The exhaustive list of everything you need to think of before buying a woodburner

In this article we will consider all the things you ought to be thinking about before choosing and buying a wood-burning stove.

Size

By size what we actually mean is heat output. A wood-burning stove’s heat output is always given in the form of kilowatts (kW). The greater the heat output, the more heat the stove will generator. So bigger rooms require bigger stoves. The dimensions of a room are the major factor in determining the correct size of stove for the circumstances. Other factors, such as the draughtiness of a property and whether you will also be using the stove to heat radiators, may also be taken into consideration. This stove size calculator will help to guide you towards the approximate size of woodburner you need.

Dimensions

Another type of size is important: the dimensions of a prospective woodburner. Knowing the height, width and depth of any appliance will ensure it fits suitably in the space you have available. This will particularly be true if you need your stove to sit within an existing fireplace recess. In that case, these small woodburners might be of interest. Conversely, if you want your stove to make a statement in a large open-plan space, you might want to make sure it is big enough in stature for the job. Keep in mind that some of the things that follow might impact on the suitability of a particular size of stove.

Smoke control areas

Do you live in a smoke control area? If so, that is immediately going to have an impact on your choice of wood-burning stove. You will need to choose an appliance that is exempted by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for use in smoke control areas. Fortunately, there is an ever increasing amount of choice, with lots of stove manufacturers now keen to cater to this market. Here are some examples of DEFRA exempt stoves.

Chimney

In short, do you have one? If so, this will be the obvious place to install your stove. If not, you have two choices: build a chimney or (the more common option) opt for a twin wall flue that runs either through the property or through the wall near to your stove and up the outside of your home.

Building Regulations

The other main area in which your choice of wood-burning stove will interact with the law of the land is in relation to Building Regulations. Your woodburner must be installed in accordance with Document J of the Building Regulations. This will inform things such as how much space you need to leave around your stove; where the flue terminates in relation to the pitch of your roof, your windows and neighbouring properties; and the size and material of the hearth.

Location in room

Following on from the Building Regulations, you will need to think about where in the room you plan to place the woodburner. In particular, you will need to consider save distances to combustible materials as dictated by the Building Regulations. Consider too that some stove manufacturers give additional guidance on the air gaps needed around their appliances.

What type of fuel do you want to burn?

If you only want to burn logs, then you will want to buy a wood-burning stove. If you are also interested in burning anthracite and other smokeless coal, you will be better with a multi-fuel stove. A multi-fuel stove usually incorporates a raised grate because solid fuel needs an air supply from below in order to burn efficiently. A wood-burning stove will have a flat grate at the bottom of the fire box. Keep in mind that living in a smoke control area will also limit you to burning only wood or DEFRA exempt fuels.

Budget

Perhaps this should have been the first consideration, but your budget will definitely be a factor in choosing your new stove. As with all things in life, woodburners are available at a premium if they have an established and respected brand name or a particularly spectacular design. You can spent anything from less than £200 to upwards of £3,000 depending on what you’re looking for from your appliance.

Style and brand

As mentioned above, some stove brands cost more than others. The manufacturer and style of an appliance will also play a part in your decision making process. For instance, do you want a traditional or contemporary stove? A freestanding pedestal stove or one that will sit neatly within a fireplace recess? Perhaps you even want an inset stove that slots straight into a standard fireplace opening.

Efficiency

All wood-burning stoves comes with an efficiency rating. This will be in the form of a percentage of efficiency. So, with a stove with an 80% efficiency rating, 20% of the heat generated when you burn fuel will be lost. This is not an exact science, with manufacturers given considerable leeway to set the test conditions. However, working to the basis that all manufacturers get the same opportunities to make their appliance as efficient as possible, the efficiency ratings do help to establish some sort of pecking order. It is also worth pointing out that all stoves are more efficient than open fires, which are approximately 30% efficient.

Ventilation

All wood-burning stoves need a good supply of air in order to function properly, so at the stage of buying your stove it is worth thinking about where this air supply will come from. If your property doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, you could install a ventilation brick in the room. Alternatively, if you want to maintain an airtight home, you could opt for an external air stove, whereby the air supply is pumped directly into the stove from outside.

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External air stoves: woodburners that are suitable if you’re sealing your home

If you have invested or are planning to invest in making your home airtight, the prospect of introducing a wood-burning stove can be a troublesome one. A heating source that is dependent on a flow of air in order to function is not in keeping with a sealed property.

