The best wood burning stoves that will survive Michael Gove's new laws

best wood burning stoves
New regulation is set to outlaw many log burners Credit: Barry Murphy

No middle-class front room is complete without one – but with many log burning stoves set to fall foul of new laws, should you still buy them for your home? And which are the very best out there? Telegraph Recommended sourced expert opinion to find out

Wood burning stoves – also known as log burners – have been around since the 16th Century, but over the past few years their popularity has surged. Many put this down to the rise in price of gas and oil, particularly after the financial crisis of 2008, while they're also increasingly a symbol of middle-class status. Whatever the reason, they're now sold at an annual rate 2020欧洲杯足球即时比分of almost 200,000. 

Wood burners are certainly aesthetically pleasing, helping you to achieve ultimate hyggebut because they burn wood (and other solid fuels), they're believed to have contributed to rising pollution levels. Wood, when it burns, releases particulates2020欧洲杯足球即时比分, tiny contaminants that can lead not only to respiratory problems but dementia, stroke, infertility and several other conditions. 

Last year, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced a ban on the most polluting wood burners, to come into force by 2022. From then on, only the products that adhere to stricter environmental protocols will be sold.

Luckily, these are already available on the market, labelled as 'Ecodesign ready', because the new legislation has actually been in the offing for a while. 2020欧洲杯足球即时比分So if you're planning on getting in on the biggest interiors trend this century, there's no reason to despair: you'll still be able to get your hands on one. 

"There are so many misconceptions about wood burning stoves," says David Jones, managing director of . Mostly, these misconceptions now centre around them being evil – they're not, Jones insists. You just have to go about it the right way. That includes speaking to an expert (a , for example), before you go ahead with the purchase, as it's important to see what's right for your living space and location.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Modern stoves are far more efficient than even 10-year-old models (and infinitely better than open fires, which are illegal in Smoke Control Areas). The graph below illustrates this. 

The new breed of log burners are far more efficient and lower pm emissions than their predecessors Credit: The University of Manchester /Dr Patricia Thornley

While you can get gas-burning stoves, coal stoves and pellet stoves, this article focuses on wood, which the experts tell me is cleaner and, of course, offers that unparalleled cosy, homey feel. "You can't beat the atmosphere of a real fire," says Steve Welch, showroom manager at  in London. "It's just doing it responsibly with good-quality fuel."

S2020欧洲杯足球即时比分o, what should you look out for when buying a wood burning stove that complies with the new regulations? For a start, you'll want to choose between cast iron or steel, which are the two main materials used on the market. Cast iron is more traditional; it takes a while to warm up, but retains the heat well, and should last a lifetime with care. Historically, steel has been seen as a cheaper, inferior alternative – but the experts I spoke to said the technology has improved of late, and there's now little to split the two. Steel heats up quickly and is often used for modern styles because its surface is smooth. Some stoves use a mixture of the two materials.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分You'll also want an airwash system, which is a technique used by many manufacturers to stop soot clogging up the front window. Unlike old log burners, new ones don't need regular glass cleaning for you to see the logs inside.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分And then there's the efficiency rating. According to the SIA, "Great strides forward in stove design have resulted in modern stoves having an efficiency rating of over 80pc, compared to an open fire at 30pc and a stove produced 10 years ago at 65pc." More efficient stoves mean you'll feel more heat from fewer logs. For an Ecodesign Ready appliance, just five logs over five hours should do the trick. When buying, look for an efficiency rating over 80pc or more. 

B2020欧洲杯足球即时比分elow, we guide you through some of the best models available at the moment. All have been chosen on the back of advice from multiple experts, including retailers, flue and chimney fitters, and regulatory bodies like HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme), and the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA).

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Afterwards, there's a detailed explanation of Gove's regulations, why it is that new products burn so much more efficiently, and the best fuel to use.

 

1. Capital Fireplaces Barrington Eco

Why we like it: Simple classic design; available in traditional cast iron or with a modern enamel coating

A2020欧洲杯足球即时比分ll of the retailers I visited raved about Capital Fireplaces, which purports to be a "leading supplier of luxury fireplaces" in the UK. After 28 years, the British brand has built an almost cult-like following, possibly thanks to its Instagram-friendly range. 

Welch, along with Amanda Owen of and Richard Beach of , all extolled Capital. They told me much of the range is ready for the 2022 legislation, with the Barrington Eco top of the pile. 

