09 Apr 2009 11:04:27
Morsø Standard Squirrel Wood Burner
At the end of 2008, with the price of oil sky-high and concerns about climate change and catastrophic environmental degradation running high, we decided that a wood burner (wood burning stove) would be a good investment. We'd seen wood burners at friends' houses and always thought they'd make a nice and useful addition to our home, so our decision to buy one was based on both emotion and practicality!
Wood as fuel is one of the most under-utilised energy sources in the country, and has the potential to provide up to 20% of the UK's national energy demand (see my notes from ). It's also a 'carbon-lean' fuel - the carbon dioxide released when burning wood is equal to the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by the tree whilst it was going - this is a natural and sustainable part of the carbon cycle. Further carbon emissions are incurred when managing the forest, using machinery to process the logs and transport them, but overall the net carbon emissions are much lower than fossil fuels.
We used to choosing the right heat output of our stove and decided that 5kW was about right for our living room. From there, we narrowed down the choices in terms of style and cost, and finally decided on a - a cast iron multi-fuel stove (meaning that we could burn coal or charcoal as well as wood if we ever wanted to) in the traditional style, and from a Scandinavian manufacturer. We figured the scandinavians would know a thing or two about wood burners!
Based on our experience of trying to install the woodburner ourselves, my advice is that if you can afford to do so, get a professional in from the start. They will assess the suitability of your chimney, help you to order the correct components, and perform the installation to building regulations. As we have a good friend in the trade, we leant heavily on him to provide us with advice and reduced-price components - thanks Rich! A word of caution - allow about an extra thousand pounds just for the components you'll most likely need - such as a stainless steel chimney flue liner, connecting stainless steel pipework, chimney cowl, etc.
With romantic notions of my own DIY abilities, I decided that we could fit it all ourselves and save a bit more cash. It turns out that installing woodburners is pretty hard work! After about 6 hours standing on the roof wrestling with the flue liner, and the living room covered with dust, we finally got it done and all connected up. Really, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done!
For some time after we had it installed, we just couldn't get it to work properly at all. We'd light the newspaper and kindling which would burn fantastically well - showing that the system had enough 'draw' and the pipes were all joined correctly, but as soon as we put logs in, it would quickly die down. We finally realised that our wood supplier had delivered 'green' (freshly-cut and still wet) wood, despite promising it had been seasoned for two years. So, we found a great little wood supplier nearby, loaded up the boot of our car and ever since, all has been fantastic. It seems that properly-seasoned wood has been in short supply this winter due to the rapid growth in the wood burner market in the UK.
The wet wood we were trying to burn initially caused the glass window of the woodburner to become sooted and blackened. Now that we have dry logs burning, the airwash system of the Morsø has cleared the window (mostly).
The Morsø is now a very welcome part of our living room and many are the nights we have enjoyed a toasty-hot living room whilst entertaining or watching a film. The stove has good controls for adjusting the rate of air flow to the burner, and therefore how quickly the logs burn, and generally it does all we need it to do. It's easy to clean the ash out and we've never yet smelt smoke in the living room, even with the door to the wood burner wide open.
If you're thinking of buying a 5kW wood burner, I can certainly recommend the Morsø Standard Squirrel. My advice is to seek professional advice right from the start. Whilst it IS possible to design and fit a system yourself, I have the scars to recommend against it! Also, invest in a wood moisture tool so that you can be sure you're buying properly-seasoned wood. It makes all the difference! I can also recommend StovesOnline as a friendly and competent retailer.