Are you considering buying a wood burning stove? A stove can be a stunning addition to your property and can make for a very cosy winter night! But it is important to understand which type of stove is right for you home, as well as the regulations surrounding your options.
With that in mind, we present our ultimate guide to wood burning stoves, complete with details on how to use wood burners, the best fuels to use, how to use wood burning stoves more sustainably and a guide to choosing the right size of stove for your property.
Why buy a wood burning stove?
Wood burning stoves are a fantastic choice for your home – many customers select them as a handsome piece to add character to their property; but they are so much more than that. As well as adding warmth, charm, and a cosy feeling to any room, stoves are energy efficient and can help you save money on your energy bills.
Wood burning stove cost
The cost of wood burning stoves varies enormously depending on a range of factors, including the size of the stove, the type of fuel, and the needs of your property. Small simple models can be purchased for between £500-£1,000 – while more elaborate options are available for considerably more.
It’s a great idea to talk through your needs with our experts – they can help you to understand which type of stove is right for you.
How to use a wood burner
To use a wood burning stove effectively, there are a number of steps that you need to follow. It is important that you use your stove in a safe and efficient manner – these steps will allow you to do that.
- Prepare your stove – ensure that the fire has had a previous air supply. Some models may have an indicator to let you know
- Make a fire bed – you should place your firelighters or paper and dry kindling wood on your fire bed. You will need to have plenty of kindling in order to create a successful fire – don’t assume you can do without it
- Lighting your fire – you should wait for the kindling to catch fire and then allow it to begin to burn. It’s important to have a log guard, as this will keep all the burning fuel inside and away from the glass
- Leave the door slightly open – a small detail but can be a crucial one – leaving the door slightly open helps the flue pull and actually helps you to light the fire. It also avoids the build up of condensation on the front of the glass. In some cases, however, it is better to shut the door as this reduces the amount of airflow so speeds up the air that does come through and this can help get the fire going.
- Add larger pieces gradually – as soon as the kindling is burning well, you should add larger pieces of split wood. However, do not add full logs immediately – you need to build up the fire gradually and ensure that you do not smother it
- Monitor Air Flow – Most wood burners have multiple ways to adjust the airflow. Once the fire is burning well, you can reduce the amount of airflow to prevent the wood from burning too fast; it’s important to only slow the airflow once the fire is burning well. As the fire gets hotter and more established, you can slow the air right down to ensure the wood burns slowly and efficiently. Slowing the air too soon could kill the fire, so monitor it carefully.
How to clean wood burner glass
It is a common concern that a wood burning stove will get very dirty and be difficult to clean – however, this is usually only seen in older models that weren’t designed with practicality in mind. Modern wood burning stoves are generally very easy to clean. They are often built with self-cleaning glass meaning there’s no need to scrub. Even those without this technology don’t require much maintenance to keep them in excellent condition and are generally very quick and easy to clean. One great tip for cleaning the glass is to use ash from the stove – use a moist cloth and pick up fresh ash to clean soot from the glass.
When it comes to cleaning the outside of the wood burning stove, you should never use a wet or damp cloth as this can cause the metal to rust. Instead, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment.
Are wood burning stoves bad for your health?
When they are maintained and used correctly, wood burning stoves do not pose a serious danger to your health. It is true that smoke from a stove is a pollutant and breathing in the fumes can cause coughing and shortness of breath, however, when they are used with a well-maintained chimney or flue, this should never be a problem.
Modern stoves are much more efficient and safer to use than older models. If you have any concerns it is always best to replace an old model with an efficient modern wood burner.
Wood burning stove regulations
In 2022, new regulations have been put into force that mean all new wood burning stoves must restrict their carbon emissions to an agreed level. This essentially means that old log burners can remain operational, but newer stoves must be more efficient.
All wood burning stoves must meet UK building regulations. There are specifics regarding how the flue is fitted, the size of the hearth, and the distance of the stove from combustibles. These can all affect the type of stove that is suitable for your property – that is why it is vital that you should speak to our professional stove installers before purchasing.
A stove must stand on a non-combustible hearth which extending at least 225mm in front and at least 150mm at the sides. If the hearth is on a floor that is combustible, it should be at least 250mm thick. Additionally, any stove which has an output of 5kws or higher requires a permanently open vent. The regulations for having your stove installed can be more complex if your property is a listed building.
Are wood burners sustainable?
Wood burning stoves offer a low carbon alternative to heating your home with fossil fuels. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, and when their wood is burned the carbon dioxide is released back the atmosphere. When managed in a sustainable way, the trees that grow take up the carbon released when wood fuel is burned. This is called a closed carbon cycle and means there is no net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. If you can get sustainably sourced or local wood, your wood burner is virtually carbon neutral.
Although wood burning is the greener choice, burning ‘green’ wood isn’t. The moisture content of freshly chopped wood can account for up to 67% the weight of the wood. This high moisture content means more energy is used to displace the water in the wood through evaporation before the wood generates heat. This essentially means you need to burn more than twice the amount of logs to get the same amount of heat.
Burning properly dried wood, such as kiln dried firewood that has travelled as little distance as possible, gives off less smoke emissions meaning cleaner, greener fuel.
What size wood burning stove do I need?
Having a stove in your home is about so much more than the way it looks. The most vital aspect of choosing a stove is to select one that is the right size for your property. A stove that is too small won’t be able to heat the space properly. A common issue for buyers tends to be that they overestimate their requirements and buy a stove that is too big for the needs of their property. If this is the case, the wood burning stove will produce too much heat for the room which will cause the room to feel overpowered with heat. If you’re in need of a wood burning stove, seek sizing advice from experienced professionals.
Can you burn coal in a wood burning stove?
Wood burning stoves are designed to be used with wood – not coal. The issue is in the design: stoves for burning wood have a flat plate. This is because wood only requires air from above in order to burn. Coal needs to be burned on a raised grate as it requires air from above, as well as an escape route; especially to stop the ash accumulating.
Any kind of wood can be burned on your stove, but it is really important to only burn seasoned wood. This is wood that is at least a year old and has been allowed to dry out properly.
You can, or course buy multi-fuel stoves that are able to burn coal and wood. These can be a very popular choice and give you flexibility when thinking about fuel. Coal can produce a lot of heat for a long time and can also be stored conveniently in a small space. However, many people are unhappy about the way coal is mined and burned. Whereas, wood is less efficient and needs to be stored correctly to prevent dampening and damaging.
Will a wood burning stove heat the whole house?
In some cases, this may well be possible. It’s important to recognise that the type of wood burner you have will affect its performance. However, with a back boiler, it is very possible for a wood burning stove to heat a property in its entirety and do so efficiently. A back boiler is a system where the heat from the fire is used to heat water which can then be used in a central heating system. There are a number of ways this can work including a hot water tank to fully integrated heating systems that work alongside a traditional boiler. Stoves are able to spread the heat further around the house than you might initially expect from an open fire.
Can you have a wood burning stove with no chimney?
Whilst it is possible to have a wood burning stove installed if you do not have a chimney, it will require some extra work to carry it out safely. You can have a flue installed (also known as a twin wall flue system) in your property in order to use your wood burning stove. These systems are inexpensive and can be installed through the roof or on the outside of the building depending on a number of factors. This therefore means you can still have a wood burner even if you do not have a chimney.
If you would like any advice on the type of stove best suited to your home, fuels, installation, brands and more then get in touch with us today.