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Best wood-burning stove companies revealed by Which?

Big-name stove brands Charnwood, Clearview, Morso, Hunter and Stovax rated in our inaugural survey

Best wood-burning stove companies revealed by Which?

Having asked more than 1,400 stove owners about their wood-burning stoves, including durability, ease of use and value for money, we reveal which brand came in first place with an impressive customer score of 94%.

Our results also uncover which stove company is most likely to leave you feeling cold after coming last with a score of 70%. That’s not bad, but our survey shows that you can do much better.

Stovax was the most commonly-bought brand among the people we surveyed*, with 13% buying one of its stoves. This was followed by Clearview (11%), then Charnwood (8%) and Morso (5%). But were these owners happy with their stove?

Jump straight to our wood-burning stove reviews to discover which manufacturer sits in pole position, or read on for tips on choosing a stove. 

Multi-fuel and wood-burning stove brands rated

Wood-burning stove with logos from stove brands

This is the first time we’ve rated stove brands. Our reviews include overall customer scores, which come from asking stove owners how satisfied they are with their stove and whether they would recommend it, as well as ratings for five important areas.

We ask respondents to rate each element on a seven-point scale from ‘very poor’ to ‘excellent’, then turn these into stars, with five being the maximum. The ratings below are for the top two companies and the bottom four.

Stove company Customer score Quality Durability Ease of controlling Ease of cleaning Value for money
Which? subscriber icon 94%
Which? subscriber icon 90%
Which? subscriber icon 75%
Which? subscriber icon 73%
Which? subscriber icon 71%
Which? subscriber icon 70%

As you can see, the brands scoring highest got five stars for all but one measure, for which they got four – still a fantastic star rating.

The four stove makers at the other end of the scale predominantly received an average three stars. For one area, a handful got a pitiful two stars – the lowest of any area or company.

Which brands have been rated in 2019?

Read our multi-fuel and wood-burning stove reviews to find out which ones impressed our respondents and which ones left them feeling cold. 

Five tips when buying a log burner or multi-fuel stove

Buying a stove isn’t like buying any other appliance. It’s a potentially dangerous piece of equipment that could be a fire hazard or create excess pollution if installed and used incorrectly.

Follow these five tips when buying a stove and getting it installed to make sure yours is safe and efficient.

1. Choose the right fuel and type of stove

Lit small wood-burning stove in a brick fireplace

You can either buy a log burner, which will only burn wood, or a multi-fuel stove, which can burn smokeless fuel as well.

As fuels burn differently, coal and many smokeless fuels need air from below, while wood needs it from above. If you plan on only using wood, get a dedicated wood burner.

If you want the flexibility of burning more than one type of fuel, look for a stove that comes with a changeable grate, which enables you to adjust the stove for that fuel.

Either way, we’d recommend starting from the beginning and thinking about what type of fuel you want to burn and, more importantly, what you will have access to.

2. Get the right wattage for your home

Getting the right stove wattage means not wasting fuel and, therefore, money. Get one with too low a wattage and it will struggle to heat your home, causing you to add more fuel to the fire. One that is too high means you’ll be wasting heat by opening windows to cool your house down.

What wattage you get depends on the size of room you need to heat, as well as how efficient it already is at keeping warm. For example, do you have double glazing and insulation?

Roughly speaking, multiply the height, width and length of the room in metres, then divide this by 14 to get the kW output you’ll need. But make sure you get advice from an expert beforehand too.

See our page on how to buy a stove for more details. It includes our stove wattage calculator and insider advice from stove owners on what they wish they had known before they bought a stove.

3. Factor in the impact and installation cost

If you have a chimney, it may need to be relined or insulated to ensure that smoke from your stove can’t escape. This also keeps the gases hot so that they don’t turn into condensation that can result in tars and creosotes being left in your chimney, which would cause a potential fire hazard.

An installer will perform a smoke test to check whether your current lining is good enough.

You don’t need to have a chimney to get a stove. A flue can run on its own through the ceiling or you can build a chimney and fireplace for it. However, if this is the case, you’ll need to think carefully about how this will impact your home, as well as the cost.

Modern living room with standalone wood-burning stove

Also keep in mind that you might not be able to get it installed exactly where you want it, as other factors might affect it. Make sure you speak to an installer before you buy.

Visit our page on multi-fuel stove and log burner installation for everything you need to know. It includes a video showing what happens on the day of an installation, as well as insight from stove owners on how to avoid issues on the day.

4. Use an approved installer

A stove isn’t something you should install yourself. Your local authority’s building control department needs to be informed, and installing it incorrectly could make it dangerous.

We strongly recommend that you use an installer that’s registered with a government-recognised Competent Person Scheme (CPS), such as Hetas, NAPIT or APHC.

Installers that are registered with a CPS will have been trained on installing solid fuel heating and can certify the work done themselves, instead of having to get approval from building regulations.

You can find the full list of schemes on the government’s Gov.uk website, and find recommended traders in your area using Which? Trusted Traders. All our traders have been through our rigorous checks to ensure they’re safe, reliable and have the relevant qualifications.

5. Make sure you know how to use your stove

Using a stove incorrectly could not only waste money and time but also create higher levels of pollution. When your stove is installed, get the installer to show you how it works, how to light a fire, and how to control and maintain it. Ask them to actually demonstrate it for you, instead of just talking you through it.

Also, make sure you use the right fuel. For example, using wet logs will be inefficient and also create more smoke and build-up in your chimney.

Lastly, get your chimney swept regularly to help avoid fire risks, and get your stove serviced to ensure you catch and correct any problems.

Visit our page on using a multi-fuel or wood-burning stove for details on fuels to use, how to maintain your stove and video guides to lighting and maintaining a fire.

*In January 2019, we asked 1,434 Which? members about the stove they bought in the past 10 years.

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