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