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What size or type of wood burning stove do I need?

Posted by Helena Ripley on 18 August 2015 at 1:10 pm

When you consider buying a wood burning stove you need to make sure you get one which is the right size for the room it will go in. Finding the right size stove is important to make the most of the fuel, providing the right amount of heat and not taking up more room than is necessary. 

What do I need to know first?

There are a number of online calculators which can give you a rough idea of the power output you will need from your stove. This process always starts with measuring the volume of the room, so it might be a good idea to have the measurements to hand when looking at these.

Other information you will need to be aware of is to do with the heat retaining capacity of your room, so you will need to know what standard of insulation you have in your room. A well-insulated room will have double glazed windows and insulated walls. A room with average insulation may just have double glazing. Unusual features in your room will influence how well it can be heated using a stove so you need to be aware of unusually shaped rooms, particularly large windows or high ceilings. Clearly a better insulated room will retain more heat and you will be able to get away with a smaller stove.

How does stove size work?

Stoves are sold with a kilowatt rating; 5kW is pretty average. Using the online calculators, you should come up with a rough idea of the kW you need for your stove. Rather bizarrely the power output does not directly relate to the size of the stove; you could find two 5kW stoves that are very different sizes. But the maximum amount of heat you can get out of a stove depends on how many logs you can get into it – which is determined by the size! The kW rating is a guide that the manufacturers use but the power output can be altered a fair amount by the type and amount of fuel. So use the kW rating as a guide but also be aware that the size of the stove is key. 

If you are unsure about the size of stove that should be used, rather than risk getting one that you would not be able to use at the maximum efficiency, it would be ideal to find a stove installer to take a look at your room first. They should be able to give you a good recommendation about the size of stove that you need.

If you are interested in seeing wood burning stoves in place you can visit homes with wood stoves during SuperHome Open Days in September.

Photo credit: SuperHomes

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1 comments - read them below or add one

Eco Andrew

Eco AndrewComment left on: 28 December 2015 at 4:48 pm

Don't be tempted to over-size your stove 'just in case'.  

A woodburner works most efficiently when burning at full or near-full capacity.  If your stove is oversized you will need to burn at a slow rate (small amount of wood, air valves turned down) to prevent your room overheating.  This leads to a smoky, sooty, inefficent burn, difficulty in keeping the fire going, fouled-up door glass, increased creosote build-up in the flue (chimney) causing risk of a chimney fire because the creosote deposits are flammable. 

Also take into account whether your stove will be your main source of heat or an occasional supplement to your central heating for the room in question.

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