Love a real fire?

Image from Burley Stoves

Wood burning stoves are gaining in popularity. Good thing too. However, you need to know more than just that you want to have a carbon neutral energy source.

Efficiency. The efficiencies of wood stoves vary tremendously. The design of stoves go from the simplest grates to the more complex second burn options. Most are now rated and so look out for those that give the better rates.

Cleanliness. Hand in hand with efficiencies go the amount of soot produced. More efficient burns create less soot, so again if you don’t want to be emptying out large amounts of waste, look for high efficiency stoves.

Drying wood. Wood needs to be dry before being burned and so you may well need to store wood so that it can air dry. This requires space and some sort of system so that you can have a stack of wood drying and another ready to burn.

Source of wood. Great if you have a source of natural wood, but if you are going to be burning waste wood you need to be aware that there is a bit of work required to get it ready for burning (removing nails etc). Also different woods burn at different temperatures. Wood like oak, blackthorn are great for burning, but birch, lime and pine are not so great. Check out:

Location of stove. Ideally the stove will be away from a wall and air will be able to circulate around it freely. This will allow the maximum amount of heat to be transferred to the room.

Air for burning. If you have stove that takes air from the room you will be encouraging colder fresh air into the house (in fact you will need to have external ventilation into the room). Also if you are using the stove as secondary heating you will be drawing your heated air into the stove and straight up the flue! So it is much better to draw fresh air into the stove directly from outside using a dedicated air inlet. Many new stoves have this capacity for a direct air inlet, but the older ones do not. By using fresh air from outside you will make your stove much more efficient.

Stove fans. If you have your stove set into the chimney breast then you may wish to look at a stove fan. These are powered by the heat of the stove itself and help to circulate the warm air around the room. They are expensive, but do work well.

Sizing. Think about what you will use the stove for. If it is just secondary heating then you will only need a small kW stove, but if you are to use it for heating the whole house then you will need to think about circulation of air as well as sizing. Too big a stove can overpower a room and make it unusable (unless you are into swimwear in the winter!) It may be better to have two smaller stoves in separate rooms etc. So care is needed here as it can be a bit of a balancing act.

Flue liners. There are two main grades of liners. Personally I would go for the higher grade as you will be peace of mind and a longer guarantee.

Installers. Always use a HETAS installer.

Carbon monoxide sensor. All stoves should be monitored by a working carbon monoxide alarm. No point having a lower carbon future if you are not here to enjoy it.

Sweeping. Check with you installer that the stove can be swept easily. This will need to be done annually on average.

Chimney pot. The pot should reduce the amount of water able to enter the system, so ensure that you have a cowl of some description. Do not fit cowls with fine grating as they can be blocked more easily. Again your installer should be able to advise.

So, have a think about these factors before you buy and fit a stove. Good luck!