Can I install a log burner in my shed?

Can I install a log burner in my shed?

For many of us, a shed is so much more than just somewhere to store the lawn mower. Some sheds are now kitted out to be a sanctuary in our own garden – but you may be wondering how to heat it. Here, we’ve answered your key questions with this comprehensive guide to installing a wood burner in a shed.

Am I allowed to install a real wood burner in my shed?

Yes, but there are some key considerations to be aware of that we have explained below.

What are the regulations?

For installation, the most important regulation is BS8303:2018. BS8303:2018 is the British Standard for Installation of domestic heating and cooking appliances burning wood and solid mineral fuels, and provides all required guidance for your installer – your retailer/installer should have a copy of the standard.

Building Regulation Approved Document Part J also needs to be followed, as it provides guidance on the safe installation and use of appliances that produce heat, including chimneys and flues. It is also essential to observe the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, which includes relevant distance to combustibles. A heat shield may be required behind the stove, which protects your shed wall from the heat produced by the wood burner. You will probably be required to fit non-combustible surfaces to the walls adjacent and behind the stove.

If you have opted for an appliance suitable for a 12mm decorative hearth installation, this will make fitting the stove much easier, rather than having to implement a 125mm thick hearth. It also gives you more scope to use different materials for the hearth, such as tempered glass, whereas a 125mm thick constructional hearth tends to be made from concrete.

It is also important to remember local air regulations in place, such as Smoke Control Zones. If you live in a Smoke Control Area, you can only burn wood if using a DEFRA-exempt appliance. Find out more about Smoke Control Areas on this useful article.

As with all installations, we recommend fitting a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm in the shed for your safety. This will provide ample warning and protection, keeping you and anyone who uses this space safe.

What kind of flue do I require?

We recommend a twin wall pre-insulated flue system, such as Stovax Professional XQ. Depending on the natural draft provided by the flue, a powered flue fan may be required as it is highly likely that the flue will terminate at a height of 2 meters or less (Building Regulations suggest a minimum height of 4.5 meters for natural draft flues). A powered flue fan sits at the top of the flue, and are electrically powered to suck air up the flue. This works particularly well if you are without a natural flue draft, as you can artificially create one.

My shed isn’t insulated – how does that affect the heat output I require?

Use the usual room calculation as most appliances will burn hotter than their nominal output when the controls are more open. This calculation is worked out as follows:

As a rough guide, to achieve a comfortable room temperature of around 21°C when the air temperature outside is 0°C, you will need approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic meters of space. Measure the length, width and height of your room and multiply the three figures together. Divide the sum by 14, and this figure will indicate the kW you require.

However, it is best to ask your local retailer for expert advice, as there may be variables that affect what amount of heat output you need. It is best to limit the stove to 7kW and no more. If you install a stove that is too large, it will be difficult to run it properly, and this can lead to quickly sooting up your flue. Most appliances that have a larger output require some substantial distance to combustibles as well.

Your installer may refer to HETAS’ BS8511:2010 regulations, which offers the code of practice for the installation of solid fuel heating and cooking appliances in small craft. This is a very good point of reference for the more unusual installation.

My shed sometimes gets damp – will this damage my appliance?

If there is power in the shed, it may be a good idea to install a dehumidifier to keep the air dry. Alternatively, use a desiccating dehumidification chemical such as silica gel, which will reduce the need to run a dehumidifier constantly. When the stove is not being used, leave all air controls fully open to allow natural airflow through the appliance. If your shed is very damp and you do not take these steps to protect your appliance, it is possible that in time your log burner will start to show signs of rust damage.

It is important to note that if the shed is a workshop, do not be tempted to burn any treated off-cuts. Treated wood, such as furniture, produce chemicals in the flue gases such as arsenic, and other harmful gases that contribute to pollution and reduce air quality. Most wood burners are not built to burn sawdust either – for this purpose, a specialist ‘workshop stove’ must be installed instead. As with all wood burners, only burn well-seasoned or kiln dried wood, and remember to register your new appliance to get the maximum warranty available to you.

What about gas and electric log burners?

Here are the considerations to make when looking at installing an electric stove or gas log burner in your shed.

Electric stoves in sheds

It is possible to have an electric appliance in your shed, provided your shed has had a suitable wiring installation that has been signed off by a qualified electrician.

It is also important to ensure that any draughts are sealed up, as these could cause some stoves to operate functions such as the Open Window Detection feature, which will switch off the heat.

Be careful to follow the installation instructions, being particularly mindful of the insulated and flammable materials, and any clearances that need to be observed.

If your shed is not insulated, this will make the heating of this space less efficient, making the stove work harder to maintain the temperature. However, it will not affect anything beyond an increased electricity bill! If your shed is prone to damp, using the stove on a timer is actually a good way to reduce or even eliminate this dampness. To be able to do this safely, ensure that there are no leaks in your shed, or any risks of water having any contact with the appliance. Be sure to leave a suitable gap between the electric stove and any walls that are prone to dampness.

Above all, make sure that your electrical installation is safe, and signed off. Keep your shed tidy and organised to avoid the risk of anything falling or coming into the clearance spaces around the fire.

Gas log burners in sheds

When it comes to installing a gas log burner in your shed, it is very much about considering the shed environment on a case by case basis. Your installer will need to make a judgement on considerations such as:

  • Damp: If there is damp, although parts of the combustion circuit and gas circuit are designed to withstand corrosion from condensation produced, other parts of the appliance would not have the same protection and could potentially corrode in a damp atmosphere found in a shed in winter. If you were set on a gas log burner, your installer may advise that dampness and leaks are treated in the shed first.
  • Access to gas supply: With a gas log burner, it can be more costly and inconvenient to pipe gas to the shed if it is not already close to gas access.
  • Wildlife: There is also a potential risk of small insects/spiders nesting in the narrow parts of the burner, causing serious safety issues, which would not be a problem on a real wood burner.

Some sheds are more akin to a domestic living space, with full insulation and sealed from the elements. If this is the case, it may be a completely different assessment made by your installer.

Contact your local retailer to chat more about your options!

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Posted by on March 30, 2020