Are you tired of the high gas bills arriving every month? Would you like to use a form of heating that’s less damaging to the environment? Well, how about installing a log burning stove in your home?
There are many cheap log burners available to buy that will fit into most existing fireplaces. For starters, the average wood burner installation, with a chimney flue, in the UK costs between £1500 and £2500. And, if you don’t already have a chimney, you can buy a flue kit for a wood burner supplied and fitted for about £2000.
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If we go down this route of heating we’ll also need a non-flammable wood burning stove hearth, ventilation for incoming air, and some way of removing the toxic flue gases. However, you’ll need these for all types of solid fuel, gas, or oil heater. So, don’t let that put you off.
How Much Does a Wood Burner Installation Cost?
In the following table, we’ll look at prices for the three major types of wood–burning stoves commonly available in the UK. Like all products, there are cheap, low–quality stoves and expensive, good–quality stoves. Generally, you get what you pay for, and a good quality wood burner, although expensive, will give off a lot of heat using well-seasoned fuel. Furthermore, it will perform better with a have higher efficiency. And, produce very little ash residue compared to lower quality products. Let’s look at some prices.
|Type of stove||Estimated cost||Installation cost|
|Radiant Stover||£500 to £1000||£1500 to £3000|
|Range Cookers||£800 to £3500|
|Convection Stoves||£350 to £3000|
You’ll notice the installation costs across all three types are pretty much the same and fall within the same range. That’s because each burner comes from the manufacturer ready built and just needs to be placed in position. The real wood burner installation costs incorporate installing a chimney liner (£1000) or separate flue (up to £2000), installing a hearth (£250), backplate (£50), carbon monoxide detector (£20), and chimney cowl (£70). And, having a HETAS registered engineer safely install a log burner system and issue a certificate, will cost about £300 or so. Overall, installation costs will vary depending on the size of the stove rather than its type.
To install a flexible flue liner into an existing chimney takes about 1 day. Whereas, a twin wall flue kit takes 1 to 2 days depending on the size of the house.
It’ll take about 1 week for a full log burner installation and renovation. And, you must have the chimney swept (if you have one), before installing the flexible liner. Otherwise, install the twin wall flue kit. Then install the hearth and stove, before finishing with a final clear-up.
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The stove types
Let’s look at the three stove types in more detail.
These are cheaper to buy than convection stoves or range cookers. But, only provide localised heat. The surfaces of the radiant stove become very hot to touch. And, can be very dangerous if you have inquisitive children or elderly relatives living with you. They produce mainly radiant heat. Therefore, only the nearest items to the stove become warmed and furniture will prevent the heat from going farther.
Range cookers are designed to burn fuel very efficiently. So, the correct grade fuel will produce very little ash. At its very simplest, a range cooker might look like any other wood–burning stove with a hot plate on top, for a saucepan or a kettle. However, more expensive variations include one or two ovens, a warming drawer, a grill as well as varying numbers of hotplates. Traditionally, they’re used in a kitchen and will provide heating as well as cooking. Some versions also heat water for domestic supply and a central heating system. They produce very even oven temperatures and have very effective, simple controls. Popular makes that many people might have heard of include Aga and Rayburn. These cookers look good, either as a free–standing log burner or as part of a fitted kitchen.
These stoves distribute even heat around the room. The stove has channels in the side and back. These draw in cold air and emit warm air, heated against the firebox. Because they have channels, there is a gap between the firebox and the outside walls. This prevents the outside walls from becoming too hot. Therefore, it’s a much safer system. The heating system provides warm currents of air that distribute evenly around the room resulting in a far better method of heating than a radiant stove.
Generally, all log burners have similar advantages and problems. So, let‘s have a look at some of these before we move on.
Why should we choose a wood–burning stove from all the other available fuel types?
- It’s more efficient than an open fireplace. A wood burner loses on average about 20% of its heat to the chimney, while an open fire loses about 70%.
- A wood–burning stove is both safer and cleaner. The ash and sparks are all contained behind a cast iron or heatproof glass door. So, there‘s no chance of a rogue spark landing on the carpet or smoke circulating the room.
