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Best wood burning stoves 2020

Looking for the best wood burning stoves of 2020?

Stove installer and author of the Stovefitter's Manual, Julian Patrick, reveals his top ten 5kW logburners

Ekol Applepie 4kW with log store, top oven, kettle pad and side plate

Stoves tested minimum 40 hours wood burning time. If you have never bought a wood burner before then you need to read this to find out what are the best 5kW wood burning stoves. I was a stove installer for many years and I know what to look for. Don't trust manufacturer's Kilowatt outputs as they are all over the place.

Here are our top ten wood burning stoves for 2020 (we test all the stoves hard before they make the list and some do not make the grade):

  • Ekol Crystal 5 £549 (cast iron, multi fuel)
  • Woodford Lowry £495
  • Hamlet Solution 5 £595
  • Firewire £599
  • Saltfire Peanut £699 (cast iron, multi fuel)
  • Saltfire Bignut £798 (cast iron, multi fuel)
  • Flavel Arundel XL £799 (multi fuel)
  • Ekol Applepie £799 (multi fuel small stove 4kW)
  • Charnwood C4 £1002
  • DG Ivar 5 £1255

Further information on all of these Defra approved wood burning stoves further down this page.

The stove I have in my own house is the DG Ivar 5, the best stove on the market today in my opinion.

What to look for

What size logs?

Does the 5kW stove have a reasonably-sized door opening, viewing glass and firebox (internal area where logs sit)? Don’t worry about this too much but bear it in mind. Five small logs actually burner hotter and catch more easily than two large logs so it is good practice chopping smaller logs. All stoves on our website have the firebox and glass dimensions shown so you can be informed.

Firewire Curve stove

Ecodesign?

Is the 5kW stove "Ecodesign ready" or "Ecodesign Approved"? Stoves sold after 2022 will have to be so. Ecodesign stoves are the very latest models that have passed stringent environmental tests. Stoves already installed prior to the 2022 cut-off date are fully legal so don't worry if you have one of these (the rules are not back-dated).

Can you fit a 5" liner?

Do you have a narrow chimney or do you want to lessen the risk that a liner might not go down your chimney? DEFRA-Exempt 5kW wood burning stoves with a 5″ collar can usually be fitted to a five inch liner rather than the usual 6″ minimum making the installer's job much less stressful. Use our filter system to find 5kW stoves that can have a 5" liner. I seriously suggest any self installer fits a 5" liner unless they know their chimney is large enough for a 6"! What is the best chimney liner?

Chimney liner

Air vent?

Will your 5kW wood burning stove require an air vent within the room (some stone walls are very difficult to drill)? 5kW or under and wood burning stoves often do not require an air vent (new builds always require an air vent). Do I need an air vent for a wood burning stove?

Air vent

Output in kW?

What is the maximum output in kW of your "5kW" wood stove? The majority of manufacturers just specify the “nominal output” and this figure means very little in real life. The nominal is a figure the manufacturer chooses to sell the stove at - the stove is capable of reaching at least this output with one fuel load. Nominal means "capable of". But it is not the maximum.

Check out the size of the area where the logs will go (firebox size) as this varies enormously. The kW output is completely dependant on the amount of logs burning at any one time - more logs burning equals more heat. If you can fit three logs in stove A and just two logs in stove B then stove A will be capable of throwing out 33% more heat.

DO NOT TRUST MANUFACTURERS’ kW RATINGS as manufacturer’s specify what output they desire to sell the stove at and testing allows for much “playing with the figures”. This is why you can get very small 5kW stoves (e.g. Aga Little Wenlock) and very large 5kW stoves (e.g. DG Ivar which is actually rated 5kW but has a MUCH larger firebox than the Aga Little Wenlock). A Little Wenlock might get to 5kW and not be capable of any higher whilst a DG Ivar, despite being rated at 5kW, can get to 8kW with a full fuel load.

Note that, over time, one might damage the internal firebricks of a stove by running at a higher load than the manufacturer's suggest. Firebricks are easily replaceable.

Recess size?

Will your wood burning stove fit in your recess WITH the required air gaps around it? Air gaps to non-combustible materials (brick, stone etc.) are usually "as close as you like" legally but manufacturers will sometimes specify a recommendation. This recommendation is there to allow heat to escape from the recess into the room - so you get the heat benefit rather than the heat soaking into the building structure and being lost. If no gap to non-combustibles recommended then we suggest 100mm air gap left and right of stove, 50mm behind and 100mm above. More about air gaps around wood stoves here.

