Our MD Chris Baines has been answering some of the most frequently asked questions for woodburning and multifuel stoves and offers some practical advice!
What model of stove should be installed with regard to heat output?
Output is an important factor in choosing a stove, it’s just as important not to overheat the room as to underheat it. As a rule of thumb, work out the cubic metre capacity of the room and divide by 14. However for modern and well-insulated homes it is probably more accurate to divide by 20. It is important to have a site survey conducted by a registered professional (Hetas or equivalent) to survey the proposed installation.
What is the situation with new build homes?
Most new build homes are more air tight and benefit from a closed-combustion stove, this is when the stove draws its combustion via a pipe when the stove door is closed. Nevertheless it is still important to ensure that additional external ventilation air is supplied into the room through another fixed vent. It is now regulatory for the installer to ensure sufficient air for the stove to operate for the register stove output. It is often a concern about having a small hole in the wall but this can be cosmetically addressed and the stove needs air to work or it will not draw properly.
What are the other pros and cons of this heating method for an extension?
A modern 80% efficient wood-burning stove is a very popular option, as it is cost effective to run and gives lovely warmth. There is less ash per kilogram burnt (due to the better combustion rate) and it produces an attractive, languid flame. In an extension an inset wood burning stove is an option as it is always best to accommodate this type of stove during the build.
Can I install it myself?
It is recommended to have a competent installer or a HETAS registered installer as if there is a fire, your insurance may not be valid.
Which stove to choose – wood only or multi-fuel?
It’s a matter of choice and planning. If you decide you will only burn wood, there is no reason to buy a more expensive multi-fuel stove. In fact the burn technologies are different for wood and coal, and although multi-fuel stoves do exist, they are in fact simply wood-burning stoves which have been modified. If you do buy a multi-fuel stove, it is recommended to only burn one type of fuel at a time, as wood needs air from above, and coal needs air from below.
What about maintenance?
A service should be carried out once a year, similarly the chimney should be swept once a year, even twice a year if you only burn wood. This is best done in the summer or autumn to avoid carbon monoxide problems. Also remember to check the glass seals and internal fire linings. In the summer season, leave the air supply open to prevent corrosion from rain water coming down the chimney. Think of the stove as a functional piece of machinery like a car or a boiler, which need regular maintenance. Finally – the chamber can generate between 400 to 500 degrees Celcius so it really needs to be cared for. A problem sign is if the glass goes milky – this is because the stove is running too hot and thus needs some attention.
Is there any great new technology out there?
Yes, new pellet-burning stoves are coming onto the market; they use dry wood, which is automatically fed into the firebox of the stove in 6-8mm pellets. Some can be controlled by a mobile phone, so one can switch the fire on remotely – particularly useful for a holiday cottage. They can also be connected to a timer. They are very efficient, but can look rather industrial and are noisier due to the fan.
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