Create a working fireplace

Use our helpful guide to choose between a stove or an open fire

How to choose a stove or an open fire

  • Safety Having an open fire in your home will always be a potential hazard. If you have kids, it’s important to plan how you’ll keep them safe and supervised around naked flames. With a stove, the fire is encased, but your stove will become extremely hot to touch.
  • Where you live If you live in a Smoke Control Area (SCA), you cannot burn fuel that emits smoke. To have a real fire, you will have to burn smokeless coal on an open fire or in a multi-fuel stove, or choose a special clean-burning stove. These produce low emissions and are approved for burning wood in SCAs. To find out if you live in a SCA and to see a list of approved stoves, go to
  • Your chimney Whether you choose an open fire or a stove will depend on the width of your flue and the level of ventilation your chimney has. These factors are governed by building regulations, so get a builder in first to check what your flue and chimney are suitable for. Whichever you choose, building regulations also demand that you have a hearth made of a slab of non-combustible material that’s of adequate size and thickness. Go to for specifications.
  • Energy efficient Stoves boast efficiency levels of up to 85 per cent, meaning most of the energy goes directly into heating a room and only 25 per cent goes up the chimney. With an open fire, those proportions are reversed.

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