- A wood burner has simple controls to allow flowrate control of the incoming air and exhaust gases. This gives you more control over its temperature and how fast the fuel burns.
- You can have a wood burner even if you don’t have a chimney. You can buy twin wall flue kits that exit the house through a wall or roof and divert the flue gases away from the house. Always make sure you have plenty of ventilation for your wood burner. Your local HETAS engineer will advise you on the best solution for your situation.
- There are plenty of different styles to choose from. From contemporary to traditional, if the design is the deciding factor. Or, you can choose from radiant, or convection heaters. Or, choose a range if you want to incorporate cooking into its functions.
- Because making up a fire every morning can be a pain in the neck, many people try to keep the fire in overnight by closing the air supply as much as possible. This tactic will do the job, and will usually keep the fire burning until morning. But, it also causes lots of smoke which increases the level of tar and soot in the chimney.
- Unless you have a very small wood burner, they tend to need a lot of room, especially if they sit back into the chimney. Therefore, you might need structural changes to the chimney opening and a new lintel.
- A typical log burner has many parts that will eventually wear out. For example, the firebricks, baffle plate, glass, and rope seal in the doors will only last a few years and eventually need replacements.
- A typical wood stove installation throws out a lot of heat if you have it running efficiently. Although you might think this is a problem you don’t mind having. Just wait until the sweat starts pouring down your back, and you can’t turn the heat down! You’ll have to wait until the fuel burns down a bit.
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Example Cost Calculator
As you are probably aware, all houses have a different layout and so wood burning stove prices will vary depending on the layout and size of your home. Ask a registered HETAS heating engineer for advice on installing a log burner in your home and what you need for your specific situation.
We’ve already mentioned the additional items you need for a typical wood stove installation. But, now we’ll list them properly and go into a bit more detail about what they are, their purpose and a typical price.
A hearth is a slab on non-flammable and heatproof material on which the stove sits. This prevents heat from the stove, and any falling burning fuel from damaging nearby combustible materials. The hearth must protrude at least 150mm from the side and rear of the stove to a suitably heat resistant wall (unless the stove sits inside a recess such as a fireplace). Also, it must continue for 225mm in front of the stove if it’s a closed appliance. Alternatively, the distance must be at least 300mm if the appliance can be used with its front doors open. An average–sized hearth costs about £250 to build and is typically made from concrete, heat resistant tiles, or cast iron.
A backplate or ‘fireback’ is an iron or steel plate fitted vertically at the back of the wood burner, protecting the wall. Typically, it protects plaster, stone, or brick from cracking due to the effects of constant heat given off from the stove. Alternatively, you can tile behind a log burner using thick heat resistant ceramic or clay tiles. A typical backplate costs about £50. Although you can buy highly ornamental varieties which cost much more.
Generally, cowls act as a rain guard to prevent rain and snow from entering the flue. This can run down the flue pipe and end up inside the log burner. Over time, the metal will rust and corrode, especially if the rainwater is very acidic. Other types include ‘lobster tail’ cowls. These are curved and spin freely so the smoke exit hole always points away from the prevailing wind.
There are many different variations on the design. But, all prevent the wind from blowing the smoke down the chimney and into the stove. Or, stop rainwater from corroding the metal.
Fuel will only burn efficiently if it has sufficient oxygen to complete the burning process. When fuel burns completely, the waste gases mainly contain carbon dioxide (CO2) which is not poisonous (although you can’t breathe it). However, if there isn’t enough oxygen available, incomplete combustion takes place. Then, the waste gases contain a highly toxic gas called carbon monoxide (CO). This will accumulate in a poorly ventilated room and affect anyone occupying it. Typically, symptoms include drowsiness, followed by unconsciousness and finally death. A carbon monoxide detector monitors the levels of CO in the air and warns if it rises to dangerous levels. For the nominal price of £20, it’s a very worthwhile investment.