The stove itself is made of sturdy cast iron, and comes in either a black finish or a more expensive enamel finish. The pearly-white enamel is beautiful and slightly more modern-looking, and Welch informs me is easier to clean (simply wipe down when it's cool). 

I2020欧洲杯足球即时比分t comes with an airwash system and – something we always look for on Telegraph Recommended – a lifetime warranty. "Providing it's not abused by over-firing, filling it up with coal or too many logs, it should last indefinitely," Welch enthuses. 

In fact, Welch tells me the Barrington is his store's most popular stove (the showroom's cast iron model had to be sold as demand was outstripping supple). It's highly efficient (up to 84pc2020欧洲杯足球即时比分), has a nominal heat output range of 5kW (the max before you need to get a vent fitted, which Welch discourages), and is, I found, just the right size for an urban home or small rural place – not too large to grab all the intention, but not too small to be unnoticeable. 

And you want to notice it, because in my opinion it's the best looking stove around, with a simple, classic design and large glass window – all the better to see your fire with.

 

2. Nordpeis Bergen 

Why we like it: 2020欧洲杯足球即时比分The 'contemporary-classic' look

Owen spoke very highly of this wood burner, which I find to be very aesthetically pleasing – it's not too bulky, has a clean, streamlined appearance, and a nice, large window to see the logs slowly burning. It's pleasingly modern without looking too futuristic, and would fit in well in both contemporary and older houses. 

Norpeis Stoves are made by Stovax, one of the UK's largest and most popular stove manufacturers. All the important features are present: it's Ecodesign ready, so will be perfectly suitable for 2022; has a powerful airwash system to keep the glass as clean as possible; and is made of a strong blend of cast iron and heavy duty steel). 

Handily, the legs are adjustable, meaning you can lift it up a bit higher of the ground if you prefer, perhaps to fit a few logs underneath, and its 5kW heat output is as strong as it gets without having to fit air ventilation. Efficiency-wise, 84.4pc is up there with the best. 

The one downside, when compared with the Capital Barrington Eco, is that you only get a five-year warranty on the body, as opposed to a lifetime one for the former. Still, it's a beauty that comes highly recommended.

 

3. Capital Fireplaces The Sigma ECO

Why we like it: Capital Fireplaces' top functionality mixed with a traditional design 

"I've got this stove at home," says Welch. "It's a great stove, fantastic. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. The innards of it are exactly the same as the Barrington, but this one has a slightly more traditional style, with the arched top and square door." 

The window is a little smaller, but in terms of functionality, the Sigma is just as good as the Barrington, which Welch admits is his favourite. It's highly efficient (84pc2020欧洲杯足球即时比分), has a lifetime warranty, is made of sturdy cast iron, which retains heat very well, and is quite compact in size, making it ideal for the urban home. Airwash is also a feature, so the glass won't dust up. 

 

4. Stovax Sheraton 5 

A pleasing blend of modern and classic, the Sheraton 5 is one of the premium Ecodesign Ready models from Stovax, a British brand that comes highly recommended by Welch. It's a mixture of cast iron and heavy gauge steel (the door's iron, the body's steel). 

I like the elegant design – but possibly more important is its impressive, state-of-the-art low combustion system. Some clever engineering channels warm air between the firebox and the outer walls of the stove back into the room, making the room even more toasty. 

At well under £1000, it's a relatively affordable option from one of the most well-respected brands there is, though efficiency is slightly lower than some, at 79pc

 

5. Charlton & Jenrick Fireline Woodtec

"This one is proving really popular," explains Welch. "It's very modern and simplistic, it's all about the window here, and very clean lines." Indeed, the window is one of the largest I've seen, taking up almost all of the door. 

The Woodtec is made of cast iron and is incredibly sturdy, I'm informed. Though I tend to err on the side of the old-fashioned design, I can see the appeal of the sleeker, fresher aesthetic on this model. 

As for specs: it's Ecodesign ready; has a strong ceramic firebox liner (the bit inside the furnace, which can crack eventually); and performs well on efficiency (from 80.2pc, according to the brochure). 

 

6. Mendip Woodland 5kW Defra multifuel stove

Owen points to the Mendip Woodland, a simplistic, streamlined modern stove, as another the best Ecodesign-ready wood burning stoves – in fact, it won 'best under 5kW stove' at the 2016 Hearth & Home awards. At 81.1pc efficiency, it's almost as efficient as the top ones in this guide – more than enough to heat a medium-sized room with a minimal amount of logs. 

