn’t a major issue for most people, but it can be easily overlooked during the excitement of buying a back boiler stove.
  • There is generally a time-lag between lighting a back boiler stove and getting hot water. As such, you’ll need to anticipate when you will need hot water and ensure the stove is lit ahead of time. Having said that though, there are some boiler stoves that are designed to rapidly heat water.

Can you install a back boiler stove in your home? 

Whilst back boiler stoves are very appealing to many people, a lot of homeowners are unsure if they can actually install one in their own home.

To find out if you can install a back boiler stove in your home, consider the following things:

  • Do you have an existing chimney that can be lined?
  • If you don’t have an existing chimney, will you be able to route a flue through an external wall?
  • Do you have room (either internally or externally) to store firewood. If you’re going to store firewood outside then you’ll need a log shed to keep the wood dry, well ventilated and raised off the floor.
  • Do you know of any local fuel suppliers? It works out far cheaper to buy firewood in bulk rather than repeatedly buying small bundles from petrol stations/supermarkets etc.
  • Will you have the time and energy to repeatedly load the stove up with firewood?
  • Will you have the time, energy and motivation to clean the stove and remove ash?

If you can answer all of those questions in the affirmative, then you’ll be able to install a back boiler stove in your home. 

One last point that we’d add here is about thermal stores. 

We’d highly recommend using a thermal store in conjunction with a back boiler stove; it’ll add more flexibility (e.g. it can store hot water so you’ve got some for when your stove isn’t lit). 

So, as well as answering the questions above, ask yourself if you have room for a thermal store in your home too. 

Should you buy a back boiler stove for your home? 

We realise that for many people, a back boiler stove represents a significant investment in their home. You don’t want to spend all of that money only to be dissatisfied with the result.

So, think about the following things before you click the ‘buy now’ button:

  • How much heat you will need in each room. Will your chosen stove provide it?
  • How much heat do you require to run the radiators in your home? Does your stove’s heat output match or exceed this?
  • Do you need domestic hot water as well as hot water for your radiators? This should influence your choice of stove.
  • Will your chosen back boiler stove be part of a wider heating system? Will it be connected to a thermal store? Will it be supplemented by a gas or oil boiler? 

Take all of these factors into account and you’ll end up with a back boiler stove that’ll comfortably do everything you need it to. 

Tip – if you’re not too sure of your requirements or what model of back boiler stove will sufficiently heat your home, speak to a qualified heating engineer. They will be able to provide you with detailed advice and ensure you get the right boiler stove and heating set up.

Are back boiler stoves expensive to run? 

No. In fact, with rising prices and levies on fossil fuels, wood-fired back boiler stoves are increasingly being viewed as an economically-competitive way of heating the home.

If one of your main motivations for buying a back boiler stove is the cost of running, then it’s vital that you choose a model that is highly efficient.

Today’s back boiler stoves are far more efficient than older versions as they use burning technology and air systems to get the absolute most heat from every piece of wood that’s fed into them. 

The most efficient back boiler stoves can be more than 80% efficient, meaning they really are a cost effective way of heating your home and generating hot water. 

How do you install a back boiler stove?

Because of the complexity involved with the installation of back boiler stoves and connecting them to hot water systems, radiators, water supplies and more, we would always recommend using a qualified heating engineer to install your back boiler stove.

The best EcoDesign back boiler stoves for UK homes

If you do want to take the plunge and install a back boiler stove, what are your options? 

Well, first of all it’s vital that you buy a back boiler stove which is compliant with the new EcoDesign regulations which were introduced at the very start of 2022. Any back boiler stove that you buy conforms to the EcoDesign regulations will be incredibly efficient, as well as eco-friendly.

So, buying an EcoDesign back boiler stove will not only boost your green credentials, but will save you money on heating bills in the long run.

To help you choose an EcoDesign back boiler stove that’s perfect for your home, we’ve outlined some of our most popular models below. 