DG Ivar 8

Smoke Control Area?

Are you in a Smoke Control Area (usually built up areas)? Choose your stove accordingly. A stove must be DEFRA Approved if you wish to burn wood in a smoke control area.

Smoke Control Area

Efficiency

What is the stoves’s efficiency rating? In simple terms if a stove has an efficiency rating of 70% then 30% of the heat from your logs goes up the chimney. If a stove has an efficiency rating of 90% then only 10% goes up the chimney. So think of this in terms of how many logs you have to chop/buy. A tall chimney (6m or more) that is lined will be happy with an efficient stove. But beware… if you are not fitting a liner or if you have a short chimney (less draw from a shorter or unlined chimney) then you might desire a little more heat going up your chimney because more heat means more draw. If your chimney is short or unlined then one of the older less efficient designs may perform better. But please DO line your chimney if you can:-) Efficiency importance is overrated in my humble opinion and anything between 75% and 85% is fine.

Hearth thickness

Many modern stoves can go on 12mm thick hearths. Others require full, 5″ thick constructional hearths. All of the stoves we sell state whether or not a 12mm hearth is suitable. More about hearths for wood stoves here.

Retailer service

Can you can talk to somebody on the phone should you need to after the wood burning stove has been delivered, especially if you are self installing? Will the staff at “wesellzillionsofstoves.com” be able to assist with any installation issues? What if there are any problems after install? Stovefitter's Warehouse is run by an experienced stove installer and we offer a six-month money back guarantee even if the stove has been used. If within six-months we will even contribute £100 towards uninstall cost.

Do yourself a favour before ordering stoves or materials on the Internet: Go to Trustpilot and type in the company name before you buy. Some companies advertising at the top of search engines are not good news - check for yourself.

Trustpilot Stovefitter's Warehouse

Quality

DG Vidat Triple stove

When striving to find the best 5kW wood burning stove you will likely be bewildered by the choice. There are many to choose from. The question I get asked most in our shop is “why should I pay <£1,000> for this one when this other one is just <£500>?”. Here is the very simple answer: the cheaper ones are made in China or Eastern Europe whilst the more expensive are made in Western Europe (or sometimes the USA). Here are a few examples where a more expensive stove might excel over a cheaper stove:

Aesthetics (more time spent on design)
Hinges (sometimes hidden on more expensive stoves)
Better quality glass
Thicker steel (longer life)
Improved door locking mechanisms
Longer warranty
Improved controllabilty of flame due to more resource invested on design of air flow within stove
Brushed steel fittings instead of cheapy chrome look

Open and close the door on a cheap Chinese stove. Then open and close the door on a DG, Arada, Aarrow, Woodford, Charnwood or Parkray stove. You’ll understand the difference.

Stove pricing reminds me of wine pricing. A £20 bottle of wine is not double the quality of a £10 bottle of wine (the drinking experience might be improved by 20% as an example). We are talking “the law of diminishing returns here. They are all “fire in a metal box” at the end of the day.

Pictured is the DG Aste 5 from Holland

The Best Wood Burning Stoves 2020

Hi,

Wood burning stoves on this page were tested for at least 40 hours and are my choice for 2020. The UK's best selling wood burning stoves during the winter of 2019/20 were the Saltfire Peanuts, Firewire range and the DG Ivar 5.

Stay warm,

Julian Patrick (ex-installer, owner of Stovefitter's Warehouse and author of The Stovefitter's Manual)

Ekol Crystal £549

A 5kW traditional-looking and small cast-iron multifuel stove that is tremendous value for money. Heavy and well-built. Ekol great company to deal with (excellent customer service).

This is one of the best cast-iron stoves at this price.

Ekol Crystal £549

Width 395mm Height 540mm

Glass 220mm x 200mm

Woodford Lowry from £495

Great log burner at an excellent price. Decent sized firebox and glass. An excellent little wood burning stove.

Woodford Lowry from £495

Width 388mm Height 487mm

Glass 248mm x 266mm

Hamlet Solution 5 £595

The very latest version of the UK-manufactured and very popular Hamlet Solution 5. UK-made, strong, well built.

An excellent ten-year guarantee on the stove body provides reassurance. Multifuel as standard.

Hamlet 5 £595

Hamlet 5 Widescreen

Width 440mm Height 550mm

Glass 270 x 260mm

Firewire £599

There are a few contemporary stoves on the market worth buying at this price point and the Firewire is certainly fighting it out at the top of the list. Cleanest glass of any stove we have ever tested.

Single control (great!).