Whether you are planning to burn logs or smokeless coal, the fuel will be reliant on a supply of oxygen in order to burn. The air must be drawn into the firebox and up the chimney in order for the stove to operate efficiently and to avoid smoke seeping into your home through the stove’s vents. Without a greater supply of air in your room, it is unlikely that your stove would operate correctly in an airtight room. Increasing the level of ventilation, which is usually achieved by putting air vents in the wall, would unseal your sealed home, create a draught and potentially increase your central heating bill.

The good news is that it is possible to install a woodburner without undermining the airtightness and energy efficiency of your room. The answer lies in external air stoves.

These are stoves that come with a spigot to allow you to connect the appliance to an air duct that will provide a direct air supply from outside. Since the air only travels through the duct and goes straight to the stove, you will experience none of the problems we mentioned above, such as draughtiness and a less energy efficient home.

The spigot, which is sometimes included with external air stoves and sometimes sold separately, will usually connect to a discreet location at the rear or underneath of the stove so as not to change the aesthetic of the stove. The opening is smaller than you might expect. Remember, the fire in a stove would only usually be dependent on the amount of oxygen coming through the air vents, so it needs far less than would be case for an open fire.

Types of direct air connection

There are a few different options available when installing an external air stove.

Partial This is when the direct air supply provides some of the air needed. Perhaps there is some ventilation in your room, but not enough for the stove to operate effectively. It may be the case that the primary air supply comes from the direct air duct, while the secondary air supply is drawn from the room.

Total This is when the direct air supply provides all of the air necessary for the stove to operate. The stove is not reliant on air from the room at all in order to function correctly.

Leak-sealed This is when, in addition to a total air connection, the appliance is sealed to prevent leakage. This would ordinarily done in cases where the property needs to meet set standards in order to achieve a particular certification. A prime example would be PassivHaus buildings.

Examples of external air stoves

There are plenty of external air stoves available to choose from. Here are a handful of the best for your consideration if you want the comfort and warmth of a wood-burning stove without impacting on the airtightness and energy efficiency of the rest of your home.

Thorma Wikantica 8 kW Wood Burning Stove

Not only does the Thorma Wikantica immediately make your room look better, it also includes a large storage drawer to help you keep your hearth tidy. It is a tall, free-standing stove in the continental European style and can be adapted to function as an external air stove. Have a closer look.


Thorma Falun 8 kW Wood Burning Stove

Thorma Falun
The Thorma Falun is very similar to the Wikantica, which is also made by the Slovakian brand. Again, it can be upgraded to an external air stove with the aid of a kit, which is sold separately. Have a closer look.

Evergreen ST0311R Lymm 6.5 kW Multi Fuel Wood Burning Stove

One very reasonably priced option is the Evergreen Lymm. It has a 6.5kW heat output, which is appropriate for most medium to large living rooms and a very impressive return for an appliance that only costs £259 (price correct at time of writing). Have a closer look.

Thorma Andorra 7.5 kW Wood Burning Stove

The Thorma Andorra is a beautiful curved woodburner. Its stylish contemporary design and sleek lines are perfect for the modern decor of many airtight homes. As with the other Thorma appliances on this list, it can be amended to be used as an external air stove. Have a closer look.

Click here to see more external air stoves.

Cheapest DEFRA exempt woodburners

If you happen to live in a smoke control area, your options when it comes to buying a wood-burning stove are already limited. That’s because you need to choose an appliance that has been exempted by DEFRA for use in your property.

Given that these appliances often have the additional development costs attached of having to demonstrate suitable efficiency to a government department, they are often more expensive than regular wood-burning stoves.

Here at Gr8Fires.co.uk, we don’t believe you should have to break the bank just because of your postcode. With that in mind, we have put together this list of the cheapest DEFRA exempt woodburners that are currently available to buy from our online store.

Mazona Rocky 6 kW DEFRA Multi-Fuel Stove

The Mazona Rocky 6 kW is our best-selling woodburner of any kind, so it is also our best-selling DEFRA exempt woodburner. Given it £189.90* price tag, that’s hardly surprising. For that relatively modest fee you get a high quality cast iron stove that is suitable for use in smoke control areas and pumps out an impressive amount of heat. Learn more.

Dimplex Westcott 5 SE Wood Burning Stove

Dimplex produces a range of popular woodburners and this Westcott 5 SE (the SE standing for smoke exempt) is suitable for use in smoke control areas. It’s made from cast iron and boasts a classic wood-burning stove design. The Westcott 5 SE is available for £336.95. Learn more.

