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Defra approved stoves: the top 10 contenders for 2020

Our selection of the best Defra approved wood burning stoves are...

Most online sites have far too many stoves to choose from. They list every stove they can get their hands on. There are too many!

Surely they cannot all be the best? There must be plenty of mediocre performers amongst the hordes?

So let us narrow it down for you. What is the small pool that we at Stovefitter's would choose from?

 

  • Ekol Crystal 5 £549 (lovely cast iron model, eco air wash). Tell me more
  • Woodford Lowry £495 (petite, well-priced) . Tell me more
  • Hamlet 5 SC £595 (one of my favourites... Julian). Tell me more
  • Firewire £599 (at this price hard to beat). Tell me more
  • Saltfire Peanut £699 (best selling stover winter 2019/20). Tell me more
  • Saltfire Bignut £798 (the biggest 5kW Peanut). Tell me more
  • Flavel Arundel XL £799 (multi fuel) and Arundel's bigger brother. Tell me more
  • Ekol Applepie £799 (so cute). Tell me more
  • Charnwood C4 £1002 (made in the UK, on the Isle of Wight). Tell me more
  • DG Ivar 5 £1255 (the best stove ever made... probably). Tell me more

 

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

We test a different stove every month during winter and give them all a good hard beating.

The stove I own is the DG Ivar 5, the best logburner on the market today as far as I am concerned.

More information on all of these stoves further down this page

What is a Defra approved stove?

Defra approved stoves are those that are allowed in law to burn specified fuels in smoke control areas, fuels that are usually disallowed in those areas. In the case of a stove (also referred to as a log burner) this means wood, the burning of which is otherwise disallowed in the designated area.

The control of correct fuel usage stems from the desire to promote clean air, particularly in populated areas.

If you see a stove that has SE after its name or the DEFRA logo and the word "approved" then this means that you can fit these approved stoves in a smoke control area and legally burn wood.

Stoves passed by DEFRA can be steel or cast iron and can burn wood or be multi fuel.

What is different in design terms?

The difference between DEFRA approved wood burning stoves and those stoves not approved is surprisingly little. Modern stoves can even, in some cases, be modified to become DEFRA approved with a kit (supplied by the stove manufacturer).

The kit makes changes to the stove’s air vents, changing the design so that the stove cannot be fully closed down to full slumber (when airflow to the fuel is almost completely cut off by use of the stove's controls). Users will often do this to keep a stove going all night but it is very bad for the environmentas the particulate number and size increases (often at night the smoke is not seen). Slumbering can also shorten the life of a stove, its components and flue system.

A DEFRA approved wood burning stove will not allow excessive smoke due to slumbering (they can still be turned down low so do not be tempted to overthink this).

What is a smoke control area?

Areas of the UK designated as such are usually well-populated: towns, cities and their suburbs where smoke can be a nuisance. You can easily check your area online.

What if I am not burning wood?

Can you install a stove, that DEFRA has not tested, in a restricted area, if you are not going to burn wood? In other words, if you are only going to burn smokeless fuel (an authorised fuel). Yes you can and below is a snippet from the DEFRA website 2019 that states this:

I have bought an appliance and now find I am in a smoke control area and it is not exempt what should I do? You could ask the manufacturer or importer if they have any plans to seek exemption. Alternatively, replace it with an exempt appliance from the list atExempt Appliances or continue to use the appliance but only using an authorised fuel. The list of authorised fuels can be found atAuthorised Fuels.

Do they any advantages over non-Defra stoves?

Aside from the fact they an approved stove is likely to emit less smoke and helps with clean air objectives, a major advantageof DEFRA approved stoves is that they can legally be attached to a 5″ chimney liner for the burning of wood ( if the DEFRA approved stove has a 5″ collar and the manufacturer does not insist on a larger diameter). In all other circumstances, Building Regulations state that a liner must be 6″ minimum when burning wood.

Note that a 5″ liner can be legally fitted to ANY stove, DEFRA certified or not, with a 5″ collar if (a) the manufacturer does not state otherwise and (b) only smokeless fuel is to burn within the stove.

A 5″ liner can be very desirable or even necessary if a chimney requires lining but is very narrow or difficult.

The Defra approved stoves that made the list

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

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

Hamlet SC £595

The very latest version of the UK-manufactured and very popular Hamlet Solution 5. Very easy to light as incoming air concentrated in small area of base (similar to Peanut "Fast Flame" further down in this list).

An excellent ten-year guarantee on the stove body provides reassurance. Log burner as standard, multifuel kit available.

Hamlet SC £595

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.

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

Firewire 400 £599

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.