Heating with Wood: Connect a Wood Burner to Central Heating

Heating with Wood: Connect a Wood Burner to Central Heating

Heating with Wood

The best way to connect a wood burner to central heating is with a back boiler stove. Depending on the model, a back boiler stove can provide domestic hot water and/or central heating and will help to take some of the strain off the heating system and increase efficiency.

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How does a wood burning stove work?

Wood burning stoves (otherwise known as wood burners or log burners) are a form of heating appliance that burns wooden materials to heat up a room. These materials can include logs, pellets and other biological matter.

As they’re only able to heat up a single room, many homeowners are keen to find ways to better utilise the heat generated by a wood burning stove. And that’s why many want to connect their wood burner to the central heating. A back boiler stove makes this possible and they can either supply domestic hot water or central heating systems of varying sizes. All while heating the room it’s situated in too.

How to connect a wood burner to central heating

Connecting a wood burner to the central heating can be complex and will vary greatly from property to property. In the vast majority of cases it’s essential for the system to include a vent. Without a vent, pressure could build up within the system (as it would have nowhere to escape) and in the most severe cases blow the stove. This rules out being connected to a heating system which includes a combi boiler.

Never attempt to connect a wood burner to the central heating yourself, you should only ever hire a trained professional. You can get free quotes from fully-qualified heating engineers in your area using Boiler Guide.

Can a wood burner provide domestic hot water?

As we mentioned, a back boiler stove can supply domestic hot water – as well as central heating. Should you not have a back boiler stove and instead a wood burner or log burner it’s still possible for a wood burner to be connected to a hot water cylinder to provide domestic hot water. There are 2 variations, spending on the type of boiler you have: a simple link and a simple indirect link.

Simple link

Properties with a back boiler can connect a wood burner to the hot water cylinder to top up the domestic hot water supply.

Back boilers are outdated heating systems that are no longer being manufactured. They rose to popularity through the 1960s and 70s as floor-standing boilers took up much more space than they do nowadays. Back boilers were installed behind a fireplace or gas fire as part of a heating system that also included a cold water tank and hot water cylinder. If you have a back boiler then a heating engineer will most likely recommend that you replace it with a modern boiler.

You can further increase your energy savings with solar thermal panels which can heat up the water in a hot water cylinder for free.

Simple indirect link

If you don’t have a back boiler, which the vast majority of properties in the UK won’t, then an indirect link can be made to connect the wood burner to the hot water cylinder. It’s known as an indirect connection as rather than heating the water directly, it instead heats up a coil within the cylinder. This coil in turn then heats up the domestic hot water.

What are the benefits of connecting a wood burner to the central heating?

The best reason to pair a log burner with a central heating system is that while you’re enjoying the warmth, it will also be contributing heat to the wider central heating system. This doesn’t mean that you need the wood burner on to have central heating, it will instead top up the central heating. This could in turn reduce the reliance you have on your gas or oil boiler, helping to reduce your energy bills.

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Why a biomass boiler could be a better option

Biomass boilers are essentially wood burning stoves that are built to supply central heating and domestic hot water to an entire property – a great solution for off-grid properties. The process of burning organic materials heats water via a heat exchanger which is then circulated to the central heating system or domestic hot water cylinder.

With older biomass boilers, feeding the fuel into the combustion area would have involved manual labour. However, modern biomass boilers feature a fuel storage compartment, which automatically feeds the fuel into the boiler.

So, rather than pairing a wood burning stove with a central heating system, you could turn to a biomass boiler.

Is burning wood bad for indoor air quality?

Burning wood for heat is often thought of as an environmentally friendly way to heat a room. This is because burning wood is ‘carbon neutral’ as it only releases the same amount of carbon that the tree absorbed during its lifetime. This is opposed to burning fossil fuels which increases the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. And, in the case of dry wood, this is true. Wet wood is where the problem lies.

Also known as unseasoned wood, wet wood contains moisture that, when burnt, produces dangerously high smoke levels and PM2.5 – small particles of air pollution that can make their way into the lungs and blood, causing health problems.

To tackle this problem, the UK government announced that from 2021 wet wood, along with coal, won’t be available for purchase to burn for heat.

What are the benefits of wood burning stoves?

Wood burning stoves are rather idyllic in their appearance and are growing in appearance. These wood burners are not only attractive additions to a room but can also be an effective and efficient heating system.

Simply put, there’s no warmer feeling than from fire. Compared with radiators, a log burner will heat a room more effectively. Plus, it’s much more efficient than a heating system that relies on fossil fuels such as a gas or oil boiler.

Finally, wood is a much cheaper fuel source per kilowatt hour than electricity, oil and even natural gas:

  • Gas: 4.8p / kWh
  • Oil: 6p / kWh
  • Electricity: 13.4p / kWh
  • Wood Chips: 2.9p kWh
  • Wood Pellets: 4.2p / kWh

How much do back boiler stoves cost?

The price of a back boiler stove will vary depending on whether it’s being used for domestic hot water or central heating.

Type of Back Boiler Stove Potential Cost
Water Heater £800 – £1,300
Up to 5 radiators £1,700 – £2,500
5-8 radiators £1,050 – £2,500
8-10 radiators £1,250 – £3,000
10-15 radiators £1,500 – £2,700

The installation will need to be carried out by a full-qualified heating engineer and you can get up to 3 free no-obligation quotes from installers in your area by completing our simple online form.

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