Wood burning stoves: what you need to know
How much do log burners and multi-fuel stoves cost?
By Liz Ransome-Croker
Article 4 of 7
Use our stove costs guide and tool to work out whether the savings you could make on your heating balance out the cost of buying and installing a log burner or multi-fuel stove.
If you're thinking about buying a stove, you're probably wondering whether it's a good way to cut your heating bills. But with wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves costing anywhere between £500 to more than £5,000, and that’s not even accounting for the cost of installation, could you really save money?
When we asked 1,434 Which? members* whether their stove has saved them money on their energy bills, 52% believe it has. However, 37% didn't think it had made any difference.
To help you work out how much your stove might cost and whether you could really save with one, we talk you through:
- The costs of buying and installing a stove
- What can make a stove pricier
- What can affect the cost of installing a stove
- How much it costs to run a stove
- Stove costs tool to work out whether you could save money
If you're ready to buy, find out which stove brand scooped an impressive customer score of 94% in our wood-burning stove reviews.
How much do log burners and multi-fuel stoves cost to buy and install?
To find out the average cost of different types of stoves and installation, we've asked stove owners what they spent, scoured stove stores to find average prices and worked with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)** to ascertain installation costs.
To access the costs on this page, as well as our stove costs calculator, log in now.
If you're not yet a member, you can unlock our research plus all of our expert advice and online reviews by joining Which?.
There is a huge variety of prices within each type of stove and wattage. But features also make a difference to the cost.
As you’d expect, if you pay more, you get more features. Factors that can hike up the cost include:
- if it's larger than average
- has a bigger window/s
- is slimline
- has a log store built into the stove
- is a corner stove
- is able to swivel
- can be inset into the wall, like a TV
- is double-sided, so you can see the flame from more angles
- is more of a design feature.
Find out which features stove users are worth paying for on our buying a stove page.
There are a number of factors that affect installation costs, and these all depend on your home. Installation may cost more if:
- you need to have your chimney relined because otherwise gases would escape
- your chimney needs work on it and is particularly tall, so may need scaffolding
- you need a flue created as you don’t have a chimney
- a vent needs to be fitted in the room - this is a building regulation requirement.
We recommend getting three quotes after a survey. Some installers charge for this, others don’t - so shop around. Get written confirmation of what the quote includes, so you can easily compare costs.
To make sure you get a safe installation and to find out what to expect from your installer, see our guide to the stove installation process.
You can also visit Which? Trusted Traders to find a trustworthy stove installer in your area. All traders who bare our logo have passed our extensive checks, so you can be assured they're reputable.
Before deciding whether or not to get a stove, it’s worth thinking about how much it will cost to run. This varies greatly depending on the type of fuel you choose to burn.
This may be determined by what you have access to, how easily you can store it and whether you live in a smoke-controlled area. Take a look at our guide to buying a stove to help you decide.
Cost of wood for a log burner
It's estimated that stove owners use around one to 1.25 tonnes of wood a year, if they have an average-sized stove and house.
But this could vary greatly depending on what wood you use. It also varies according to the wattage and efficiency of your stove, the hours you run it and the energy efficiency of your home.
Prices also vary by supplier and region, so it's worth taking a look at how much it costs in your area before making a decision.
But to give you a rough idea of the cost of wood, we've looked at prices across a number of online suppliers (autumn 2019). The prices for the logs are for a mix of softwoods (pine and fir, for example) and hardwoods, such as oak, ash, beech and birch.
All sites deliver across the UK, and the prices for seasoned and kiln-dried logs don't include delivery, but the price for the wood pellets and briquettes do.
- Seasoned logs (fully or partially dried logs) - around £116 per cubic metre
- Kiln-dried logs (dried in a kiln) - around £135 per cubic metre
- Wood pellets are usually sold by the kg and cost around £120 per 500kg, which is roughly equivalent to one cubic metre
- Briquettes (made of crushed paper or wood) are also usually sold by the kg and cost around £150 per 500kg.
Keep in mind that although some types are cheaper to buy, they may be less efficient to burn - and will be more polluting. For example, partially seasoned logs have around 25% to 35% moisture and so a 3.4kWh output per kg.
Kiln-dried logs and seasoned logs, on the other hand, have around 20% moisture and so a 4.5kWh output. Pellets and briquettes have the moisture content of around just 10%, and a heat output of around 5kWh.
Only burn logs with a moisture content of less than 20% to minimise pollution and increase efficiency. With anything other than kiln-dried logs, briquettes and pellets, you'll need to dry them out yourself before using them.