HETAS installation and certificate
A HETAS installer will carry out your wood stove installation according to the manufacturer’s instructions and comply with the UK Building Regulations. After installation, you will receive a certificate proving that the equipment has been fitted according to the law. Without a HETAS certificate, your home insurance company will not cover you for any damages relating to the log burner. The typical cost for a HETAS installation complete with certificates ranges between £120 and £300.
Chimney sweep and liner
If you already have a chimney, you’ll need to first clean the inside of the flue of all traces of soot and tar. Then, install a flexible flue liner. The liner provides a route directly from the log burner to the outside air, so the smoke doesn’t come into contact with the brickwork. Usually, because the flue liner has a constant diameter, and doesn’t contain any leaks, the log burner will perform better. You’ll have fewer issues with draughts, lighting the fire, and keeping the fire alight. You’ll also find that if the brickwork inside the chimney is old and deteriorated, you’ll have smoke and carbon monoxide leaking into the rooms adjoining the chimney. To sweep the chimney and install a flexible liner will cost around £1000.
If your home doesn’t already have a chimney, you must have some way to channel the waste gases to the outside air. The easiest and cheapest way is to purchase a kit that contains a series of interlocking metal tubes, brackets, and joiners so you can build a rigid metal flue up the outside of your house. Usually, the flue pipe exits the house through the wall, above or behind the stove. The cost varies depending on the height of the flue required and how many lengths of pipe. But, the average cost works out at about £70/m. Typically, to supply and fit the entire double–walled flue will be around £2000. This might seem expensive but is much cheaper than building a masonry chimney with a flexible liner.
Labour day rates
The labour rates for installing a log burner will be around £120 to £200 per day plus VAT. You’ll find that labour charges in London and the Southeast of England will be up to 20% higher than elsewhere in the UK.
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What Size Wood Burner Do I Require?
Before fitting a log burner into your home, you need to calculate the required stove size. To give a rough estimate, simply multiply the width, length, and height of the room to calculate its volume. Then divide the room’s volume by 14. This calculates the power output of the stove (in kW) to approximately match the room’s size.
You must include other factors, before having a truly accurate figure. For example, the amount of insulation in the house, whether the room is open plan and joined to another or whether it has doors, and what temperature you want to achieve. A qualified HETAS engineer can calculate this for you and arrive at a sensibly sized stove for the room.
Typically, a small log burner gives 4 to 6kW, a medium–sized stove gives 7 to 9kW. And, a large wood burner gives out 10 to 15kW.
How Does It Work?
The first thing to consider is the material from which the stove is built. Over the years, we’ve found that cast iron is probably the best material to construct a stove from. Iron is cheap, plentiful, lasts a long time in use, and is recyclable at the end of its life. Also, it holds heat well so continues to radiate heat long after the fire’s fuel has run out.
Next, firebricks line the inside of the firebox to store and radiate the heat gradually. Also, the bricks prevent the logs from sitting on the floor of the firebox. And, allows air to circulate within the box.
Then, air enters the firebox, bringing with it oxygen, which the fuel needs to burn. Depending on the size and complexity of the log burner you’ll have different types of air intake points. These consist of lever controlled vents, which open and close to vary the required air inlet rate. The oxygen in the air allows the logs to burn.
If the stove is a radiant type, the heat radiates from the surface directly to its surroundings. If it’s a convection stove, then cold air channels through cavities. The circulated air warms from contact with the firebox and convects the warmth throughout the room. If the log burner is a range, the heat mainly stays within the stove and directs to various sections such as ovens, and hotplates.
The exhaust gases produced by the fire, leave the firebox into the flue. Often, there is a lever operating a vent to control the volume of exhaust gasses allowed to escape. The flue pipe then channels the gases to the open air.
There are a few different types of fuel you can use in a wood–burning stove.
The most attractive type will be ‘free wood’ foraged from nearby woodland. But, make sure you have the landowner’s permission before you take anything. Once you get it home, you must dry it out depending on whether it‘s been sitting in the rain for a long time. Alternatively, the wood might be freshly felled. So, in that case, you must season the wood before use. But, even if you have to wait, you will have a good supply of free wood to reduce your fuel bill even more.
