Wood burning or multifuel stove? A stove fitter decides.
Wood burning or multifuel stove? A stove fitter decides.
5 mins

Should you buy a wood burning or a multifuel stove?

Quick answer

“Wood only” means the stove only burns wood. "Multifuel" means the stove can burn wood AND coal/smokeless fuel (nowadays coal is generally not sold so it really means just smokeless fuel).

Sometimes a multifuel kit can be retro-fitted to a wood-only stove (although this will usually reduce the space available for logs). Over 75% of people who choose multi fuel end up burning only wood. Wood-only is the trend (2015-2020) as wood is a renewable resource so better for the environment.

Most people who buy a multifuel stove will only ever burn wood.

Our advice is that you go for "wood only".

Why? Read on to find out more.

So should you purchase a wood or a multifuel stove?

Let’s first look at some terminology. But before we start: DO NOT buy any stove until you know that it will fit wherever it is that it is going to be placed. If it is to live in a recess then is the space large enough for the stove, with the required air gap around, to both combustible and incombustible materials?

What is smokeless fuel?

Smokeless fuels are types of solid fuel that are designed to produce minimal smoke when burned. They are used in areas where the use of coal is restricted due to smoke control regulations. There are a few different types of smokeless fuels:

  1. Anthracite: This is a naturally occurring smokeless fuel. It's a hard, glossy coal that burns with a blue, smokeless flame. It produces a lot of heat and very little ash.
  2. Coke: This is a manufactured smokeless fuel, produced by heating coal in the absence of air. It burns with a clean, smokeless flame.
  3. Manufactured Smokeless Fuels: These are typically made from coal, but undergo a process to reduce their smoke emissions. Examples include "homefire" or "phurnacite." They often come in the form of briquettes or ovoids.
  4. Smokeless Peat Briquettes: These are made from compressed peat and are designed to burn without producing smoke.
  5. Smokeless Wood Products: Some forms of wood can also be considered smokeless fuel, especially if they have been kiln-dried or otherwise treated to reduce their smoke output.

It's important to note that while these fuels are "smokeless," they still produce carbon dioxide and other gases when burned, so they are not completely pollution-free. Also, not all smokeless fuels are suitable for all types of appliances, so you should always check which types are appropriate for your particular stove, heater, or fireplace.

very smart wood stove in beautiful apartment

Wood burning stoves is a term often used to cover all appliances that burn wood/smokeless fuel/coal but officially it means that the appliance is designed to burn wood and nothing else.

One advantage of “wood-only” stoves is that none of the space within the stove is taken up by a "grate plus ash pan" so the internal firebox is usually maximised. Another advantage is the smug feeling of being environmentally friendly ;-). Are you a wood scavenger? This can be great fun.

How much wood can you get hold of is an excellent question to ask yourself. You can purchase wood of course, but if you do not wish to pay then you have to source it, store and dry it. If there are times when wood is difficult to get hold of then being able to add smokeless fuel is a benefit (but you can always buy compressed-sawdust logs which burn beautifully, better than wood because they are so dry). You can burn pallets despite what some say online - as long as they are untreated (many are made of wood that is untreated).

The advantage of owning a multifuel stove, that can burn different fuels, is that you can choose your fuel. The choice of fuels, from 2020 onwards, is between wood and smokeless-fuel (coal is being phased out by law).

I like wood-only stoves because wood is a renewable resource.

Will you choose a wood burning or a multifuel stove?


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Costs correct as of April 2023:

Approx. costs if you have a chimney and fireplace ready to use: £750-£1,000 (save £500 by self-installing).

Approx. costs if you have a chimney but need the fireplace "opening up": £1,600-£2,200 (save £1200 by self-installing).

Approx. costs if you do not have a chimney and need a clip-together flue: Shed £475-£700. Bungalow £1500. 2-storey house £2500. Save £1,000-£1400 by self-installing.

Above figures include labour and materials but no appliance.

We, of course, advise you to purchase your stove and materials from Stovefitter's to ensure quality goods are installed (some installers use budget materials to increase margin). If you buy your stove from us (rather than your local small shop or installer) we have a lot more power when approaching manufacturer's with a warranty issue. Why is that? Because we buy many hundreds of stoves a year from these brands.

We do not fit stoves.

But we know a few who do!

Google: Hetas installers

Hetas are the trade body of registered UK installers.

Most installations will require that you slide a chimney liner down your chimney (flexible metal tube 5" or 6" in diameter). Do you have a narrow chimney and want to lessen the risk that a liner might not go down your chimney? Then make sure your chosen stove can use a 5" liner.

Must I line my chimney? Best read this article but most likely the answer is yes. Do I have to fit a chimney liner?

DEFRA-Exempt 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"!

What is the best chimney liner? Silvacore 904 (we sell it so of course we will say that ;-). What is the best chimney liner?

Will your 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).

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 stoves (e.g. Aga Little Wenlock) and very large 5kW stoves (e.g. DG Ivar 5 by Dik Geurts which is actually rated 5kW but has a MUCH larger firebox than the Ekol Crystal 5 by Ekol Stoves). A Crystal 5k 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? This is obviously not an issue if your stove will be freestanding.

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 50-100mm 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.


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.

Example: A Saltfire Peanut 5 by Saltfire Stoves in Dorset has an efficiciency of 80%.

A tall chimney (6m or more) that is lined will be happy with an efficient stove.

Efficiency importance can be said to be overrated and anything between 75% and 85% is fine. Go much higher and performance can actually suffer (smoke in room when opening door to reload, blackening of glass).

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.

When striving to find thebest 5kW wood burning stovesyou 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 wood stoves are made in Chinaor 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 stoveArada stovesWoodford stovesHamlet stoves or Saltfire stoves. 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.

Yes. However, there are specific regulations and restrictions in place to address air pollution concerns, particularly in areas designated as Smoke Control Areas. In these areas, only approved "smokeless" fuels or exempt appliances, such as Defra-approved wood-burning stoves, can be used. These stoves are designed to burn wood more efficiently and produce fewer emissions.

All the stoves we sell are DEFRA approved and Eco-design approved and suitable for all areas of the UK.


View all Terminology

A stainless steel tube, slides down a brick/stone chimney to provide a smooth and safe route for smoke.

All of our stoves are approved by DEFRA to burn wood in all UK locations including Smoke Control Areas (towns and cities). Not all stoves are, so be careful if buying elsewhere.

All of our stoves are ECODESIGN approved to be sold in the UK. Not all stoves are, so be careful if buying elsewhere. ECODESIGN is mandatory by law since January 2022.

The base your stove sits on.

If the chimney is the polo mint then the flue is the hole.