Mazona Crete 5 kW Multi Fuel Inset Stove

The Mazona Crete comes with an additional advantage. Not only is it one of the cheapest DEFRA exempt woodburners available, it is also an inset stove. That means it is designed to slot straight into a standard fireplace opening. That’s a big advantage if you’re restricted or reluctant in regards to undertaking building work to open up a fireplace. The Crete is priced at £349.99. Learn more.

Hamlet Solution DEFRA 4.5 kW Multi Fuel Stove


The Hamlet Solution is a great option if you’re looking for the cheapest DEFRA exempt woodburners, but also want a stove that is contemporary in design. This steel stove, with its minimalist detailing and slick lines, is perfectly suited for modern looks. It costs £449.99. Learn more.

Mazona Portland 5 kW DEFRA Multi Fuel Inset Stove

Like the Crete, the Portland is another reasonably priced inset stove by Mazona. That means it brings the benefits we mentioned above in relation to slotting straight into a standard fireplace. Its clean look makes it perfect for modern living rooms. Learn more.

Click here to see the full collection of DEFRA exempt woodburners

*all prices correct at time of writing, but subject to change.

Manchester United footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic recovering from injury in front of a woodburner

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has found the perfect way to get his recovery from injury off to a good start: resting in front of a wood-burning stove.

The Swedish player, aged 36, suffered a serious knee ligament injury in a Europa League match against Belgian side Anderlecht last Thursday evening.

United confirmed that the injury will prevent Ibrahimovic from playing again this season and said he would be seeing a specialist to get a better idea of the extent of the problem and discuss a rehabilitation programme in the coming days.

In the meantime, there is nothing for Ibrahimovic to do except rest, recuperate and hope the swelling goes down. No doubt with that in mind, he has been relaxing by a woodburner.

He posted a photo to his Instagram account showing his injured joint and its healthy counterpart, with a roaring woodburner in the background.

It looks as though he might be in a sauna. If so, he has probably headed back to his homeland for a short break because wood-burning stove-fired saunas are very popular in Sweden, with many households having their own in outbuildings.

Dimplex Club electric stove providing heat to Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, and it is also currently home to a Dimplex Club electric stove.

The popular tearooms at the iconic castle on the banks of the River Aray are heated by a Club, which you can see in the photo above.

In addition to being one of the most popular tourist destinations on the west coast of Scotland, the 18th-century Gothic-style castle is also well-known as being the location for the 2012 Christmas special of Downton Abbey. So, if it looks familiar but you haven’t visited, that is probably where you know if from.

It is easy to work out why the castle would have opted to invest in the Dimplex Club to provide some warmth and cosiness to the tearooms. Its traditional cast-iron style and realistic Optiflame® log effect create a look that is entirely in keeping with Inveraray’s tradition. And with the flame effect working independently of the heat source, they can create the right ambience even if the temperature doesn’t call for heating. So whatever the weather, the tearooms are always looking cosy and welcoming.

When extra heat is needed, it is available at the click of a button, cleanly and with no effort required. That means staff can focus on providing service to their customers.

If you would like to heat your own home with a Dimplex Club just like the one found at Inveraray Castle, you can buy one here.

Why DEFRA approved stoves aren’t really DEFRA approved stoves

You will often hear people talking about DEFRA approved wood-burning stoves. It is a commonly used phrase for appliances that you are allowed to used in smoke control areas. We even slip into using the terminology ourselves occasionally, but strictly speaking we are wrong when we do.

That is because there is no such thing as DEFRA approved stoves. What we are all talking about when we use that phrase are DEFRA exempt stoves. Splitting hairs? Perhaps, but there is a subtle differentiation.

To say something is approved by DEFRA implies it has their endorsement, that they are vouching for its quality. In fact, the appliances in question are exempted from the Clean Air Act.

Specifically, the stoves are exempted by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in accordance with changes made to sections 20 and 21 of the Clean Air Act 1993 by section 15 of the Deregulation Act 2015 (or section 50 of the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 in Scotland or by regulations made by Welsh Ministers in Wales).

Being exempt from a piece of legislation is not the same as having approval. So, when you are confronted with a so-called DEFRA approved stove, what you are actually looking at is a DEFRA exempt appliance: one that has been shown to burn efficiently enough that the gases it emits are acceptable in smoke control areas when the owner i using the specified fuel(s), operating the stove in accordance with the instruction and installation manuals and meeting any other conditions specified by DEFRA.

