28th July 2021
Whether you’ve just bought a stove, are thinking of getting one, or have inherited one with a home you’ve moved into, follow our tips to make the most of your log burner or multi-fuel stove.
One of the 12 brands got an impressive customer score of 94%.
Everyone's homes and stoves are different, so there are a lot of different factors - including air pressure and the type of flue you have - that can change the way you light and use your stove.
Follow our video and step-by-step tips to get started.
Whatever your circumstances, it's important to do the following to minimise levels of potentially harmful emissions:
Finding the most effective way to ignite your stove and keep it burning at the right temperature will take a bit of practice. Follow our video and step-by-step tips to get started.
If you're getting a new stove installed, ask the company you buy it from and your installer to tell you how to light it. Preferably ask for a demonstration too.
It's worth buying a stove thermometer to monitor the temperature; it will go on the side of the stove. Most stoves should stay between 200°C and 250°C. This can vary for each stove, so check with the manufacturer.
Thanks to Pinkerbell Stoves for allowing us to film these videos in its store.
There are clear benefits to burning dry wood or smokeless coal instead of house coal.
Smokeless coal is a manufactured fuel that produces less smoke.
When we asked 1,434 Which? members*, wood was the most commonly used fuel, followed by smokeless coal.
A wood-burning stove can only burn wood, whereas a multi-fuel stove can also burn coal. If you think you're only going to burn wood, you might want to get a dedicated log burner.
To make sure you get the most out of your wood-burning stove and don't create additional pollution, it’s important to use the right kind of wood.
Modern stoves are designed to be more efficient, but you should use the right fuel so they work well and stay in good condition.
A third of the people we spoke to weren’t told the best fuel to use on their stove when they bought it, and nearly half didn't get advice on which ones to avoid – leaving them potentially using the most-polluting fuels.
First and foremost, you need to burn wood that is as dry as possible – it should only contain less than 20% moisture.
Using fresh logs with a high moisture content of around 50% to 60% or more will reduce your stove’s heat output, leave more build-up in your chimney, and create more smoke and potentially harmful air pollutants.
Some 5% of the people we spoke to use 'wet logs'.
You can reduce the moisture content of freshly cut wood by drying or seasoning it. It’s best to store the wood in a dry place for at least a year, but preferably two. You can use a moisture meter to check how dry your wood is – these cost around £20.
For the best results, put the wood on a dry surface protected from rain. Leave the sides exposed to air and wind to speed up the drying process.
Chopping the wood down to size before storing it will also help it to dry more quickly. Alternatively, you can buy ready-seasoned wood at a little extra cost - see more about fuel prices below.
When we asked stove owners about the types of fuel they use most often, seasoned logs were most popular (81% use them), followed by kiln-dried logs (used by 35%).
Some logs state the estimated heat output when burnt (in kWh) – the higher this is, the more heat it will produce.
For example, fresh or wet logs will have an output of just 1 to 2kWh, partially dried wood 3.4kWh, and fully dried logs 4kWh.
You can only buy wood in small bundles with less than 20% moisture from May 2021 (unless it's to be seasoned at home). Look out for the Ready to Burn logo, which shows fuel that meets this requirement.
The Ready to Burn scheme is government-backed and run by wood-assurance organisation Woodsure, which tests and verifies wood for use of the logo.
The price of wood varies depending on where you live and the type of wood.
Wood is often sold in big bags by the cubic metre, or in smaller bags and nets in kilograms. It's sometimes also sold by the pallet.
To give you a rough idea of the cost of wood, we looked at prices across a number of online suppliers (in 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. Prices for seasoned and kiln-dried logs don't include delivery, but the price for the wood pellets and briquettes do.
Because 500kg equates to around one cubic metre, working out how much wood will cost for the amount you'll use is a little tricky.
It's sometimes possible to collect wood fuel free of charge from building sites, skips or local woods – a number of stove owners we asked do this.
But legally you don’t have a right to it, so it’s important to check first with the site or land owners that they’re happy for you to take it. It’s worth also asking whether the wood has been treated with chemicals – if it has, it could be unsafe to burn.
You can also buy freshly cut or 'wet' wood for around £100 per cubic metre, but you'll need to season this at home.
Many people also said they use wood from their own gardens, or those of friends and family, to burn on their stove, so it's free. It must still be dried out as much as possible first.
