What’s The Difference Between Wood Burning and Multifuel Stoves?

difference wood burners and multifuel stoves

A log burning stove is a great addition to any home, glamping pod or holiday retreat. In fact, a stove is just about perfect for any space you want to make a little cosier.

Choosing a stove is not always straightforward though as there is a lot of choice out there. The first big decision is to know whether you want a wood burning or multifuel stove.

On the surface, there isn’t much difference between a wood burner and multifuel stove. But there are big differences that you need to know about before you buy one.  

Before you have a closer look at either the best wood burning stoves or best multifuel stoves, let’s get things clear on the differences between the two and answer a few frequently asked questions.

Difference between a multifuel stove and wood burner

The biggest difference is that a wood burning stoves is fired up by only using wood as a fuel source, whereas a multifuel stove can use a few different types of fuel to get it generating heat.

This difference between the two types of stoves comes down to the design, mainly in how the internal section of the stove – the firebox and floor section – has been manufactured.

Arada Farringdon ecodesign multifuel stove

Wood burner design

A wood burning stove has a flat base where the logs are placed.

When the wooden logs burn, the ash collects on the floor of the stove. Sitting on a bed of ash actually helps wood burn more efficiently. A log burning only stove has no grate or ashpan underneath.

Multifuel stove design

A multifuel stove on the other hand has a raised grate that sits on top of an ashpan. This could be a moving grate, known as a riddling grate or plate, or just a static grate that can’t be moved. A riddling grate is generally a circular piece of iron or steel with slits in it that can be moved from the outside to open or close the gaps.

The grate of a multifuel stove has two purposes: to let the ash drop down into the ashpan, and to allow air up into the firebox to aid the efficient burning of fuel other than wood.

From January 2022, all new stoves that are sold in the UK and EU will have to be Ecodesign ready. These new regulations apply to both wood burning and multifuel stoves.

In a nutshell, Ecodesign means that all new stoves will be better for the environment in terms of emissions and air pollution. You can read more about Ecodesign ready stoves here.

Can you burn wood in a multifuel stove?

Yes, you can burn wood in a multifuel stove. This needs to be dried wood in the form of logs or kindling.

The difference with burning wood on a multifuel stove is that it might not burn as efficiently compared to a pure log burner with a solid floor. This is because wood burns better on a bed of ash with air coming from above, whereas smokeless coal burns better with an air supply from below.

Some multifuel stove manufacturers have made it so you can adjust and close the riddling grate to form a flat base when burning wood.

go eco 5 ecodesign ready stove

What can you burn in a multifuel stove?

As the name suggests, you can burn multiple types of fuel in a multifuel stove. They sometimes go by the name of mineral fuel stoves.

The main types of fuel that can be burned in a multifuel stove are:

  • Wood
  • Smokeless fuels
  • Anthracite (hard coal)
  • Turf/biomass briquettes
  • Coffee logs

Importantly, a multifuel stove may be able to handle different fuels, but only on their own – only burn one type of fuel at a time. For example, do not burn wood and anthracite in a stove together.

When considering just fuel type, multifuel stoves are more versatile than wood burners.

Are multifuel stoves efficient?

From January 2022, all stoves, including multifuel stoves, have to reach a minimum burn efficiency of 75%.

This means that 75% of the fuel in the fire is converted to heat energy that gets emitted into the room. The rest of the fuel that gets ‘wasted’ during the combustion process, finds its way up the flue pipe and out of the space you want to heat.

So, if the stove you are buying has an efficiency rating for 75% – 75% of the fuel provides useful heat and 25% gets wasted.

In this article on Ecodesign ready multifuel stoves, the efficiency rating ranges from 75% up to 84% (the Gallery Classic Eco Warm and Firefox 8 ECO).

What can you burn in a wood burner?

It may seem like a silly question, but it isn’t!

With a clue in the name, you can burn wood and only wood in a wood-fuel stove. Burning other fuels, such as a smokeless fuel, will void your guarantee and potentially damage the stove.

There are different types of wood you can use, but always make sure the wood has been fully dried for an extended period of time. This type of wood is called seasoned wood.

Freshly cut wood, known as green wood, may actually contain up to 50% moisture, which is why it’s not recommended for burning on your log burner.

Dried or seasoned wood that is perfect for your wood burner usually come in the form of logs or smaller kindling pieces.

Best types of wood for a wood burner

If you’re looking for good firewood, the timber from hardwood trees works best.

Some of the trees that produce the best firewood include:

  • Ash
  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Elm
  • Hazel
  • Holly
  • Rowan
  • Sycamore

Is there a difference in cost between a wood burning and multifuel stove?

There generally isn’t a significant difference in cost between a log burner and multifuel stove. If you’re really pushing me, wood burners may be slightly cheaper on the whole as they as simpler to design and manufacture.

However, both types of stoves offer a wide range of styles and models, ranging from entry level costing a few hundred pounds to high end, which are priced in the thousands of pounds.

Wrap up on wood burning and multifuel stoves

They may look similar from the outside but wood burners and multifuel stoves do have a couple of significantly differences. This mainly comes down to the internal firebox design.

If you think you’ll just be burning wood, I’d go for a pure wood burner. Specialised for one fuel type, they are slightly more efficient and arguably better for the environment than some of the fuel that gets burned on a multifuel stove.

If you think you know which stove type you’re after, head over to the Direct Stoves website*. They have a fantastic range, great prices and quick delivery.


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