Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

The Difference Between Wood burning & Multi-fuel Solid Fueled Stoves

stovax studio 1 wood burning stove on bench

When you are deciding on purchasing a stove there are a few things to think about before you decide on a fuel type.

No matter the stove you have in mind the first thing you should consider is when living in a smoke-controlled area you should look for appliances that are ‘Defra approved’, most stoves we sell are Defra approved. As long as the stove you choose is Defra approved you can burn dry seasoned wood and smokeless coal on it. In smoke-controlled areas, it is only wet wood that you cannot burn as this can produce harmful smoke.

1. Do they work differently?

Short answer, yes. Wood burning and multifuel stoves work differently due to the fuel you are burning. 

With wood-burning stoves, there is only one air vent needed as wood only needs air from above for it to burn. You should leave this air vent on its highest setting when lighting the fire to get it going. Once the fire is roaring you then slide the air vent to about halfway or less, as you don’t want to over-fire your stove.

When it comes to multifuel stoves you can burn wood or smokeless coal. You should ensure that with each fire you have you should stick to one type of fuel throughout and wait to change fuel type once you are lighting a new fire. you should only burn one fuel type at once as wood and smokeless coal take air from opposite sides therefore if both are in the stove at the same time the fire will end up dying out. When burning wood on a multifuel stove it is the same air control as a wood-burning stove. However, when burning smokeless coal you should use the air controls for the bottom as this fuel type draws air from underneath.

stovax wood burning fire in living room

2. Is there any differences between how they look?

There are two ways in which wood burning and multi-fuel stoves look different, the features and the flame picture you get.

The different features:

There is just one air control for a wood-burning stove vs two separate air control for a multi-fuel stove. On a multi fuel stove there is typically an air contol on the top and bottom of the stove. The raised (Riddling) grate at the bottom lets air circulate underneath the fuel bed, so you can open and close it to create a flat surface for wood and an open one for smokeless coal.

The Flame picture:

Wood gives a better flame picture as the logs catch fire. However, with smokeless coal, you get more of a glow with small flames. If you like the look of a roaring fire then a wood burner would be the right stove for you. However, if you prefer a more mellow glow smokeless coal will give that softer atmosphere.

3. Cleaning and upkeep

With multifuel stoves, ash falls into an ash pan that needs to be emptied on a regular basis. However, Wood Burner ash must be emptied sometimes but not as often as multi-fuel. The ash from wood burners can also be used in the garden to fertilize plants. 

It is essential that all solid fuel appliances are serviced regularly. The ideal time to service your appliance is in the summer before the heating season begins.

HETAS recommends that all solid fuel appliances be serviced by a qualified engineer at least once a year. This will ensure the correct performance of your appliance and avoid the risk to your health where a poorly maintained stove can release poisonous Carbon Monoxide into your property.

Therefore, regular servicing will ensure you are complying with current building regulations and maintaining your manufacturer’s warranty cover.

Bower and Child employ qualified engineers who will undertake the necessary checks and tests to ensure the efficient and safe running of your stove. To see what a service entails read our blog about how to get the most out of your stove. All you need to do is enjoy the pleasure of a real fire during the winter months.

Additionally, to get the most out of your stove we suggest having your chimney swept a couple of times a year, depending on how much you use it.

hwam wiking automatic log burning stove


To sum up the differences between each type of stove-

Wood burning stoves:

  • Can only burn wood, no other fuel types

  • No grate on the bottom, just a flat surface – wood burns better on a flatbed of ash with air coming in from above

  • Ash must be emptied sometimes but not as often as multi-fuel, ash can be used in the garden to fertilize plants

  • Must use dry seasoned or kiln-dried wood

  • Wood gives a better flame picture as smokeless coal only glows

  • Wood is a carbon-neutral form of energy, more environmentally friendly – the process releases roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide that a tree absorbs while growing


  • Good if you change fuel types often

  • Can be less efficient if you are mainly burning wood

  • Must make sure you’re using smokeless fuels

  • Raised (Riddling) grate at the bottom letting air circulate underneath the fuel bed, also so you can open and close to create a flat surface for wood and an open one for smokeless coal etc

  • Coal burns better with air circulating underneath

  • Ash falls into an ash pan that needs to be emptied on a regular basis

  • Can’t use normal household coal


  • Both have similar output

  • Both are efficient

If you are interested in purchasing a stove and want to find out more information please contact us. A member of our team will gladly guide you through the different options available to you.