As a rough guide, an average-sized house that uses an average stove will use around 1 to 1.25 tonnes of wood a year.
There are a number of different types of coal, all made in different ways. Smokeless coal the the most popular (used by 22% in our survey) and house coal (used by 4%) are the main types.
House coal is banned from sale from May 2021. This is because it produces more emissions than smokeless coal, especially if the sulphur content is above 2%.
Smokeless fuel is an umbrella term for a few different types of fuel that often look like coal but produce less smoke as they burn. It includes anthracite coal, which occurs naturally, but can also be manufactured.
This means that smokeless coals can be made from a combination of elements, including anthracite coal, peat and other renewable materials, making them more eco-friendly and less polluting than house coal.
Looking at online suppliers (in autumn 2019), we checked for the average price of anthracite coal – which is naturally formed – and manufactured smokeless fuel.
For both types, you can buy 25kg bags individually, or in 10s and 20s, but they will be a little more expensive. These prices exclude delivery charges, which may vary depending on where you live.
If you choose the right stove, it should be fairly easy to maintain. But there are a few steps you should take to keep it efficient, safe and producing less-harmful pollutants (our guide to explains more on this).
If you burn wood or smokeless fuel, you should get your stove swept twice a year, at the beginning and end of the burning season. This ensures your stove will stay in good working order and avoids a build-up of tar and soot in your chimney, which could be a fire hazard. Blocked chimneys can also cause deadly carbon monoxide.
Make sure you use a qualified stove installer or chimney sweep to service your stove. One sweep should cost £50-£90.
You should also have your stove serviced annually. Pellet stoves have electrical working parts that need checking. This can cost around £200.
It’s also a good idea to clean out the ash from the ash pan and to clean the glass regularly. Keep in mind, though, that leaving a layer of ash can help to start a wood fire and keep it burning. So it's best to check the manufacturer's guide for specific instructions on how often to clean it out.
If your stove has airwash – a cool air vent that helps to stop tar building up on the glass – you may not need to clean the ash or glass as often.
Some stoves also have special cleanburn or cleanheat technologies, which pull in extra air to help burn off more smoke, reducing sooty deposits.
When cleaning out the stove, keep an eye out for:
These can all affect the stove’s performance and safety.
Depending on for how long you’ve had the stove, getting the affected part repaired or replaced if there are any problems may be covered in the manufacturer’s warranty (see below). For more information on warranties for stove installation, see our guide to .
If you have children or pets, you might want to consider getting a fireguard to go around the stove. Also, it's worth having a bird guard fitted at the top of the chimney to stop birds nesting. This shouldn’t add a lot to the installation costs.
You'll need to get a carbon monoxide detector to fit in the room where the stove will be - this is a legal requirement.
This must be on the ceiling at least 30cm away from any wall. If it's on a wall, it must be as high up as possible (above any doors and windows) but not within 15cm of the ceiling. It must also be located between 1 and 3 metres horizontally from the stove.
Carbon monoxide detectors only cost around £15 and monitor whether any carbon monoxide, which is tasteless, odourless and highly poisonous, is being expelled. Unfortunately, our rigorous tests have found models that won't protect you. See the best .
Most stove makers offer extended warranties or guarantees on their stoves. Some of these are around three to 10 years, but we have seen 25 years and even a lifetime guarantee. Each brand page within our details this.
Some only apply if you buy through a certain dealer or register the stove on the manufacturer's website. Registering any safety appliance with the manufacturer is also useful if there is ever a recall or issue identified with the model.
Usually, if you get a repair or replace a part of a stove via a third party and not the official channel, it will invalidate any guarantee or warranty. For many of the brands we looked at, you can buy spares through their websites.
Warranties or guarantees may also only be valid if you get your stove serviced regularly, which we recommend anyway. Check the terms and conditions to confirm this.
However, your consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act mean that if you have a problem within the first year, you're covered anyway.
If a fault develops after that, you can still claim, but it will be down to you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase. Read our full guide to to learn more and to use our template letters.
If you have faulty goods, you should always complain to the retailer you bought it from - your contract is with the retailer. Your consumer rights always sit with the retailer, and the warranty/guarantee is with the manufacturer.
*January 2019 survey of 1,434 Which? members who have bought a stove in the past 10 years.