Last updated: August 10, 2021

You want it to be nice and warm at home in the cool months? But you don't just want the classic radiators to do their job, but you want to install the heater as a romantic piece of furniture in the living room? Then you should think about buying a wood-burning stove. Can an approved stove be installed anywhere? What different types of stoves are there for you to buy?

Answers to the most frequently asked questions can be found here in the big stove test 2021. We present various types of stoves to help you decide which one to buy. In addition, you will find helpful tips and tricks in our guide on the best wood to heat your stove with. Regardless of whether you choose a classic stove, a pellet stove or a wood-burning/charcoal stove, we will tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of the different stoves.




Summary

  • Wood-burning stoves can support your heating or provide complete warmth in your living space. They can also be integrated into your living space as a piece of furniture.
  • You can generally divide wood-burning stoves into three different categories: the classic wood-burning stove, the pellet stove and the long-life/charcoal stove. The size, features and design vary depending on the model.
  • The classic stove provides the necessary romance for your living space. Pellet stoves, on the other hand, are particularly convincing because of their environmental friendliness. A long-lasting stove, on the other hand, can keep the fire going for a particularly long time.

The Best Stove: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a stove

What advantages does a wood-burning stove have over its alternatives: the tiled stove, the gas fireplace, the electric fireplace and the open fireplace?

The advantages of the wood-burning stove:

  • Quick heat-up & quick heat emission
  • Pleasant radiant heat, without drying out the air
  • Favourable purchase price
  • Quick assembly & disassembly
  • Wide range of products
  • High energy efficiency

One of these alternatives is the tiled stove, which is set or masoned from tiles. It can heat a living space for a period of up to 24 hours by storing heat if it is of the right size. It also saves wood, is environmentally friendly and produces little ash due to the high combustion temperatures. The main disadvantages are that it does not give off heat immediately, is quite expensive and takes up a lot of space. In addition, it cannot be easily dismantled, e.g. when moving house.

A gas fireplace does not produce any ash at all. It emits only low levels of emissions and no refuelling is necessary. The burning process is controlled at the touch of a button. The heat output is again very similar to that of the stove. The disadvantages, however, are the fundamental lack of atmospheric crackling and the need for a gas pipe. Without a gas line, you have to rely on gas cylinders, of which a maximum of 11 kilos may be stored in inhabited rooms. That is approximately one day's ration. Another alternative is the electric fireplace.

There is no soot, dust or smoke, as nothing is burnt. Therefore, no flue and no chimney are needed, and due to the lack of emissions, there is no permit requirement. In most cases, the electric fireplace also has an integrated heater, so that real heating is possible. However, the electricity-powered heating can lead to enormous costs. It is therefore more suitable as a decorative fireplace. It is also difficult to install a power connection for a free-standing fireplace. And as with the gas fireplace, the typical crackling sound is missing.

If you are looking for a fireplace for decorative reasons only, then an electric fireplace is ideal. However, as with the gas fireplace, it lacks the atmospheric crackling. For the background noise, however, you can buy a sound generator.

The open fireplace is probably the most romantic option, but it is less convincing due to its limited heat output and increased fire hazard.

The fireplace stove is impressive in that it gives off heat fairly quickly after being lit. The heat is given off in the form of radiant heat, which is very pleasant and does not dry out the air. Another plus is the usually low purchase price and the high energy efficiency. Other choices, such as a stove with a water heat exchanger or a soapstone cladding, allow for functional expansion.

Feuer im Kamin

In addition to its rapid heat generation and heat emission, this stove gives an atmosphere of well-being. It tends more towards an old-fashioned version of wood-burning stoves. (Photo: pexels / pixabay.com)

How much does a wood-burning stove cost?

The costs incurred for a wood-burning stove can vary greatly. This depends on the type of construction, the design and the performance of the stove. The latter can be reflected, for example, in whether you want to use the fireplace as a central heating system or only to support your heating system.

