Advances in wood burner technology

Geoff Little, Business Development Manager at Docherty Group, explores the evolution of new technologies built into modern wood burning stoves.
For more than a million years, humans have harnessed the life-sustaining power of fire by burning wood. However, the traditional or contemporary wood burning stove that warms the heart of our homes today has come a long way since the original inefficient fire chambers of the eighteenth century.

In recent years, amid widespread concern about air pollution and climate change, stove manufacturers have been working tirelessly on the development of new technologies to improve the user friendliness, performance and design of their products, resulting in a new generation of innovative, super-efficient stove designs, such as the wood burning stoves used today around the world.

Today’s wood burning stove is well-designed, clean burning and reaching an energy efficiency rating of 80% or above.

Automatic (Smart) control
Automated stoves are an emerging class in the UK market. Stoves with automatic control use sensors and computer chips to regulate the air intake, meaning the user can “load and leave”, allowing the stove to maximise efficiency and emissions reductions on its own. This also allows for fuel savings of up to 30% and an optimal environmentally friendly combustion.

Some of the latest stove models also come with an app allowing operation of the stove via Smartphone or Tablet. The app can also collect data from the appliance and communicate relevant information to the stove user, such as when to add more wood, information on optimal combustion, current temperature as well as the chimney draught.

Airwash system
The Airwash system is incorporated in most modern stoves. It helps prevent soot build-up on the surface of the stove glass by diverting hot air down along the front of the glass to burn off unwanted sooty particulates and help keep it clean, allowing the user to enjoy the flames to the full

It is important to note that the quality of the fuel burnt affects the Airwash system’s performance. Wet wood (with moisture content above 20%) introduces moisture into the fire chamber, consequently dropping the fire chamber temperature, which in turn further reduces the effectiveness of the Airwash system.

Improved efficiency and clean combustion
The high efficiency of modern stoves is a result of the introduction of additional air which reignites the gases and by-products from the first burn, preventing them from escaping up the flue. This helps reduce emissions and delivers even more warmth to your room.

Concern about air pollution in recent years has brought home the importance of improving air quality, resulting in the introduction of a new European-wide programme, Ecodesign.

‘Ecodesign’ will become mandatory for all stoves by 2022 and aims at further reducing the environmental impact of burning wood. ‘Ecodesign Ready’ stoves are the most environmentally friendly stoves available today and will reduce particulate emissions by 90% compared to open fires and 80-84% compared to old stoves.

The main manufacturers in the SIA have decided to release stoves that will meet the lower emission limits now, and from 2020 to only manufacture wood-burning stoves that meet the new Ecodesign criteria, two years ahead of schedule. These stoves will carry the “Ecodesign Ready” label to inform consumers that the stove will meet the new stringent emission limits.

With the increasing cost and environmental pressures on fossil fuels, it’s hard not to see a bright future for modern wood stoves that utilise a genuinely renewable and carbon neutral resource. The advanced technology and high efficiency of modern wood burning stoves can help householders meet current and future energy efficiency requirements.

Many homeowners choose to contribute to a greener planet and reducing their energy bills by heating all or part of their home with wood or pellets. With a wide selection of stove models on the market today it’s possible to find the perfect style and functionality to complement each home and lifestyle.

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