We spent a fascinating morning at Walkers in Burford. After researching dealers in wood-burning stoves around the country, they turned out to be the best in our area. In particular they offer a complete service from supplying the stove to arranging the installation and plumbing. Sandy Walker has been passionate about wood-burning stoves for more than 20 years and he took us through all the issues.
It seems as though the Clearview 750 would be best if we want to use the stove with an back boiler. The medium size boiler produces 27,000 btu and could provide our hot water and two radiators. However, it does mean that the radiators would always be on when the fire was lit. As Sandy said, it’s like a steam engine – once the fire is lit, the hot water has to go somewhere. But on balance we don’t see this as a disadvantage since we’d use it only in the cold six months of the year and then we’d welcome the heat in the living room and bedroom, as well as in the kitchen from the stove itself. All being well hot water in the summer would be produced by solar topped up by green electricity.
Very impressive was how controllable the stove is. Closing the air vents has an immediate effect, reducing the output from 14 kW down to 2 kW in a matter of minutes. At this level the fire will stay in for up to 12 hours. The firebox takes around 5 logs and needs to be re-filled three times a day. Very little ash is produced and can be put on the garden once a week as a useful source of potash.
The story behind the Clearview range goes back 18 years when it was invented by Jonathan Greenall in Shropshire. The basic idea is that the air that is drawn into the stove to provide the oxygen is pre-heated, which produces less smoke. By producing a form of after-burn, the emissions from the stoves are said to be five times less than a conventional stove. They claim that this also obviates the need for a catalytic converter, which would anyway quickly stop working. Sandy was given an early demonstration and says he was so impressed that he dropped the other 99 types of stove he was stocking to sell only Clearviews.
The Clearview literature also gives another environmental arguement in favour of wood as a fuel: that it releases the same amount of CO2 whether it is burnt or left in the woods to rot.
This was a fascinating morning. We’ll be able to follow up with a survey to see in particular how best to line our chimney. And we need to wait for the solar water heating survey to be done to see how these different energy sources can best be integrated at the level of plumbing. Finally, we also have another option to check out. Our neighbour at Hedgerley was recommending ceramic stoves as particularly fuel efficient, so we need to look into these as well.