We’ve found the best log burners for 2021 that’ll keep you cosy and warm including small and big stoves from Stovax, Direct Stoves, Chilli Penguin and more
Are you planning on roasting your chestnuts on an open fire this Christmas? If you are, then you’re going to have to do it with solid fuel which contains low levels of sulphur and creates only small amounts of smoke, as the government has pushed forward with its Clean Air Strategy.
It’s this same strategy that’s also going to impact any purchasing decision you make on a log burner, which makes 2022 an important year if you’re looking at installing one in your home.
From January 1st, any burner you buy will need to comply with the Clean Air Strategy and you’ll need it to be “Defra-approved”, which means that the burner is designed to keep the fuel from being starved of oxygen so that smoke is kept to a minimum.
You’ll also need to ensure that your appliance complies with a European directive on air pollution and particulate emissions, known as Ecodesign, which looks to reduce emissons by 90 per cent compared to an open fire, and by 80 per cent compared with an average 10-year old stove.
Buying smart now will really save you in the long run as a highly efficient burner will deliver more heat to your room and will ultimately mean that you have to use less fuel.
We went looking for stoves that complied with all the current Ecodesign and Defra standardisations and came up with an ultimate edit of futureproofed fires.
How we tested
Testing log burners can be a challenge because of the necessary installations, which is why we went to various showrooms and manufacturers to see the stoves in place and get them demonstrated. First and foremost, we were looking at each appliance’s heat efficiency and output, using the industry standard as a guideline. That guideline states that to achieve a cosy 21C, when the air temperature is freezing outside, you’ll need around 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space in your room.
Away from the numbers, we were also looking at design and what kind of room the burner would be suited to. Good visuals of the fire were important (after all, this is one of the main reasons for buying a wood burner) and how easy the appliance is to clean and reset ready for the next time you want to use it was also a consideration.
All the burners had airwash systems, which is pretty standard these days, and means that there are vents that draw in air to “wash” the glass of soot and blackening. You can usually tell how well this system works with just one burn, so we compared the glass before the fire and after to check that the system worked efficiently.
The best log burners for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Ekol apple core wood burning stove: £799, Applepiestove.com
- Best for medium to large rooms – Aga ellesmere EC4 multifuel stove: £874.95, Directstoves.com
- Best for fire gazing – Woodford Lowry 5XL widescreen multifuel stove: £764.95, Directstoves.com
- Best sub 5kW stove – Stovax Huntingdon 25 wood burning stove: £1,129.50, Directstoves.com
- Best for longevity – Morso 3116 badger wood burning stove: £1,260, Directstoves.com
- Best for shallower openings – Saltfire St-X wide wood burning stove: £899, Directstoves.com
- Best for large rooms – Charnwood cove wood burning stove: £3,025, Directstoves.com
- Best for quick heat output – Ekol crystal multifuel stove: £899, Directstoves.com
- Best for small footprint size – Westfire uniq 37 wood burning stove: £1,670, Directstoves.com
- Best multifuel stove – Arada ecoburn 5 widescreen multifuel stove: £1,149.95, Stovesareus.co.uk
- Best for cooking – Chilli Penguin fat penguin eco multi fuel burner: £1,850, Thefireplacecompany.co.uk
- Best value for money – Salamander Stoves hobbit SE multi fuel stove: £625, Salamanderstoves.com
Ekol apple core wood burning stove
This 4kW stove is part of a bigger modular system that you can configure in a number of ways, adding things like stainless cooktops, baking ovens, pan supports, griddle plates and even a pizza shelf. However, the basis of the system is the cast iron core, which comes in a range of nine eye-catching colours and with a choice of either brushed steel or wooden handles. All these tailoring options means that the core will blend into a Victorian chimney breast opening just as easily as it would in a glamping pod.
The fire itself was easily set, started and was roaring in around 20 minutes and the single vent control lever at the bottom of the stove made fire maintenance incredibly easy.
Rated at 82 per cent efficient the core is a mini furnace with an excellent fire picture, and is able to heat up a small to medium-sized room in no time. The fact that it has such a low distance to combustibles means that it can be placed closer to the wall than many stoves, so it’s the perfect choice for small spaces too.
