Benefits of a Stove Compared to an Open Fireplace
Benefits of a stove compared to an open fireplace
Here we outline some facts and figures of the benefits of installing a stove in comparison to retaining an open fireplace. If you’re trying to decide on whether a stove or open fireplace is better, the first step is to decide on what you really want from your fireplace. Are you looking to heat the room? Maybe heat your entire home? Are you looking to decrease fuel bills? Or maybe you want some independence from using electricity or gas? Or maybe you have fond memories of roaring fireplaces from your childhood.
Once you’ve decided on what you want from your fireplace you can then identify whether a stove or open fireplace is more appropriate.
So, back to basics quickly. An open fireplace is typically the square recess where you build the fire. You may have a certain surround around it, whether that’s stone, cast iron, wood or any other material but it is still an open fireplace nonetheless. An open fireplace won’t have a door at the front, but, as the name suggests will be completely open at the front.
A stove, or a solid fuel stove if we’re referring to its full name, is typically a box made of, more commonly cast iron, or if it’s an older model, steel. The door gives you access to add more fuel to the fire and empty the ash tray that sits below the fire.
So what’s the difference between the two?
Other than the physical difference briefly described above, there are numerous differences between the two options on a day to day basis:
It is reported that on average an open fireplace is only 17% efficient while a stove typically has an average efficiency rating of 80%. This efficiency rating impacts the rate at which you burn fuel and the amount of heat that the fireplace or stove emits.
From a stove you can expect to keep fuel bills down, have a higher efficiency, with low fuel usage and high heat output.
From an open fireplace you can expect higher fuel bills, a low efficiency rating, with comparatively high fuel usage and low heat output.
Because of the drastic difference in efficiency ratings, when using a stove, you only need a quarter of the fuel you need for an open fireplace to achieve the same heat output. This means that when switching to a stove from an open fireplace, you can expect your annual fuel bills to decrease by up to 75%. This is a saving you’ll make every year.
For an open fireplace the majority of the heat from the fireplace goes straight up the chimney. An easy way to picture it is that for every £100 of fuel you put onto an open fireplace, £17 comes back into the room as heat while £83 goes straight up the chimney.
If you compare this to a stove which is on average 80% efficient, for every £100 of fuel that goes into the stove, £80 comes back into the room while only 20% goes up the chimney.
A stove has 2 other major impacts on the heat output; firstly, the cast iron stove heats up with the fire and then emits heat out over a longer period. Secondly, the fire in the box is able to reach much higher temperatures than open fireplace can reach.
Damage to flooring
Depending on the type of wood you are burning, you can be prone to spitting wood. It’s from wood that hasn’t been seasoned long enough and the spitting is the trapped gases releasing. The seasoning process eradicates the gases so if you are experiencing spitting, leave the wood to season for longer (5-6 years is the total length wood needs to season properly).
As well as spitting fuel you can get ash, wood, coal or embers that move around in the fire. It may be when you put a new log on the fire and an ember gets dislodged. In a stove, it’s not a problem as everything is contained within the stove. However with an open fireplace, any items that may roll or spit out of the fireplace, will fall into your room. Now there should be a hearth to protect your flooring, but all too many times we come across burnt carpets or charred wooden flooring in front of fires.
Property value impact
If you’re looking to add some value to your home, then the stove is the clear winner rather than the open fireplace as estate agents have stated that installing a solid fuel stove can add up to as much as 5% to the value of your home.
If you find yourself with a chimney that is in disrepair and needs lining whether you have a stove installed or use it as an open fireplace, our advice is to install a stove. The difference of cost to have a stove installed is comparatively very small with really the only difference between the two options being the cost of the stove. With the numerous benefits you achieve from a stove as well as the increase in value to your home and the annual fuel savings, you’ll find that any investment for a stove installation will be paid back typically within 5 years if you don’t sell your home, and if you do, you can expect to at least double your investment made for the stove installation (on top of any annual fuel savings you’ve made).
Property value impact Up to 5% None
Investment Slightly higher Slightly lower
Damage to flooring Low risk High risk
Heat output 80% on average 17% on average
Fuel usage 75% lower 75% higher