The design of the fireplace can also lead to an increase in price. So if you don't want a conventional fireplace but a designer piece, it will cost you a lot more. It is therefore relatively difficult to set an upper price limit for a stove.

type price
wood-burning stove from € 200
room-independent wood-burning stove from € 600
water-burning wood-burning stove from € 800
pellet stove from € 1200
water-burning pellet stove from € 3500
wood-burning stove from € 150
water-burning wood-burning stove from € 500

You can buy entry-level wood-burning stoves for around €200 in DIY stores. If you want your stove to have special features, e.g. to be water-bearing, you have to calculate with at least 800€, for a room-independent stove with 600€. More elaborate systems such as pellet stoves usually have a higher price tendency.

They are available from 1200€. Depending on the combination, you could get a water-guided pellet stove from 3500€. You can get a permanent fire stove or coal stove for as little as €150. A water-bearing model is available from about 500 €.

Which well-known manufacturers of wood-burning stoves are there?

Depending on what you are looking for in your stove, you can rely on different manufacturers. The stoves differ in style, use of various innovative technologies and possible extras. The most popular manufacturers include:

  • Aduro
  • Austroflamm
  • Haas & Son
  • Invicta
  • Kanuk

Aduro is a Danish manufacturer. You can see this origin in the stoves, they are built in a puristic design and yet cosy - according to the Danish hygge principle. In addition, the fireplaces score with environmentally friendly technology, as they have a particularly low fuel consumption.

Austroflamm, as the name suggests, comes from Austria. The manufacturer offers many different designs. The special feature here is the Xtra heat accumulator. Through innovative technology, the heat is stored for up to nine hours. This means that less wood needs to be added, which makes the stoves very economical to run.

Just like Austroflamm, the traditional brand Haas & Sohn also comes from Austria. The manufacturer advertises with noble designs and outstanding quality of the stoves. One advantage of the stoves is the use of external air. Outside air is primarily used for combustion. This protects the room air and leads to clean combustion.

The Invicta brand is true to its French origins. Each model is unusual and extravagant, a very special eye-catcher. So if you are looking for an attractive eye-catcher, this manufacturer is the right choice for you.

Similar to the previous manufacturer, the German brand Kanuk also scores with its eye-catching design. The stove itself is the same, but it can be placed on a bench, as a tower or hanging, depending on your preference. In addition to its unusual appearance, the stove can also offer the latest technology. This means that the stove burns particularly effectively and in an environmentally friendly way.

Besides the manufacturers mentioned above, there are of course many more, some other well-known brands are La Nordica, LEDA Werk, Morsø, Olsberg and Wamsler. If you want to buy a stove especially as an eye-catcher, it is worth taking a look at Aduro, Invicta and Kanuk. If you are more interested in the heating effect and innovative technology, you can go for Austroflamm and Haas & Sohn.

How much does it cost to install a stove?

You can install the stove yourself or have it installed by a specialist company. For more complicated systems, such as water-bearing stoves, you should always enlist the help of a professional. This way you also get a full warranty. The cost is around 200-300 €. With a water-bearing stove or pellet stove, it is more expensive because of the effort involved.

How can I tell if the stove has an approval?

There are two official approvals for stoves:

  • CE mark for European standard
  • Ü mark for German standard

You can find both the CE mark and the Ü mark on the type plate of the stove. Sometimes, however, the approval number is also noted on the manufacturer's accompanying documents. The approval shows that the stated heat output is true, that the stove complies with the emission limits and that there is no fire hazard.

If you only find one of the two signs, this is completely normal. They cannot appear together due to legal reasons. Approval is therefore important, as the chimney sweep will check this at the latest during acceptance and may not approve your stove.

Can an approved stove be installed anywhere?

No, there are certain guidelines that you must follow when choosing where to install the stove. You should talk to a chimney sweep before you buy the stove to clarify the general conditions. These include the specific location, the safety distances and the air supply and removal. For example, you must ensure that the minimum distance to the wall and ceiling is 20-60 cm and the distance from the stove door to combustible furniture or objects is at least 80 cm.

If the fireplace has side windows, a further distance of 65 cm must be maintained to the sides. If the stove has flammable floor coverings such as carpet or wood, a spark arrester must also be purchased for safety. These are available in steel, stainless steel or glass, among other materials, and cost between €60-300.

Does my new fireplace need an additional filter?