The following table shows other types of fuel and typical prices. These will vary depending on the time of year and where you live in the country.
Usually, wood–burning stoves burn between 3 and 4 cubic metres of wood per year.
Generally, hardwoods are better to burn than softwoods. Not only do they give out more heat, but they burn slower and produce less tar and resin to clog up the flue.
As the name suggests, multifuel burning stoves are designed to burn different types of fuel. They can burn coal, smokeless fuel, coke, charcoal, and wood. You will find that different fuels produce varying amounts of heat. And, will use varying amounts of air in the combustion process. Finally, they will produce different amounts of soot, ash, and tar.
Catalytic & non-catalytic models
You might already know that a catalytic converter on a car exhaust pipe removes certain harmful chemicals from the waste gases coming from your car. Well, the same process takes place when using a catalytic converter in your stove.
The catalytic model has a metal honeycomb coated with certain metals to remove smoke and other combustion products. Normally the byproducts burn at around 1100° Celsius, which a stove rarely reaches. By using the catalyst, the by–products burn at around 500° Celsius. This allows the fire to burn cleaner at low burn rates. This process uses less fuel and produces a higher overall efficiency. Efficiencies will range from 63% to 84% by using a catalytic model.
Non-catalytic stoves use a secondary combustion process to increase their efficiency (60% to 80%). The efficiency improvements come about by design improvements alone.
Pyrolytic stoves have an airtight chamber where the wood heats to produce flammable gases. Usually, these stoves heat biomass pellets and produce methanol as a fuel. Then, the gases channel to the top of the stove where they burn. The remaining biomass is pyrolyzed into a charcoal–like substance, called biochar. In fact, this is approximately the same method that produces charcoal from wood. Biochar can be used as an agricultural fertiliser catalyst. The biochar locks up carbon in the soil for many hundreds of years preventing the formation of carbon dioxide and therefore helping to slow global warming.
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UK Regulations & Guidance
Usually, you won’t need planning permission for the installation of a wood–burning stove as long as the installation meets the following criteria.
- The flue must be at the rear of the building.
- The outlet of the flue must be at least 1m above the highest part of the roof.
- If you live in a listed building or a designated area, contact your local authority for more guidance on the siting of the flue pipe.
- The flue must not be fitted on any elevation of the building facing a public highway.
However, you must satisfy building regulations at all times. Approved Document J (Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems) deals with the appropriate regulations, which we’ll deal with in the next section. The work must be signed off by a building control inspector or by a qualified and registered HETAS heating engineer. You can find the complete list of regulations and best practice guidance on the HETAS website.
Log Burning Pollution & Safety Considerations
The relevant building regulations ensure that the installation and operation of a wood–burning stove will be safe with the minimum of risks. Approved Document J, provides all the information needed to ensure that the installation remains safe. The approved document deals with the stove and flue installation. And, among other things, it also looks at the construction of hearths, fireplaces, and chimneys.
If you live in a Smoke Control Area, as defined in the Clean Air Act 1993, you can only use a stove approved by DEFRA. A DEFRA exempt stove has its air vents modified so that they can’t be closed completely. Therefore, the fire cannot ‘slumber’ overnight. This prevents the stove from producing smoke and soot which might not comply with the Clean Air Act.
The waste gases need to exit a stove safely. Usually, this is through a chimney. But, chimneys sometimes deteriorate with age and allow the fumes to filter through the masonry into adjoining living and bedrooms. This can be very dangerous if you sleep with the window closed. The best way to overcome this problem. And, one which a HETAS engineer will recommend, is to have a stainless steel flexible liner inserted into the chimney flue. Stainless steel will not react with the acid in flue gases so will stay in one piece for many years. Stainless steel of grade 316 will last for around 10 years, while 904 grade will last for around 25 years.
If you intend to place your log burner into an existing fireplace, make sure the existing wall building materials are non-combustible. If necessary line the fireplace for the woodburning stove with suitable grade firebricks or insulated concrete.