Aga ellesmere EC4 multifuel stove
Best: For medium to large rooms
Lighting easily, this steel stove gets up to temperature quickly, and has a sizeable firebox for a 4kW appliance with a heat performance that was particularly impressive, clearly making optimal use of the 81 per cent efficiency rating that it comes with.
We couldn’t fault the build quality, with everything from the door closure to the cool touch air controls feeling solid and sturdy. The design of the stove made it easy to set the fire in the first place (using logs up to 29cm) and clear out the remnants of previous fires and the unobstructed glass window stays nice and clear throughout the burn. Perfectly adequate to heat a medium-sized room, the EC4 could even handle the heat requirements of larger living areas too. With a design that straddles traditional and contemporary, its small footprint, high heat output and excellent price make it a very attractive option for a range of properties.
Woodford Lowry 5XL widescreen multifuel stove
Best: For fire gazing
As the name suggests, this modern-looking fire with its thick steel body and easily-operated, cast-iron door provides an excellent view of the flames through a large window, and the multi-fuel grate (to burn wood and coal) is big enough to fit logs up to 26cm in length.
Well-sized for any home, the 5kW of heat output and impressive efficiency of 81.5 per cent combine to throw plenty of heat into the room and you’ll really feel the benefits within 10 to 15 minutes of setting the fire. Resetting is also very straightforward thanks to the built-in tilting grate that throws all of the ashes directly into the pan below.
Stovax Huntingdon 25 wood burning stove
Best: Sub 5kW stove
We liked the Gothic styling of this 4.9kW stove, which made it stand out from the crowd in the showroom, however if flame picture is important to you then the 25 is also on offer with a clear door. Available in three different finishes (matt black, midnight blue and laurel green) the 25 refers to the size of (25cm) logs that will fit through the door.
Thanks to some very responsive air controls the stove lit without incident and took just under half an hour to start throwing heat out, making the stove’s 78 per cent efficiency very evident. The room warmed quickly, the airwash system worked well and the vents worked efficiently to give us total control over the fire.
Morso 3116 badger wood burning stove
Best: For longevity
This modern, sleek, cast iron Scandi designed 5.2kW stove is designated 81 per cent efficient and would have no problems quickly heating up a large living or sitting room after being fed with 30cm logs. The big, square window gives an excellent view of the flames, the air controls are responsive and the airwash system was efficient, with a handle and door that was sturdy and easily opened and closed. The stove is well cast too with excellent build quality that will see you through plenty of winters to come.
Saltfire St-X wide wood burning stove
Best: For shallower openings
This steel and cast iron stove is tall and wide but relatively narrow so if views of the flame are important, but you don’t want huge heat output then this 5kW appliance with 78.9 per cent efficiency is an excellent choice for smaller rooms. The big window is shaped like a TV from the seventies and provides great views of the fired-up fuel. The stove made the room cosy very quickly and good venting made the fire easy to control, which means that you won’t be getting up every five minutes to fiddle with the vents to either stop the fire going out or dampen it down. If you are installing in a shallower hearth then this could be a good choice because the appliance is quite narrow compared to many other fires.
Charnwood cove wood burning stove
Best: For large rooms
Within ten minutes of starting up this tall, steel burner with a conveniently small footprint, you would be able to boil a kettle on top – such is the heat output. The cove can take 50cm logs and pumps out an impressive 12kW of heat with 78.4 per cent heat efficiency, which means it would be too much for a small to medium-sized room, but would really suit a larger room, particularly one with high ceilings. We really liked the elongated top-to-bottom view of the flames, which were controllable via some good venting, and the airwash system worked well. Impressive build quality and some ingenious little details, like a door handle that doubles as the handle for the ash pan.
Ekol crystal multifuel stove
Best: For quick heat output
With classic cast iron looks and 12kW of heat output this stove really packed a punch considering its size, making it ideal for a large room that doesn’t have a particularly large hearth in which to install it. The crystal boasts 77 per cent efficiency and we could certainly feel the benefits in a very short amount of time after the fire caught. You get a good view of the fire in the 48cm log grate and all the venting controls were easy to operate even when the stove itself began to hot up. The door and its hinges were easy to operate too with a good grip on the handle.