No, normally this is not necessary. Modern fireplaces should meet the requirements for emission limits without any additional fine dust filter at all. In some cases, you will already receive this emission certificate from the manufacturer or you can have one issued by the chimney sweep after purchase. However, if you already have an older stove that exceeds the limits of 150 mg/m³ fine dust and 4g/m³ carbon monoxide, you should install a filter.

Kamin mit Holzstapel

State support for a stove depends on the environmental friendliness of your model. It also depends on the type of stove. (Photo: rawpixel.com / pexels.com)

What is the best wood for heating?

The burning performance of a fireplace also always depends on the choice of fuel. In the case of wood burning, there are woods that are more or less suitable. Particularly well suited is:

  • Beech

Other good types of firewood are:

  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Cherry
  • Elm

The following are less suitable:

  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Fir

The difference between the different types of wood is particularly noticeable when you compare the wood of coniferous and deciduous trees. Softwoods have a lower density and therefore burn faster than the wood of deciduous trees. However, they also burn faster and burn hotter.

Another disadvantage of coniferous wood is the resin it contains. When burning, it can splash against the window pane or even out of the stove if the fireplace door is open. In the long run, hardwoods are more suitable for heating, because you get something out of burning the wood for longer and you don't have to keep adding fuel.

However, you could use coniferous wood for heating. An important aspect is of course the price. Conifers grow faster and are therefore cheaper. Due to its sustainability, hardwood is still the better investment.

Decision: What types of stoves are there and which is the right one for you?

The fireplace stove is not only an efficient heating option, but also becomes the central point of a room due to its decorative properties. Many aspects must therefore be considered when choosing a stove, especially because it is often a relatively expensive and long-term investment. These three types are the most important fireplaces you can choose from:

  • The classic stove
  • The pellet stove
  • The permanent fire/coal stove

Their differences lie in their orientation towards the particular fuel that is used for heating. They each have different advantages and disadvantages for everyday use. Depending on the requirements you have for your stove, a different type of stove may be suitable for you. We would like to help you decide. In the following section, we will introduce you to the three types and show you their advantages and disadvantages.

How does a classic wood-burning stove work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The "normal" wood-burning stove is the classic variant among wood-burning stoves. It is usually called by the same name. On sale, however, it can also be called a Swedish stove or a fireplace stove. To be able to fire the stove, the wood must first be "stacked" in the combustion chamber. If necessary, wood wool or kindling is added, which you light first. During the combustion process, air and oxygen must be constantly supplied. Depending on the model, the air supply can be automatic or manual. The manual setting is a little difficult, especially in the beginning. When the fire has burnt down, you must open the fireplace door and add new wood by hand. The resulting ash falls through a vibrating grate into a removable ash drawer, which can be emptied after the fire has completely burned down. In front of the fireplace door there is also a wood catcher to protect the glass pane from falling wood.

Advantages
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Romantic atmosphere
  • Many price ranges
  • Wide choice of wood
  • Possible burning of brown coal
Disadvantages
  • Limited government support
  • Storage space required
  • Manual ventilation
  • Overheating due to lack of temperature control

A big advantage is that there are very affordable versions of the classic wood-burning stove in addition to expensive models. If you choose this type of stove, you can also choose between different types of wood to heat the fireplace with. In addition to wood, brown coal may also be burned. If you choose the classic stove, you also choose a romantic atmosphere. This is created by burning logs. Unfortunately, you do not receive financial support from the state for all models, but only for those with particularly low emissions. Automatic ventilation is also not always available. If you would like to have one, you should pay attention to it when buying. Especially with manual ventilation, but also with automatic ventilation, it is also difficult to regulate the temperature. The stove does not shut down at a certain room temperature, but continues to burn until the wood has burnt. Storing the wood also requires a lot of space, which you must have.

How does a pellet stove work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The burning process takes place by burning small wood pellets in the pellet stove. They fall into a combustion trough and are ignited with the help of the ignition wire. A silent fan then regulates the flame. The pellets are stored in an integrated storage tank inside the stove. You have to refill this tank by hand about every four days.