The ceramic glass window is easy to clean (though you shouldn't have to much as there is an airwash system in place). It's made of steel, with a cast iron door. While cast iron is generally thought of as superior, Welch reassures me that "these days they're pretty much of a muchness." So it should retain heat just as effectively,. 

T2020欧洲杯足球即时比分here's also a nice eco touch when buying this stove, as Mendip donate £10 to the Woodland Trust for each unit sold (and, obviously, more trees means more C02 emitted from the wood is absorbed). 

 

7. Morsø 1442 with squirrel; Morsø 4043

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Morso 1442

Morsø is probably the hipster's choice of log burner. As with anything Scandinavian, it's become cool in certain circles to have one tucked away in the corner of the living room, next to the collection of wooden spoons that you've been carving by hand. 

Luckily, it's not all hot air (apart from the hot air you'll be comfortably surrounded by), because the Danish brand, which has been around since the 1850s, make seriously good burners and have a wide range of Ecodesign Ready appliances.

The 1442 comes with the iconic squirrel logo on its side (enabled by its cast iron frame), an efficiency rating of 83pc, and an airwash system. All the bells and whistles, then, of a modern, eco-friendly stove with the charm and looks of an old-fashioned Scandi burner. 

Morso 4043

I2020欧洲杯足球即时比分ts more modern looking sibling, pictured below, is the cylindrical 4043, which sits atop a plinth, and is equally efficient. Cylindrical burners take up more space in the home and are far more conspicuous – a negative to my eyes, but they're increasingly popular in modern homes with no chimneys. 

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All you need to know before buying your wood burning stove

Buying a wood burning stove is a significant outlay. As Welch told me, "the typical cost to have a stove fitted, with all the associated paraphernalia, liner, cowl, labour, etc. you're going to be looking at somewhere between £2,800 and £3,500 including VAT."

So, not an impulse buy, then – according to Owen, one customer bought an expensive unit online without realising it wasn't Defra-exempt (so it couldn't be used in a smokeless area such as London). 

Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS, also recommends and discussing your needs before buying.

It's a good idea to think of a wood burning stove a bit like an extension on your property: get someone to come and look at your house and judge your needs, then prepare a quote accordingly.

Why is Michael Gove after the stove? 

The environment secretary is only after some2020欧洲杯足球即时比分 stoves - the dirtiest, least efficient, most polluting ones are set to be banned as part of a wider Government quest to improve Britain's dangerous pollution levels. Anything made more than five years ago probably isn't up to the new standards, but as far as everyone I spoke to knows, customers won't be retrospectively targeted. 

E2020欧洲杯足球即时比分ssentially, older stoves, though more efficient than open fires, still release plenty of harmful particulate matter into the atmosphere. As shown in the graphic above, modern stoves release 80pc fewer particulate matter (PM) emissions than traditional ones, so are much more eco-friendly. 

Wood burning in a good, modern stove is infinitely superior to open fires, both polluting less and heating houses more efficiently (because with an open fire most of the heat shoots straight up the chimney, rather than radiating into the living space). 

"The publication of the Defra Clean Air Strategy confirms that Ecodesign stoves will play a central role in the government's plan to reduce emissions from domestic combustion and commends the SIA for releasing the stoves ahead of the 2022 target date," says the SIA. The SIA state that 40pc of wood burnt in the UK is still done on open fires, rising to 70pc in London, despite being illegal there since the 1950s. 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分"Users of wood burning appliances," the SIA continues, "can make a significant improvement to air quality by installing a SIA Ecodesign stove compared to older appliances." 

So what, exactly, is Ecodesign Ready?

Ecodesign Ready signifies a stove that has been designed to reduce PM emissions by burning wood more efficiently and completely. It is an SIA scheme that has been verified by HETAS, the main organisation in charge of working towards safer use of biomass and other solid fuels. 

Ecodesign Ready stoves will be compliant with 2022 rules, so you should really only buy those from now on. While many brands are already there (according to the SIA, over 400 models are Ecodesign Ready), others will have to be by the cut-off point in 2022. The SIA claims that Ecodesign Ready signifies 55pc lower PM emissions than a Defra-exempt stove (currently the only legal way of burning biomass for heating in smoke control areas). 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分How do the stoves burn wood more efficiently? Allen explains: "Wood gives off gases when it gets hot. The gases then burn. What the modern appliances do is they recirculate the burnt gases around the heating chamber. It has another go at burning them and reduces particulates by vast amounts."

