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Multi-fuel Stove of Woodburner? What's the difference?

16 November 2018 10:24

When a customer walks into our showroom here at Bradley Stoves Sussex they are normally keen to buy a multi-fuel stove. However, that is because they are not really sure what the difference is between the a multi-fuel stove and a woodburner. To help with choosing what stove is best we thought that we'd give you some pointers as to the differences between a wood burning stove and a multi-fuel stove.

Woodburning stoves

In most cases a woodburning stove will not have a grate and ash pan. This is because wood burns better on a bed of hot ash. So to maximise your stove's efficiency and heat output you should maintain a layer of ash for the logs to burn on.

Modern stoves also make use of clean burn technology whereby air is introduced to the firebox from above. This is why the newer woodburning stoves are so highly efficient and great value for money.

Woodburners also create a beautiful pattern with the flames as they burn, which is one of the reasons that they are popular, and if you are concerned about "green" issues it is worth considering that that during its lifetime a tree will absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted from a woodburner, so the stove could be considered to be carbon neutral. And despite negative press today's modern woodburners are highly efficient and far less polluting than open fires if you use properly seasoned wood.

Multi-fuel stoves

Multi-fuel stoves are designed to burn coal, turf or peat briquettes, and wood. To do this multi-fuel stoves have a variety of raised grates with either moving bars or a central riddling grate and ash pan.  The grates have holes in them to allow air to circulate under the fuel meaning that multi-fuel stoves function best without a layer of ash under the fuel.

Some multi-fuel stove models such as Charnwood Island have riddling bars that close completely for wood burning or open up for coal. However, there can be a problem with some multi-fuel grates because if you want to burn both fuels is you loose about a quater of the burn area because the grates are set up high to allow air under and an ash pan.

Aesthetically there is a considerable difference between multi-fuel stoves and wood stoves. Firstly with multi-fuel stoves there tends to be less of the fire area displayed because of the additional grate. Also you do not get the beautiful dancing flames that are associated with stoves, instead you will see glowing embers.

Of course it is possible to start with smokeless fuel, and then clear most of the embers and add wood. It is possible to start your fire with wood and then add smokeless fuel, but sometimes there is not enough air in the firebox to permeate the fuel and so it takes a long time to get the coal burning. We find that many people think that they need a multi-fuel stove in case they want to burn smokeless fuel, but in reality they only every burn wood, so here it might be best to by a woodburner with an optional multi-fuel grate so that you can opt for a different type of fuel if you want to. Alternatively there are many stoves available that are solely multi-fuel, and so this too can be an option.

So which stove is best, multi-fuel or wood?

It really is up to you what you would prefer, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important to consider aesthetics if you are going to choose a multi-fuel stove as the experience of the fire will be very different. Personally I like flames dancing before me as I sit in front of my stove, which is why I have a woodburner. However, that's my personal taste, and shouldn't bias anyone considering purchasing a stove.

The best thing to do before buying a stove is to take advice from a stove expert who will help you to choose the best grate for your needs. At Bradley Stoves Sussex we can give you all the help that you need when deciding which type of stove to choose. And we have a large range of multi-fuel stoves and woodburners many of which have a multi-fuel grate available with them. Come and visit us at Bradley Stoves near Horsham, West Sussex and you'll be able to see the difference between the stoves.

Whichever stove you choose you can rest assured that it will be highly efficient and will maximise heat output because stove manufacturers are now designing stoves to be Ecodesign Compliant.