Can I put coal in the wood burner?

(32 Posts)
superlambanana Thu 21-Nov-13 16:06:57

We have a wood burner, not a multi-fuel stove. Can somebody tell me the difference please?!

We go through wood at an alarming rate - we have an entire big (ex)shed to burn, but at this rate it won't last us the winter. The stove is pretty small - I can't imagine a smaller size - and the room isn't very big either (about 3m square), yet it doesn't give out much heat.

Can I burn coal in it, or will it ruin it? Or is there some miracle slow-burning fuel I can put on it if I can't use coal, that will last longer?

georgedawes Thu 21-Nov-13 16:23:34

Not if it isn't a multi fuel burner - can't give you the explanation though, someone more knowledgeable than me will.

What size (kw) is your stove? It might not be big enough to heat the room.

Are you using seasoned logs? If they're wet/unseasoned they won't give off a lot of heat.

georgedawes Thu 21-Nov-13 16:24:10

PS - we use blazers fuel logs and they give off a lot of heat, but if your stove is too small for the room I'm not sure if it'll make much difference for you.

superlambanana Thu 21-Nov-13 17:19:51

I've no idea what size it is as we didn't put it in but I'll try to find out!

superlambanana Thu 21-Nov-13 17:23:12

I reckon it's about 4kw!

BrownSauceSandwich Thu 21-Nov-13 17:27:17

Coal or smokeless equivalents need air supply from the bottom, so you have t build the fire on a clear grate. Wood needs the air supply from the top, and burns better sitting on an ash bed. Multifuel stoves allow for both. If you try to burn coal in a stove not designed for it, you'll get incomplete combustion, with the undesirable products of creosote (which will eat through your stove), and carbon monoxide (which will kill you and your family). I wouldn't recommend it.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 21-Nov-13 17:29:06

You can't burn coal in a log burner - to burn coal you need a grate and an ash pan, which you don't for logs. Coal need more airflow, whereas wood burns better on a bed of ash.

Some log burners are more efficient than others. Don't know how you are using yours but once the fire is going restrict the airflow as much as possible (without cutting it off entirely), and the wood will last longer. You can get a little gauge that attaches to the flue so you can see if it is running at optimum.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 21-Nov-13 17:32:46

Here's the stove thermometer we use.

BrownSauceSandwich Thu 21-Nov-13 17:35:22

By the way, some stoves are just more effective than others. Ours was carefully sized for the room, but when it's going at full belt, the dogs hide under the sofa where it's cooler. It has a lot to do with the quality of the wood supply. You want hardwood dried to less than 20% moisture... You can get a moisture meter fairly cheaply, but eventually you'll be able to judge it by weight (should feel really very light). If your wood has higher moisture, most of the heat will be wasted on evaporating off all that water (also a risk for incomplete combustion), so the stove output will be disappointing.

georgedawes Thu 21-Nov-13 18:26:27

Thanks to the people who knew why you can't burn coal on it!

What size is your room? What make is the stove?

As said before, you need to make sure you're burning good quality logs.

aliciaflorrick Thu 21-Nov-13 18:31:21

Can I recommend an eco fan for the top of your stove, 50 quid from Amazon.

I have a small (multifuel) stove but it only takes 30 cm logs and only a couple at a time and if I remember it's supposed to give out 8kws of heat. It was good before the fan, but now with the eco fan it pushes the heat out of the living room,into the hallway and up the stairs. My computer desk is at the top of the stairs and I can feel the heat on my legs as I'm typing.

I end up with the fire all closed up and the fan pushing the hot air round the room, I'm very impressed with it.

georgedawes Thu 21-Nov-13 18:38:14

that's interesting alicia, I have always wondered if they're any good. might have to look into buying one.

superlambanana Thu 21-Nov-13 18:39:31

I'm intrigued by the eco fan - will have a look!

I'm a bit confused though - we do have a grate at the bottom with an ash pan underneath - something like:

Flue
Main bit where we put the wood in
Small grate (about 5 10x1cm holes)
Ash pan (with another opening door bit)

See how technical I am!!