Our approved DEFRA stoves

So, we cannot bring you DEFRA approved stoves, but we can bring you some approved DEFRA stoves: woodburners that are exempted by DEFRA and also have a thumbs-up from Gr8Fires. Here are some of our favourite DEFRA exempt stoves…

Mazona Rocky 6 kW Smoke Exempt Multi Fuel Stove

Our best-selling stove is hugely popular for its timeless design, quality cast iron construction and bargain price tag. It also comes with the additional benefit of being DEFRA exempt. Have a closer look.

Dimplex Langbrook 5 SE Multi-Fuel Stove

The Dimplex Langbrook boasts an unusual, contemporary design. Those rounded edges and chunky feet create an eye-catching look, which you can enjoy even if you live in a smoke control area. Have a closer look.

Thorma Horby 10.5 kW Grey Wood Burning Stove

Make a big statement with the freestanding Thorma Horby, which is modern in styling and will create an impression in any room. Have a closer look.

Aarrow i400 6kW Flexifuel Multi Fuel Stove

Aarrow stoves are always sleek and stylish. This i400 is a cassette stove that can slot into a recess for a very tidy look. Have a closer look.

Aarrow Farringdon 5kW Wood-Burning Stove

We told you Aarrow stoves are sleek and stylish. The minimal Farringdon is another case in point. Have a closer look.

Mazona Portland Inset Multi-Fuel Stove

A versatile and well-priced inset stove that slots straight into a standard fireplace opening and works well with various styles of decor. Have a closer look. Also available in black and cream enamel versions.

Click here to see more DEFRA exempt stoves

What is the internal plate at the top of a woodburner?

We are often contacted by people who have inadvertently discovered a plate sitting inside their woodburner at the top of the firebox.

If they are baffled as to what the internal place is, that’s pretty ironic because it is actually called the baffle.

Since it is tucked away at the very top of the stove and is usually made from cast iron, it is easy to miss. As a result, the baffle often comes to people’s attention when they accidentally dislodge it during cleaning or refuelling, or else when something goes wrong (like they notice a hole in it).

How do I know where the internal plate goes?

We’ve just discussed the circumstances under which a lot of people become aware of their plate, so their instant reaction is usually: “How do I put it back where it came from?”

The easiest way to do this is to consult your stove manual, which should provide instructions on fitting the baffle. If you don’t have a manual, it should still be fairly obvious. Usually there are small pegs sticking out of the internal wall that the baffle will rest upon. If you sit the baffle on top of the fire liners (the plates protecting the side and back of the stove body), the pegs or other method for holding the baffle in place should now be slightly above it.

What is the purpose of the internal plate at the top of a woodburner?

The baffle plate has two main roles. Firstly, as just mentioned in relation to the fire liners, it protects the top of the stove body from the most intense heat and flames.

But its main purpose is to save you money. It effectively blocks the most direct route up your chimney, forcing the gases to go around it before going upwards. This helps to keep flammable gases in the firebox for as long as possible to give them the best possible chance of being burnt before they disappear up the flue.

This helps you to get the most bang for your buck with the fuel you burn and is also better for the environment because it is not good for unspent gases to be emitted into the atmosphere.

Why is my baffle damaged?

If you are reading this because you have noticed the internal plate at the top of your woodburner is worn or warped, this article will help you to work out what’s gone wrong and how to address the problem.

Retro woodburners to suit 1950s and 1960s midcentury decor

If your home is decked out in retro or vintage decor, you don’t want your woodburner to let the side down.

Here are a selection of wood-burning stoves and multi-fuel stoves that work well with midcentury interior design. Although they are all contemporary appliances – with all the efficiency benefits that brings – but look like they wouldn’t have been out of place in a living room in the 1950s or 1960s.

Invicta Oxo 10kW Wood-Burning Stove

The Invicta Oxo looks like it could be the bad guy in a 1960s sci-fi TV series, but it is actually another very interesting stove designed by French manufacturer Invicta. The design comprises both stainless steel and cast iron, while the 10kW heat output will add warmth to even large spaces. Have a closer look.

Dimplex Langbrook 5 SE Multi-Fuel Stove

Like many woodburners, the Dimplex Langbrook is a black box. But its subtle design features help to give it a very retro look that set it apart from those other appliances. Rounded edges and unusually chunky feet give the Langbrook its distinctive look. Have a closer look.

Invicta Ove 10kW Wood-Burning Stove

The humble egg provided the inspiration for some midcentury design classics, not least Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Egg chair. Continuing that trend is the Invicta Over, a large and spectacular feature stove incorporating a beautiful rounded design and oval glass window. Have a closer look.

