I left the forces in 2008 to become a UK sales and logistic manager for an import export firm dealing mainly in fresh vegetables.  We traded with the Mediterranean rim counties and fell victim to the various revolutions in North … Continue reading

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Thoughts on buying a stove

I often get asked by my customers for advice on buying and installing a stove.  So, below are a few key things you should think about before you buy a stove, which may save you money and make using the stove easier.

How long do you intend to live in the property?

Costs for a proper installation average out at about £1500.  So it will take some time to get your money back on your investment.  If you intend to move out in the next few years the value of the stove will not be reflected in the sale price of your house.

Do you want to heat one room in the house, the whole property or a few radiators?

Stoves are generally used to heat one room, but you can attach them to the central heating system, via a back boiler,  to heat other parts of the house. You may wish to heat the whole house in which case you will probably be thinking of a biomass system.  A crucial consideration for this is space for the fuel and the boiler.

What size of stove should you get?

If you are just going to heat one room then work out the volume of the room in metres and divide by 14.  The resultant number is a general rule of thumb the Kw heat output of the stove required to heat the room.  Factors that effect this calculation will be things like the age of the property, insulation in the walls, the number of external walls, north or south facing windows and so on.

What type of stove should you get?

This really comes down to personal choice.  There may be cost saving and less inconvenience in fitting certain types of stove.  If space is tight and you have a standard size fire place opening then an insert/built in stove may be an option.  On the other hand if you have a large inglenook opening then a free-standing traditional or contemporary stove might be more appropriate. Try to visit a showroom and see them in real life to get a proper feel for how they would look in your house.

Lining or use the old flue?

There are many views on this and i could write for ages on the subject.  My thoughts are that the stove will have been designed and tested using the size of flue recommended by the manufacturer, commonly between 125mm and 200mm, for optimum performance.  The best type of flue is a narrow, tall, straight, insulated one which will increase draw and keep gasses warm as the flow out of the top of the flue.

What type of fuel do you want to burn?

If you live in a forest then a wood burner would seem the obvious.  However, a wood burning only stove can only burn wood. As the name suggests multi fuel can burn wood and smokeless coal.  Wood and smokeless coal burn differently and the stoves are designed with this in mind.  You’re choice on what fuel to burn may depend on what supply you have locally. Wood can vary in quality even if got from the same supplier at the same time.  Smokeless coal on the other hand is a factory produced product so you will get far less variation in quality.

Do you have a reliable fuel supply close to your home?

There are a number of websites that list local fuel suppliers, (DK Till of Histon will deliver all types of solid fuel to your door).

Running cost – fuel and spares?

Work out how many hours a week you intend to use the appliance.  Multiply this by the size of the stove = Kwh per week then multiply by the number of weeks usage per year = total Kwh output. To get a rough estimate of running cost multiply this by the costs per Kwh below:


Heating Fuels Range of Prices Energy Average Price Used in the Site
Low High
Gas Unit £ 0.046 per unit £ 0.05 per unit 1 kWh per unit £ 0.048 per kWh
Heating Oil (kerosene) Litre £ 0.52 per litre3 £ 0.54 per litre3 10 kWh per litre £ 0.056 per kWh
Wood Log Ton £ 450 per ton £ 465 per ton 4.2 kWh per kg £ 0.109 per kWh
Wood Chip Ton £ 100 per ton £ 110 per ton 3 kWh per kg £ 0.035 per kWh
Wood Pellet Ton £ 200 per ton £ 255 per ton 4.5 kWh per kg £ 0.051 per kWh
Coal Ton £ 324 per ton £ 328 per ton 9 kWh per kg £ 0.036 per kWh
Smokeless Coal Ton £ 370 per ton £ 420 per ton 6 kWh per kg £ 0.062 per kWh
Bulk LPG Litre £ 0.4 per litre £ 0.45 per litre 7.08 kWh per litre £ 0.063 per kWh
Butane* 4.5 kg Cylinder £ 16.75 per cylinder £ 16.75 per cylinder 13.7 kWh per kg £ 0.272 per kWh

Figures from www. confusedaboutenergy.com and are a year old but it gives an idea of cost.

You will require spares such as replacement fire bricks, fire rope and perhaps glass, so have a look at and factor in replacement costs and how easy it is to acquire the items.

Do you live in a smoke controlled area?

A lot of towns and cities are smoke controlled areas, meaning you will need to get a Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) exempt stove or only burn smokeless fuels, such as anthracite, on a multi-fuel stove. Check the Defra website to find out more, including an approved list of smokeless fuels.  Here is a link to the smoke control area and streets by name in Cambridge.

How much space do you have to store fuel?

You’ll need plenty of room to store fuel, especially if you will be burning logs.  Work on an average of about three to four cubic meters of space.  This should ideally be outside but under cover that is easily accessible for deliveries. Smokeless coal comes in plastic sacks and can be stored in less rigorous conditions.


Will you be able to comply with building regulations?

All stoves installations must meet UK building regulations. Building Regulations, Document J, 2010 (free to download) is the regulation to comply with.  For example, there are specifications around how the flue is fitted, the size of the hearth or the distance of the stove from combustibles and walls. These can all affect the type and size of stove you buy, so make sure you speak to an installer before buying. If installing it yourself you must get the Building Control Officer to ensure that the installation complies with Building Regulations.  A HETAS qualified installer, by virtue of there training and qualifications, can sign off their own work to comply with Building Regulations.  Find one for your area here.






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