As winter approaches, we’re often contacted by people wanting advice on stoves, keen to establish how safe they are. Either they’re thinking about buying one for the first time or they’ve inherited a stove with the house they’ve bought. If a stove meets legal requirements, is properly installed by a registered engineer and maintained regularly, it can provide a cosy centrepiece to your home throughout the colder months. Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at different aspects of owning and maintaining a wood-burning stove, including buying the right logs, but this week we’re focusing on how to choose a stove.
For most people, buying a stove involves a lengthy period of research and comparison between the different models on the market. The starting point is usually the aesthetics and how the appliance will look in a room. We recommend avoiding the temptation to buy online – although you might think you’re getting a bargain, talking face-to-face with an expert at your local stove outlet will help you navigate the process safely.
Energy efficiency also comes into the equation early on, as does the required output of the stove to heat the room. However, people are often surprised to learn that a modern stove is over 80% efficient, compared to an open fire at 30% or 65% for a stove manufactured ten years ago. That means that over 80% of the heat goes into the room, compared with 30% for an open fire.
From 1stJanuary 2018, stoves need to display an energy label, in the same way they can be found on other domestic appliances, like fridges, for example. This will make establishing the energy efficiency of a stove and comparing it with other models much easier.
Also check that the stove you’re buying has a CE mark. HETAS the industry body in the UK that governs heating appliances and engineers, has a list of approved appliances so can be a great place to begin your stove hunt.
The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), the trade association for stoves, has introduced Ecodesign Ready Stoves, five years ahead of the Ecodesign Regulations becoming law - Ecodesign is the European-wide legalisation aimed at reducing emissions and improving appliance efficiency due to be implemented for solid fuel room heaters on 1st January 2022.
The emissions test results are independently verified to ensure that each stove meets the necessary criteria. The SIA Ecodesign Ready stoves were launched In earlier this year and there are already over 200 stoves available. A full list can be found on the SIA web site www.stoveindustryalliance.com
Ecodesign Ready stoves are clearly identified with the SIA Ecodesign Ready label. This will help consumers choose an appliance that meets these new, stringent emission limits. DEFRA has announced it believes ‘Ecodesign Ready stoves will help to cut air pollution’.
Another consideration is the UK’s building regulations as wood-burning stoves must adhere to these too. The problem is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy and they vary depending on your stove choice, your fireplace and your property. A sensible idea would be to talk to your stove retailer before buying one to discuss things like a non-combustible hearth i.e. one that won’t burst into flames.
When you’ve made the decision on your stove choice, make sure you find a registered installer to fit it. Your stove retailer should be able to recommend one or you can find a list of approved engineers on the HETAS’ website.
Next time we’ll look at what size stove is right for you and some key maintenance issues.