Multi fuel stoves help to increase the heat output when burning solid fuel to heat to your home. Multi fuel stoves can be placed inside your existing open fireplace to help increase the efficiency of using solid fuels to generate heat.
So what is a multi fuel stove?
Multi fuel stoves are appliances that provide a controlled environment in which different types of fuels such and wood and coal can be burnt to produce heat. To be able to burn different types of fuel, multi fuel stoves typically have a grate and an ash pan at the base of the stove, and a separate air vent to supply air to the fire from below.
I’ve used our own multi fuel stove to explain what is it, how it works, and how you can tell if a stove is multi fuel by comparing it to our wood burning stove.
What Is A Multi Fuel Stove?
A multi fuel stove is a box-like appliance that can range in size and weight depending on the design, the construction material, the build quality, and the heat output of the stove.
They are generally made from steel or cast iron, which helps to continuously radiate heat out into the room over an extended period of time, even after the fire has gone out.
Multi fuel stoves are essentially a box on legs, with a door on the front that can be opened to add more fuel to the fire, and a glass panel on the door to watch the fire through. There will also be a pipe on top or at the back of the stove to vent waste gases from your home.
Here are a few photos showing our multi fuel sitting within in our open fireplace:
The main difference for multi fuel stoves compared to wood burning stoves is that they can burn types of fuel other than wood.
As well as wood, many multi fuel stoves can burn:
- Wood pellets
Our wood burning stove is designed to only burn wood, although some can be converted to multi fuel with a kit to allow them to burn other types of fuel. Our wood burning stove has an optional component that can be bought to convert it into a multi fuel stove if we ever wanted to burn other types of fuel such as coal (more about that here).
Multi fuel stoves help to dramatically increase the efficiency of burning wood and other fuel in your home. This in turn provides more heat to the room for each piece of fuel used. The efficiency of a traditional open fireplace can be as low at 10-20%, while multi fuel stoves can have an efficiency rating of 70-80%, or even higher.
Our multi fuel stove has an efficiency rating of just over 70%, which means that it does a reasonably good job of converting the energy stored within fuel into heat.
Comparing our multi fuel stove to our open fireplace, the difference in heat output is incredible. We find ourselves having to sit near an open fire just to feel the warmth, while we find that it’s unbearably hot sitting close to our multi fuel stove. We can comfortably sit on the other side of the room when using our multi fuel stove and still feel warm.
A multi fuel stove works by burning the fuel as thoroughly as possible. Secondary combustion plays an important role in producing the extra amount of heat compared to open fireplaces, where the stove will burn off waste gases by keeping them inside the firebox for longer and at hotter temperatures.
Much of the heat from a fire in an open fireplace is lost up the chimney because the fire can’t be controlled. A multi fuel stove creates a controlled environment in which the airflow into the stove can be manually adjusted, therefore allowing the user to control how quickly the fire burns through the fuel and how much heat can be produced.
The air vents on a multi fuel stove can be used to create a fire that is burning as efficiently as possible, where as much heat is produced as possible for each piece of fuel consumed.
How To Tell If A Stove Is Multi Fuel
It can sometimes be difficult to tell a multi fuel stove apart from a wood burning stove. Although of different design, the outside our multi fuel stove looks similar enough to our wood burning stove.
The key differences to tell if a stove is multi fuel are that:
- There is a grate at the bottom of the firebox, rather than a flat surface.
- The stove has an ash pan compartment located underneath the firebox, with an ash tray that can be pulled out to empty the ashes.
- There can be an extra air vent on the stove to help burn different types of fuel.
In order to burn different types of fuel, multi fuel stoves typically have a metal grate at the base of the firebox rather than a flat bed of fireproof material, which can typically found in wood burning stoves.
Wood burns best with a source of air from above, which is why you won’t generally find a wood burning stove with a grate at the base of it.
On the other hand, coal burns best with a source of air from below, and so a grate is require inside a multi fuel stove to allow the user to burn coal efficiently.
The photos below show the difference between the fireboxes in our multi fuel and wood burning stoves:
As multi fuel stoves have grates at the bed of the fire, there needs to be somewhere to collect the ashes as they fall through.
A multi fuel stove will therefore typically have an ash pan compartment beneath the firebox, with an ash tray that can be removed to clear out the ashes between fires.
In comparison, our wood burning stove doesn’t have an ash tray, and so we simply sweep out excess ashes from the firebox as and when required.
As fuel such as coal needs a source of air from below to burn efficiently, you’ll typically find that multi fuel stoves have an extra air vent compared to wood burning stoves.
This vent can usually be found near the bottom of the stove in font in front of the ash pan compartment.
Both our multi fuel stove and wood burning stove have vents located underneath, with handles to control the vents sticking out the front.
As our wood burning stove doesn’t have an ash tray, there is only one controllable vent, while our multi fuel stove has two.
For the complete list of differences between a multi fuel stoves and wood burning stoves, click here to see a more in-depth comparison between ours.
How To Build And Light A Fire In A Multi Fuel Stove
How To Control A Multi Fuel Stove Using the Air Vents
Parts Of A Stove Explained
How To Keep A Multi Fuel Stove Burning
How To Get The Most Heat From A Multi Fuel Stove
How To Keep A Multi Fuel Stove Clean