This is a wood burning stove (oft referred to as a log burner).

Firewire 400 £599

Width 410mm Height 530mm

Glass 300mm x 340mm

Other sizes available

Saltfire Peanut £699

The best-selling wood burning stove of the autumn/winter 2019 - to the point that UK stores ran out of stock. Love the fact they are cast-iron yet contemporary in design. Love the "Fast Flame" feature.

Top favourite without a doubt.

Saltfire Peanut £699

Width 391mm Height 554mm

Glass 280mm x 290mm

Saltfire Bignut £798

The wonderfully named "Bignut" is a larger version of the standard-sized contemporary Peanut 5 multifuel stove and the biggest seller of the range.

This is possibly the best cast-iron stove on the market today.

Saltfire Bignut £798

Width 485mm Height 579mm

Glass 360mm x 290mm

Flavel Arundel XL £799

We had this contemporary stove on test in our office (old stone Chapel, difficult to heat). It passed the "Arran" test (he did not pester me to end the test early so "we can get something warmer in"). Large glass, loads of heat and very controllable.

Flavel Arundel XL £799

Width 510mm Height 649mm

Glass 400mm x 410mm

Ekol Applepie £799

Okay it's 4kW but we love it.

A small, contemporary Ecodesign wood burning and multifuel stove that loves small spaces: snug, home office, shed, boat, caravan, bedroom, extension, conservatory, glamping, van and any small room that needs warming. Chic and very well designed.

Ekol Applepie £799

Width 305mm Height 470mm

Glass 200 x 260mm

Charnwood C4 Eco £1002

The Isle of Wight is where this extremely popular wood burnning stove is manufactured, making it an ideal choice for those requiring "Made in Britain". A design classic.

Multi fuel kit available for this stove.

Charnwood C4 Eco £1002

Width 416mm Height 560mm

Glass 265 x 265mm

DG Ivar £1255

"When you unwrap it you will understand. When you light it you will understand. Some things are worth spending a little more on and we have yet to find a finer contemporary wood burning stove on the market".

Multi fuel kit available for this stove.

I think this is the best 5kW wood burning stove.

Julian Patrick, Author of The Stovefitter's Manual

DG Ivar £1255

Width 450mm Height 555mm

Glass 330 x 320mm

New: Dik Geurts Modivar 5

Ps. There are a variety of "best wood burning stoves articles you might find at the top of the Google search. I would take many of them with a pinch of salt. An example is by The Telegraph in February 2020: "The best wood burning stoves that will survive Michael Gove's new laws". The list appears to have been created by a journalist ringing round a few shops. The recommended stoves are a strange choice indeed.

Best little stoves

Pictured are five stoves from Saltfire, Ekol and Salamander. Saltfire and Ekol are both part of the same company. Salamander'soffering is the Hobbit.

Small wood burners tend to be 4kW or "small 5kW".

Read our small wood burning stoves article to learn more.

Terminology & resources

Eco Design

All of our best wood burning stoves are certified as Eco Design compliant (have passed the new and stringent 2022 regulations).

Ecodesign logo

Defra

All ten 5kW stoves can burn wood in a Smoke Control Area (most towns and cities are Smoke Control Areas).

Defra logo

Free gift: A, B, C, D or E

Delivery promise (14 days to report any damage)

WHY YOU NEED OUR Exceptional guarantee (6-months even if stove used)

What if I get a lemon? What if I'm unhappy when I unwrap it? What if it does not agree with my chimney?
 
Chimney and stove not agreeing with each other? Although rare it really does happen and it is usually cured by swapping the stove for another. Why? Who knows? We have had a few stoves that "whistled". When we swapped the stove the problem stopped but when we put the stoves on a different chimney they do not whistle. We have had a few stoves that let smoke into the room when refuelling - swap the stove and the problem is cured. Test the stove on a different chimney and all is well.
 
Most retailers will not replace or refund if it is a problem with the chimney. You will have to sell your stove yourself (at a great loss as stove second-hand value is very poor) and purchase another.
 
If your stove's retail price is under £1500: Should you not be happy with your stove for any reason, within the first three months from purchase, we will arrange to have the stove collected from your premises (we pay first £48 delivery collection cost, covers most UK postcodes, you pay additional in rare situation cost rises above £48 for any reason). Stove installed and has been used? No worry. We will pay you up to £100 to have it removed by a Hetas registered installer.
 
As soon as the stove is back with us we will provide a FULL REFUND of the cost of the stove. We will even post you a pallet and straps as required (you will need to prepare it ready for our driver). This exceptional guarantee lasts for a full three months from date of delivery EVEN IF THE STOVE IS USED as long as normal wear and tear.
 
