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 £400 and more than £2,000, 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, more than half (52%) believe it has. However, 37% didn't think it had made any difference.
When it comes to the initial outlay, the highest proportion (35%) of the stove owners we spoke to spent between £1,001 and £2,000 on their stove and installation. For the rest:
- 21% spent much more - between £2,001 and £3,000
- 14% got a stove cheaply, spending between just £501 to £1,000
- 12% splashed out between £3,001 and £4,000 on their stove
- 4% paid a staggering amount between £4,001 and £5,000.
We've also worked with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)** to look at the difference in costs between wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves, as well as the work needed to install one.
The prices above for the purchase and installation of a typical, standard stove, with an average output of 4kW.
We've also worked with our scientists to put together a stove costs tool to help you work out what savings you could make.
To view all of our research, including the prices from RICS, Which? members should 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?.
This will also give you access to our wood-burning stove reviews - out of 12 brands the top scooped an impressive customer score of 94% - and stoves installation and buying pages, where we've collected together advice from experts and stove owners to help you buy the best.
How much do log burners and multi-fuel stoves cost to buy?
As you can see from the above figures, the cost of a stove is partly dependent on whether you want a log burner or multi-fuel stove. But it also depends on the size and wattage you need.
Wattages range from 3kW to more than 15kW, and will be determined by the type of room you want to install it in. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) says that 5kW is the average size of stove.
Logging in means you can also see how well-known stove companies, including Stovax, Charnwood, Morso and Clearview, were rated by owners of their stoves. Visit our wood-burning stove review to find out.
How much are boiler and pellet stoves?
If you want to get a boiler stove - a stove with a boiler included or attached - you're looking at paying around £1,000 to £2,000.
Pellet stoves can cost between £1,000 and £4,000, depending on the size. The cost is mostly down to the fact that they are powered by electricity and have an automatic system that feeds the pellets into the stove.
If you're thinking of getting a whole wood-heating system instead of just a stove, your costs will be a lot higher.
According to the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), installation costs could vary between £750 and £2,000. But the average installation costs £1,500 on its owns.
There are a number of factors that affect installation costs, and these all depends 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 three to four cubic metres of wood a year, but this could vary greatly depending on what wood you use. It also varies according to the wattage and efficiency of your stove (this can range from 60% to more than 80%), the hours you run the stove, 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 40% moisture and so a 3kWh output per kg.
Kiln-dried logs have around 20% moisture and so a 4.5kWh output. Pellets and briquettes have the moisture content of around just 10%, and 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 60% and 90%. They will therefore have a very low heat output of around 1kWh 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 ca, 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 to house coal, and so is 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 will 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-£120 a year.
If you have a pellet stove, this will need to be serviced as well at around £200 a year.
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 will 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 first.
Decide what type of stove you would 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 are 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 and 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 Jotul, Woodwarm, Aga and Esse 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 last 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.