Opus Calypso 8.3kW Wood Burning Boiler Stove – EcoDesign Ready

Opus Calypso 8.4kW Wood Burning Boiler Stove - EcoDesign Ready

Opus Calypso 8.4kW Wood Burning Boiler Stove – EcoDesign Ready

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The Opus Calypso is about as close as you can get to a ‘do anything’ stove. Not only will it make a fantastic centrepiece in any room, but thanks to its 8.3kW heat output it’ll generate sufficient heat to warm your living room as well as up to 5 radiators in your home.

The Opus Calypso is also extremely efficient with an efficiency rating of 83.9%. Not only that, but it’s EcoDesign ready meaning it’s very environmentally friendly, clean burning and can be used in Smoke Control areas.

Woodfire Passiv Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire Passiv Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire Passiv Eco Boiler Stove

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If you want a boiler stove that’s at the absolute cutting edge of clean, green heating technology, then you’ll want a Woodfire back boiler stove.

Woodfire has designed their range of boiler stoves to act as the central hub of a 21st century energy system – and it really shows in their Passiv Eco boiler stove.

The Passiv Eco boiler stove can be connected into open-vented or pressurised central heating systems, can be fitted with a direct air duct (to be suitable for use in an airtight home) and can even link with existing boilers.

If you want a boiler stove that can do it all and integrate into a truly off-grid home heating setup, you’ve just found it.

It’s highly efficient and features an insulated firebox. This means that the wood burns more completely. Heat generated by the fire in this way is then extracted using heat exchange tubes. This results in incredible efficiency and low emissions.

The Passiv Eco boiler also comes complete with essential additional items including an overheat safety valve, LK 810 ThermoMat 2.0G load unit and an LK flue thermostat. All of these parts are included in the up front price of the boiler stove.

Woodfire CX8 Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire CX8 Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire CX8 Eco Boiler Stove

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The Woodfire CX8 Eco is the perfect option for modern, well-insulated homes.

That’s largely thanks to the way it distributes its heat. It provides only 2.6kW of heat to the room in which it is located, with the remaining 5.4kW being used to heat water for your central heating/hot water supply.

As with other Woodfire boiler stoves, the CX8 Eco is highly versatile and can be connected to either open-vented or pressurised central heating systems and can link with existing boilers and thermal stores.

It can also be linked with an external air supply – making it ideal for use in new build homes, or even homes built to PassivHaus guidelines.

Woodfire EX22 Inset Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire EX22 Inset Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire EX22 Inset Eco Boiler Stove

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If you prefer your boiler stove to be integrated into a wall of your home, rather than being freestanding, the EX22 is for you.

Designed to work with modern, well-insulated homes of any size, the EX22 has a frankly enormous 22kW heat output which is largely directed to the heating of water for your central heating and/or hot water.

Aside from its immense performance, the EX22 is a real design statement with its large glazed door and cool-to-the-touch stainless steel handle.

Included within the price of this boiler stove are essential parts and components such as an overheat safety valve, LK 810 ThermoMat 2.0G load unit and an LK flue thermostat.

Woodfire EX17 Panorama Inset Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire EX17 Panorama Inset Eco Boiler Stove

Woodfire EX17 Panorama Inset Eco Boiler Stove

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Do you need a boiler stove with truly powerful performance? Then take a look at Woodfire’s EX17 Panorama stove.

With an enormous 16.5kW nominal heat output, the EX17 Panorama will not only provide plenty of heat for your living room, it’ll be capable of powering multiple radiators across your home.

And, it does all this whilst looking fantastic!

As the picture above demonstrates, the EX17 Panorama truly lives up to its name, providing an amazing widescreen view of the fire that’s powering your home’s heating.

Direct Stoves: the home of back boiler stoves

Are you ready to heat your home with a boiler stove? Then choose one from Direct Stoves.

As one of the UK’s leading retailers of stoves we keep a huge range of boiler stoves from leading manufacturers in stock. 

What’s more we also offer FREE mainland UK delivery, 14-day no hassle returns and a range of finance options to help you spread the cost of your new stove. 

Shop boiler stoves at Direct Stoves now

For more stove and home heating advice, explore the Direct Stoves blog

Can You Use a Wood Burning Stove with a Heat Pump? | Guide to Back Boiler Stoves | Boiler Stoves vs Gas Stoves vs Wood Burning Stoves – What Should You Buy?


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