Between three and six months, we offer exactly the same but without the £100 stove-removal offer.
 
On this, you have my word.

 

Julian Patrick
Managing Director Stove Fitter's Warehouse and Author of The Stove Fitter's Manual

 

*The "exceptional money-back guarantee" applies only to black stoves or stoves that have a retail value inc. VAT of £1,500 or less. INSET OR CASSETTE STOVES ARE NOT INCLUDED. STOVES NOT ADVERTISED ON www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk are NOT INCLUDED.

Goobledygook explained

Boarded surface: Fireproof board (usually 10-20mm thick) for lining fireplace recesses or sealing off bottom of chimney. Available builder's merchants or specialist stove stores. Example is Hardiebacker see here: http://www.stovefittersmanual.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/hardiebacker-multifuel-leaflet.pdf
Lining a fireplace: https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/pages/lining-a-fireplace

Capacity: A Stovefitter's figure, in cm2, as to the useable inside area of the stove with regard to fuel load.

Chimney liner: A stainless steel tube, slides down a brick/stone chimney to provide a smooth and safe route for smoke.
https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/products/duraflue-316-904-grade-chimney-flue-liner
See also "Fitting Pack". If no chimney then see here: https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/products/chimney-design-to-building-regulations

Chimney plate: Seals off bottom of chimney above stove. If fitting a chimney liner will be made of metal or fireproof board (see boarded surface).

Collar: The place on the stove where the first section of chimney pipe inserts.

Cowl: Sits on top of chimney pot and stops rain/birds getting into chimney.

DEFRA: Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (UK).

Firebox: The inside of the stove where the fuel sits. The bigger this is the more fuel and therefore the more heat.
https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/pages/what-size-wood-burning-stove-for-my-room

Fitting pack: Purchased with stove and chimney liner (stove+liner+fitting pack and off you go!). Includes all you need from stove to cowl and we can choose the correct pack for you depending on your liner and stove. Fitting Pack does not include chimney plate or CO detector - these items can be purchased separately or are often available as a free gift with our stoves. Use our SEARCH button, top right of website to search for "fitting pack" for more detailed info. See infographic here: https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/pages/choosing-your-fitting-pack

Flue: If a polo mint is the chimney, the flue is the hole.

Hearth: The area underneath the stove.
https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/pages/hearth-regulations

Internal firebox: See also "Firebox".

kW: Kilowatts per hour. See also "Firebox".

Liner: See Chimney liner.

Log store: An area under a stove for storage of logs. May be a separate part (can be retrofitted) or may be part of the actual stove design (cannot be retrofitted).

Max. output: Stovefitter's deduction of maximum output using a reasonably full fuel load.
https://www.stovefitterswarehouse.co.uk/pages/what-size-wood-burning-stove-for-my-room

Multi-fuel: Can burn wood, smokeless fuel or coal.

Nominal: "about" or "approx."

Renewable energy: is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat

Smoke Control Area: A smoke control area is a legally defined area where only approved solid fuels or exempted appliances (eg wood burning stoves) can be used within buildings. You could face a fine of up to £1,000 if you break the law.

Useable height: A Stovefitter's term that helps determine how much fuel can be stacked in a stove - equal to 15cm above the point at which fuel can fall out of the firebox when the stove door is opened. Any higher than this and opening the door increases chance of fuel falling onto hearth.

Wood burning stove: Can burn only wood. Some stoves can be retrofitted with a multifuel-kit (usually just a grate that is fitted into the bottom of the stove, a five-minute task).

See also our FAQ and Easy-Guides here

 

Warehouse

Hi,

That's me Julian with the blue stove. I am the owner of this business and author of The Stovefitter's Manual. The other chap is Arran, who will chat all day long if you get him started. He drives the big van. We both run the phones. Arran deals with courier problems ;-)

Just call us. We talk about stoves . It is what we do.

01492 535 852

Julian & Arran

Ps. The dog's called Reg, Entertainments Manager. He's not much use selling stoves but says he'll talk rabbits to any other hounds who are interested.

next day delivery five star
Julian Patrick

Article by Julian Patrick, author of The Stovefitter's Manual. Wood burning stove installer (including solid fuel heating systems). Laid down tools in 2013 to write The Stove Fitter's Manual and open a small shop in North Wales (the Wood Stove Hut). Launched Stovefitter's Warehouse soon after due to fast growth of sales. Own stove is a DG Ivar 5.