I need to buy a CM detector ASAP anyway but I don't want to burn anything that's going to make CM more likely!

aliciaflorrick Thu 21-Nov-13 18:52:27

Super mine is a multi fuel stove, so I have an air inlet at the bottom and at the top. I also have a grate and an ash pan. If I'm going to burn just wood my stove came with a sheet of metal that is to be placed over the grate so that no air is coming up from the grate.

I think one of the worries about burning coal on a wood stove is that coal burns so much hotter than wood and sometimes it can warp the stove.

The eco fan stops the hot air rising up to the ceiling and pushes it out into the room at stove level. My house is not known for being hot, and normally we sit in the living room with the door closed so the fire can keep us warm. For the last two weeks at around 9.00 I've had to get up and open the living room door to let the cold in because it's been so flipping hot.

I have a stove in the kitchen that runs the central heating, I'm going to buy one for that one too so that it can push the heat out from the kitchen into the dining room.

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 21-Nov-13 21:36:25

Are you sure you don't have a multifuel burner? It sounds like one!

If you are getting through a lot of fuel it is usually because a) your fuel isn't very good (e.g. unseasoned pine) or b) there is too much air getting in. That can be because of how you have it set but quite often it is just the burner - a lot of cheaper models are badly sealed or have very little flow control.

Have you been burning the wood on the grate? If you have that may explain why you're getting through it at such a rate.

superlambanana Thu 21-Nov-13 22:32:02

The chimney sweep said it was wood, I had no idea! <clueless>

I'll try it with the bottom vent closed - I thought that would make the fire go out. Will also try with a layer of ash. Thanks!

We have a woodburner. It has a grate and an ash pan. How else do you get rid of the ash confused

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 21-Nov-13 22:59:45

With a shovel MrsMCL.

Super - make sure you have some air going through. If you are in any doubt about what you can do with your burner ask at a stove shop - they will know what you've got and how to operate it.

bunchoffives Fri 22-Nov-13 00:06:08

Can you link to the model so that we can have a look?

superlambanana Fri 22-Nov-13 09:28:56

If I had a clue what it was bunch I would! We inherited it and I can't see a name anywhere. Where would it be?

aliciaflorrick Fri 22-Nov-13 11:23:00

Super if you have an ash pan, a grate and an air vent at the bottom, I'd say it was multifuel because that's exactly like mine.

If you're burning coal and wood then you only need a couples of shovels of coal underneath your wood.

This is how I use my stove, light it with paper and kindling, once it gets burning, a shovel of coal and some small logs. Once that gets established a couple more shovels of coal and a couple of larger logs. Once it's heated up properly (about 15 - 30 mins) I close all the vents - sometimes if it's struggling I keep the top vent open to help the wood burn.

The coal burns slowly providing a nice layer for the logs to sit on.

If I'm staying up late I might add another shovel full of coal later on in the evening then another log.

I find I use less wood burning this way and a 20 kg bag of coal lasts me a week, and that's using it between two fires.

As I've said, we have a wood only burner and it has an ash pan, grate and air vent at the bottom. If your chimney sweep says it's for wood I'd take his word for it or ask at a stove shop as somebody else said. Really not a good idea to burn coal if you're not certain it's suitable.

BlueSkySunnyDay Fri 22-Nov-13 12:01:30

Our Stoves multi fuel burner has two sliding switches, one controls airflow to the top of the burner and one airflow to the bottom - I assume a single fuel burner would had just one airflow control.

Originally we intended to just burn wood, living in the country near a sawmill - but it goes out too fast its only small and I cant be bothered to keep feeding it, we have a bed of coal which burns longer and hotter and put logs on top.

BlueSkySunnyDay Fri 22-Nov-13 12:08:38

Actually super - looking on the stovax stoves site theirs are all "wood or multi fuel" so if you have one of them you should be ok.

Dont ask me which control is for wood and which for coal as I have to ask DH every time blush

BlueSkySunnyDay Fri 22-Nov-13 12:11:24

Stovax site here

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