For around £100, you can also buy, or even find, freshly cut logs. These are cheaper, but have a high moisture content of between 50% and 60% or even higher. They will therefore have a very low heat output of around 1 to 2kWh per kg.
Because of their inefficiency, and because burning moist logs will create more build-up in your chimney and potentially harmful air pollution, you shouldn't burn them as they are. Drying them yourself is called seasoning and will take one to two years. You'll also need the space to do so.
Wood buying tips
- It stands to reason that the more you buy, the cheaper it will be. If you have space, get as much as you can, as long as you can keep it dry.
- Hardwood logs are more expensive than softwood ones, but they do take longer to burn.
- Wonky or out-of-shape logs can be cheaper.
For advice on the best fuel to use, as well as how to get the best price for fuel, go to using your wood-burning stove.
For more information on pollution from stoves, visit our dedicated page. You might also want to consider whether a gas or electric stove would be a better choice for you as you won't need to store or buy fuel - head to our guide for details.
Cost of smokeless fuel for a multi-fuel stove
For efficiency and to minimise pollution, we'd recommend avoiding bituminous house coal and choosing smokeless coal or fuel.
Smokeless coal or fuel releases fewer emissions compared with house coal, and is therefore more environmentally friendly. If you live in a smoke-controlled area, you'll only be able to use smokeless fuel.
Looking at online suppliers (autumn 2019), we checked for the average price of anthracite coal - which is naturally formed - and manufactured smokeless fuel.
- Anthracite coal: around £422 for 40 25kg bags of large anthracite nuts and £415 for the same amount of small nuts.
- Smokeless fuel: from around £285 to £580 - £440 on average - for 40 25kg bags.
For both types, you can buy 25kg bags individually, or in 10s and 20s, but they will be a little more expensive. Also, these prices are excluding delivery, which may change the price depending on where in the country you live.
Manufactured smokeless fuels come in a lot of different shapes and sizes as well as mixes of materials. They tend to use anthracite as a base ground down to power, which is then formed into briquettes (compressed blocks) using a smokeless binding agent, such as starch or molasses.
Cost of maintaining your stove
For all types of stove and fuel, you'll also need to pay for maintenance. It’s recommended that you have your chimney swept twice yearly to keep your stove in good working order, and so that it doesn't produce potentially harmful pollutants or become a fire risk. This should cost between £60 and £90 for each sweep.
Can a multi-fuel or wood-burning stoves save me money?
There are rough calculations on how much a stove will cost you to buy and run, and whether it could save you money on your heating bills. But every home and stove is very different, including the wattage you'll need, the amount and type of fuel you'll use and the hours you'll be using it.
To give you a rough idea for yourself before speaking to an installer, you can use our stove costs tool to estimate how much you could save, balanced against how much as stove could cost you.
Before you start you'll need to do the following:
Decide what type of stove you'd like
Choose between a log burner or multi-fuel stove. Once you know this, you can assume the rough cost of the stove itself.
Decide what fuel you're likely to use
We suggest looking at what supply is near you and how much it could cost, as well as whether you live in a smoke-controlled area.
Work out what wattage of stove you will need for your room
The average is 5kW - but the bigger the room, the bigger the wattage will be. This figure will also be affected by what energy-saving features you have in your home, such as insulation. So it’s best to speak to an installer to get a definitive answer on this.
But, as a rough guide, multiply the height, width and length in meters together, then divide this by 14 - this calculation is also within the tool.
Think about how many hours a week you plan on using the stove
For example, three hours each evening in the week and 12 hours at the weekend would add up to 27 hours per week.
Find out how much you spend on gas
Your energy bill should show you how much the cost for gas is per kWh. If it's not on your bill, you can contact your energy supplier.
Plus, you'll be able to find out which are the best wood-burning stove brands as rated by thousands of stove owners. It includes ratings for Aga, Esse, Jotul and Woodwarm, having asked about important factors, such as ease of use, value for money and durability.
You can also use Which? Trusted Traders to find an installer near you for advice. Every trader on our books has been through our rigorous background checks, and has been verified as having the relevant experience and qualifications.
*January 2019 survey of 1,434 Which? members who have bought a stove in the past 10 years.
**For the prices from RICS, it uses cost data from its Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) database, where costs are collated from a variety of sources and analysed.
Material and equipment costs are based on the best trade prices from a range of suppliers across the UK, which are then benchmarked to reveal the best national average. Labour rates are based on the current Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council wages and allowances agreement.
Taking into consideration all factors, RICS then uses a standardised model for the different types of stove installation. Prices correct September 2019.