With the cost of gas and electric heating reaching record highs in recent years, thousands of UK households are making the switch to less expensive wood heating. According to the latest 2024 data, around 9% of UK households are currently heating their homes with wood-burning stoves.
The purchase can make a lot of economic sense. While purchasing and installing a log burner can be expensive, wood fuel itself is a lot less expensive. Especially if you opt for cost-effective wood briquettes, rather than traditional firewood. In fact, the majority of new Lekto customers have reported recouping all of their costs within 24 months of purchase.
But is a wood burner the right choice for you? What are the pros and cons of getting a wood burner? How much does it cost to purchase and install a wood burner? How much does a month’s worth of wood fuel cost? And what is the best type of wood to use in a log burner?
In this article, Lekto wood fuel experts will answer these questions and many more. By the time you finish reading it, you will have a clear idea of whether a wood-burning stove is right for you.
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How Do Wood Burners Work?
Log burners and multi-fuel stoves work by extracting heat energy from firewood and removing exhaust gases through the chimney. Wood is lit inside the burner’s firebox and the chimney provides a steady stream of fresh air to keep the flames going. Virtually all modern appliances come with air flow controls, allowing you to control the amount of air that comes into contact with the fuel.
Is a Fireplace Needed For a Log Burner?
It depends on what you want from your burner. The benefit of a fireplace is that its brick partially absorb the excess heat that would otherwise be sent out from the flue. This design is considered to be more energy-efficient as the bricks will be able to keep your home warm for several hours after the fire goes out.
Are Old Burners Just as Good As Modern Ones?
No, they are not, and it's not even close. All of our wood fuel experts agree that today’s wood burners are a lot more efficient than older designs. Put in layman's terms, modern stoves are a lot better at extracting heat from wood, so you’ll get more heat per log burned. This can lower your heating expenses as you’ll need fewer logs to keep your home warm. Additionally, newer appliances produce fewer emissions, which—provided you use low-moisture wood fuels—can make your wood heating a lot greener.
Official website of the clearSkies log burner quality mark.
Who to Choose an Efficient Log Burner in the UK?
All log burners you can buy in the UK today are energy efficient, provided you purchase them new and through official channels. This is due to a recently passed regulation. By law, all wood burners and multi-fuel stoves sold in the UK since January 2022 are compliant EU’s Ecodesign standard, which is aimed at reducing air pollution and particulate emissions. In essence, Ecodesign is the log burner equivalent of Defra's Ready to Burn wood fuel quality standard.
To learn more, read our article on Ecodesign.
What is the clearSkies Wood Burner Standard?
If you want to get the most eco-friendly stove possible, look for the clearSkies quality mark. This certification is voluntary, rather than mandatory, and goes above and beyond the government-mandated Ecodesign standard. The scheme is endorsed by Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, as well as the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps.
Are All clearSkies Log Burners the Same?
No, not all clearSkies wood-burning appliances are the same. In fact, there are four different levels to clearSkies. Here’s a brief breakdown:
- clearSkies Level 2: Equivalent to the Ecodesign standard.
- clearSkies Level 3: Ecodesign compliance and meet Defra’s requirements for smoke control areas.
- clearSkies Level 4: At least 15% more efficient than Level 3 and Level 4 stoves.
- clearSkies Level 5: The flagship efficiency level. These stoves are at least 15% more efficient than clearSkies Level 4.
Want to learn more? Read our article on the clearSkies quality mark.
Let’s Talk Money: How Much Is a Log Burner?
There is no singular answer to how much are wood burners cost. Prices depend on the size of the appliance, its specifications, and the brand you go for. Here are a few examples with prices at directstoves.com as of 2024:
- Cheap and Cheerful Small Stove: Woodford Pankhurst 4.1kW (£549.95). The most basic multi-fuel stove you can currently buy, this stove measures 370mm in width, 431mm in height, and 279mm in depth. It has a total efficiency of 75.6% and has a nominal heat output of 4,1000 watts. The stove is Defra-approved and bears no clearSkies certification.
- Expert Pick For Small Stoves: Go Eco 5kW (£599.95). Spend 50 quid more and you’ll get yourself an incredible clearSkies bargain. Not only is the Go Eco 5kW noticeably larger than Woodford Pankhurst’s offering—with a width of 358mm, a height of 520mm, and a depth of 329mm—but you’re also 900 watts of extra heat output, 80% total efficiency, and Level 5 clearSkies certification. As discussed above, Level 5 is as good as it gets.
