Question: What size of stove do I need?
Question: What’s the difference between a wood-burning stove and a multi-fuel stove?
Question: What’s the best fuel to burn?
Question: Can I use my existing chimney and what if I have not got a chimney?
Question: Do I need to have my chimney swept?
Question: I’m fitting a chimney liner. Should I still have my chimney swept?
Question: Do I need a certificate in France to prove that my chimney has been swept?
Question: Am I able to install my own stove in France?
How do I choose which stove to buy?
Roomheater - If you are looking for a stove just to heat a room then all of our stoves will be suitable. Remember, a wood-burning stove is only designed to heat a specific area as a room heater only. Don’t buy a large output stove, fit it in your lounge and expect it to warm the entire house because it doesn’t quite work like that. If it’s a central heating system you need then see below.
Heat your room, and provide hot water for central heating radiators - To use a stove to power you central heating in addition to heating your room and domestic hot water, you will need a stove with a boiler, however you will need a lot greater output than that to just heat your room. The size of the boiler you need will depend on the number of radiators you need to heat. Refer to our Boiler Stove page for more details on the models available for supplying domestic hot water and/or hot water for a central heating system.
What size of stove do I need?
The heat output of a stove is measured in kilowatts. The output you require is dependent on the size of the room to be heated. To identify the output you require use the simple calculation which follows.
In order to calculate the size of stove required,
measure the width, length and height of your room and then calculate the three measurements together, i.e. width 4m x length 8m x height 2.8m = 89.6 m3. If your room or house is fitted with good insulation then divide the rooms volume by 25. If it has only average insulation then divide the volume by 15, and if the insulation is poor or non existent, then divide the rooms volume by 10. In our example above, the room is fitted with average insulation so we divide the rooms volume by 15 and the kilowatt demand is shown to be 5.97kW.
This is not an exact classification, but can be used as a good 'rule of thumb'. The ability of a stove to heat your room will be affected by such aspects as the number of doors & windows and whether they are double glazed, the quality of any insulation material including the type of floor covering, and even the wall construction and its covering can affect the thermal qualities of the property. In these cases you may need to look at a stove with a greater output. And remember, most manufacturers quote the MAXIMUM out put of their stoves when fired with best quality seasoned wood. Heating your room or property to a comfortable level is one thing when the outside ambient temperature is 0 degrees, but heating it to a comfortable level when the temperature outside slips 10-15 degrees BELOW freezing is another.
What’s the difference between a wood-burning stove
and a multi-fuel stove?
A wood-burning stove is generally designed to burn only wood. Wood burns best on a bed of ash with the air for combustion circulating over the fuel rather than from below it which is the case with other solid fuels such as coal, anthracite, peat and briquettes. These burn best on a grate which allows air for combustion to circulate from beneath the fuel, and hence why multi-fuel stoves have a grate fitted (usually with a riddling function which moves the grate back and forth in order to sieves the ash into an ash pan below the grate). Some manufacturers make multi-fuel only stoves in which you can burn the full range of solid fuels including wood, and others make wood-burning only models (I.e. with no grate) and supply a ‘drop-in’ grate as an option if you decide that you want to burn other multi-fuels later on. Generally, wood-burning only models are usually cheaper than multi-fuel variants for this reason.
What’s the best fuel to burn?
Pros : Ensure you use a smokeless coal such as anthracite. This will produce more heat than wood and burns a lot slower, ideal for an evenings fire or to slumber the fire throughout the night. You have the option of a number of fuels if supply is short - wood, coal or even peat. The initial cost of the appliance will be cheaper than gas or oil, though as we have already said, multi-fuel stoves are generally more expensive than wood-burners.
Cons : Coal can be a dirty fuel to handle and to store. The ash needs to be removed ideally after every fire. Prices can very widely if you purchase fuel from a garage, where no local merchant is available. More difficult to light initially. Your chimney will need regular sweeping. Not easy to find in France where wood can be found in abundance pretty much everywhere.
Pros : A renewable source of fuel, which should be cheap if you have a readily available supply, such as in rural areas of France. When burnt, wood offers the best flame effect and the unbeatable smell and sound of a real fire. The ash doesn't need emptying as often as coal and new fires can just be lit on the ashes in the bottom of the stove. Ideally you should build up a stock of wood, allowing time for it to season (dry out) before use.
