Guide to lighting your wood burning stove
Wood Burning Stoves Buyer’s guide / FAQ
Over the last 4-5 years there has been a large increase in the number of stoves that are being installed in homes across the UK. This has been due to the constant rises in energy prices and people’s desire to be more environmentally friendly.
Stoves provide a great alternative to gas and electric heating, and nothing beats the feeling of a real fire but there are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing your stove.
What type of stove should I buy?
In general there are two main types of stoves commonly available in the UK market. Inset or freestanding. Freestanding stoves can be fitted either freestanding in a room or in a recess / chimney opening.
Freestanding stove in a recess / chimney opening. Freestanding stove in front of a wall in a room.
Can I have a stove if I don’t have a chimney?
YES! Even if you don’t have a chimney you can still have a stove, a twin wall flue system can be constructed and often with new builds this is cheaper than having a brick chimney built. This is also a good option if you would like a stove in a conservatory, extension or summerhouse.
Not sure whether you have a chimney? Check out our flue guide below.
Can I burn wood in a smoke controlled area?
YES! Most of Nottingham has been declared a smoke control zone by the local authority. This means that you can only burn wood if your stove has been approved by DEFRA. Always check that the stove you’re buying is suitable for your area. Most stoves have a DEFRA approved version or a “smoke control kit” that can be fitted retrospectively.
Can I have any size stove I want?
NO! A good retailer should size your stove correctly for the room and your requirements. In most homes in Nottingham a 5kW stove is more than enough, people are always amazed at how much heat they deliver!
Any stove larger than 5kW requires an air vent to be fitted in the room.
It’s a good idea to measure your room before you start looking for a stove so that the retailer can calculate the correct heat output for your room.
To calculate the correct size stove for your room you can use the following formula!
1ft = 0.3048 metres
Length x width x height = volume
volume x 0.06= lower limit heat output
lower limit x 1.5 = top limit heat output (this inc a 50% comfort factor)
This is based on the WORST case scenario where the stove is the only source of heat in the room and the house is very drafty!
The correct stove size is probably in the middle of these two limits.
Alternatively enter your room measurements into our Stove Size Calculator on the stove page. This will calculate the minimum and maximum stove size for your room.
Will my chimney need lining?
MAYBE! This depends on the age/condition of your chimney.
If your chimney stack looks in good condition and it passes a ‘smoke test’ then you don’t have to have it lined. Lining a chimney makes the stove work more efficiently and is often recommended on some of the premium stove ranges. Lining does put a life span of 10-20 years on your flue. It’s important to consider the pros/cons before lining. A good retailer will advise you on the best option.
Should I seek advice from a HETAS Approved retailer?
YES! The HETAS Approved retailer scheme was designed so that retailer’s showroom staff can offer the correct advice in store as well as the fitters on site. Lots of retailers sub-contract work out to HETAS registered installers without being an approved retailer. This means that they will often size stoves incorrectly (usually larger than needed) or insist on lining when it is not required.
We pride ourselves on being a HETAS approved retailer meaning both our fitters and showroom staff are fully qualified to offer help and advice on regulations for solid fuel appliances.
Wood burning or Multi Fuel?
Most stoves on the market today are multi fuel but there are still quite a lot, especially some of the European manufacturers, that are wood only.
Multi fuel stoves are designed to burn both wood and smokeless fuels such as smokeless coal. Wood burning stoves are (not surprisingly!) designed to burn only wood.
Some manufacturers offer a ‘multi fuel’ kit for wood only models so that you can also burn smokeless fuel.
Where it gets confusing is when you are in a smoke control zone! The golden rule is;
If you burn wood in a smoke control zone the stove must be DEFRA Approved!!
You can have a multi fuel stove in a smoke control zone that’s not DEFRA Approved if you only burn smokeless fuel.
What type of flue do I have & what does this mean?
It is important to know which type of chimney or flue system is currently in your house when selecting a suitable fire or stove. The type of chimney/flue you will have will determine the type of fire that you can have installed.
Class 1 (Chimney) – I can have EVERYTHING!! A Class 1 is common in most houses in the United Kingdom built up until the 1960’s. They usually consist of a brick built “stack” that can be situated on either an internal or external wall and can contain multiple flues for multiple fires although none of the fires can share a flue. If you have a Class 1 then you can have all types of solid fuel fires (both insert and freestanding stoves) and all types of gas fires (providing the unit fits into the chimney breast). To ensure the chimney is in good working order we will carry out a smoke test, if there is a problem with the chimney & it does not pass a smoke test (meaning smoke is coming out of the sides of the chimney stack into room or the loft space or the chimney is breached into a neighbouring flue) then we will fit a suitable metal liner down the chimney for the appliance you are having installed.
Class 2 (5″ Diameter) – I can have certain types of Gas Fires!! A Class 2 gas flue system is commonly found in houses built from 1960’s onwards. They consist of an interlocking metal pipe that runs through the building. A Class 2 is suitable for gas fires such as the Paragon HE and Slimline fires subject to the depth of the fireplace.
Class 2 (Pre-cast) – I can only have a slimline Gas fire!! A Class 2 flue system consists of rectangular hollow concrete or clay blocks that travel vertically up through the cavity wall of your property to a ridge vent or metal flue terminal on the roof. Because of the shallow depth these types of flues can only be used with slimline gas fires.
No Flue – I can have anything!! (sort of…) If you have no flue then there are a number of options available to you depending on your heating requirements. For solid-fuel you can have a twin-wall stainless steel flue system constructed either internally or externally depending on where you would like the stove to be situated. For gas you can have either a power flue, balanced flue or a gas flue syatem. A power flue is an open fronted gas appliance with an electronically driven fan system either semi-recessed or surface mounted on the outside of the wall to expel the flue gases. A balanced flue is a glass fronted gas appliance, which is completely sealed from the room into which they are installed and vents directly to an outside wall. It works by drawing air in from the outside for combustion purposes increasing its efficiency through an outer pipe whilst the inner pipe vents the combustion gases safely away to the outside of the property. A flueless gas fire system with a catalytic converter is available that can be fitted in most spaces and do not require a flue system provided the room is a certain size and an air vent is fitted.