Advantages
  • Low fuel prices
  • Automatic firing
  • Space-saving storage of pellets
  • Infrequent refilling
  • Environmentally friendly
Disadvantages
  • Relatively expensive purchase
  • Regular maintenance of pellet stove and conveyor system
  • Less romantic than with logs

You can automate the firing process with a control system. With the help of a timer, the pellet stove can be started automatically. If you set the desired room temperature in advance, this stove will start firing as soon as it reaches this temperature. The pellet stove manages to keep the heat output constant, is low in CO² and produces very little ash. It is very environmentally friendly, also because the pellets are made from wood shavings and sawdust, and therefore also receives government subsidies. It belongs to the higher price categories and is therefore not entirely affordable. In addition, regular maintenance of the pellet stove and the conveying system must be carried out. A small but nevertheless significant disadvantage is the fact that the wood pellets cannot quite match the romance of the log.

How does a wood-burning stove work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The permanent fire stove gets its name from the fact that, unlike the two stoves already mentioned, it can be operated permanently. However, the more important point is that you can operate the wood-burning stove with lignite or hard coal, and also with normal logs if required. In the case of the latter, you must bear in mind that you will not achieve the optimum combustion performance of the stove with wood. In the combustion chamber there is usually a cast steel trough into which the coal can be placed. Fresh air is supplied to the combustion through the ventilation opening in the trough. After the coal has burned down, the rated heat output should continue for at least 4 hours due to the embers.

Advantages
  • Long intervals between reloading
  • suitable for large houses
  • combination with central heating system
Disadvantages
  • Poor CO² balance with coal combustion
  • lots of ash and fine dust
  • relatively difficult to handle

The continuous combustion stove is also suitable for large houses because of its heating capacity. The option of connecting it to the house's central heating system is particularly advantageous. On the other hand, it scores poorly when it comes to the ecological aspect. Due to its high CO² emissions, it is not particularly environmentally friendly. In addition, it produces a relatively large amount of ash and fine dust. You will therefore not receive any state financial support. Soot can also be deposited on the glass pane. The wood-burning stove has to be handled in a special way. It is therefore possible that you will have problems heating it properly, especially in the beginning.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate stoves

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate stoves. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular product is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • The approval
  • Size/ dimensions of the stove
  • The material
  • The workmanship
  • Nominal heat output
  • Efficiency
  • The choice of fuel
  • Air supply
  • Environmental friendliness
  • Presence of an ash box
  • Extra features

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Approval

We have already explained above that there are certain guidelines for stoves. Nevertheless, we would like to go into more detail here about what exactly the BImSchV is all about. The BImSchV, or the Federal Immission Control Ordinance , specifies the current limits for particulate matter and carbon monoxide, as well as a minimum efficiency level for stoves. The first stage came into force on 22 March 2010. For the purchase of a new stove, the second stage BImSchV of 1 January 2015 is much more important. However, depending on the type of stove, slightly different limit values may be specified. Basically, you only have to check whether your stove has a type plate with a CE or Ü approval. This actually fulfils the requirements of the BImSchV. Stoves without approval may not be operated under any circumstances.

Size / dimensions of the stove

A relevant aspect is the size of the stove, which must be considered thoroughly in advance. Because it can be quite expensive to buy, you should make sure that the stove fits properly into your living space. The different types of stoves come in different sizes, so you are sure to find the ideal one for you. Certain distances from furniture etc. must be observed, which you must definitely take into account when planning. The dimensions of the stove do not necessarily mean anything about its performance.

The material

When it comes to the material, the cladding is of particular importance when you are deciding on a stove. The energy efficiency of your stove also depends on it. There is, of course, the steel version. But stone is also often used to cover the stove. In addition to the stove made of natural stone, there is also a version with soapstone, which is particularly characterised by its ability to store heat. A soapstone stove has a natural storage capacity due to its cladding material. A soapstone with a particularly high storage capacity is required, e.g. Finnish or Brazilian soapstone. This material advantage alone enables the stove to retain heat for much longer. It gives it off to the room more evenly and over a longer period of time.

By the way, soapstone is well suited if you have children in the house. The cladding gets warm, but usually not so hot that you could burn yourself.

Unlike conventional stoves made of steel, there is no constant air movement. This would considerably increase the house dust load. Thus, the stove with a soapstone cladding is particularly suitable for allergy sufferers. Apart from the functional advantage, it is of course always a question of taste. Even though soapstone is available in many different colours, you may prefer a steel casing. This has the advantage that it is less sensitive than soapstone. In addition, soapstone stoves are relatively heavy and therefore not suitable for every type of floor.

