Log burners make great focal points for interiors, are cleaner and more efficient than open fireplaces, and can even save you money on your heating bills. If you’re dreaming of installing one as the winter chill sets in, you’re in good company – 175,000 are installed each year in the UK.
To enjoy using a log burner safely and responsibly, it’s important to do your research. Think first about the size of area that needs to be heated (as a rule of thumb, 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space is needed to make your room 21C when it’s 1C outside). You’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation and maintenance, as these can change the final price quite dramatically. It’s a good idea to check the size and cost of logs you’ll need and whether you can buy them locally.
Wood burners are a great way of bringing the comfort of a real fire into your home, even if you don’t have a vast amount of space. If you live in an urban area that is smoke-controlled, you’ll need to check the stove you are buying is approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) or go for one that has the option of burning smokeless fuels as an alternative.
1. Charnwood C-Four Wood Burner: £585, Direct Stoves
Charnwood’s popular C-Series has a 10-year guarantee, with all of its wood burners designed and made on the Isle of Wight. The C-Four is the smallest in the series, but makes up for it with a large window. It meets Defra requirements and in some situations can even be installed without the need for external air. It has an output of 4.9kW and efficiency of 78 per cent.
2. Chesney’s Salisbury 5 Series Stove: £900 ex VAT, Chesney’s
This 5kW stove by Chesney’s has a traditional style that’s minimal enough to suit contemporary interiors too. It is approved by Defra, and burns with a high efficiency of 84.5 per cent. This burner is for wood only, but the 6 and 8 series are multi-fuel for use with charcoal too. For an extra cost, you can choose from a range of seven traditional colours including terracotta, sage green and Atlantic blue.
3. Valor Baltimore Multi-Fuel Stove: £679, Homebase
The double doors and cast-iron body of the Valor Baltimore multi-fuel stove give it a surprisingly grand feel for the price. It has a heat output of up to 12kW and can burn other kinds of solid fuel as well as wood. The product has an airwash system that circulates air around the fuel to maximise heat output and keep the glass clean. The handles are available in brushed brass or steel, and the stove has a one-year guarantee.
4. Flavel Arundel Wood Burning Stove: £455, Flames
The best-priced burner on our list is by British manufacturer Flavel, with a heat output of 4.9kW and an efficiency of 76.2 per cent. The body of the stove is steel with a cast-iron door. The Arundel can burn other solid fuels, is approved by Defra and has a warranty of two years. The large viewing window gives it a modern feel, with the controls and other details left discreet.
5. Mendip 5 SE Claret Enamel Stove: £1,315, Mendip Stoves
The stand-out feature of the Mendip 5 multi-fuel stove is its traditional, hand-enamelled finish. It gives a glossy shine and looks particularly good in a deep colour like claret. This compact, retro-looking stove has a heat output of 4.8kW and efficiency of 78.9 per cent. A bonus for environmentalists: Somserset-based manufacturer Mendip contributes £10 to the Woodland Trust with every sale.
6. Stovax Huntingdon 40 Wood Burner: £1,399, Stove Centre
The Victorian-style tracery on the door of the Huntingdon wood burner makes it particularly charming. Concealed handles and hinges are also a neat touch. This version burns wood only but has great efficiency (88 per cent) and a heat output of up to 9kW. A multi-fuel option and various colours are available. Delivery to mainland England and Wales is included in the price.
7. Morso 7648 Wood Burning Stove: £2,404, Hot Box Stoves
If you’re after some Scandi-style cool for your modern home, then Danish manufacturer Morso is the go-to brand. This luxury stove has a circular design with a pedestal stand that makes it a great for a space where it can be seen from all angles. It is Defra-approved, provides a heat output of 6.2kW and has an efficiency of 76 per cent.
8. Clearview Vision 500 Stove: £1,434, Bonk & Co
As the name suggests, Clearview stoves pride themselves on large double-glazed doors that stay clean helped by a hot airwash system. The traditional-looking Vision 500 is a Defra-approved multi-fuel stove that has an 8kW output and 71 per cent efficiency. The flat top version has a hotplate surface for warming kettles, it comes in seven colours and has a three-year manufacturer guarantee.
9. Salt Fire ST2: £548, Simply Fires
The flat front to the Salt Fire ST2 stove gives it an industrial look, and its range of colours and handle finishes have been carefully selected for a contemporary feel. The simplicity of design keeps it affordable, and easy to clean and maintain. The stove can burn logs or smokeless coal and does so cleanly (with an efficiency of 81 per cent). Its compact dimensions and output of 5kW make it suitable for smaller rooms.
10. Be Modern Ohio Solid Fuel Stove: £694, B&Q
Be Modern’s small but smart-looking multi-fuel stove offers 5kW of heat output and an efficiency of 77 per cent. This one requires a brick or stone chimney flue. Formed in 1963, Be Modern aimed to develop efficient fires that lessen environmental impact at a time when rising smoke pollution was thought to soon end the fireplace’s popularity in our homes.
The Verdict: Log burners
The Charnwood C-Four is the best of the small stoves – it’s relatively modest price and elegant looks are teamed with a reassuring guarantee, making it a sound investment. It looks just as good in an inglenook fireplace or standing alone. If you’re looking for a modern showstopper to bring focus to a large space, Morso’s circular stove will attract attention from all angles.
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