5 questions to ask before choosing a wood burning stove
Ten years ago we made the decision to heat our home using wood.
Up until that point we had electric heaters. They were expensive to run and we didn’t like the way they dried out the air; they made it more stuffy than warm.
Choosing from the wide variety of wood burning stoves available is not a decision to be taken lightly. As well as the stove itself you need to have access to a regular supply of fuel, somewhere to store it and be reasonably strong and active. Oh, you also need a love of dusting and somewhere to empty the ash!
Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead, here are five other factors to consider before making a purchase.
Heating the room or home?
Do you want your wood burner to heat just the room it is in or will you choose one with a boiler to heat water and radiators around the house? We chose one with an integrated back boiler to heat 7 radiators and provide us with hot water.
Next you’ll need to decide how big your wood burner needs to be. For example a room of 12 ft by 12 ft that is well insulated and does not have stairs leading off it will need a stove with a heat output of roughly 2.3Kw. We opted for a 12kw model and are fortunate enough that our downstairs is open plan so it never gets too hot!
Wood burning or multi fuel?
What fuel do you prefer to burn? If you’re going for the truly ‘eco’ option you’ll need a wood burner. A wood burning stove has a flat bottom without a grate and the wood burns on a bed of wood ash. By using a solid base the wood burns more slowly and is therefore more efficient than burning wood in a multi fuel stove.
Multi fuel stoves have a grate in the bottom to allow you to burn solid fuels such as coal as well as wood. They are better suited to keeping the fire in at night time, although it *is* possible to keep a wood burning stove in throughout the night as long as it’s big enough to hold a decent amount of fuel.
Do you want to cook on top of your stove? You’ll need to choose a design with a flat top plate if you do! Some modern wood burners are tall and slim or have ornate or shaped tops which don’t allow for cooking so easily. We chose one with a flat top, big enough for three saucepans and a kettle. This helps us to reduce our cooking bill during the winter.
I’ve deliberately put budget at the end of the list because although it’s important, it really shouldn’t be your first consideration; especially if you’re investing in a model that will heat the radiators and water. We’ve had two stoves now and have learned a lot in that time. The first time around we bought the biggest but cheapest we could get. The one we have now, although twice the price of the first, uses around 1/3 the amount of wood because it’s smaller and more efficient.
Do you have a wood burning stove? Do you have any tips to share with our readers?
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