Wood burning stoves: a buyer’s guide

November 18, 2021

There’s lots to think about when planning a traditional fire to heat your home. Just follow this wood burning stove buying guide and soon you’ll be contentedly watching the flames dance around a bed of logs.


Wood burning stove vs built-in fire

A stove is usually freestanding, whereas a built-in fire slots into a chimney breast or wall, so all you see is the front. Whether you pick a wood burning stove or a built in fire, you can expect luxurious warmth. Both have an openable glass door for adding fresh logs. And of course, both give a great view of the flames. The key difference between stoves and fires is how they are installed.

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What do I need to know about wood burning fires?

Streamlined, integrated wood burning fires are ideal for a contemporary scheme. Since the fire slots into a hole in a chimney breast or wall, the flue pipe is hidden, giving a discreet appearance. The Stovax Studio Air 2 Edge Inset wood burning fire is a great example. You can plaster right up to the edges of a wood burning fire to create a seamless look, but many can also be combined with exterior frames, tailoring the fire to the look of your home.

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Will a stove suit my home?

Wood burning stoves come in shapes, designs and sizes to suit just about any home. With a wood burning stove  you can enjoy the all-round experience. Though it’ll happily sit in a fireplace or inglenook, a stove is just as happy situated away from the walls and fireplace. The Stovax Futura 5 is a great example. Stoves are perfect for homes that don’t have an existing fireplace opening, though you’ll need your installer to advise you where the flue can go. A stove usually requires a bit less building work and interior decorating to install than a built-in fire.

wood burning stove buying guide from stovax and gazco

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Should I buy a wood burner or multi-fuel stove?

If you only intend to use wood, this burns best on a bed of ash, so a dedicated wood burner such as the Stovax Studio Air 1 Freestanding wood burning fire is best. Wood burners have a flat bottom to allow hot ashes to collect, and they often have slightly larger viewing windows than multi-fuel versions.

Multi-fuel stoves and fires such as the Stovax Chesterfield 5 Wide wood burning and multi-fuel stove can be used to burn both wood and authorised mineral fuels. These mineral fuels burn best when they sit on a riddling grate so that air can circulate beneath. Although mineral fuels don’t look as enticing as burning logs, they provide more heat and take up less storage room. Many log burners also come as a multi-fuel model, but you’ll need space to store the riddling grate when you’re not using it.

mix of modern and traditional decor with traditional fireplace surrounded by wall panels

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Is your home in a smoke control area?

It’s important to check, as many UK towns and cities have restrictions on emissions designed to improve air quality. If this applies to you, you must only burn logs on a DEFRA-approved stove or fire. Alternatively, a multi-fuel stove allows you to burn authorised smokeless fuels in these areas. Many councils have a postcode checker so you can check yourself, or just ask your local fireplace retailer.

What is Ecodesign?

Ecodesign is a government directive restricting the emissions that new stoves and fires are permitted to produce. Existing stoves and fires can still be used, but if you’re looking to update to a newer appliance, the Ecodesign Plus label will confirm that your model has been designed to meet or exceed the required standard.

deep blue panelled wall with blue geometric wallpaper and blue/green rug

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Burning the right firewood

These days, we’re all more aware of air quality. To keep emissions to a minimum and lengthen the life of your log burner and chimney, it’s essential that you burn good quality firewood – that means wood with a moisture content of 20% or lower that has been seasoned and dried for a minimum of two years. If you’re chopping your own firewood for seasoning, test it with a moisture meter before burning.

To set your mind at rest, buy wood from a reputable supplier such as Certainly Wood, who can deliver a range of high-quality wood products directly to your door. When shopping from other suppliers, look for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label, which certifies the quality and moisture content.

refurbished cottage with white walls, picture shelves in the alcove and log burner

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Shop with confidence

For a major purchase such as this, you’ll need expert advice. Stovax & Gazco has a network of retailers across the UK and Ireland who specialise in installing stoves and fires. If you need a more comprehensive wood burning stove buying guide, they can provide essential advice and help you decide on what’s best for your home.