Wood Stove or Multifuel Stove - What's the Difference?
This is a question that we are often asked here at Bradley Stoves - what is the difference between a wood stove and a multifuel burner (or stove)? Let's see if we can provide an answer!
The wood stove, as the name suggests, can only burn wood. The stove has a static fire grate (i.e. no moving parts) or it might burn straight off the base (sometimes in this situation it is best to lay a bed of sand first as a base so as not to damage the bottom of the stove). The wood sits on a bed of ash and the air circulates over it.
Wood is an excellent fuel and provides the best flame effect. Wood stoves also do not need to be emptied so often, and the sound and smell of wood burning enhances the experience of sitting in front of the stove.
A multifuel burner or stove can, as the name suggests, burn a selection of fuel including wood and smokeless coal. The fire grate can have moving parts, known as a riddling grate, or it can have a static grate with holes in. 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.
Many stoves are sold as a woodburner (with no grate) because you can always add a grate to burn smokeless fuel later. Quite a few manufacturers offer static or riddling grates as optional however at Bradley Stoves many of our customers have preferred to keep their stoves as woodburners only (stoves are also cheaper if they burn wood only!).
The biggest problem with a woodburning stove is getting access to dry fuel. Many suppliers offer seasoned wood, but in reality this turns out to be quite wet and causes problems when burning (if you can get it burning in the first place!). At Bradley Stoves we sell Hotties, which are 2% moisture and are excellent to burn. We also provide kiln dry timber, which makes perfect fuels. We know of 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, but do check because it will affect the efficiency of your stove and can cause problems with your chimney. With the correct fuel your stove should burn very clean.
Household coal cannot be burnt on multi-fuel stoves and will invalidate most stainless liners. Smokeless fuels (most types) are suitable for multi-fuel stoves, but please check when buying it that it is ok (you can find information from www.hetas.org). Alternatively your stove manufacturer will list recommended products. Smokeless fuel generally burns slightly hotter than wood and lasts longer, which means that it is good if you wish to leave your stove burning overnight. Smokeless fuel is useful 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.
One problem with not removing embers with smokeless fuel burning is that the grate can burn out. When burning smokeless fuel always clear away the embers to allow air to reach the base and prevent the fuel on top of grate and embers below to fuse and burn out the grate bars.