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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

There are quite a few of these lists about with many including stoves that I know customers should stay well clear of. Some lists are created by journalists who post to a few stove shops and ask the shop owners what they should say (in return for a link back to their shop). The problem here is that many small stove shops can only access a few brands and are often left scavenging amongst the brands that they can get, rather than the stoves they really want to sell (think models from twenty years ago). Hence the lists are often laughable to those who know stoves.

Here at Stovefitter's we can provide the majority of all stove brands. Stoves listed here are tested for a minimum of 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 and my colleague Arran worked for many years in one of the UK's largest stove retail outlets with access to all the major brands.

Don't trust manufacturer's Kilowatt outputs as they are all over the place.

Here are our top ten wood burning stoves for 2020:

 

  • Ekol Crystal 5 £547 (cast iron, multi fuel)
  • Woodford Lowry £539
  • Hamlet Solution 5 £595 (multifuel)
  • Firewire £649
  • Salfire ST-X5 £699 (multi fuel)
  • Firewire Curve £799
  • Flavel Arundel XL £799 (multi fuel)
  • Ekol Applepie £799 (multi fuel small stove 4kW)
  • DG Aste 5 £1404 (multi fuel via a kit)
  • DG Ivar 5 £1295 (multi fuel via a kit)

 

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?

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

Why does my local shop/installer always recommend Clock Stoves, Woodwarm Stoves or Town and Country Stoves?

Because(at the time of writing) these brands do not allow customers to buy these stoves online, operating a strict "no Internet policy". This keeps prices high and means that installers or shop owners can recommend them without fear of that customer buying elsewhere or being able to compare price. This is why they say "Clock Stoves are the best" or "Woodwarm Stoves are the best" or "Town & Country Stoves are the best" Read more here.

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 (currently out of stock for months so may not show in the list), 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 £547

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.

Various kW sizes available.

Ekol Crystal

Width 395mm Height 540mm

Glass 220mm x 200mm

Woodford Lowry from £539

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

Three sizes available.

Woodford Lowry

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

Hamlet 5 Widescreen

Width 440mm Height 550mm

Glass 270 x 260mm

Firewire £649

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 (three sizes available)

Width 410mm Height 530mm

Glass 300mm x 340mm

Other sizes available

Saltfire ST-X5 £699

One of our best-selling "big 5kW" wood burning stoves of the last few years. Big strong stove that just "works" exactly as it should. Steel with a cast iron door. Burns wood and smokeless fuel and has a proper old-style grate and sizeable ashpan. Too large? Checkout the ST-X4.

Top favourite without a doubt. And check out the widescreen version!

Saltfire ST-X5

Width 460mm Height 615mm

Glass 300mm x 310mm

Firewire Curve £799

Same body as the standard Firewire but with a gorgeous cast-iron door that makes it look surprisingly similar to the much more expensive DG Ivar 5.

We think that this upgrades the Firewire somewhat - a more contemporary look.

Firewire Curve 450 (three widths available 40cm, 45cm and 50cm

Width 446mm Height 494mm

Glass 340mm x 300mm

Pssst... Grab yourself a bargain gone when gone. British-made stove with 25% off Arada Ecoburn Plus 5 WIDESCREEN now £879

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

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

Width 305mm Height 470mm

Glass 200 x 260mm

Not enough choice for you? Check out one of 2020's rising best sellers, the Heta Inspire 45 £1099

DG Aste £1404

Using the same chassis as the superb DG Ivar 5 the Aste has a slightly retro, traditional appeal. Simply beautiful.

Huge viewing area.

Multi fuel kit available for this stove.

I think the Aste and Ivar are the best 5kW wood burning stoves available on the market today.

Julian Patrick, Author of The Stovefitter's Manual

DG Aste

Width 486mm Height 555mm

Glass 330 x 320mm

DG Ivar £1295

"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 the Aste and Ivar are the best 5kW wood burning stoves available on the market today.

Julian Patrick, Author of The Stovefitter's Manual

DG Ivar

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

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
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.

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.