The workmanship

Besides the use of high-quality materials, you should also pay attention to the workmanship when buying a stove. Because no matter how great the materials are, as soon as they are poorly processed, the quality of the stove drops significantly. You can usually tell whether a stove is well or poorly made by inspecting it closely. Here you should look for the following things, among others:

  • Are the seams all clean and continuous?
  • Is the paint already peeling in some places?
  • Are potentially sharp edges appropriately rounded?
  • Can you move handles, levers and doors without problems?
  • Is the fireplace stable and does it generally make a solid impression?

In addition to this first impression, you should observe the stove closely, especially when using it for the first time. Then you can determine whether the workmanship is also functional. For example, good workmanship prevents the outside of the fireplace from becoming too hot or even deformed by the heat.

Nominal heat output

The nominal heat output corresponds to the highest possible heat output that can be regulated by fresh air and a certain amount of fuel. On this point, it is particularly important that the individual heat requirement and the nominal heat output match. It is best to leave the calculation of the nominal heat output to an expert, as it is influenced by many factors. The following factors can influence the nominal heat output:

  • The heat requirement of the installation room
  • The thermal insulation of the outer walls
  • The location of the room in the building
  • The number & type of windows

However, you can still get an approximate idea of the required output beforehand. For this you need the rule of thumb: floor area x ceiling height x 60. From this you get a wattage, which you only need to convert into kilowatts. You already have your guideline value. The exact value can vary, of course. In an older building, for example, you need considerably more power for the same area than in a low-energy house. It can be a disadvantage if you choose a stove with too high a nominal heat output.

The room can quickly overheat, and forced throttling of the stove leads to poorer combustion results. If you need a stove with a particularly large nominal heat output, we can recommend a water-bearing model. A water-bearing stove -regardless of whether it is a classic, pellet or permanent fire stove - can heat not only one room, but the entire house. Again, there is no ideal value. The stove must meet your individual requirements.

Efficiency

The higher the efficiency, the better. It describes the relationship between the amount of energy supplied and the amount of energy emitted. The efficiency is an indication of efficiency. If it is low, it indicates incomplete combustion and a loss of exhaust gases.

As a result of low efficiency, the heat produced for heating is relatively low. However, a high burning temperature of a fireplace can avoid this and increase the efficiency. If you heat the stove incorrectly, e.g. with damp wood, this can significantly reduce the actual efficiency. So make sure that you always make the most of your stove's potential. Efficiency should definitely be one of your decision criteria.

The choice of fuel

Another factor that influences the efficiency of a stove is the choice of fuel. Here, too, there are materials that burn faster and give off less energy, and others that burn much more efficiently. As mentioned above, there are big differences between the different types of wood.

Hardwood burns much more slowly and therefore has a longer burning time. Softwood, on the other hand, is more suitable as kindling because it is more flammable. Accordingly, however, hardwood has the better efficiency. Besides logs, most stoves can use other fuels. A special feature here are pellet stoves, which require a separate technology. Normal stoves are therefore not designed for burning pellets. Possible alternatives to logs are wood briquettes and coal. However, briquettes are usually only suitable as an addition to logs, as they produce quite a large amount of ash and the chimney has to be cleaned more frequently accordingly.

When using coal for heating, a distinction is made between hard coal and lignite. Hard coal has a naturally higher calorific value and is much harder because it is extracted from deeper layers. However, this makes it more expensive. Lignite, on the other hand, can be mined in opencast mines and is therefore much cheaper. It has a lower calorific value than hard coal, but still a higher value than wood.

Depending on the fuel you want to use your stove with, a different model may be right for you. It is therefore important to think about your favourite fuel before you buy a stove. If you cannot decide, it is worth buying a stove that is designed for different fuels.

Air supply

The air supply indicates where the stove gets its air from. All three types of stoves can have two different types of air supply, depending on the model. Depending on what the external conditions will be like for your stove, a different variant is recommended. In a stove with an internal air supply, the air is drawn from the room where the stove is installed. This forces you to ventilate regularly.

