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7 Dec 2019

Seven tips to help you buy the best wood-burning stove

Expert advice to help you save money and ensure you buy an efficient stove this winter
Christmas presents stacked in front of a wood-burn

Christmas conjures up the image of a cosy living room, beautifully decorated tree and roaring wood-burning stove. But this dream could turn into a smokey and frustrating nightmare if you don't get the right stove.

A wood-burning or multi-fuel stove isn't like any other appliance in your home. If you buy the wrong one it could, at best, be a money-sucker, and at worst be highly polluting.

If you're planning on getting a stove, follow our tips to ensure you save money and that your stove is efficient.

Skip straight to our wood-burning stove reviews to see which manufacturer was rated highest by stove owners.

1. Check that a wood burner or multi-fuel stove is right for you

Stoves have been a hot topic lately with sharp focus on the pollution they can create.

Used correctly and with the right fuel, stoves can burn efficiently. But they will still create some pollutants.

If you live off the gas grid and have regular access to the right fuel, they can be a good option and a way to potentially save money.

But gas and electric stoves are also a good option worth considering, especially if you have health concerns. They can look the same and are easier to use, plus you won't risk creating as much pollution.

Visit our full guide to gas and electric stoves for more information to help you decide.

Gas fire in a neutral modern living room

2. Get a highly efficient stove with the correct wattage

If you've decided you want a wood-burning stove, get one that's highly efficient. New stoves adhering to EU regulations that will come into force in 2022, are more efficient and must need emission limits. Some are already meeting this criteria.

Opt for as high an efficiency as possible, to ensure your stove minimises pollution and burns effectively. Looking out for the EcoDesign Ready logo (see below) will help, as this shows a stove already meets the five emission elements of the EU legislation.

We'd also recommend looking for a stove that is Defra-approved, which is mandatory if you live in a smoke-controlled area and want to burn wood. Wherever you live, getting one means that your stove will burn cleaner.

Also, make sure that you get the right wattage for your home. If it's too high, it will waste energy, and if it's not powerful enough, you won't be able to warm your home sufficiently.

To work out what's best for your home, multiply the height, width and length of the room in metres, then divide this by 14. This will give you a gauge of what size stove you need in kW - or you can use our stoves calculator.

But this is just a rough guide - consult a stove installer to check this is accurate as it will also be affected by the efficiency of the room itself, such as whether it has double glazing or is insulated.

3. Decide on the type of fuel and stove

You'll also need to decide what type of stove to choose - and this will be dependent on which fuel(s) you would like to burn.

A multi-fuel stove will burn wood and other fuels, such as smokeless coal, while a log burner will only burn wood.

Because fuels burn differently, if you are only planning on burning wood, get a dedicated log burner. If you would like the option to try other fuels, a multi-fuel would be better.

Finally, check that you will have easy access to that type of fuel and you have a rough idea of the cost - more on this below.

Wood logs in a wicker basket in front of a wood-bu

4. Consider what stove features to opt for

There are all kinds of additional features available on stoves, so it's worth thinking about which ones you might use and which ones will just be a waste of money. Some of the options include:

  • side windows
  • built-in fuel store
  • hotplate for cooking
  • cool-touch handles
  • ability to rotate the stove
  • riddling grate to help remove ash
  • airwash system to help keep glass clean.

Of the 1,434 stove owners we asked in January 2019, a removable ash pan, controllable air vents and a large window were the top three.

Visit our page on how to buy the best wood-burning stove to see all of the features stove owners value, as well as other essential advice.

You can also see what features each brand has by visiting their individual review pages, such as forStovax, Clearview, Morso, Charnwood and Jotul.

5. Don't buy your stove online

81% of the stove owners we surveyed purchased their stove in a physical store, while 15% bought online.

We wouldn't recommend buying online unless you have done extensive research beforehand and sought advice from an expert.

Going to a store also means that you can get more of an idea of the size and style of the stoves available to you. There are lots of independent stove dealers across the UK stocking a range of different brands.

6. Think about the cost

Large wood-burning stove in a country-style living

Buying a stove and getting it installed isn't cheap - 35% of the stove owners we spoke to spent between £1,001 and £2,000 on their stove and installation.

The type, wattage and added extras you get will impact the cost, as will major changes needed to be made to your home to install it, such as a new chimney or relining an old one.

Think about how much you're prepared to spend to narrow down your choices. It's also worth considering whether a stove could save you money on your energy bills, especially if you burn wood you have collected for free and dried out yourself.

7. Learn how to use your stove correctly

A lot of the problems associated with stoves and pollution come from people burning 'dirtier' fuels in the wrong way.

You should only burn wood that has less than 20% moisture content. Look out for the Ready to Burn logo (below) if you're buying or get a moisture meter if you will be drying wood at home.

We'd recommend staying away from house coal and instead using smokeless coal or other fuels. Either way, make sure the sulphur content is below 2%.

When you get your stove installed, get the installer to show you how it should be lit and how to control the fire so that you don't let it unnecessarily smoke.

Visit our comprehensive guide to using a multi-fuel stove or log burner, which includes how-to videos.