I love fires. With an open fire most of the heat is lost up the chimney. The most efficient type of wood ‘fire’ is a biomass boiler, functioning in a similar way to to a conventional central heating boiler but consuming wood pellets from a hopper instead of gas. They may (in certain circumstances) qualify for the RHI, but hell, you don’t get to watch a roaring fire. A wood burning stove captures most of the heat and emits it into the room, while a large glass window allows us to enjoy the beauty of the flaming logs.
Wood Burning Stove
Product Clearview Pioneer 400 Rating 5kW Cost £1,300
+ installation, flue liner, hearth & fireplace works £1,400 = £2,700
Supplier Yorkshire Stoves Useful Resource Stoves Online
What we didn’t
I liked the idea of having a back boiler on the stove to heat water, plumbed into a heat store. A heat store is like a large hot water tank, with multiple input coils for heating (eg; solar thermal, stove & maybe backup heating system), and outputs for central heating & hot water. This would be an effective way of distributing heat from the stove throughout the house, and it’s nice that the stove provides hot water in winter when the solar thermal produces less. It requires the plumbing of an ‘always on’ heat sink radiator to prevent the stove overheating when the heat store reaches maximum temperature. This is an uncommon set up though and we struggled to get quotes but it was likely to be a couple of grand more. If we had the heat pump as well, it seemed like overkill; but if we opted not to have a backup heating system it would mean we’d have to light the stove most winter days to be sure of hot water and couldn’t have heating on a timer. Not an attractive prospect if we came to sell the house.
What we did
We were advised to keep it simple: use the stove for space heating the heart of the house when we fancied lighting a fire, and keep the heating system separate.
The fireplace in the lounge had been closed up; it was time to expose it again. I hacked the plaster off the chimney breast to expose the brickwork, unsure of what we’d discover beneath. We were delighted to find rough brickwork which cleaned up nicely (wire brush in a drill) and a pleasing brick arch. The rest of the building work, including new hearth & lower chimney pot, was left to the stove installers.
Old chimney stacks can have mortar degradation after years of acidic coal smoke, so stove smoke might leak into the house between floors or other places that would be very difficult to detect, even with a smoke bomb test. Despite the confidence of some salesmen that it wasn’t necessary, others strongly advised that the flue should be lined. A flue liner is a flexible metal tube fitted inside the chimney stack that connects the stove to the chimney pot.
Clearview are a UK manufacturer with a reputation for superb stoves. They burn so efficiently they are DEFRA approved for use in Smoke Control Areas, which includes most of Hull. As well as a large window the glass has an incredibly effective air-wash system to prevent soot building up and obscuring the view.
There is nothing quite like a roaring fire in the heart of the home on a cold day, and we love it.
It’s highly controllable, and the Clearview brand lives up to its name- we only rarely have to clean the glass.
It burns cleanly when running hot, but produces some smoke when first lit or burning very slowly. We’ve had indirect complaints about smoke, but as we don’t know the precise nature of the problem it’s difficult to address, other than not burning any wood unless absolutely certain of it’s origin, and not running it too slowly. An inspector from the council visited and confirmed that everything was in order and legal.