By Julian Patrick
By Julian Patrick
Ekol Applepie 4kW with log store, top oven, kettle pad and side plate
Choosing a wood burning stove can be rather daunting. There are just so many to choose from? We are here to help guide you...
There are quite a few best wood burning stove lists about, with many including stoves that I know customers should stay well clear of.
Some lists are created by journalists who call a few local stove shops and ask the shop owners what they would choose (in return for a link back to their shop). Sounds like a plan eh? The problem here is that many small stove shops can only access a few brands. Many brands sorted their distribution arrangements many years ago and are shops are often left scavenging the brands they can get, rather than the stoves they really want (think Cheap Chinese or models from twenty years ago).
Hence these best stove lists are often laughable to those who know stoves.
Here at Stovefitter's we can provide the majority of stove brands (there are a few we cannot get but we have most of the major distributors available to us).
Wood burning stoves listed on this page 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 DEFRA approved wood burning stoves for 2021 (in no particular order):
Up and coming new 5kW models:
Henley Burnbright Orion
Should be on the list: Flavel Arundel 5 (loved by installers as is a perfect size for the UK lounge and just gets the job done).
Further information on all of these Defra approved wood burning stoves further down this page.
Does the 5kW wood burning 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 exterior viewing window sizes (glass dimensions) and this helps when choosing.
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).
Stoves do not have to Be Hetas approved (Hetas is a private organisation for stove installers).
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.
I seriously suggest any self installer fits a 5" liner unless they know their chimney is large enough for a 6"!
We have a few Marchwood stove bargains (having a warehouse clearcut):
Aduro 16: LAST ONE. BARGAIN AT THIS PRICE! AND £200 FREE INSTALLATION MATERIALS OF YOUR CHOICE.
Hamlet Hardy 4: £150 FREE INSTALLATION MATERIALS OF YOUR CHOICE.
Arada Ecoburn Plus 5: £300 FREE INSTALLATION MATERIALS OF YOUR CHOICE.
ASK ON LIVE CHAT OR TEXT 07520635388
What is the maximum output in kW of your "5kW" wood burning 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 manufacturers 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 wood burning 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 stoves 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
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
Wood burning stoves on this page were tested for at least 40 hours and are my personal choice for 2021. The UK's best selling wood burning stoves during the winter of 2020/21 were the Saltfire Peanuts, Firewire range and the DG Ivar 5.
- Julian Patrick, site owner and author Stovefitter's Manual
There is something about this stove that makes it stand out in our showroom. It is quite a small 5kW stove but it has perfect proportions - it just looks right.
The Ekol Clarity 5 is a small 5kW steel stove with a cast iron door that has a neat, contemporary look.
5,8,12 kW sizes available. Log store versions available.
During the winter of 2018/19 Stovefitter's went in search of a modern, large screen, Ecodesign stove that we could retail between £599 and £799. We tested numerous models and it was the range that you now see that came out on top. The "Firewire" is a wood-only stove with a large viewing window and simple yet effective single control..
Three sizes available.
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.
Log store and oven modules available.
We did not choose this stove as is usually the case - this stove was chosen by our customers. We added the Heta Inspire to our site following a particularly high demand for quotes for the stove from our customers, despite the fact that it was not on our website - this being a sure sign that a stove is a potential winner :-)
"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.
Low, High-leg and log-store versions available.
"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.
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.
Very well known in Ireland but less well known in the UK Henley stoves surpassed our expectations. The Burnbright performed as well as almost any other 5kW stoves we have tested. The Severn is an excellent price for a large-glass 8kW. The Oakwoods are made in the same factory as the Saltfire Peanuts ;-)
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.
Julian Patrick is the author of The Stovefitter's Manual and an experienced 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.
Stovefitter's Warehouse is owned and managed by Julian Patrick, blogger and author of The Stove Fitter's Manual. Julian was previously a full-time installer of wood burning stoves (including solid fuel heating systems). He laid down the tools in 2013 to write his stove manual and open a small shop in North Wales (the Wood Stove Hut, soon to grow into The Stovefitter's Warehouse).