More heat, less fuel: How modern tech has lit up a new era of log


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Mar 16, 2023

More heat, less fuel: How modern tech has lit up a new era of log

It’s not only the energy crisis that is creating unprecedented demand for

It's not only the energy crisis that is creating unprecedented demand for log-burners: clean-burn technology, app-based controls and new designs fuelled by alternatives to wood are also transforming possibilities.

‘Sales of stoves are off the scale,’ says Paul Chesney, who founded Chesneys, the fireplace and stove specialist, almost 40 years ago. ‘We can't make enough to keep up.’ He believes that demand is driven by his customers’ desire to be both more self-sufficient and also to have more control of their costs.

According to the Stove Industry Alliance, seasoned logs are now the least expensive domestic heating fuel, costing 74% less per kWh than electric and 21% less than gas. The Nottingham Energy Partnership has also found that using a modern Ecodesign wood-burning stove costs 29% less to run than an air-source heat pump.

Leaps and bounds in stove technology are also fuelling demand, but how clean are they, given the concerns about particulate levels? ‘The current generation of wood-burning stoves is so much more efficient, consuming less fuel to generate more heat, and they are much cleaner,’ explains Mr Chesney.

The key move in this area has been the introduction of Ecodesign regulations, which came into force a year ago. ‘All stoves manufactured after January 1, 2022, must be Ecodesign compliant,’ explains Cedric Wells, creative director of stove specialist, Charnwood.

‘A modern Ecodesign-compliant wood-burning stove emits up to 90% fewer particulates than an open fire and up to 80% less than an old, basic model.’

Traditional looks, modern performance: a Morsø 1010 wood-burning stove that is Ecodesign compliant — £980 from

If you live in a smoke-control area, your stove must also be Defra exempt, but the good news is that there are options for ‘ultra’ clean-burn models: Charnwood, for example, sells stoves certified by clearSkies, a UK-wide independent emissions and energy-performance programme designed to help lower emissions and improve air quality. ‘An appliance marked clearSkies level 3 and above includes Defra exemption,’ explains Mr Wells.

Clean-burn technology comes in a number of forms. ‘Most are based on careful control and direction of the air coming into the stove to achieve optimum burning efficiency,’ says Mr Wells. ‘Then the volatile by-products emitted by the initial burning are reignited and burnt again in the fire. This double combustion subsequently reduces emissions and ash deposits and delivers even more warmth to your room — so more heat for less fuel.’

Although wood is generally considered a sustainable and more affordable fuel choice, all wood-burning stove manufacturers stress the importance of using seasoned wood with a moisture content of 20% or less. ‘This will keep harmful emissions to a minimum and significantly improve efficiency, as well as protecting your stove and chimney,’ says Mr Wells. Look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn certification mark on pre-packed wood logs to ensure that they are sufficiently dry.

There are more developments coming: Charnwood expects to introduce its first app-controlled wood-burning stove into the UK in the next year. ‘Load the fire, close the door, set your room temperature using our app and let the stove do the rest,’ he says. An intelligent microprocessor controls the stove, adjusting the air flow for maximum efficiency.

Despite the technical advances and Eco-design regulations there are concerns that safety rules don't go far enough. For those seeking an alternative, Chesneys has developed a range of bioethanol stoves as well as a new generation of electric stoves, which use water vapour and LED lighting to create what Mr Chesney describes as a ‘very realistic illusion’ of a fire. ‘People still want a focal point in a sitting room, in the way fireplaces have been for hundreds of years,’ he says.

Chesneys has recently launched a collection of bioethanol stoves, designed to emulate the appearance of a conventional wood-burning stove, but using odourless bioethanol fuel derived from plant sources to deliver up to 3.5kW heat. The stoves are 100% energy efficient, with a combustion process that allows a burn time of 11½ hours without the need to refuel.

Chesneys’ Salisbury 5 Bioethanol stove with log set, £3,449 from

‘One of the challenges of fitting a wood-burning stove is that there needs to be a working chimney in the property,’ says Mr Chesney.

‘Many modern houses are being built without them and some older properties have problematic chimneys, which can be difficult and expensive to repair. A bioethanol stove gives you the opportunity to fit a stove that generates heat and looks great with a living flame, without the need for a flue.’

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