- Low-End Large Stove: Woodford Pankhurst 8kW (£724.95). If you need to heat a large room, a 5,000-watt stove may not be enough. Woodford Pankhurst’s 8,000-watt offering measures in at a width of 490mm, height of 553mm, and depth of 330mm.
- Expert Pick For Large Stoves: Ekol Clarity 8kW (£799.00). Pay less than 10% more and you’ll get yourself a clearSkies Level 5 certified stove. This offering from Ekol is both larger and more efficient than Woodford Pankhurst’s appliance. It can provide you with 8,000 watts of heat and is Defra-approved for use in smoke-free areas.
How to Install a Log Burner?
In the UK, log burners have to be installed by certified specialists. Doing this on your own may earn you a hefty fine, especially if you live in a smoke-free area. The part that most stove sellers won’t mention to you is that installing a burner may cost more than buying it in the first place.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Log Burner in the UK?
Between £600 and £3,000, depending on your needs and wants. There is no one answer to how the question of how much are wood burners to install. The best-case scenario is that your house has an existing chimney, your room isn’t too large, and you don’t have many design considerations. In this case, you may spend as little as £600-£800 on installing your log burner. If you need to get a new flue/chimney, then the least you can expect to pay is around £1,500. And the sky is the limit if you want something extravagant.
How Hot Do Wood Burners Get?
Modern wood burners can produce up to 12,000 watts of heat, which is 6 times more than a conventional 2,000-watt electric heater. This being said, this is overkill for the average household. Unless your rooms are extremely large, a simple 5-7kW wood burner will more than suffice.
The top-down method is the easiest way to start fire in a log burner.
How to Use a Log Burner?
Most first-time users won’t know how to light a log burner. Luckily, the process of starting a fire inside a log burner is super simple thanks to the top-down method. Here are the basics:
- Step One: Main Fuel. Place main wood fuel (logs or briquettes) at the bottom of your wood-burning appliance.
- Step Two: Add Kindling. Stack kindling in a grid shape on top of your logs or briquettes, leaving a bit of space between the pieces to let through some air. If you want the best experience, use Premium Kiln-Dried Kindling.
- Step Three: Add Firelighters. Now for the cherry on top. Place your firelighters of choice on top of the pyramid. If you use Lekto’s Natural Firelighters, you will only need one to start your fire.
- Step Four: Light the Firelighter. Once you’ve lit your firelighter, you can kick back and relax. The firelighter will set your kindling ablaze, and the kindling will eventually set your logs and briquettes on fire.
Read more about the Top Down Fire Starting Method.
Which Wood Is Best For Logs Burners?
In general, hardwood tree species (such as oak, ash, and birch) are considered to be better for use in log burners than softwood tree species. This is because hardwoods are far more energy-dense than softwoods and contain no sap. Choose birch logs if you’re on a tight budget and oak logs if you’re after high heat output and long burn time.
This being said, not all hardwood logs are created equal. If your budget allows it, opt for kiln-dried logs, rather than seasoned logs. Kiln-dried logs contain less moisture, are easier to light, burn more cleanly, and are safe to store indoors (unlike seasoned logs, which can serve as a home for pests and mould).
Do You Need to Hire a Chimney Sweep?
Yes, you do. All wood fuel experts agree that hiring a chimney sweep is mandatory. If the wood you’re using is of very high quality, you may only need to hire a chimney sweep every 2 years. If you are burning freshly cut wet wood, you’ll need to hire one at least twice a year.
Read Lekto's article on hiring a chimney sweep.
What Are the Top Reasons to Own a Log Burner?
- It will reduce your heating expenses. When compared to mains gas and electric heating, log burner heat is a lot less expensive. To further reduce your expenses, you can purchase your logs and briquettes during the summer, which is when it’s at its cheapest. Another way to save money is to order all of your wood fuel for the year in one go, taking advantage of bulk order discounts. If you can’t order any one product in bulk, you can still get a discount via Value Bundles.
- It’s far more eco-friendly than coal. With the UK banning the sale of house coal in 2023, many households are rethinking their use of coal-based heating. If you’re searching for a greener, renewable resource, the wood fuel could be it.
- Increase in property value. Whether we like it or not, a house with a wood burner automatically turns into a home in the eyes of many people. In many cases, buyers are willing to pay up to 10% more for a property with a wood-burning appliance. As a result, many homeowners will install a log burner before putting their property on sale.
- Control over your heating. The most important thing a log burner gives you is control. While you may decide to switch 100% of your heating to wood fuels, most people get a burner to get more control over their heating expenses. When it becomes too expensive to heat with mains gas or electric heat, you can switch to wood fuel.
Want to learn how to control your wood heating expenses? Check out our UK firewood price guide.