Many different factors influence the choice between a fire or stove. First, it is important to ask yourself what your expectations are when purchasing a fire or stove. Are you mainly looking to create atmosphere and comfort or is heating a room the most essential factor?

What is the difference between a fire and a stove?

Besides the difference between wood and gas as a source of fuel, you will also be choosing between a fire or stove. In general, you can say that a fire primarily offers strong visual appeal and that the heat output is secondary. Conversely, a stove provides warmth first and visual appeal is a secondary consideration. 

In recent years, the differences in energy efficiency between gas-burning and wood-burning fires and stoves have become increasingly smaller. There are gas and wood-burning stoves that provide a beautiful view of the fire, thereby adding atmosphere to your interior as well as heat. Nevertheless, in general, the primary purpose of a stove is to heat a room, and that of a fire is to provide atmospheric heating.

How do I determine the capacity required for a new fire or stove?

The capacity of a fire or stove must be suitable for the room you want to heat. People often choose a fire or stove that has more capacity than the space requires. As a result, you can only leave the appliance burning briefly or on a low setting. The high capacity means that the room gets too hot too soon. With wood-burning fires and stoves, this leads to poor combustion, blackened glass and higher emissions. For gas-burning fires and stoves, this primarily means that you cannot fully enjoy the beautiful view of the natural flames. 

You can easily determine the capacity you need to heat the required space. In this graph you can see the capacity shown in kW. The space to be heated is indicated in cubic meters (m3). You calculate this by multiplying the length, width and height of the room to be heated. You can then read the capacity you require at the intersection of one of the three lines. Which of the three lines you need to choose depends on how well your home is insulated.

Follow line A on the graph if your home is/has:

  • Well insulated;
  • Double-glazed;
  • Floor and wall insulation.

Follow line B on the graph if your house is/has:

  •  Reasonably insulated;
  •  Minimal double glazing;
  •  Minimal floor and wall insulation.

Follow line C on the graph if your house is/has:

  •  Poorly insulated;
  •  No double glazing;
  •  No floor and wall insulation.

Are you unsure about the insulation in your home? Then ask for personal advice when you purchase a fire or stove.

Open and closed combustion

Combustion, whether it is gas or wood, always requires oxygen. Combustion can take place in an open or closed combustion system.

Open combustion system

You may initially associate the word “open” with a traditional open fire. An open fire is certainly an example of an open combustion system that is less efficient, with the required oxygen being extracted from the room in which it is installed. A wood-burning fire or stove with a glass door usually also draws the oxygen from the room, but because a higher temperature is achieved, it yields much more efficiency. There are also gas-burning fires with open combustion. However, they have special requirements with regard to safety and ventilation in your home. 

Closed combustion system

With a closed combustion system, the oxygen is supplied from outside and the flue gases are removed by the same concentric flue. The appliance is therefore completely sealed from the room in which it is installed with no depletion of air from within the room. Combustion takes place very efficiently under these ideal conditions.
Open and closed combustion for wood-burning fires and stoves

In principle, wood-burning fires and stoves always have an open combustion system. It is important to know that if you choose a wood-burning fire or stove, your home needs to be well ventilated. 

In exceptional circumstances, such as homes that have a 'balanced ventilation system', there are fires and stoves with an external air connection. An increasing number of fires and stoves are fitted with this facility or offer it as an option. With this system, the combustion air is extracted from outside the building. 

Do you have a home with no chimney? Bear in mind that, with a wood-burning fire or stove, the flue must always go upwards and out through the roof and must end above roof ridge height.

Open and closed combustion for gas-burning fires and stoves

In principle, the recommendation for gas-burning fires and stoves is to always choose a closed combustion system. As the system extracts oxygen from outside, therefore not from the room where the fire is installed, this type of system is ideal for modern, well-insulated and mechanically ventilated homes. 

Another advantage of a closed combustion system is that in many cases the flue can easily be fed through the outside wall or the roof. This means that you can be more flexible in your choice about the exact location in which your fire or stove will be installed. Do you want to connect the gas-burning fire or stove to an existing chimney flue? Then an open combustion system may be an option, because it requires a smaller flue. Read more information on ventilation outlets for your fire or stove here.

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