Stove Buying Guide
Useful things to consider…..
There are lots of thigs to consider when buying a wood burning stove regardless of whether you are a seasoned stove user or new to wood and solid fuel.
We have listed some information to help you with your choice, inform you of what you will need take into consideration with regards to type of stove, size and heat output but most importantly, help you choose the right stove for your home.
How to choose the stove that’s right for you?
Firstly, consider whether or not a wood burning (or multi-fuel) will meet your needs and suitable for your home. Here are a few questions you may need to think about..
Where will the stove be located?
Do you already have a chimney or will you need to install a flue system?
How big is the area you want to heat?
Will the stove need ventilation? (see ‘Ventilation’ section)
What type of stove would be best?
The design of one stove to another can vary hugely, from traditional looking double door stoves to modern contemporary upright single glass doored models. Not only do their styles differ but how they operate does too as well as construction materials used to build them.
In all cases it is vital that each stove is manufactured using quality and robust materials from the door hinges to the spigot, each part is designed to be hardwearing and up to the job.
At Inspired By Fires you can be assured that whichever stove you decide to buy and at whatever price, you are purchasing a high quality product produced by the UK and Europe’s finest and experienced manufacturers.
What is the difference between a wood burning and multifuel stove?
Wood burning stoves have flat fuel bed and usually don’t have a grate so may just have firebricks or liners in the base. This is because wood burns better on a flat bed of ash and requires air for combustion coming from above.
Multi fuel stoves are fitted with a grate or individual grate bars because smokeless fuels (such as anthracite, ancit or phurnacite) need air flow from beneath in order to burn. Multifuel stoves can also burn wood as the design of the grates allows a bed of ash to form on which to place the logs.
What size stove do I need?
The stove should be capable of comfortably heating the area you wish to heat.
Always make sure that you know the volume of the area where the stove is going to be installed as this will determine the kW (Kilowatt) heat output of the stove you need. Remember to check the manufacturers instructions or ask a member of staff in store who’ll be happy to go through this with you. Some manufacturers show an operating range and/or nominal heat output so it can be a little confusing.
A small stove will have a small combustion chamber but will still be capable of usually producing 4-5kW so ample for a lot of properties. When a small stove is burning well (we sometimes say ‘burning hard’) then it burns efficiently and cleanly.
If you chose a stove that was too big and so had to turn it down (by putting less fuel in it) then the efficiency is also reduced and can result in what is often known as a ‘dirty’ burn. This is very evident in that you will often see soot deposits forming in the glass but also will be in the flue and chimney so should be avoided.
The maths behind it
Most commonly we’d consider a relaxing room temperature, such as a lounge or dining room, to be around 21°C. A very basic calculation is that when the external air temperature is at freezing (0°C) outside you will need approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic meters (m³) of space/room volume.
Measure the length, width and height of your room, in meters, and multiply the three figures together then divide by 14 (1kW).
For example, if a room measures 8m long by 5m wide and with a height of 2.4m then it has a volume of 96m³ (cubic meters). Divide by the sum by 14 and this means you will require 6.85kW to heat the room or a 7kW stove.
This however is only a very rough guide and other factors should be taken into consideration such as the number or windows, how they are glazed, number of outside walls, level of insulation, age of property etc. All are points that can affect the heat requirement so we would recommend that you speak with a member of our team so that we can work this out for you as accurately as possible.
To put it simply, size the stove correctly and allow a small one to work rather than an oversized stove tick-over. This is better for the stove, your chimney and the environment!
What is a DEFRA approved stove? Am I in a smokeless zone?
When choosing a new stove, it is important to check whether the stove has been approved and certified for use in the UK and is suitable for not only your property but also the area in which you live. All new stoves on the market in the UK must be tested in accordance with the current European CE standard and bear the CE mark (which is usually found on the stove data plate). This came into effect on 1st July 2013.
The CE mark guarantees that the stove has been rigorously tested, burns safely, cleanly and efficiently.
DEFRA approval allows you to use a stove burning wood only, or approved smokeless fuel such as ancit or anthracite, in a smoke controlled area. These restrictions are placed by local councils and usually in heavily populated areas like cities or large towns. If you are unsure whether or not you live in a smokeless zone contact your local authority who’ll simply require your address or postcode to tell you.
If you live in a smokeless zone then chances are that you’ll need a DEFRA approved stove. Please speak to a member of the team as we have many DEFRA models available.
Further details can be found by following the link below:
Steel or Cast Stove?
It doesn’t make a great deal of difference if you choose a stove that is manufactured from either cast iron or plate steel as modern stoves are all built to a high standard.There are pros and cons to both but they both do the same thing – get hot!
The most noticeable difference lies in the appearance of the stove. Generally a cast stove will be more traditional and a steel stove more contemporary (but often includes cast components such as the door).
Cast iron is better able to withstand extremely high temperatures so is often used on stove components subjected to the highest temperatures such as the grate or door. The body of the stove is often lined with refractory fire bricks (ceramic or vermiculite) so is protected and will not reach such high temperatures to become damaged.
Cast stoves tend to take longer to heat up than steel models but are arguably superior at retaining heat. The down side is that they are very heavy and their cast construction usually means that they’ll be a more basic or traditional shape and design.
Using steel for the manufacturing process opposed to a casting means the metal can be cut, folded, welded and manufactured into countless shapes and sizes as is often found on most modern stoves. Steel will heat up quicker than a cast model but equally it’ll loose heat faster too. Both work by convection or radiated heat (depending on model specifics) so it really is a case of going for a stove you like and what is suitable for your home, we can work the rest out for you.
The most important thing is that the stoves is built to last, heats the space required and that you are happy with it. Buying a stove is an investment so it deserves thinking abiut before you part with your hard earned money.
Types of stove and how they work
There are three main types of wood or solid fuel stove with regards to how they produce heat – Radiant (radiated heat), Convection and Storage heating stoves.
Stoves that produce radiant heat means that the surface gets very hot (like a radiator) and will rapidly warm the area surrounding it.
Convection stoves are some of the most common type of stove on the market today. These usually have an external jacket, which is open at the top and at the bottom where cool air is drawn in and then emitted from the top. The air between the stove body and outer jacket is heated up and the warm air is expelled from the top of the stove and the air circulated around the room. The warm air is then evenly distributed around the room.
Storage heating stoves store the produced heat, usually in stone such as sandstone or soapstone, and it is slowly emitted over a long period of time.
AIR WASH SYSTEM
Pre-heated air, drawn in and warmed by the stove, is forced down the inside of the glass and counteracts and reduces the build up of soot on the glass.
All stoves need a good chimney or flue system in order to work efficiently and safely, without this the stove will simply not work. It is important that the chimney/flue is well maintained and kept in good working order and regularly swept a minimum of once a year by a qualified chimney sweep.
Poor flue draught (or draw) will result in the fuel in the stove not burning properly and smoke may spill into the room, especially when first lighting the stove and the flue way is cold. This can also be affected by wind direction and the weather so needs to be checked and measured on installation.