Wood Burner Installation: Steps
Before we go any further with this. We must repeat that you should only use a HETAS registered engineer to install a woodburning stove. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do all the preparation and any structural alterations to the hearth and chimney. As long as you abide by the building regulations and guidance issued by reputable organisations, you can’t go far wrong.
However, if you aren’t very good at DIY, you might find problems if something goes wrong. So unless you have no choice, get a professional to do it.
1. Prepare the opening
Usually, people like to place a wood burner into an existing fireplace. If that’s the case, you might have to open up the existing chimney breast and insert a larger lintel together with a suitable hearthstone. Don’t forget to line the new fireplace, and add a backplate to reflect heat out into the room and prevent the wall from overheating and cracking.
2. Find an installer
Go to the HETAS website and use the tool to find an engineer near you. All HETAS engineers know the building regulations and can tackle all aspects of the job. They will notify the local authority that work has taken place, will sign off the work, and provide you with a certificate to prove the work has been done to the legal requirements.
3. Buying a log burning stove
The HETAS guy will already have calculated the size of the stove you need, based on your situation. And, told you whether you live in a smokeless zone. If you do, you’ll need a DEFRA exempt appliance.
It seems obvious that the air quality regulations will become more stringent as time goes on. So, buy a stove that is ‘future proof’.
Take advice from the engineer to get the best stove for your home and stay within your budget.
4. Fireplace design
As we’ve already found, a fireplace must be designed to comply with various regulations. For example, the size, and thickness of the hearth. And, the building materials for the wall. As well as, the distance from the stove to the wall.
5. Install the stove and flue liner
Your engineer will probably take about 2 days to finish the job of installation. Including making the chimney breast wider, rendering the back wall, and laying a new hearthstone. Also, he will line the chimney or put in a twin–walled flue installation to make things ultrasafe.
6. Choose the fuel
You now have a completely safe and fully working wood burner. The manufacturer of the stove, the retailer, and the HETAS engineer can all advise you on the correct fuel to use for the stove to get the best performance.
Wood Burning Stove FAQ
What do you put behind a wood–burning stove?
Place a metal backplate behind the stove to protect the wall from the intense heat given off by the stove. Alternatively, use stone, clay, or ceramic tiles to protect the wall and reflect the heat.
How long does a log burner last?
Depending on the manufacturer and model of stove, it can last from 10 to 20 years. Be guided by the manufacturer’s warranty. It usually expires just before the stove breaks down. Also, remember to maintain and service the equipment as the manufacturer recommends.
Can I install a wood burner without a chimney?
Yes, you can. As long as you buy a twin walled flue pipe system, which installs on the outside of your house. Remember to comply with the planning and building regulations set by your local authority.
How far from the wall should a log burner be?
The minimum distance between the rear and sides of the stove to the nearest wall must be at least 150mm.
Can you install a wood burner yourself?
If you have the DIY skills necessary to complete all the required jobs, then yes, you can. However, the stove must be connected by a HETAS engineer. It’s a good idea to check with one before you start. As, many won’t sign off other people’s work, even if it‘s basic building jobs.
Does a wood–burning stove add value to a house?
Estimates from estate agents and building societies suggest that a wood–burning stove installation will increase your home’s value by up to 5%.
Will a wood burner heat a whole house?
Yes. There are two ways to do this. Choose the correct sized stove to heat the house using convection. However, this generally relies on leaving all the doors open around the house.
The second way is to run your central heating off a wood–burning stove and having radiators in each room. This is a cheap way of doing the job. But, you will have to wait while the stove heats the water before you’ll notice any difference in room heat.
Get Quotes From Local Specialists
If you install a modern log burner into your home you’ll find that your gas bills reduce, and you’ll be doing your bit for a sustainable environment. And, it’s not as expensive as you probably thought.
If you want to find out typical wood burner installation costs in your area, complete the form on this page and you’ll receive 2 to 3 quotes from qualified HETAS heating engineers near you.
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