Compare and contrast wood, multifuel, gas and electric stoves

Review: Firefox 8.1 Wood-Burning and Multifuel Stove

For the last few years there has been a significant increase in demand for gas and electric stoves. Only just now are many people learning of the significant advances in technology and the design of gas and electric stoves. We have companies such as Hunter Stoves utilising their award-winning wood-burning/multifuel stove designs in the gas and electric ranges. However, have you stopped to think of the individual pros and cons of wood/multifuel, gas and electric stoves?

Wood-burning/multifuel stoves

You will no doubt have heard much about the pros and cons of wood-burning/multifuel stoves in recent times. The government is attempting to discuss these heating options with the likes of open coal fires which are significantly less efficient. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of wood/multifuel stoves.

We’ll first take a look at the positive aspects of wood-burning/multifuel stoves:-

Wood burning stove
Wood burning stove

The perfect ambience

Until you have actually felt the heat radiated from a wood-burning/multifuel stove you will have no idea what you’re missing. This is a deep seated heat which relaxes the environment around it and allows you to chill out. The opportunity to watch the flickering flames and the burning embers while enjoying the seemingly never-ending heat is bliss. It is also worth noting that the modern day wood/multifuel stove is as much a part of the furniture as it is a heating system. There are some awesome designs on the market today taking in everything from traditional to contemporary, and more.

Independent heating

While many people look at this design, the heat output and the ambience created by wood-burning/multifuel stoves, let’s get back to basics. This type of heating system is independent of any mains source of power and therefore it will not let you down. The wind, rain and power cuts will have no impact upon your ability to create a deep seated heat which takes you off to another world. We also know that if stoves are maintained correctly and worn/broken parts replaced, they can literally last for decades.

Positive environmental impact

Take a look out of your window; the chances are you will see a wood not too far away from you, a ready supply of fuel for your stove. Those who live in the countryside and have access to local wood chopping services will likely feel the greatest benefit in terms of cost for fuel. It is also worth noting that every tree chopped down to fuel a wood-burning stove can be replaced and the forested replenish. There is also strong evidence to support claims of lower carbon emissions from modern day wood-burning/multifuel stoves. Indeed when it comes to wood fuel, there is an argument to suggest a wood-burning stove is at worst carbon neutral.

There are also a number of cons to take into consideration such as:-

Installation and ongoing expense

The installation of a wood-burning/multifuel stove can seem relatively expensive. But there are definite savings to be had in the longer term compared to traditional heat fuel such as electric and gas. There is also the issue of buying in wood/solid fuel which can be expensive if you do not have ready access in your area. This is perhaps one of the issues which many people forget to take into consideration. However, you are not buying a traditional heating system with a wood-burning/multifuel stove but more an item of furniture, a focal point as well as a provider of deep seated heat.

Storage space

If you have gas or electric central heating then you do not need any storage space for your fuel – you are literally tapping into the mains. Whether you have a wood-burning or multifuel stove you will require storage space. There is also the issue of drying wood, which is often cheaper, as this could need up to a couple of years to be stove ready. There is also the same storage issue with solid fuel. While stoves may seem more popular in the countryside, they are certainly not limited to those living outside of towns and cities. Yes, storage space may be a problem for some people but this is not a major issue.

Particle emissions

This is an interesting subject and one which has attracted much attention of late. While we know that wood-burning/multifuel stoves emit lower levels of carbon, compared to their traditional counterparts, there is an argument to suggest that they create higher particle emissions. This will depend upon the type of stove, type of fuel and whether indeed it is one of the new breed of EcoDesign models. It is sometimes unfair to drag new stoves into the argument because they are significantly more efficient, as the fuel technology allows them to burn, burn and burn again all excess gases. Many opponents use this as a relatively strong argument against wood-burning/multifuel stoves but it is starting to become dated.

Gas stoves

Times are certainly changing with the gas stove market and the idea of stereotypical gas stove is long gone. As we touched on above, many modern day gas stoves use the very successful and eye-catching designs of their wood-burning/multifuel counterparts. It is often near impossible to tell them apart from a distance such is the improvement in presentation not to mention technology.

So, let us take a look at the pros and cons of gas stoves. Let’s look at the positives first:-

Gas Stoves

Instant heat

Those with access to mainline gas or localised supplies will be well aware that at the flick of a switch your gas stove is up and running. This is instant heat and while not the kind of deep seated heat associated with wood-burning/multifuel stoves, it is still very relaxing. Many modern day gas stoves also come with remote controls and mobile phone apps, allowing you to start up your machine before you even get home. Yes, instant heat is certainly a positive when it comes to gas stoves!

Controllability

When looking at wood-burning/multifuel stoves it is fair to say that it can take some time to get the fire started and also put it out. This is not an issue with gas stoves because it is literally the flick of a switch to increase, decrease the heat output. On the flick of a switch you can also turn off your gas stove and save on fuel. As we touched on above, there is also the issue of remote control/mobile phone apps which allow you to program your machine from afar. If control of your heat source is important, gas stoves may well be worth a look.

Few limitations on installation

Due to the array of balanced flue options there are very few areas in which a gas stove cannot be installed. There will obviously be the fuel source to consider, whether mainline or bottled, but on the whole there are very few issues when it comes to installation. There are also many gas stoves which will utilise the space of a traditional open fireplace with a ready-made flue. It is not difficult to see why interest in gas stoves has increased and is likely to continue to do so for some time to come.

Efficiency

As you are able to control your gas stove at the flick of a switch it is fair to say that from an efficiency angle it has a lot going for it. There is also the issue of particle emissions which corresponds with the improved efficiency compared to counterparts. Whether or not you obtain the same kind of deep seated heat with a gas stove as you do with a wood-burning/multifuel stove is a matter of opinion.

