We have two DEFRA approved wood burning stoves in the family, both of which are classed as ‘exempt appliances’ for use in smoke control areas.
Although these stoves aren’t currently being used in smoke control areas, they still help to reduce the emissions and smoke released by burning wood at home.
So what is a DEFRA approved stove?
A DEFRA approved wood burning stove is an appliance that is exempt from UK smoke control areas. DEFRA approved wood stoves typically incorporate smoke control kits that help to minimise the amount of smoke produced from burning wood.
Our two DEFRA approved wood burning stoves require certain components to be used smoke control areas, which I discuss below.
What Is A DEFRA Approved Wood Burning Stove?
DEFRA is the UK Government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. It’s responsible for the protection of the environment, and so oversees the testing of wood burning stoves for use in smoke control areas, with approved stoves known as DEFRA Exempt Appliances.
This process is to ensure that the stoves approved for use in smoke control areas comply with the UK Clean Air Act of 1993.
Wood stoves that pass the testing become exempt appliances, meaning that wood can be burnt in them even in smoke control areas. This is because the stoves are efficient enough, and have sufficiently reduced emissions and smoke production, to be used in areas of the UK where smoke can’t be released into the air.
‘Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using ‘exempt appliances’, for example burners or stoves.’Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
There are large fines for burning wood in smoke control areas when not using an approved appliance, as it is against the law to do so.
To check if your in a smoke control area contact your local authority. You can use this simple form on the UK Government website to find out who your local council is.
Why Does A Wood Burning Stove Smoke?
A fire in a wood burning stove can release smoke for a number of reasons, but one of the main causes can be due to a lack of oxygen.
DEFRA approved stoves typically prevent one of the air vents (usually the secondary air vent) from being fully closed down, to help prevent smoke production due to a lack of oxygen to the fire. A DEFRA exempt stove will therefore provide a cleaner burn of wood because the fire can never be fully starved of air, and it won’t smoulder and produce smoke as it’s going out as a result.
Burning wet wood is also another major cause of a smoking fire, but I’ve put together another article outlining the complete list of reasons why your wood burning stove could be smoking.
Examples of DEFRA Exempt Appliances
Both my parents have DEFRA exempt wood burning stoves that are located in their living room fireplaces.
Although my parents don’t actually live in smoke control areas, the particular models of wood stove that my parents wanted happened to be on DEFRA’s list of exempt appliances.
DEFRA Exempt Appliance Example 1 (Approved Multi-Stove)
My dad has a Clearview Vision 500: a traditional looking wood burning stove manufactured by Clearview Stoves that compliments the décor of his home.
This model of wood stove has been approved by DEFRA as an exempt appliance for use in smoke control areas when using ‘wood logs which have been split, stacked and air-dried’.
The stove also has both secondary burn and air wash functionalities built in, which helps to promote a clean burn of the wood to reduce emissions. The stove has an efficiency rating of 71.6%.
Clearview Stoves state that:
‘The Vision 500 was the first multi-fuel stove approved for burning wood and authorised fuel in UK smoke control areas.’
‘All [Clearview] products manufactured as smoke control stoves can burn wood in a smoke control area. This feature is available (but not standard) on every [Clearview] stove except the Inset and cannot be fitted or combined with a boiler.’Clearview Stoves
As my dad doesn’t live in a smoke control area, the stove was ordered without the optional Smoke Control Kit. This kit unfortunately can’t be retrofitted to the stove, and so my dad wouldn’t be able to use his stove in a smoke control area if he moved to one.
The Smoke Control Kit helps to prevent the air flow to the stove from being insufficient enough to cause the fire to smoulder. It’s installed into the secondary air vent to prevent is from being fully closed.
Clearview Stoves state in operating instructions for smoke control stoves that:
‘Air controls are usually fitted with an adjustable stop. This is factory set for average conditions. Do no re-set stops without first seeking manufacturers advice, reducing air inlet openings to create slow smouldering fire will reduce combustion efficiency, and increase air pollution. This is an offence in a smoke control area. Smoke control stoves are not expected to burn overnight.’Clearview Stoves
DEFRA Exempt Appliance Example 2 (Approved Wood Stove)
My mother has a Parkray Aspect 5 Slimline version manufactured by Hunter Stoves. It’s more modern looking than our other stove and compliments the more modern décor of that home.
This model of wood stove has also been approved by DEFRA as an exempt appliance for use in smoke control areas when using ‘wood logs’.
Details of the Parkray Aspect 5 Slimline can be found on DEFRA’s website right here.
This model of stove also has an air wash system and secondary burn of waste gases. The stove has an efficiency rating of 79.0%.
The stove instruction manual states that:
‘These stoves have been designed and assembled so that it may be used to burn wood logs in a Smoke Control Area. These appliances are only exempt for use when fitted with a smoke control kit.’Hunter Stoves
Unlike our other wood burning stove, the smoke control kit on this stove can be fitted by the installer at any time, and doesn’t need to be installed when manufactured.
This stove isn’t being used in a smoke control area, but if it were to be then the smoke control kit for the secondary air stop would need to be fitted. The stop prevents the secondary air vent from being completely closed and causing the fire to smoke.
The below image shows how the smoke control kit for this stove can be fitted:
Can I Burn Wood In A DEFRA Approved Stove?
The DEFRA website will state what fuel, such as wood, can be burnt in a particular model of wood burning stove.
As an example, here’s what the website states we can use in our DEFRA approved wood burning stoves:
What Is The Difference Between a DEFRA Approved Stove and One That Isn’t Approved?
A DEFRA approved stove can be used in a smoke control area when burning an allowed fuel, such as wood. Wood burning stoves that aren’t approved by DEFRA aren’t allowed to burn wood inside smoke control areas.
Wood stove that aren’t DEFRA exempt can still burn wood outside of smoke control areas.
You can only burn smokeless fuels in a smoke control area when not using a DEFRA exempt stove, which are outlined below.
What Can I Burn In A Smoke Control Area?
Unless you’re using an exempt appliance such as a DEFRA approved wood stove, you can only burn smokeless fuels in a smoke control area, including:
- Low volatile steam coal
What Is A DEFRA Approved Wood Burning Stove?
To burn wood in a smoke control area you need to have a DEFRA exempt appliance. A DEFRA approved wood stove provides a sufficiently clean burn of wood to help reduce the emissions caused when burning wood in your home.
Before choosing a wood burning stove for your home, it’s important to check whether you live in a smoke control area in the UK, especially if you’re living in a large town or city. If you want to burn wood in your home you’ll need to choose a model of wood stove that is known as a DEFRA Exempt Appliance.
Most manufacturers will state whether their model of stove is approved for smoke control areas or not, but be sure to check before buying if it isn’t clearly stated.
It’s also important to check whether you must inform the seller that the stove will be used in a smoke control area before purchase, as one of our wood burning stoves cannot be retrofitted with a smoke control kit and used in a smoke control area, now that it has been ordered and installed.
Many wood burning stoves from leading brands are already DEFRA approved, and so even if you’re using an exempt stove in a non smoke control area, you know that you’re helping to reduce the impact on the local environment. These efficient stoves have reduced emissions and so it can also help reduce the build up of soot within your flue.