Westfire uniq 37 wood burning stove
Best: For small footprint size
If you don’t want a room taken over by a stove but you still want to have some wow factor, this tubular steel model gives a 180-degree view of the fire roaring inside. Previously, we’ve struggled with this kind of design and have found that the fire was tricky to set and the door seal was not as tight as we would like, however this wasn’t the case with the uniq 37. The 7.2kW heat output and 78 per cent efficiency quickly warmed up the room and and continued to throw out a steady supply of heat with minimal adjustments. The fact that there was plenty of room to lay the 35cm logs on their end seemed to add to the ease with which the fire got going, because the fire allows plenty of room for oxygen to circulate. The airwash system also operated efficiently to keep the glass clear for the entire time the wood was burning.
Arada ecoburn 5 widescreen multifuel stove
Best: Mutifuel stove
This is the smallest stove in the ecoburn range but it packs quite a punch in terms of its heat output, and we could feel the benefits of its 5kW heat output and 81.3 per cent efficiency, which meant that the room was toasty within half an hour. It’s a nice-looking steel appliance that really maximises the view of the fire while managing to keep things compact, and the air wash system worked well while the wood was burning. Multi fuels are managed via a central controller which diverts the air feed depending on the type of fuel that you’ve loaded the appliance up with. Whether you use wood or solid fuel we found theecoburn very easy to get started – although you’ll definitely need a heat resistant glove when opening and closing the door, as the handle does get hot. We also liked the fact that you can adjust the feet of the stove at the rear to take the hassle out of levelling up the appliance on uneven hearths.
Chilli Penguin fat penguin eco multi fuel burner
Best: For cooking
This 4.7kW model is a supremely efficient burner that would suit a larger-than-average room – it was one of the fastest room warmers on test thanks to an impressive 81.2 per cent efficiency and a hybrid system of heating the air using radiant and convected heat.
Its practicality continues with the addition of an oven box and a top plate that will fit a kettle and a saucepan, so you can heat the room and feed those gathered around in a single sitting. The burner gives a really nice view of the flames which are controlled via two push/pull stainless steel knobs and there’s a booster control for more air when you’re trying to get the fire going to begin with. The fat penguin comes in six optional contemporary paint finishes (including traditional black) so you won’t have any problems colour matching with the room.
Salamander Stoves hobbit SE multi fuel stove
Best: Value for money
Like its literary namesake, this is a small but extremely capable do-it-all stove at a fantastic price. It’s cast iron, beautifully constructed and the West Country-based manufacturers have come up with a 4kW appliance that has a very impressive heat output while remaining compact.
The Hobbit is 81.4 per cent efficient so you’ll have no trouble warming a medium to large room quickly with air controls that only add to the overall usability. The traditional styling will work in a variety of rooms but the Hobbit’s size also means that if you have a traditional open fire with an ornate surround, then the fire can be replaced with the stove without the surround being ripped out.
Log burner FAQs
How to light a log burner
When lighting your wood burning stove, the first thing to do is to open all air vents. This is going to help your fire get all the air it needs. Then place your ready to burn wood onto the fire bed, starting with the largest wood first and piling the smaller logs on top. Plus, leave enough space between logs for air to get to them.
You’ll also need some kindling and fire-lighter. Put the kindling on top of your logs and then the fire-lighter – and ignite it. You can keep the door open to let more air get to the flames but when the kindling has started to catch, close the door. When the logs are fully ignited, put your log burner back to its default running mode. Voila!
How much does it cost to put in a log burner?
The cost of getting a cosy log burner installed in your home depends quite a bit on whether or not you have an existing fireplace. With existing flue, getting the wood burning stove put in can cost, on average, £900. Meanwhile, using a new flue can cost anywhere between £1,500 and £3,000, at an estimate.
Are log burners being banned in the UK?
The short answer is no. You’re free to get the stove of your dreams put into your living room. However, there are certain fuels you won’t be able to use to ignite your flames due to a government ban concerned with pollution. Fuels you won’t be able to use are traditional loose house coal (being phased out by 2023) and wet wood in small units. Wet wood bought in large units is only to be sold with advice on how it should be dried before burning. Dry wood, which is much cleaner, is fine to use with your log burner though.
The verdict: Log burners
The verdict: With its impressive heat performance, versatility and ease of use the Ekol apple core wood burning stove represents outstanding value for money. The modular design adds to the longevity too (and therefore the value) so that you can adapt the stove to your seasonal needs.
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