Stoves - A Warm Welcome - What you need to know about stoves
Nest Architects speak to Flame NI on all things stoves - Multi-fuel, wood burning, gas and electric.
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A warm welcome - Stoves - Essential guide to choosing a stove
Considering we are in the middle of the Winter months, with the cold frosty nights setting in hard, we thought what better topic to discuss in today’s blog post than the warm inviting atmosphere a burning stove offers to a home. Whether its the authenticity of a wood-burning stove, or the convenience of a gas stove, nothing beats being wrapped up warm and toasty inside gazing into the flames while the temperatures plummet outside!
The fireplace has always been the heart of a home - days gone by the “open fire” was the place for cooking and the only source of heating. Now a days however, with the ever improving building regulations in terms of sustainability, the open fire is proving to be inefficient with 90% of the heat going up the chimney. This is where the stove trumps an open fire; being more efficient in heat provision with just 25% or less disappearing up the flue, while functioning as a fabulous focal point adding warmth and character to any room.
But which is the right stove for you? There are many things to consider when choosing a stove whether its for a new build, or maybe you are converting your existing open fire to a stove? We spoke to our friends at Flame NI to gather the intel necessary to produce this guide in helping you choose the perfect stove for your home!
What size of a stove do I need?
A key part in choosing the right stove for your home is getting the correct size and heat output - stoves are measured in kilowatts and options range from 3 kW to over 15 kW. The size of a stove will depend on a number of factors including:
Size of the room in which the stove is being installed in.
Size and type of windows (single, double or triple glazing) to the proposed installation room
Construction type and insulation spec if installing into a new build
If retrofitting into an existing home, age of property and existing insulation spec
To get this right, our advice would be to have a professional registered with the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS), like our friends at Flame NI, review your proposals and if deemed necessary. conduct a site survey, to ensure the correct size and heat output
What Type of stove are available?
Stoves can come in all shapes and sizes and can be either Multi-Fuel, Wood-Burning, Electric or Gas.
Multi-fuel stoves are similar in appearance and design to a wood burning stove but, as the name suggests, offers the greatest flexibility in burning a variety of fuels such as coal, wood, pellets, peat and smokeless fuel. A Multi-fuel stove is ideal for burning coal as a grate is provided inside for the fuel to sit on, allowing air circulation below the coal to burn effectively. On the other hand, wood burns best when sitting on a bed of ash with air circulating from above. It is for these reasons it is advised not to burn these different fuels at the same time if you wish to achieve the full potential of your stove and optimise your heat output.
Wood-burning stoves can burn all types of wood, with preference given to hardwood logs which are denser than softwood, thus providing the best heat output. It is worth noting, the drier the wood the better - wet wood is inefficient and once burning, creates a lot of smoke that damages the chimney and blackens the stove glass. Therefore it is best investing time in properly sourcing well seasoned or kiln dried wood. It is also advisable to avoid burning the following which can release toxic gases and cause a build-up of resin in the hearth and flue:
Spruce (and other conifers)
Salvaged or treated wood
GAS & ELECTRIC STOVES
Ranging between 2 kW to 7 kW, gas stoves are now available in a contemporary finish and can be specified for use with either natural gas or LPG. Mains gas or bottle gas supply allows for flexibility depending on location of your home.
Electric stoves on the other hand are an easy plug in choice providing flexibility in installation to homes or rooms without a chimney or where a chimney is not possible, while still providing heat with a flame-effect - Flame effects are now highly realistic featuring Chromalight or Veriflame technology. Sizes range between 1 kW and 2 kW output.
Both gas and electric stoves comes without the mess and storage requirements of which comes with the multi-fuel and wood-burning stoves.
WHERE CAN A STOVE BE FITTED?
Should you not want an electric stove, and where an existing chimney is not present, a stove can be safely installed in just about any room in your home provided space is available to install a steel chimney system. Many stoves are freestanding, with some stoves able to be hung from the ceiling from their steel chimney system as seen in the above picture. Some have even installed stoves in bedrooms, bathrooms and external entertainment areas. Therefore the options and answer to this question are plenty-full. In a newly built dwelling, external views and the position of the TV determines where a stove may be fitted, and in existing dwelling, stoves can be installed to replace your existing inefficient open fire. However, it is important to remember that a stove is often only as good as the chimney or flue to which it is connected to, meaning an existing chimney may need investigated to establish whether it is fit for purpose.
Therefore we advise you feel free to contact us or our friends at Flame NI should you have an idea you wish to discuss regarding the positioning and installation of a new stove. Through this we can discuss safety considerations including ventilation, suitable surround materials and safety guards if you have young children in deciding where to locate a new stove.
CAN A STOVE PROVIDE DOMESTIC HOT WATER?
The simple answer is Yes, provided that the selected stove comes with a back boiler which can be plumbed into a hot water cylinder. It is also possible to provide this option to retro fits, but some planning and consideration will be necessary to the existing plumbing system installed.
CAN ANYONE INSTALL A STOVE?
Getting a stove installed is not something you can do yourself. You will need a qualified installer as the installation will need to meet current building regulations. We have to remember that we are dealing with an appliance that generates a lot of heat from fire which can cause a house fire if installed incorrectly. We strongly recommend that you use a HETAS registered installer who will self-certify the installation while also dealing with the building regulations for you. Safety first should always be the only option!
does my stove require MAINTENANCE?
We recommend having the chimney swept once a year (or twice if you burn wood) and a service carried out annually on your appliance, which allows for checking the glass seals and internal fire linings are in suitable working conditions. Points worth noting to assist with the maintenance of your stove include;
In wet weather, leave the air supply open to prevent corrosion from rainwater coming down the chimney.
If the glass of the chamber appears milky, it is because the stove is running too hot and needs some attention.
Avoid burning wet wood as this creates a lot of smoke that damages the chimney and blackens the stove glass.
Should you have any further questions you would like some answers to, or maybe you are planning a new home, extension or renovation project which includes the installation of a new stove and you would like to appoint us for our architectural services, or maybe you are having some issues with your existing stove, then please do not hesitate in contacting ourselves at Nest Architects or our friends at Flame NI.