Invicta Luna 10kW Wood-Burning Stove

With its tall legs and curved lines, the Invicta Luna has a distinctly midcentury aesthetic. Unlike a console table or desk that might also match that description, it comes with the benefit that it pumps 10kW of heat into your home. Have a closer look.

Invicta Ch’ti Poele 8 kW Wood-Burning Stove

The Invicta Ch’ti Poele boasts an unusual design that is very much in-keeping with the geometric shapes that dominates much midcentury design. The asymmetry gives an eye-catching look that is somehow retro and contemporary simultaneously. Have a closer look.

Invicta Alcande 6kW Wood-Burning Stove

Another woodburner that looks like it has come straight out of the 1960s. The rounded capsule style stove body is very Space Age, while the legs would not be out of place on a piece of Scandinavian furniture. Have a closer look.

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What is a riddling grate?

A riddling grate is a grate featuring a mechanism that allows the bars of the grate to be moved.

The benefit of this is that the bars to be tilted to allow ashes to be tipped directly into the ashpan without you having to worry about facilitating that particular journey.

A riddling grate will be found on a multi-fuel stove, rather than a wood-burning stove. Wood burns best on a flat bed of ashes, so many wood-burning stoves do not incorporate a grate or an ashpan. Please note: other woodburners are designed to have a grate – often a non-riddling grate – so if you have an appliance that has a grate it is important that you continue to use one.

Many modern multi-fuel stoves will have an externally controlled ridding grate, which is even handier for the user. With the mechanism to move the grate bars accessible via a handle on the outside of the stove body, ashes can be tipped into the ashpan without the need to even have the door open. That helps with limiting the amount of dust that gets into the room, but its key benefit comes when the stove is in use…

Smokeless coal, which is the type of coal that should be used on multi-fuel stove, burns best when there is a good supply of air from beneath. This air supply could become limited if cinders and ashes start to block the gaps between the bars. You can immediate alleviate this problem by riddling the grate and clearing some of the ashes. This task is much easier to accomplish with the aid of the external controls, which can be easily used with the aid of a stove glove and avoid the need to access anything inside the firebox.

More wood-burning and multi-fuel stove jargon-busting here.

Woodburners to match 2017 interior design trends

Are you redecorating your home this year? If you renovations include installing a wood-burning stove, here are some examples of appliances that work well with some of the most popular 2017 interior design trends.

Jungalow

Invicta Modena 12 kW Yellow Enamel Wood Burning Stove

The jungalow trend is all about bringing a tropical look into your domestic settings. There’s a little bit of Palm Springs, a little bit of Ibiza and lots of plants and animals involved. Something like the Invicta Modena 12 kW in yellow animal ought to match a tropical palette and sit nicely alongside your ferns, crocodiles and other exotic finishing touches. Have a closer look.

Greens

Carron 4.7 kW Green Enamel DEFRA Multi-Fuel Stove
Carron Green Wood Burning Stove
Green is tipped as the must-have colour for 2017. The colour specialists at Pantone, plus a host of interior design experts, are preaching that leafy tones are the ones to go for. If you’re following that trend, the dark green enamel finish on this Carron appliance should be very much in-keeping with your room. It’s an DEFRA exempt appliance, which means it can be used in smoke control areas. Have a closer look.

Art deco opulence

Invicta Ove 10 kW Wood Burning Stove

Opulence is in for 2017, but in the form of classic art deco looks rather than brash nouveau riche decor. That means soft shapes and gentle curves aplenty, which makes the Invicta Ove the perfect woodburner to complement the look. A grand design feature in its own right, it also benefits from that curvaceous body and rounded glass window. Have a closer look.

Carron Dante 5 kW Black Enamel DEFRA Multi Fuel Stove
Carron Dante Wood Burner
If the Invicta Ove is a bit too big, in stature or heat output, for your requirements, the Carron Dante would make an excellent alternative. It too boasts an art deco inspired curved design. A flat front gives way to the gentle curves of the stove body and its base to create a sort of half-cylinder look. Very on trend. Have a closer look.

Geometric

Invicta Ch’ti Poele 8 kW Wood Burning Stove

In contrast to the curves of the art deco look, another interior design trend for 2017 is the geometric look. If points, angles and triangular shapes are what you’re looking for, look no further than the gloriously asymmetrical Invicta Ch’ti Poele 8 kW Wood Burning Stove. It works equally well if you’re continuing last year’s industrial chic. Have a closer look.

Not found what you wanted? Click here to see more stoves.