Cons : Not too many in France, but here’s a few: Wood is heavy and needs to be chopped to suit the size of your stove and stacked. It takes up a lot of space although most properties in France have somewhere for you to store quite a considerable amount. The removable of ash can be a messy job as there is no ashpan to remove in a woodburning stove. Wood takes a couple of years to season properly due to its moisture content, and if burnt unseasoned and wet, will not generate as much heat, and will quickly tar up your flue way with deposits which is the most common cause of chimney fires.
In principle, different woods of the same weight will have the same calorific value. A tonne of oak will have the same calorific value as a tonne of pine, however, a cubic foot of oak (which weighs around 21kg) will have a greater density and therefore a higher calorific value than a cubic foot of white pine (commonly used to make pallets) which weighs around 12kg.
Therefore the best woods to burn are hardwoods (hickory, hornbeam and apple have the highest calorific values) the more commonly available ash, oak and beech. Avoid softwoods like fir as not only do they have a low calorific value but unseasoned they will still contain a lot of resins which will act to form tarry deposits in the stove and flue when burnt.
Can I use my existing chimney and what if I have not got a chimney?
It’s wrong to assume that all existing chimneys will require lining with, for example, a flexible stainless steel chimney liner. In many cases, and with the older properties (especially here in France) it is usually true that they will need to be. First of all, many chimneys were designed and constructed to meet the needs of the time, and it may well have been used for years, in some cases hundreds of years since it was built. As most chimneys were constructed for use with open fires, their large flue ways would not be suitable if you decided to install a modern efficient wood-burning stove. We would recommend having your existing chimney inspected and its suitability for use assessed before you make an expensive decision. If you don’t have a chimney at all, it is possible to build one for your stove using relatively inexpensive prefabricated steel sectional liners or even buy a chimney kit comprising of clay blocks and liners.
Do I need to have my chimney swept?
Yes. French Standards, (notably Norme Francaise NF DTU 24.1 P1 Annexe B sect B.3) states that ‘flue ways MUST be swept 2 times per year, once during the period of use, and more if necessary. However, conduits serving gas and oil appliances may only be swept once a year’. We would advise that all chimneys are swept at least once a year irrespective of how often they have been used. If deposits are allowed to build up they can become very hard, and removal at a later date could be quite costly. Additionally, you do not know what may have happened in the chimney since the fire was last used (e.g. the flue may have become damaged in older properties or masonry may have fallen and partially blocked the flue or caused a leak.) See ‘Our Services ’ page for more information on chimney maintenance.
I’m fitting a chimney liner. Should I still have my chimney swept?
Even if you are fitting a liner, the chimney should be swept to ensure the removal of as much of the existing deposits as possible. Flexible liners only have a limited lifespan, sometimes as little as 10 years (if used properly) and less if ‘abused’. A corroded liner could permit the escape of flue gasses into the void between the liner and chimney’s internal walls, especially if the void is not insulated, and if there is a build up of deposits inside a poorly maintained liner over the years which leads to a fire, the heat could cause a fire to start within the confines of an un-swept flue way. Indeed, I have seen a flexible liner glow red and temperatures can exceed well over 1000 degrees centigrade in such cases. Additionally, sweeping a chimney can reveal hidden defects in the chimney walls which could otherwise go un-noticed. Best practice and safety are the order of the day here, and if we are fitting a liner, we always find a few minutes to spare ensuring that the chimney is swept clean and in sound condition before starting the job.
Do I need a certificate in France to prove that my chimney has been swept?
Yes. Again the French standards state that ’a certificate of sweeping (called a Certificat de Ramonage) must be given to the user specifying the flue way (or flue ways) swept, and declaring it clear along all its length’. In addition, any anomalies noticed at the time of the sweep should be indicated on the certificate. The company carrying out the sweep must be qualified to do so and may issue and invoice (facture) instead of an actual certificate (which is to the same effect) and of which is acceptable as proof that the sweep has been carried out as required.
Am I able to install my own stove in France?
There is currently no requirement in France to have you wood-burning stove installed by a qualified professional unlike in the UK where installations should be carried out by competent persons registered with an organisation like HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme). However, all installations should comply with relevant French standards or normes. If you do employ a company or individual to fit your stove, always ensure that they are registered to do so and more importantly, insured to do so. Ask for their registration number (SIRET) and you can enter this into various websites which will tell you if the company is registered to undertake the work you require.
Stove Sellers support the customer charter of QUALI-BOIS the french organisation which specialises in all matters concerning solid fuels, so you can be sure you’ll receive sound professional advice relating to all your ‘burning’ questions about stoves and fuels as well as general safety advice.