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Choosing a wood burner: top tips from an expert

At this time of year our thoughts turn to cosy nights in front of the fire, as the temperature drops and winter arrives here in Cornwall. 

A wood burner is often on Cornish property wish lists, so we decided to get some tips on installing one from local experts, Cornwall Woodburners

There are a lot of different considerations to take into account when choosing a new wood burner, and some pretty big traps to fall into; we all have that friend who spent a fortune on a fire and now has to keep the doors and windows open because it kicks out too much heat!

So, here is a quick guide to getting it right, with expert guidance from Cornwall Woodburner’s Sales Manager, John Tornabene. 

Decide on the best fuel type

There are several fuel-types to consider when it comes to stoves

For example, gas fires have become more sophisticated and attractive in recent years. They are obviously clean and easy to operate, but can be more expensive than other options. 

There is a growing market for electric fires and again these can be beautifully designed. 

However, especially in rural areas, most people still want a real fuel-burning stove for that authentic feel. Multi-fuel stoves (which can burn wood, coal and smokeless fuel) are a shrinking market because of the environmental impact, but cleaner wood burning stoves are still popular.

As John explains, new regulations coming in 2022 are pushing manufacturers to make more eco-friendly wood burners.“Look out for ‘ecodesign ready’ stoves which are low emission and highly efficient,” says John. 

“As long as you use kiln-dried wood – which everyone should 100% do anyway – these next-generation wood burners will help improve air pollution and particulate emissions.”    

What size wood burner do you need?

Another major consideration is the size of wood burner needed to heat a space.

People often get this wrong, but the answer can be provided by a simple calculation! 

A ‘stove kilowatt calculator’ will tell you how large a stove you need to heat your room – simply put in the dimensions and away you go! You can search for a calculator online to give you an initial idea, but we recommend you get an expert like John to help you finalise your plans.

John says: “Usually, where a fire is going to be a secondary heat source – more of an attractive feature than an essential form of heating – I recommend under-sizing your wood burner. If it’s too big it will be inefficient and get dirty; you are more likely to enjoy the regular use of a smaller wood burner.”

Now to choose a style of wood burner…

Once you’ve established fuel type and size, it’s on to the fun part!

Most people will choose a wood burner based on the style and age of their home. Traditional wood burners might be great for period properties, but there are better options when it comes to contemporary homes.

The setting of your wood burner will obviously dictate to a degree, i.e. if it’s within a fireplace, inset into a wall, or freestanding. 

John says: “Overall, people generally want larger windows these days as the fire is more of a room feature than a heat source. In contemporary, open-plan properties cylindrical stoves, or even suspended stoves, work really well. 

“We stock a wide range of styles, many of which are made right here in the Westcountry, but the most contemporary tend to be Scandinavian.”

Make sure your wood burner meets the regulations 

Wood burners need to be installed by a registered installer, and given a safety certificate (HETAS or similar). 

Although you can buy new and second hand wood burners online, it pays to go through a reputable company who can advise you and manage the whole process. 

This will ensure you end up with the right wood burner for your space, and you’ll receive official guarantees for the stove itself and the installation work. 

When you come to sell your home, the correct certification for all the above will be essential; take a shortcut now and you’ll regret it later! 

Experts like John regularly help architects incorporate wood burners into their designs, or buyers evaluate their options for replacing old wood burners or installing entirely new systems. 

Cornwall Woodburners cover the whole county and offer free in-home consultations, but we recommend starting with a trip to their recently revamped showroom in Newham, Truro (call 01872 263161 for any questions about visiting). 

Is a cosy fireplace a factor in your home search? Let us know! We love finding hygge-ready spaces like these for our buyers…

Need more inspiration to make your house a home this winter? Check out the Home & Garden pages of our Journal for more ideas – from creating the perfect home office to filling your home with Cornish art! 

CategoriesHome & Garden