The ultimate goal, Jones adds, is to achieve "complete combustion". He explains that, by introducing more air into the firebox, more particulates are burnt off, meaning the final emissions are fewer and cleaner.

What else do I need to know before buying my stove?

Firstly, as touched upon, it's worth remembering it can cost up to £3000 to get your stove fitted, including labour. This is because there are several extra costs involved.

Step number one, says Allen, is to ensure you're getting the right stove, neither too big nor too small. Too big could make you feel uncomfortably hot and it'll use up more wood than needed. Allen recommends having a HETAS-approved installer estimate what you need. 

Most commonly, a stove will fit inside your existing fireplace and have an attached stainless steel flexible flue liner which goes up the chimney. These can cost £500 to have set up. While not required by law, they do improve efficiency. 

There are both cylindrical and square stoves out there. It's a matter of preference, really, but in urban homes, Welch explains, they might not fit into the old Victorian or Edwardian fireplace. The advantage of a cylindrical stove, however, is that you can easily fit a soapstone cladding on the outside, which stays warm overnight. 

If you want a stove offering more than 5kW of heat output, you'll need to fit additional ventilation into the room. "That's basically introducing cold air from outside, which is crazy, obviously," says Welch. All the stoves featured here are 5kW or below, and are potent enough for a large room. 

What features should my stove include? 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Apart from the basic anatomy - glass door, legs, handle - there are several features to look out for. 

  • Airwash: Most modern stoves come equipped with an airwash mechanism. Essentially, it's a spot of clever engineering that pulls the air down over the glass door, which keeps off the smoke and ensures it remains clean. A bit of dirt will eventually build up, but you can use to get rid of that. 
  • Cast iron vs steel: Wood burners tend to be made either of cast iron or heavy duty steel, with the former a tad more pricey. Welch says that good cast iron, providing it's not abused, should last indefinitely. Historically, Welch explains, steel has been seen as inferior, but these days they're practically as good. Cast iron takes longer than steel to heat, but retains that heat longer. Another difference is aesthetic – cast iron is more amenable to detailing, while steel tends to be straight and flat, so more suited to modern, streamlined stoves. 
  • Fire bricks: The part lining the inside of the furnace, usually made of ceramic, which can heat up to very high temperatures. They can crack after several years' use, but better models have more durable ones. They need to be replaced if they fall apart. 
  • Bottom grate: The grate, often cast iron, on which the fire burns. "They inherently only have a lifespan of maybe 10 years, after which they need to be replaced," says Welch. 

What fuel should I burn? 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Obviously, if you're after a log burner, you'll be looking for that cosy crackle of burning wood. Many stoves offer multifuel, which means you can burn smokeless fuels, anthracite or peat briquettes.

If it is wood you want, however, it's important to do it properly. Number one on your list is to procure the driest wood possible. It's something mentioned by everyone I spoke to for this article. In simple terms, wood with a moisture level under 20pc will burn efficiently. Wet wood, however, has to work harder to burn down, and therefore emits more nasty stuff. 

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分"It's absolutely vital to burn dry wood," says Nic Snell, managing director of , which is approved by HETAS. Snell explains that wood should be kiln-dried, British, and approved by HETAS' 'Ready to Burn' scheme. All that should guarantee a moisture content below 20pc – you can always use a. 

"If you're burning the right fuel in the right-sized appliance, fitted by the right person, maintained regularly [an annual visit by a chimney sweep], you're going to be pretty clean," says Allen. 

Will the laws change again, like with diesel? 

Ultimately, it's impossible to predict the future, but Allen doesn't see the rules changing anytime soon. "The science from universities is pretty important. A study from Leeds University confirms the wet wood issue and that the best moisture content is between 8-10pc and 20pc – it reduces particulate emissions substantially." 

Allen says other countries are going through the same debates, and institutes from across the world have contacted him agreeing with the findings. "I think the 'due diligence' is done and we are as certain as we reasonably can be.

"For wood fuel their remains a good carbon reduction argument as well as a sustainability argument and a reduction of environmental impact by burning dryer fuels."