We will now take a look at some of the drawbacks associated with gas stoves which include:-

Relatively expensive installation

Akin to wood-burning/multifuel stoves, the installation of a gas stove can still be relatively expensive as a one-off cost. In the long term there is the opportunity to make significant savings but in the short term there will be an investment of varying amounts required. A word of warning, it is vital that any gas stove is installed by a recognised qualified professional. These are still dangerous machines in the wrong hands!

Bottled gas can be expensive

As with electric, the cost of gas seems to go higher and higher each year with no sign of the trend reversing. This obviously has an impact upon the cost of fuel for a gas stove but the situation is probably more relevant when it comes to the use of bottled gas. When you compare mains gas and bottled gas, you’ll find that bottled gas is more expensive and potentially more dangerous to store.

Cost of stove

In general the cost of a gas stove will likely be greater than the cost of a wood-burning/multifuel stove. This will obviously depend upon the brand and the type of gas stove you choose but when comparing like-for-like, gas stoves do tend to be more expensive. In the longer term, a few hundred pounds here and there will likely not make a massive difference but it is a consideration.

Non-renewable fuel

We live in a world where emissions are headline news everyday as we fight to save the planet. It will therefore disappoint many people when considering the non-renewable status of gas fuel. This is not necessarily a massive issue today but due to climate change and ongoing government taxes, it could well be a big issue tomorrow. This is why wood-burning stoves are particularly popular today, the fact that wood taken from the forests can be replenished to grow again. There are also other aspects to consider with non-renewable fuels such as their formulation and the supply network.

Electric stoves

It is fair to say that electric stoves have significantly grown in popularity over the last few years. Improvements to the technology, more eye-catching designs, affordable prices and reduced installation expenditure have caught the attention of consumers. We will now take a look at the pros and cons of electric stoves of which there are a few. The more positive aspects to electric stoves include:-

ACR Neo 3C Electric Stove
ACR Neo 3C Electric Stove

Ease of installation

Even if you have one of the more eye-catching designs, often based on their wood-burning/multifuel counterparts, the installation of an electric stove is simple. In fact, in many situations it is simply a case of plugging in the device. As a consequence, there is limited requirement for upfront investment by the consumer and we can see electric stoves becoming even more popular going forward.

Efficiency

While many see gas stoves as highly efficient, their electric counterparts are even more efficient! It is literally a case of plug-in, switch on and you are off and running. As no chimney is required all of the heat created remains in the room/building, improving the official efficiency rating. Again, whether the type of heat created by an electric stove is comparable to the deep seated heat from a wood-burning/multifuel counterpart is debatable.

Environmentally friendly

Supporters of electric stoves will suggest that they are environmentally friendly which on the surface seems like a relatively strong argument. The debate comes further down the line, prior to the electric arriving at your home, and how it is created and transported. There are some highly efficient power stations available in the UK today but not all have converted from the relatively inefficient fossil fuel stations of years gone by. So, on the surface yes, electric stoves are seen as more environmentally friendly but issues begin to emerge further down the line.

Pack up and take it with you!

It is safe to say that when moving home it would be very tricky to take your wood-burning/multifuel stove or your gas stove with you, lock stock and barrel. You would need to write off at a minimum the expense of installing your stove and that assumes you can take your stove with you. There is also the added cost of reinstalling your stove at your new property. With an electric stove, you simply switch it off, remove the plug and it is ready to go with you.

At first glance it may be difficult to see any real downsides to electric stoves but there are a number of factors to consider such as:-

Heat output

While electric stoves are highly efficient the vast majority will struggle to create heat output in excess of 2 kW. This considerably reduces the potential market because those with medium to large sized rooms, and some small rooms, would not find the heat output sufficient. That is not to say there are no scenarios in which an electric stove would be perfect but there are perhaps more where they would not be suitable.

When in use….

Those who have come across modern day electric stoves would likely have been fairly impressed at first glance. They look the part, they are very easy to use but one of the main problems begins to emerge when you switch it on. Some modern day electric stoves can be relatively noisy due to the fan which is used to distribute the heat. There is also the issue of dust in the heater which some have compared to old style electric bathroom heaters which create a similar smell. So, while you know the heat output is limited, when in operation an electric stove is not exactly subtle!

A lack of ambience

Whether you choose a wood-burning/multifuel stove, gas stove or electric stove will come down to personal preference and cost. It is fair to say that an electric stove does not create the same type of deep seated heat often associated with a wood-burning stove. It does not create the same ambience, the same relaxing environment and is not as welcoming as more traditional stoves. So, if you’re looking for an alternative fuel source and a centrepiece for your room, together with the ambience created by a deep seated heat, then maybe electric stoves are not for you.

Susceptible to power cuts!

While some may argue that power cuts are relatively few and far between in the UK, official forecasts suggest they could become more commonplace in years to come. In very basic terms, if there is no source of electric then your electric stove will not work.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking towards a wood burner/multifuel stove, gas stove or electric stove, there are many factors to take into consideration. There are been huge improvements in gas and electric stoves of late but do they compare to the ambience and the deep seated heat created by a wood burner/multifuel stove?

As many people see their stove as more than just a heat source, often a focal point in their room, this brings all variations into play. However, when we begin to look towards the deep seated heat emitted by a wood-burning/multifuel stove it is a whole different ballgame. Then you also have the cost of fuel, the cost of the machine and the cost of installation to take into consideration. A lot to think about!


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /data03/bowlstoves/public_html/blog/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405