Written by Jennifer Turner

How to choose the perfect log burner

Take the stress out of buying and installing a contemporary log burner


A log effect electric stove in black in a lounge

Image: Stovax Gazco 

A log burning fire – whether real or wood-effect – can be the perfect finishing touch for a home. It’s something to gather round in the colder months, a focal point for the family and an efficient way to heat houses and flats of all kinds. But which type should you choose, and what do you really need to know?

Which fuel type do you want?

The first step is to choose what fuel type suits your lifestyle, with many benefits to each kind of log burner. The traditional real wood burning fire offers dancing flames, plus the appealing, rustic lifestyle of loading and storing real logs. A wood burning stove doesn’t just look great at Christmas, but also adds a centrepiece to a room all year round.
If you love that effect but want the convenience of instant on-off heat, then gas stoves and fires make an excellent option. Gas log burners provide highly realistic flames, whilst being operable via remote control for ease of use.

Simpler still is the option of an electric wood burner. Electric stoves and fires need little more than a connection to the mains to function, and do not require a chimney. These often come with alternative fuel beds, such as crystals, which make them an ideal choice for the contemporary home.

Are you in a smoke control area?

If you’re opting for a solid fuel stove or fire, it’s important to understand any smoke restrictions that may be in place in your neighbourhood. Generally, if you live in an urban area, it’s likely that you live in a smoke control zone, also known as smokeless zones.

Check with your local council to find out if you’re in one – many councils have postcode checkers online. If you are, you’ll need to use a DEFRA-exempt appliance to be able to burn wood. A reputable local retailer will be able to advise whether your appliance is approved for use in smoke control zones and will usually carry extensive stocks of log burners you can use in smoke control areas. Alternatively, a multi-fuel stove gives you the option to burn authorised smokeless fuels in these areas.

A wood effect gas stove in a modern lounge

Image: Stovax Gazco 

Log burner rules and regulations

You may have heard of Ecodesign – the forthcoming regulations that will become law for solid fuel stove manufacturers in 2022. Ecodesign requires manufacturers to abide to strict emissions limits to improve air quality. The latest Ecodesign-ready stoves and fires burn so cleanly that they meet these environmental standards, reducing emissions to an absolute minimum and letting you futureproof your log burner.

Aside from this, safety standards when installing a stove or fire are paramount. Get your product installed by a qualified installer, whether that’s by HETAS if installing a wood or solid fuel product, or Gas Safe if installing a gas product. The installation will need to meet the minimum hearth, distance to combustibles and ventilation requirements.

Electric fires and stoves come with fewer rules – these can be placed almost anywhere in a room but are best placed away from windows and doors. This allows maximum efficiency from the heater to circulate warm air around your space.

Burn the right firewood

It’s essential that you only use quality firewood in a real log burner. Burning wet wood in your stove or fire can create many harmful gases, which not only damage your chimney and appliance but also significantly contribute to air pollution.

Today it’s easier than ever to find good firewood. Look for the ‘Woodsure Ready to Burn’ label, as this denotes wood that has been certified as being high quality according to government legislation. Firewood suppliers such as Certainly Wood offer a range of quality products that can be delivered directly to your door.

If you’re chopping and storing your own firewood, make sure it has been seasoned and dried to around 15-20% moisture content. You can check this with a moisture meter. If the moisture is higher than this, you may have difficulty lighting it.

Woodburning stove with Christmas tree and decorations copy

Image: Stovax Gazco 

Buy from a trusted retailer

Stove manufacturers often have a list of trusted retailers in your area. These retailers will be experts on the product you’re choosing and the installation itself. They’ll be able to provide essential advice on what’s best for your home if you want to add the finishing touch of a warming, modern log burner