This leads to a loss of energy, but without this measure, the lack of fresh air would lead to headaches and nausea. In a stove with an external combustion air connection, combustion air is supplied through its own air pipe. However, a model may only be called room-air-independent if it has been tested for tightness and has received "DIBT approval". All others are called "room air dependent".

External wind conditions can influence an external air supply, so you cannot always fully control it yourself. Due to the energy efficiency, however, we would still advise you to use an external rather than an internal air supply. Especially if there is not enough air available, which is quite common nowadays with the dense construction of residential buildings, an external combustion air connection is recommended.

Environmental friendliness

If you care a lot about the environment, the pellet stove is particularly suitable because it heats in a CO²-neutral way. Moreover, the pellets are only made from wood and sawdust, so there is no need to cut down trees for them. The classic wood-burning stove is also quite environmentally friendly, but it cannot quite compete with the pellet stove in this respect.

The permanent/charcoal stove, on the other hand, falls quite far behind when it comes to environmental friendliness compared to its two competitors. This also has an impact on government support. With pellet stoves, you generally receive financial support, but with classic wood-burning stoves, this is only available for special models. In the case of a permanent stove, you can hope for less.

Existence of an ash box

Not all stoves necessarily have an ash box. However, this is not always a sign of inadequate equipment, but rather indicates that it is simply no longer needed due to clean combustion. Particularly efficient combustion, as is the case with pellet stoves, ensures that less ash remains.

You must remove this ash regularly with the help of an ash shovel or an ash vacuum cleaner. If your stove has an ash box, the ash usually falls through a grate into the container. Depending on the size of the ash box, it must also be emptied regularly. This can be after each burning process or every two days. If the ash box is full, you must no longer light the stove.

The presence or absence of an ash pan is not necessarily an advantage or disadvantage, but rather depends on the type of combustion. If you have a stove without an ash pan, you will of course need to buy an ash shovel or an ash vacuum cleaner.

Extra equipment

There are some stove accessories that are not absolutely necessary, but which can be very useful. These include the tea and wood compartments. The tea compartment is an opening in the top of the stove. In this opening there is a shelf on which you can place tea cups, among other things. This keeps your tea warm while the fireplace is burning. The tea compartment also offers you the option of placing a humidifier there.

Operating the stove can quickly dry out the air. The humidifier filled with water can maintain the air humidity. A few drops of essential oils in the water also give the room a pleasant scent. The wood compartment proves to be very practical for storing wood. Not everyone has the space to store wood in addition to the stove, e.g. in a separate basket.

However, constantly lugging the wood from the actual storage place can prove to be quite a hassle, especially if it is outside. A wood compartment integrated in the fireplace is the optimal solution, even if the space is limited, of course. In addition, the stacked wood looks very nice in the living room.

Facts worth knowing about fireplaces

What useful items are there for fireplaces?

A useful tool for fireplace owners is the stove thermometer. It helps to find out the optimal temperature for the fan and to optimise fuel consumption. If the spark doesn't want to jump over, chimney lighters can provide a remedy. There are also some accessories that can be used to clean fireplaces. For example, you can use chimney pane cleaners or ash extractors. Since ashes can still be flammable, it is not advisable to use a normal hoover.

Where to put the ashes?

There are basically two ways to dispose of ash, either in the residual waste bin or on the compost heap. The ashes can simply be disposed of in the residual waste bin. However, make sure that it has cooled down completely. An alternative is the controversial disposal on the compost.

On the one hand, the ashes can be a good fertiliser for the garden, but on the other hand, they can also contain heavy metals. Therefore, you should only scatter the ashes in your garden in moderation, and in no case on the vegetable beds.

Important! Only wood ash may be put on the compost, as coal ash has a high iron and sulphur content.

Where does the name "Swedish stove" come from?

In addition to the name of the fireplace stove, the word "Swedish stove" also appears again and again. And it is indeed the case that the fireplace stove originates from the Scandinavian region. The small error in the naming, however, is that we do not owe the innovation of the fireplace stove to the Swedes. The stove was probably developed in the 15th century by the Danish company Rais. The question now remains open as to why it is not called a Danish stove.

Picture credits: Mondisso / pixabay.com

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