Wood Stoves and Multifuel Stoves - What's the Difference?
A woodburner and a multifuel stove will often look the same on the outside, but there is a difference.
The wood stove can only burn wood, which means that it will have a static fire grate (i.e. no moving parts) or burn straight off the base (sometimes best to lay a bed of sand first as a base so as not to damage the bottom of the stove). The wood can sit on a bed of ash and the air can circulate over it. Wood can be extremely efficient as a fuel and provides the best flame effect. Another advantage of using wood is that the ash doesn't need emptying as often as other fuels and the sound and smell of wood burning is extremely comforting.
A multifuel stove can, as the name suggests, burn a selection of fuel including wood and smokeless coal. The fire grate has either moving parts and is known as a riddling grate or a static grate with holes in. When using coal you will need to clean the fire after each use (or during), but this can be easily achieved with the new modern stoves.
There are many stoves that can be sold as a woodburner (no grate) and if you wish in the future to add a grate to burn smokeless fuel this can be an optional extra. Quite a few manufacturers offer static or riddling grates as optional however quite a few of our customers have remained as wood only. Most stoves are cheaper if wood burning only!!!
The biggest worry with a woodburning stove is getting access to dry fuel. There are a lot of suppliers offering seasoned wood which in reality turms out to be quite wet and this causes problems when burning (presuming it is dry enough to light)? We sell Hotties which are 2% moisture and we also provide kiln dry timber. There are a couple of local log suppliers here in West Sussex, who provide very good seasoned logs and we are certain that you will have local suppliers of wood where you live. With the correct fuel your stove should burn very clean.
Household coal cannot be burnt on multi-fuel stoves and will also invalidate most stainless liners. Smokeless (most types) can be used and again please check when buying that it is ok (you can find information from www.hetas.org) or your stove manufacturer will invariably list recommended products. Smokeless fuel generally burns slightly hotter than wood and lasts longer. Smokeless fuel is quite usefull if your multifuel stove has a small burn area or has a tall grate leaving a small area as burning wood would leave you too small an area to fill up meaning only kindling or very small logs could burn and these would not last very long.
Generally wood stoves take air from above and coal would take air from below. Wood needs to burn on a bed of ash taking its heat from the ash and air from above and coal needs to have nothing below (requiring a grate or riddler to remove the embers) as it burns from air below.
One problem with not removing embers with coal burning is that the grate can burn out. When burning coal always clear away the embers to allow air to base and not to allow the coal on top of grate and coal embers below to fuse and burn out the grate bars.